I never gave too much thought about fashion, clothing and their relationship to modesty while growing up. Yes, sometimes it was difficult to find a shirt that actually covered my mid section (I lived through the era of belly shirts- *GASP*). And yes, it was also very difficult to find prom and homecoming dresses that would cover both the top and bottom! Either it was long enough but without sleeves, or it had sleeves and appropriate neckline, but would barely cover one’s rear end.
But other than those issues, modesty was fairy easy to live in my daily life. I could find cute pants that fit but didn’t look like I needed to be greased down before I slid them on. I could find shirts with sleeves and for the most part I could still find cute summer clothes that didn’t make me look like I was selling my body.
It was when I had my baby girl that I was hit with the parenting alarm! I went shopping for little girl clothes, and honestly I couldn’t be more appalled by what I found or should say what I couldn’t find! I couldn’t find any shirts with sleeves. Everything was a tank top. And not just a normal tank top, but ones with plunging necklines, and triangle cups to emphasis the chest region. REALLY? These are 0-1 year old little girls! Why do they need that area “emphasized”? I had the same issue looking for dresses. Most of the dresses were either spaghetti straps with plunging necklines or didn’t even have spaghetti straps! And forget about the “dress” actually being a dress. Their version of a dress was a SHIRT! It didn’t even cover my baby’s diaper! How can they call that a “dress”?
As our little Jade has grown, I thought, maybe it would be easier when she gets bigger, and I could shop in the little girl’s section where they seemed to have a larger variety of clothing. But as Jade has grown, I’ve found I still struggle when I go shopping for clothing. What I deem as modest and appropriate for my daughter, I am guessing the fashion industry views as prudish and old fashioned.
So it brings up the question:
What is Modesty and Why should it be more important in society?
Let’s Talk about it!
What is Modesty?
Modesty as defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as:
What are the Standards of Modesty?
- sheer- see through
- or revealing in any other manner
- short shorts and short skirts
- shirts that do not cover the stomach
- Pants that are so “low rise” that your under garments show when you move
- clothing that does not cover the shoulders
- or is low-cut in the front or the back
- being neat
- being clean
- being well groomed (not ratty and whole filled clothing-no clothing that is overly big or small)
- and avoid being extreme or inappropriately casual in clothing, hairstyle, and behavior.
- Dressing appropriately for each occasion. Wear appropriate yet still modest sports attire for sporting events. Wear appropriate well groomed and nice standards for church services. Jeans and a T-shirt don’t really say, “I’m here to show my reverence for my Savior”.
I don’t think I ask for much when I look for clothes. If I’m going to be spending $15 on an outfit, I expect it to contain enough fabric to cover my daughter’s body! Is this asking too much? I have had to buy Jade dresses in 2 sizes too big and tac in the bodice of the dress, just so i could get a dress that would reach down to her knees or longer. Why does a toddler need a mini skirt?
My requests are simple I don’t think I’m being unreasonable. I would like to see clothing where:
- a dress that will cover my daughter’s diaper/underwear when she is standing!
- do not emphasize my daughter’s sexuality…she’s not even 3 yet! Give her time to be a KID!
- Shorts that reach closer to the knee than to the diaper! Why does my daughter need daisy duke shorts?
- Remember those old “safety kids” stories, where they say, “if some one tries to touch you anywhere that your bathing suit covers, scream, run away and tell some one.” I would like a swimming suit that actually covers all of her body that no one should touch!
- Dresses and shirts with an appropriate neckline! I don’t need to be seeing my baby girls bare chest every time she moves.
I could go on and on. But the main idea is, how are these clothes portraying our daughters? Sure, that tank top may look super cute, but what is the message we are giving our daughters and the world when we allow them to wear clothing that isn’t appropriate for their body? Why try to show off curves in little girls that aren’t even there? Why show off curves in teenagers that are just budding? They don’t need that extra pressure, being a teenager is hard enough! Are we trying to push our daughters into adult hood even at the early age of 3 months old?
Think about it, why does a 2 year old need a halter top dress, with a super low back and so short it hardly covers her diaper when standing? You may be thinking, “oh it probably is intended to go with a shirt” right? Well, no. There weren’t any matching shirts in the entire store! The dress was on it’s own.
Why does a young 10 year old girl need shorts so short that they won’t even cover her underwear? Does it allow her to have confidence with each step she takes?
Why does even a 17 year old girl need a dress with such a low cut top that if she were to move or twist the wrong direction her entire bodice area would be exposed?
These types of clothing just don’t make sense to me! They should not even be created and available in stores for children of these ages!
A lot of these clothes I am seeing more and more frequently in the baby girl, toddler girl, and even big girl sections are clothing I don’t even think appropriate for upstanding women to wear! The cut, design and appeal is completely geared toward emphasizing a body image, shape, or sexual appeal! And the world is letting our daughter’s dress this way, and calls it Normal, or “cute”.
I’m seeing styles that used to only be worn by what some deem as prostitutes! And now they are being worn as a “cute” fashion on our teen aged daughters!
Does a 5 year old girl REALLY need the word “Yummy” or “Delicious” plastered across their behind in jewels? I mean, REALLY! Who are the fashion industry targeting there? Possibly pedophiles who prey on young children. It is just WRONG!
We don’t have to allow our daughters to grow up thinking that they have to expose their skin to be cute, beautiful or accepted. They can still cover their body and be stunning and fashionable!
The greatest way to tell if what you want to wear, or what your child wants to wear is modest is if you ask yourself:
“Would I feel comfortable with my appearance if I were in the Lord’s presence?”
If your answer is no, for either you or your child, maybe you should rethink your choice of clothing.
I allow my Daughter to Choose about modesty:
I hear it all the time, “Teenagers need freedom to choose their own clothing”. Yes, as any good parent knows, kids need the ability to make choices. They need freedom to choose, but as any parenting expert will tell you, these children…even teenagers need boundaries. You can still allow your child the freedom to choose their clothing within certain acceptable limits.
My boys are allowed to choose their clothes as long as it is age appropriate and modest. My daughter will also have that choice once she is old enough to make those choices. When she is a teenager, she will be allowed to choose her clothing as long as it falls within our modesty standards.
I work with the youth in our church. These girls are truly amazing and really have a grasp on modesty and how beneficial it is in their lives! They taught me a great rule to determine if their clothing was appropriate or not, called the “Head, Shoulders, knees and Toes” test!
When you get dressed in the morning, stand in front of a mirror and do “Head, shoulders, knees and toes” motions and see if any extra skin that shouldn’t be exposed is exposed in your motions. If something extra shows up in your movements, then your outfit probably isn’t a good fit. This protects against shirts that are too short, therefore you don’t have to constantly worry when you are sitting down if you are flashing everyone your underwear. You don’t have to worry if you raise your hand in class if you will then be showing off your belly.
The knees and toes help determine if your neckline is too low or loose. If you were to bend over, will you be flashing your entire bodice to onlookers? If you bend over, is your skirt or shorts too short that you will be flashing your behind?
These are teen-aged girls who follow this test each morning and they say they feel more confident in themselves, and more comfortable in their daily activities that they can focus on their studies and fun throughout the day, instead of worrying about wardrobe malfunctions.
Why do we need modesty so much? Doesn’t it just stifle one’s choice of fashion? The point is that Modesty is a means in which we honor our bodies. We honor ourselves! We honor our Heavenly Father. When we dress modestly we ensure that others are viewing us, not our body! We are taken more seriously.
Modesty protects ourselves and our children! Modesty Protects:
- against those who would use our body for their own pleasure
- against weather and elements
- against our daughters thinking their body is THE ticket to popularity and beauty
- against losing our value as WOMEN, and becoming merely a sexual object.
- against feeling self conscious
- against wondering, “are they looking at ME or my chest?”
- elegance in dress
- a higher self-esteem
- higher standards that the daughter will hold for herself in her dress and actions
- a clear message to others your standards of dress and modesty
“Your dress and grooming influence the way you and others act…Never lower your standards of dress. Do not use a special occasion as an excuse to be immodest. When you dress immodestly, you send a message that is contrary to your identity as a son or daughter of God. You also send the message that you are using your body to get attention and approval.” —For the Strength Of Youth Pamphlet
Modesty helps protect against raging hormones! We all know at a certain age, hormones go on the rampage in our children. Modesty helps these children manage their hormones. You may think, “well those boys should just learn to control their thoughts, My daughter shouldn’t have to suffer for his bad thoughts”.
And yes, you are right to a degree. The boys need to learn to control their thoughts and actions. But the problem is that many young men are no longer told that such thoughts and actions are inappropriate. It’s now thought normal and natural for boys to have these thoughts and to let them linger. While the thoughts may arise with no intent on the boys part, letting them linger is what must not be allowed to happen. Many boys and men TRY, but they have a lot of hormone to manage, and sometimes thoughts still pop up even when they are trying not to! It’s a natural physical response when they see exposed skin.
What we need to ensure is that we don’t make it harder for these young boys and men who are trying their best to control the sexual thoughts. You wouldn’t take sugar and rub it in the face of a diabetic. You wouldn’t flash chocolate in front of someone who is trying to diet. So why allow our daughters to flash their skin and dress immodestly in front of these boys who may or may not be doing their best at controlling the thoughts that arise when they see such attire? And then blame the young man for his thoughts when they were incited by your daughter? Doesn’t quite make sense to me.
I worry for my boys when they reach this age, for I know the hormones happen, and there won’t be anything to prevent that. It’s a natural physical part of growing up. But I hope they will have enough young women who dress modestly around them, to help my boys to control their thoughts easier, instead of constantly being bombarded everywhere they look.
Modesty can be beautiful!
Many think that being modest is prudish. Many think that if they were to dress modestly, they would lose their popularity, they couldn’t look beautiful. It’s no wonder when we see the “STARS” of our society dressing in a manner I would never be caught dead in public wearing!
Have you noticed just how many dresses at the Oscars or Emmys that are low cut, too short, a slit up the thigh to where you wonder, if she moves will she be showing off EVERYTHING? How many of those dresses actually have a top? Most don’t even have straps, let alone sleeves! And many of them have fabric so see through you think you might actually BE looking at EVERYTHING. I’d love to show you some photos, but this is a family friendly site and such are inappropriate.
But the thing is, these women don’t NEED to dress in this manner to be beautiful!
(Photo by Lovelyish- http://www.lovelyish.com/2010/08/30/10-best-dressed-and-5-worst-dressed-celebrities-from-the-2010-emmys/
This photo showcases a perfect example of a beautiful yet MODEST dress!
This dress still flatters her Womanly shape, yet is not so tight to be improper. It has sleeves, a flattering neckline and in my opinion looks quite nice!
I’d love to show you more STARS wearing modest clothing, but frankly it was a rather difficult feat just finding this ONE photo! But I want you to see that dressing modestly can be beautiful and fashionable!
Beautifully Modest Prom Dress
ShabbyApple Modest top
The Stores Don’t Sell Anything Modest, What Now?
I’ve heard this excuse quite a lot! In fact I’ve said it myself! Sometimes I get so frustrated because I go shopping for myself or my daughter and I just can’t find anything that is modest on it’s own! But, with a little ingenuity, we can take what the fashion world gives us and alter it to become modest!
Take this little dress on Jade for example! At first glance I never would have thought twice about it! The back is completely open, the sides are also wide open, so each time Jade moves you would have a nice flash of her entire front and back. Why does a little 2 year old need a seductive dress like this? Sure, it’s disguised as a “cute” dress for a little girl in the innocent yellow color with happy flowers embroidered on the front. But come on…really!
But with a little alteration, by adding a modest T-shirt underneath, we’ve turned an inappropriate dress into a cute and MODEST summer dress! We use the T-shirt underneath quite often, as well as a cute shrug over top for a more dressed up look. It allows me more freedom in buying dresses that are actually LONG enough to cover Jade’s diaper. Most dresses that actually have sleeves on the top are too short. I haven’t found too much success altering the too short dresses besides adding pants/tights underneath, which is not something you can do very well in the Summer. So I instead opt to buy the longer dresses and simply add a T-shirt or shrug to make the top appropriate for my daughter.
If you have a shirt that is too low cut, add a simple Cami underneath!
The other choice is to shop online! Simply put “Modest Clothing” or “Modest shirts”, “Modest Dresses” etc in your internet search and you will be amazed at all the resources you will find! If you look for it, you will find it. sadly, often I found that modest clothing does cost more than the common immodest clothing. It’s a little frustrating, but for us and our standards, it’s just not worth the sacrifice to save money and wear something immodest.
Why Focus on Modesty for Little Kids?
I often hear people say, “why are you so bothered? They’re just little kids, they don’t know any different! It’s fine for them to wear sleeveless and too short clothes.”
Why should we focus on teaching our children modesty even as young as a newborn? We really need to think about how important that it is that our teenagers know about modesty! That is where the biggest problem is right?
That may be. It is detrimental to the choices they make if they are living a modest life. But if we wait until our daughters are 12 years old, they’ve then grown up for 12 years thinking sleeveless and booty shorts are “cute” and normal to wear, because that’s what she’s been wearing. Now all of a sudden she can’t? You will have a rebellion on your hands!
If you start from an early age, and always have your child dressed modestly, then when the age of rebellion comes, they will be LESS likely to go against the modest standards they have been raised with! My Mother raised me with this philosophy. I always had modest clothing even when I was a small toddler. When I became a teenager, I never had the desire to wear the immodest clothing. In fact, when I would try something on in the store that other’s viewed as fashionable and acceptable, I felt too exposed! I didn’t like how I felt, thus it was easier for me to hang onto my standards even with peer pressure and keep my modest clothing!
Dress shopping for formal occasions was a nightmare, as every store we went to were always sleeveless or super short. They said, “oh it’s fine! It’s PROM, every one is dressed like this!” But it didn’t matter. Even one night off from modesty is a night when I would have let myself down, and shown those around me that modesty really isn’t that important to me. It was not worth the sacrifice. Even for ONE night.
We found the best dress possible and my Mom altered it to be modest. On my nights at the dances, I had a lot of fun! I didn’t have to worry if I was showing too much, I didn’t worry if I moved a certain way would I have a “wardrobe malfunction”. I was comfortable and confident and ended up having a lot more fun than my friends who were constantly adjusting their dress to ensure it was covering the bare essentials.
It’s not only a Faith Based Question!
I’m not sure why this subject bothered me so much this week. For some reason it just boiled over this week that I had to write about it. I wondered if I was the only one, so I took these questions to fellow bloggers. I wanted their opinions, and I discovered I’m not the only mom out there who feels the same way! Christian or not, whether it is a matter of faith based standards or not; the issue of Modesty in our society is a real concern!
Many moms voiced their concern with the choices of clothing in the market at present. One women voiced how she attended a party and saw teen-aged girls dressed in a manner that she was embarrassed for them and wanted to wrap them in a sweater, they were exposing so much skin. And this was in January, she was very worried what they would wear in the summer.
Another topic brought up, was that of Bikini’s. Are a two piece bathing suit improper just because it is a two piece? My personal opinion (again, this is MY PERSONAL OPINION) is if you are covering your body, it shouldn’t matter if you are doing it with one or two or even three pieces of clothing! Personally I prefer to wear a tankini. But I also have a higher standard for that tankini. I search high and low to make sure I get a “tank top” that is long enough to cover my mid section and with a higher cut neckline. I get the bottoms that are shorts or a little skirt which covers more of my hips and behind than a typical one piece. So even though I’m wearing a 2 piece bathing suit, I’m actually covering more of my body than many one piece bathing suits cover, so should I be considered immodest because my suit is in 2 pieces? When I look for bathing suits for my daughter, I hold the same standard. How much is this suit going to cover? If I find a 2 piece that will cover more than a one piece, she will be wearing that bathing suit. I think it is more important to feel modest and confident in your attire than to be fashionable and exposed.
I think it all boils down this:
Your dress and grooming influence the way you and others act. When you dress immodestly, you send a message that is contrary to your identity. You also send the message that you are using your body to get attention and approval.
What is your intent when you dress, is it to be your best and most beautiful self, or is it to use your body to gain attention?
What do YOU think?
What is your stand on Modesty?
What is modest, what is not age appropriate?
What types of clothing have you seen for sale that is inappropriate for a child of that age?
Does “cute” trump modesty?
Does that special Prom night warrant an excuse to NOT dress Modestly?
What is considered modest to you?
How much does it have to cover to be modest?
Is too tight considered immodest as well?
Why should parents take notice and practice modest dressing of their daughters even at the newborn age?
Why does it matter to teach modesty at a young age?