This post may seem to bash women, but it is just an honest depiction of my feelings about women in America. We as women have allowed the American pop culture, including the prominent or famous, fashion, and the media to affect the way we dress and what we consider to be modest.
Although being modest and immodest are subjective, it seems our level of freedom in this country has allowed us to think that as independent women, we can wear whatever we want, whenever we want.
What we do not consider is the message this sends to young women…
…the message that this sends to men…
No matter what you take away from this blog, be honest with yourself about your attire and why you wear certain things….
My mother always taught me to dress modestly. When I was in middle school, my mother created a group for 6th-12th grade girls called Sistah’s Keepers. Each week, we would come together to discuss some of the various topics, including our relationship with God, boys, sex, school, family and friendships.
When it came to teaching us about modesty, my mother made sure to discuss what to wear when we are at certain events and how boys may view us when we wear certain attire. I remember her saying, “Men are visual. You have to be aware of their temptations to be aware of yourself.” My mother made sure that we as young women, were conscience of a man’s weakness for the female body and it is our responsibility as young women in be aware of this. During these discussions on modesty, I remember a lot of the girls saying that when they put on clothes, they dressed for themselves, not for boys.
As I got older, I realized that, the clothes we put on, can make us feel attractive or sexy, and no matter the level of confidence we have, overall our attire is based on the responses that we get from others, especially men.
When I was in college and my friends and I were going to a house party or to the bar, we would call one another and ask what the other is wearing. Why would we do this if we were not seeking the approval of others?
Here are two main reasons, first, we don’t want to be left out or not match the group. If all of my friends were getting really dressed up for the party, I wouldn’t want to be the only girl in a simple outfit. Basically, most girls will wear heels if all their friends decided to wear heels. If another girl looks better, we immediately begin to judge ourselves to the point that we want to run back home to change our clothing… I can’t count how many times I changed outfits by borrowing a friends clothing.
Secondly, we want to look just as good to guys at the party as our friends. When your girls compliment your outfit and say that your butt looks good in those jeans or your boobs and cleavage look good in the shirt, we know that guys would feel the same way. We as women desire men just like men desire us. In knowing this, we may be using this knowledge against men in our attire.
It may seem like we dress in certain things because we like the style; we like the way we look in a certain thing, but in reality, if you put on the best outfit you own; the one that accents your curves; your butt and boobs, and no guys tried to talk to you and you didn’t get one compliment from your friends, it might make you second guess if you do look as good as you thought.
When I would go to parties, clubs, and bars, the girls that wore the skimpiest outfits got the most attention from guys. I noticed that when I started dressing in more revealing clothing, I got more attention from guys too. The feeling you get from guys when they want to dance with you, buy you drinks and be in your company, feels like you are on your own reality TV show. I have never seen a girl at a night club or a bar get that kind of attention unless she was wearing a tight dress or some form of a revealing outfit that accented her butt, her boobs or both. It is easy to find yourself in stripper attire, trying to fit into that culture of hook ups and one night stands; twerking, and heavy alcohol consumption. But, is this being immodest even though we are dressing in the attire of what everyone wears to nightclubs and bars?
Author and blogger, Tim Challies, wrote an article, Modesty Matters: The Heart of Modesty, which discusses what modesty is and how to define it. Challies, views modesty as an issue within the individual before it is a visual issue; modesty is situational and about culture.
Both modesty and immodesty display something about the heart. Again, modesty is an issue of the heart before it is an issue of dress…What is modest in one situation may well be immodest in another. We all know we can dress modestly on the beach, but if we were to wear that very same thing to church it would be terribly immodest…What is modest in one culture may be immodest in another. One year ago I was in India and it became clear that the way even a modest woman dresses for church in Toronto may well be considered immodest in India.
So, what is immodest in American culture?
Are we so free that we can openly wear whatever we want with no regard to those who admire and look up to us? To agree with Challies, modesty is cultural, and being aware of different cultures and respecting their attire is important. This statement shows that what we consider modest, is opinion, but what if the culture is made up of multiple cultures?
Due to the media; movies, television shows, accessing social media on our smartphones, tablets and computers, we as women are constantly bombarded with images of what women wear in American culture.
Women and young girls are surrounded with strong, powerful, and talented women who accept and normalize this club wear on reality TV shows, award shows, and music videos.
This standard of beauty portrayed in the media shows young girls that it is okay to dress in revealing clothing because their favorite singer is wearing a leather leotard that accents her new fake butt, as she rolls around on the floor of her penthouse suite in her latest music video.
The reality is that these young viewers grow up… as young adults, they sit in a classroom wearing crop tops in front of their college professor.
In every culture, there is modest and immodest attire.
I believe that if a female is wearing a tight or form fitting dress; a mini skirt or shorts that show the bottom of her butt or wearing a crop top with her belly ring showing while she is walking through the Student Union on a college campus, attending a church service, or she is dancing at the bar, all are considered immodest.
When I see a girl in club attire during the day, it does look worse than if she was at the bar, but even at the bar, I feel we shouldn’t have to wear revealing clothing to get attention from men.
As a woman, I am aware of the stereotypes that we deal with when we put on certain clothing and look a certain way. The woman wearing glasses is smart; if a woman dresses more manly, she is a lesbian. So what is the woman with her belly ring showing, stereotypically? What should we consider the woman who is wearing a skin tight dress with cleavage down to her belly button? Would women intentionally want to be considered easy to get with or fast, when they dress in this type of clothing?
Of course there are levels to modesty… showing an inch of cleavage compared to having your butt cheeks hanging out, are not on the same level of immodesty.
Overall, I believe that it is naïve to act like we don’t dress for others, and as women, we must take responsibility for what wear and when we wear it.
When we put on certain clothing it sends a message, and it is our responsibility to know what message that is, regardless of the intent.
Featured Image Source: StockSnap.io
Challies, Tim (2013). Modesty Matters: The Heart of Modesty. http://www.challies.com/articles/modesty-matters-the-heart-of-modesty