On the dressing of females
"1. Immodesty: indecent, esp. with regard to sexual propriety; improper
2. bold, impuedent, or shameless"
"from Latin immodestus 'unrestrained, excessive,'"
Not + modest
" 1. having or showing a moderate or humble estimate of one's merits, importance, etc.; free from vanity, egotism, boastfulness, or great pretensions.
2. free from ostentation or showy extravagance
3. having or showing regard for the decencies of behavior, speech, dress, etc.; decent"
"1. conforming to the recognized standard of propriety, good taste, modesty, etc., as in behavior or speech.
2. respectable; worthy
...5. suitable; appropriate"
This is such a visceral issue for religious women. I'd like to look at it a bit analytically.
Immodesty really has to do with the cultural expectations of what a "decent" woman wears. I personally would use the word as little as possible because it is so loaded.
Perhaps break it down to: acting in a way to draw attention to one's sexuality, particularly in dress. Here we can isolate the issues as a mix of sensuality and vanity, not just cultural expectations. [And of vanity, there's a lot more to be said than just this.]
* * * *
Why dress sexy/ sensually/ provocatively?
Well, it's complicated:
Issue 1: The flesh
Issue 2: Admiration/ acceptance
Issue 3: Love/ security
Issue 4: Power
Issue 5: Class rules
Issue 6: Identity
ISSUE 1: The flesh... the desire to make sure things go well for ME, and being ready to use all available resources for my happiness and well-being (as I perceive it). The selfish desire for power, attention, and admiration.
This would be THE issue for an average male walking around without a t-shirt so girls can see his six-pack or for someone secure, self-confident, and well-loved. However, for teenage girls, it's a bit more complicated.
ISSUE 2: It naturally (not just fleshly) feels good to be admired, accepted, approved of by others and by one's self.
"I'm normal, okay, fit in, pass inspection."
This is where it gets sticky:
Women in our society are primarily valued, admired, accepted, approved of by others for our bodies.
Please understand what this means. Our entire economy and way of life (in the US especially, but in a modern culture) is driven by advertising. Advertising is a world of abnormally beautiful people.
Women are used more often than men to sell products, so our culture, consisting of average men and women, is accustomed to seeing beautiful women constantly. This means our expectations of women are conditioned by overexposure to abnormal beauty; We expect a woman to be beautiful.
In our culture, that means we get used to seeing 5'10" models with 35/25/35 bust/waist/hips. This is not just talking about pretty girls, who will always be among us. These are women who have "won the genetic lottery," spend much of their time working out and cultivating their looks, and are airbrushed- pinched in, smoothed out, and enhanced by computers- who fill our attention as much as very motivated, psychologically astute advertisers can manage.
Our society expects women to be beautiful. People in general do not primarily expect women to be intelligent, kind, or hardworking; they assume she ought to have a nice looking face and body. Our society shows over and over again (music, commercials, movies, tv) that we don't care so much what a woman thinks/does, but how she looks. This varies according to one's circles and age, but teenagers are the most vulnerable demographic to advertising, peer review, and incredibly superficial, shortsighted reckonings of humanity.
What does this have to do with sensual dress? Because sexy and beautiful are synonyms. Whatever a girl's natural beauty rating, sexy is just a clothing choice away. A beautiful woman could turn men's heads in sweatpants; any woman can turn men's heads in the right outfit. Sexy means she at least feels beautiful.
ISSUE 3: Desire for love/ security
Among all the women I have known, the constant life goal, whether admitted or not (but usually admitted) is to find true love. And by love, they mean a romantic relationship with a man.
This involves 1) being picked and 2) maintaining interest. The desire for this outweighs all other goals, desires, and life ambitions. The fear of not being picked and the shame of not having a man's attention outweigh all other achievements, successes, and virtues. (Please multiply this times a factor of 10 when talking about teenagers.) If you find women who honestly disagree, they are very unusual. This desire/ fear is encouraged by virtually every movie, TV show, many novels, untold songs, teenage society/gossip, and most religious groups.
This means things look very precarious for an ugly woman. (And all women find themselves ugly at varying times.)
(Beautiful girls, too, have the added pressure of "if you've got it, flaunt it" and the knowledge that they could easily get even more attention, and from more interesting people, if they would just work it. They have the added temptation of knowing they could compete in the world's games. They've got what it takes to go far.)
I have no idea if most men would count finding true love as the very highest of their life's goals. Very few would admit it, I think. But let's consider: What does an average man need to be accepted by an average female?
1) No physical deformity; decent looks a plus
2) A minimum of social skills, including confidence (Less if we're talking about teenagers!)
3) No excessively odd habits
4) (Here’s the important one) Pays attention to the girl
5) A job/ potential (N/A to teenagers!)
What does a girl need to be accepted by a guy? (Perceived):
4) Nice personality
Keep in mind that the average woman, let alone teenage girl, (I hypothesize) finds a man as being THE KEY to
1) immediate happiness
3) security/ worth as a human being (that being picked!)
4) future dreams
Yes, feminists have some good points. Would a man make the same list? Dubious. And if he did, all he needs to do, basically, is not be weird and talk to a girl in his range.
ISSUE 4: Understand the lack of power a woman has over her happiness, if she defines it as listed above.
SHE MUST ATTRACT A MAN, OR...
(Your family's not going to get you out of this one. Dad's not going to find someone for you in exchange for two cows. Neighbor boy next door's not going to pick you because you have a strong back and are of childbearing age... [Ha. Except boys get desperate, too. Girls don't necesarily know this, however. I still remember the exhilarating epiphany I had that not all women who get married are skinny. I'm not joking.])
So, a girl looks at her resources.
From her childhood, but especially after age 12, she looks in the mirror and assesses her assets: eyes, lips, hair, shape, legs, eyelashes, eyebrows, arms, stomach, feet, shoulders...
Society has some pretty unrealistic expectations for feminine beauty, but there are a few things women at least have in common...
We might not be a size 0, but biologically, we all have shape and skin, just like the ideal woman does.
Our looks might not be fantastic, but we can do our makeup/hair/clothes/ whatever in a certain way, just like the "beautiful ones." ("Models" is a very accurate term.)
Be perfect as they are perfect. Or at least copy the perfect ones.
Your future depends on it.
ISSUE 5: Some of the rules of dressing is a class issue. (I theorize here.)
Professional/ upper classes show enough skin to look good and to maximize their power, but not enough to look desperate (weakness). They are not more modest; they are more self-conscious.
Lower classes aren't that self- conscious, and their girls don't know the rules.
The upper classes dress in such a way as to make them available/ attractive... to certain types. Others need not apply, however much they might want to.
Lower classes aren't trying to exclude anybody, but they do exclude without realizing it: the upper/ professional classes.
ISSUE 6: Appearance is a function of identity. We associate a person with their body; we are our bodies.
In history, dress indicated ethnicity, social standing, work.
Now, it's supposed to reveal you- your personality, tastes, opinions. (Remember that people don't generally ask women for these things. Clothes are a "voice" for a woman's internal self. Our bodies could be identical to a robot's and no one would care; our clothes are us.)
We accept that people expect looks and a nice body. Our clothes are what we want people to think of us.
"Associate me with ____________."
Group identity: "I am a member of ____________."
Friends: "I am ____________ type."
Teenagers especially pick an adjective...
- Hipster - Athletic - Designer - Punk/ metal/ rocker - Hip-hop
- Vintage - Preppy/ classy -Sexy -Unique/ artistic -Country
- Dramatic - Edgy - I-don't-care/ casual
...and find clothes to correspond.
* * * * * * *
So. When someone tells us to be "modest"...
DOG WHISTLE! Here are the panic triggers:
ISSUE 1: Die to flesh.
ISSUE 2: Don't be admired.
ISSUE 3: Love/ security quest... handicapped
ISSUE 4: Power limited
ISSUE 6: Be weird. (But my identity...!) Alienation/ differentness from the rest (and most people don't want to be different)
+ resentment... Why do I have to conform to other's rules?! This is exactly what the Muslims do! Make the women cover up because the men won't control themselves. The men are the problem. Why the body shaming?! Why can't I just do what I want? "Why is my freedom being judged by another's conscience?" / “This is sexist!”
* * * * * * *
Issue 1: Re: The flesh
Be alive to God. He gave you your precious, valuable, useful body for more than being wanted.
Use your body to live, not just appear!
Serve others with it!
Love your brothers with it.
Eph. 4:17-2417 This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of[d] the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, 18 having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; 19 who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.
20 But you have not so learned Christ, 21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22 that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, 23 and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.
1 Thessalonians 4:3"3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; 4 that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, 5 not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God; 6 that no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also forewarned you and testified. 7 For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness. 8 Therefore he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who has also given[a] us His Holy Spirit. 9 But concerning brotherly love you have no need that I should write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another;
Romans 13:1010 Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
11 And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. 12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. 13 Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.
13 For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”[b]
(On not being either immodest nor modesty-pharisees, but in all things both free and loving):
4 Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand. ...
7 For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself. 8 For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. 9 For to this end Christ died and rose[b] and lived again, that He might be Lord of both the dead and the living.
10 But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.[c] 11 For it is written:
“As I live, says the Lord,
Every knee shall bow to Me,
And every tongue shall confess to God.”[d]
12 So then each of us shall give account of himself to God. 13 Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way.
14 I know and am convinced by the Lord Jesus that there is nothing unclean of itself; but to him who considers anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. 15 Yet if your brother is grieved because of your [clothing] food, you are no longer walking in love. Do not destroy with your [clothing] food the one for whom Christ died. 16 Therefore do not let your good be spoken of as evil; 17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 For he who serves Christ in these things[e] is acceptable to God and approved by men.
19 Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another. 20 Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of [clothing]food. All things indeed are pure, but it is evil for the man who eats with offense. 21 It is good neither to eat meat nor drink wine nor do anything by which your brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak.
1 Corinthians 8
9 But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak. 10 For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, will not the conscience of him who is weak be emboldened to eat those things offered to idols? 11 And because of your knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? 12 But when you thus sin against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. 13 Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never again eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.
Issue 2: Re: Admiration/ acceptance
Be admired for the right things.
(The hidden, imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit,
which are precious in the sight of God.)
May your dress facilitate this admiration, not distract from. Dress nice, just not sexually. Present yourself as a lady, not an object.
(Proverbs 31 is as intimidating as a Victoria Secret model to Christian women, but look what she's admired for!)
Issue 3: Re: Love/ security
Love/ security/ future in Christ-
While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. God knit us together in our mother's womb. Foreknew us before the creation of the earth. Willed us into existence. Made us to love us and to have us become one with Him. He has plans for us, good works foreordained for us to walk in. Abundant life. Joy. Love. Family. Bearing much fruit.
No one else died for me, bled for me, prays for me, or has invested/ given so much for/in/to me...
He is my end, my home, my peace.
Eph. 1: 3-143 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, 5 having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.
7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace 8 which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, 9 having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, 10 that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both[a] which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him. 11 In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, 12 that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.
13 In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who[b] is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.
* * *
All of Romans 8, but especially:
26 Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us[b] with groanings which cannot be uttered. 27 Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. 29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.
31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? 33 Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written:
“For Your sake we are killed all day long;
We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”[c]
37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Issue 4: Re: Power
Virtue = power under control
Use your body to serve others, not as a tool for self. Sexuality is a gift, not a matter of advertising. It is a gift from God and subject to His limits, not our own.
Also, humility: it's not about me and my awesomeness. Fight pride, covetousness, desperation by being thankful to God for all His gracious gifts; our happiness is not dependent on our exploitation of our own resources. Trust that He is good and will be good.
Philippians 2: 22 Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, 2 fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. 3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.
5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. 9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Rom. 6:1212 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. 13 And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.
1 Corinthians 6:1919 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body[c] and in your spirit, which are God’s.
1 Timothy 6:1111 But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.
Isaiah 40:6The voice said, “Cry out!”
And he[b] said, “What shall I cry?”
“All flesh is grass,
And all its loveliness is like the flower of the field.
7 The grass withers, the flower fades,
Because the breath of the Lord blows upon it;
Surely the people are grass.
8 The grass withers, the flower fades,
But the word of our God stands forever.”
Proverbs 31: 30Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing,
But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.
1 Peter 1: 1313 Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 14 as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; 15 but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”[c]
17 And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear; 18 knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.
22 Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit[d] in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, 23 having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever,[e] 24 because
“All flesh is as grass,
And all the glory of man[f] as the flower of the grass.
The grass withers,
And its flower falls away,
25 But the word of the Lord endures forever.”[g]
Issue 5: Re: Class rules
Straight up fact: People judge you on the basis of your looks and clothing.
(Trailer for TV show "Love, Lust, or Run"- Women come in with their own "look" they think represents them (usually risque or hard core). They find out what people on the street really think of them. Then, they're made over to a look that represents them, but that others can "love". This is prime time TV.)
People look down on provocative clothing. The issue is not whether they should judge you or not. This is very pragmatic: they will. They will assume things about you. Read articles. Take a survey: show pictures of different women to different people. What adjective would they use to describe each one? What would they assume?
Yes, dear, you will get attention if you wear that, but what kind? (And please remember that you are not going out into a world of attractive, decent men in your age/ interest range. The majority of people who will see you are not people you'd want to attract sexually for a variety of reasons. You might think they don't care or think about you. Most won't. But some might notice you. You will come in contact with women, old men, middle aged married men, jerks, womanizers, adolescented perverted boys, young children, and the brief slice of eligible men you might have in mind. You don't know what they're thinking, but better to dress in a way that represents you well.)
"Dress for respect." "Dignify the profession." etc.
Dress in a way that doesn't make you/others uncomfortable. Think of it as a subset of manners: acting in a way that fits the occasion and makes others comfortable. Consider the occasion. Consider the context. Learn the "rules". http://careerservices.calpoly.edu/content/student/attire4hire
This is where it gets practical: find examples of classy ladies. Emulate their style. Go shopping.
Learn to dress well. Wherever you go, clothing should not be an issue. Dress so you don't stand out in a bad way, but where you'll be accepted for yourself.
Issue 6: Re: Identity
You are more than your clothes.
But you can still wear pretty/ creative/ nice things you feel comfortable in. You ought to feel comfortable enough leaving the door to forget about what you look like for the rest of the day. No burkhas necessary. You were called to freedom, bros.
Only, do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love, serve one another.
Glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's.
...For you were bought at a price.