(Please note: I’m addressing women in this post NOT because I think modesty only applies to women, but because I am a woman — therefore, it’s easier for me to address my mostly female audience. I believe men should be modest and exercise self-control as well. However, I will leave it to men wiser than I to address that particular audience.)
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I want to discuss the general topic of modesty again. In this post I spoke about the misconceptions of modesty, and in this post my dear friend Tim wrote a letter to encourage women to continue practicing modesty. Both of those posts were written primarily for Christian women. This time around, I want to expand the scope of the discussion and share several reasons why I think modesty is important and relevant to ALL women, regardless of their faiths and religious affiliations.
1) Modesty is Empowering.
It is such as shame that modesty has turned into lists of rules and standards that all women are expected to follow. When we boil modesty down to black-and-white rules, we lose a core message: modesty is a choice, but it is a powerful one! Think about it. What is more empowering than saying, my body is so precious and sacred that only ONE man — the man who promises to love me unconditionally for the rest of his life — will get to see and experience this body in all its glory?
Choosing modesty is a declaration of our dignity and value and that we can make every single day — and it requires a deep understanding that our bodies are valuable, but out minds and souls are even more valuable. We do ourselves a great disservice when we wear clothes that cheapen our value and detract from our internal beauty.
2) Modesty Requires Humility.
Another aspect of modesty that has been lost in our emphasis on rules is that modesty encompasses much more than conservative dress. Modesty is an exercise in humility — the acknowledgment that respecting others (and for Christians, respecting The Lord) is more important than fulfilling our own desires. And if we are honest with ourselves, we will acknowledge that we yearn for that kind of humility in the self-obsessed, me-first, selfie-overload kind of culture we live in.
3) What You Wear Speaks Volumes about Who You Are and What You Value
Style is a way to say who you are without having to speak.” – Rachel Zoe
Rachel Zoe may not be known be known for her modest style, but she makes a great point, which leads to some questions worth considering:
- Does your choice of attire reflect the respect and honor you seek? Or does it show that, deep down, you don’t believe you’re worthy of respect, so you dress to get cheap attention instead?
- Does your style indicate that you are only concerned with what YOU want and lack respect for others?
- For Christian women, does your dress reflect your commitment to pursuing godliness while not neglecting the beauty God has given you? More importantly, are you motivated to dress modestly because you feel you HAVE to (because someone dictated a list of rules to you), or because you have a deep desire to honor God and His holy standards in every facet of your life, including your dress.
The point is this: We should consider the messages we send with our attire and make sure they are aligned with our values and beliefs. Like it or not, people are visual creatures, and they will make judgments based on appearance until they get to know us. So we do well to make intentional choices with our clothing.
4) We All Have Fathers, Brothers, Boyfriends, and Husbands.
If a woman claims to dress modestly out of respect for men, she will likely become the recipient of viral backlash (just ask one of my favorite bloggers, Phylicia Delta). Yet I wonder how differently we would dress if we got more personal. What if we asked ourselves from time to time: Would I want my father, brother, boyfriend, or husband looking at another woman in this kind of clothing? Because that’s exactly what happens when we step out in revealing clothing. Someone’s father, brother, whatever is getting a sneak peak of the most precious parts of our bodies. Some men will respond responsibly and avert their eyes; others will happily engage in the visual feast we provide. Sure, we can’t control how men will respond, but we are absolutely in control of how much of our bodies we display. With this in mind, is it really so unthinkable to be more considerate of our fathers, brothers, boyfriends, and husbands?
5) Modest Dress is Classy.
Think of style icons from the 50s. Katharine Hepburn. Audrey Hepburn. Grace Kelly. Those women were known for their impeccable, graceful sense of style that left plenty to the imagination. They understood that there is great beauty in the mystery of femininity. So they were careful not to take away from the beauty of that mystery by revealing it through sexy attire (or lack thereof).
Modesty isn’t about rules, and condemning women who break those rules. Modesty is about love, respect, and humility — three things ALL women should treasure.
Enough talking from me. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Why do you think modesty is valuable?
This is one of the best posts I have read regarding this topic. I love your humble approach and I love that this caters to EVERY woman. I found you from the Peony Project.
Elizabeth> Renee Young
Thank you for the kind words, Renee!
My friend, you have once again totally nailed it. Wonderful post!!
Elizabeth> Morgan Lewis
Oh, you are too kind, Morgan!! Thank you for the sweet words of encouragement. I expect there will be some who disagree with you, though. I’m bracing myself for that!
You are such an inspiration!! Thank you for taking such a strong stand for modesty! It is such an encouragement to me 🙂 I am a member of the church of Christ also and I always love reading blogs from my sisters in Christ! God bless you as you stand for Him!!
Elizabeth> Kelsey Rotz
Hi, Kelsey! Always nice to meet another sister in Christ! What congregation are you apart of? Thank you for the sweet words. I’m so glad you found the post encouraging. Reading that is GREAT encouragement to me!
Great post, my friend! I’ve been very strong on modesty for a while now, but you’re right, it is a matter of the heart. I say that because I’ve noticed that the more God draws my heart to Him, the more and more modesty becomes less about rules and obligations and instead just a natural thing. And you’re right, what you wear does say a lot about you, whether you like it or not! I want my outward appearance to reflect God and His Spirit living within me. As it says in Song of Solomon, He IS the Lily, and I am AS the Lily(that’s not a verbatim quote there, but you know).
Amen, Elizabeth! I think you’re doing a great job of letting God’s Spirit shine through you in your actions, including how you dress and what you write. You are a great encouragement to me, my friend.
This is so good and true! Modesty is absolutely empowering. It draws people’s minds to who we are instead of their eyes to how we look.
Elizabeth> Brittany Bergman
Exactly right, Brittany! Thank you for reading and leaving such kind words. 🙂
Rebekah @ Surviving Toddlerhood
I love that quote by Rachel Zoe!! I’m definitely a modest dresser, and I think it does tell a lot about a woman by looking at how she dresses. I also think that there are factors such as the culture where you live and your own heart attitude that play into the decision of how you dress.
Elizabeth> Rebekah @ Surviving Toddlerhood
You’re absolutely right, Rebekah. The heart attitude in particular is such an important and oft-forgotten part of modesty. Thanks for the insightful comment!
Great read! Thank you for opening this subject to wider perspective. I would just like to add that to me personally, there is a classy elegance in reserving a bit of privacy in our wear”)
Thanks, Mariana! I love you put that. There is a “classy elegance” to demure dress and leaving a little mystery. The ladies of yesteryears totally understood that.
This is a very powerful article. One time I had a discussion on Facebook with my friends from church over leggings. There was an article in Christian Today about one lady who decided not to wear them because it made her husband struggle. In short, we all had different views on the subject. As for me, I see there are girls who don’t know what is acceptable in the ways of dress and it’s really not up to us, as Christians to judge. I find myself doing that too and like you mentioned in the article, we are setting an example as humble, loving and godly human beings. Great work! I just subscribed to your blog! I look forward to more awesome stuff 🙂
Corelle, thank you for that thoughtful, encouraging comment! It means a great deal to me. You expressed that perfectly — it’s not our place to judge or ridicule. We can guide someone to a mature understanding of modesty (if we do so from a position of love and humility), but we shouldn’t condemn. That whole legging fiasco was quite discouraging to witness, but I’m glad it at least sparked discussions on modesty. I’m so glad you’re following along! Looking forward to more good thoughts from you!
This post is really spot on and sums up how I feel about modest dressing. Often times it is seen as something old fashioned or judgemental but for all of these reasons that you mentioned and more it is a win win for everyone! Most importantly it is honouring to God. Thanks for this post, its great and so encouraging!
Thank you so much for the support, Caroline! And thank you for taking the time to read and understand the main points of this post!
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Being a person who is not only not Christian but is aldo not sharing Christian values or values of any religion in which modesty is important, I think that any if these points is important. However, the first one I find interesting. It reminded me that modesty is not only wearing maxi skirts and it is way to not be sexualized. I dress not modesty in tje way I’ve seen here but I don’t like showing too much.
And sex with just one man in whole life still is not connected with respect to myself.