Thursday, May 28, 2015

My Stance: Modest Is Hottest

Now that I'm a mama and summer will be upon us quickly, I've been thinking a lot about what to wear on our upcoming beach vacation. I know this is a challenge for many women as they transition from pre- to post-motherhood. 

For some, it's because the journey of childbearing left its mark on their bodies, and maybe they're not as confident in some areas as they were before.  For others, like me, it simply is a desire to be a little bit more practical. Not only do I want to set a good example for my son by choosing a bathing suit that doesn't give away the farm, I also want to be able to...get this...enjoy the beach with my kid! That means instead of laying flat, reading magazines and getting tan, I will be playing in the sand, holding my boy so he can enjoy the waves, and indefinitely chasing him around! I need a swimsuit that allows me to do all of those things comfortably, and without having to worry about giving all the other people on the beach a show that they didn't buy tickets for! Haha!

So, a conversation with a friend recently is what got me pondering the topic of modesty and swimwear. I was asked my thoughts and if my opinion on swim options had changed now that I'd become a mama. Truthfully, and as I told her then, I hadn't given it much thought. But, I enjoy being challenged, so I began to ponder her question and my thoughts on the matter. Ultimately, what I came up with is that I want to make modest selections, for a multitude of reasons.

The bottom line is this: modesty is not about being a prude. 

When you choose to dress modestly, whether on the beach or in the grocery store, you also choose to show respect for yourself first and foremost. When your focus is solely on making yourself look attractive to the masses (and by their standards), you're generally not communicating that you respect yourself and you want others to respect you, too. In today's society, the tighter the fit and the more skin you show, the more "followers" you're sure to get. Many people even use fitness as an opportunity to invite lack of modesty into their lives. It's the whole "you worked hard for it, so by all means, show it off" mentality. I have to say that while I can easily applaud their efforts in the gym or wherever their personal transformation has taken place, I still stand firm on that their transformation is just that - personal. I have no problem giving credit where credit is due, and we are called to take care of our bodies in Scripture.
19 "Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies." 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
I think that it is important to honor God through taking good care of the body He gave you, so yes, fitness and health in general is very important. But we are not instructed to then show our temples off! Being naked on the cover of a magazine is NOT honoring to God, no matter how in shape you are!

When you make the decision to dress modestly, you're not just outwardly communicating that you respect yourself - you also are being respectful to men. If you are married or in a committed relationship, you are saying to the world that you respect your man by allowing his eyes to be the ones who see the majority of you. Men are hard-wired to be visual, and it must be difficult to exist in this world where modesty is not rewarded often. Temptation is everywhere, and in a society where many women seem to be competing with one another to be the most tempting person on the internet, it must be refreshing when a man meets a woman who is more than surface-oriented. In fact, the Bible is clear in its direction and charge to men on this specific topic:

28 "But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart." Matthew 5:28

Even though I wholeheartedly agree that men need to be on guard, be responsible with their intentions and actions, and also need to be chasing after the Lord, I am a member of the camp "it takes two to tango," or that a story has two sides. We, as women, need to communicate respect for men and their struggle by choosing modesty in our lives.  I also believe that when you choose to implement modesty into your daily life, you're not only communicating respect for yourself and for the men in the world - choosing modesty shows respect for other women, too. How many times have you, personally, seen a "celebrity" with the world's standard of a perfect body and felt worse about yourself? How many times have you witnessed another woman dressed to kill and wished you could be as "pretty" or "fit" or "curvy" or "attractive" as she was? We've all done it, if we're being honest. For the women who choose to participate in showing off what magazines, movies, and television tell us are "sexy," when is it ever good enough? The competition has landed us basically in pornographic territory, where it seems that the battles for likes, the most risque poses, and the newest, most innovative ways to show skin are king.  The fact is this: the Bible is transparently clear in its direction and charge to US - the women of the world:

9 "I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, 10 but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God." 1 Timothy 2:9-10

3 "Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight." 1 Peter 3:3-4

30 "Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised." Proverbs 31:30

22 "Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion." Proverbs 11:22

Now, I don't know about you, but I would say that doesn't leave too many blanks to fill in. We are commanded to be different than those who are of the world. We need to set the standard, and the standard starts and ends with respect. If we set our own standards low, it makes no sense to be upset when others treat us by the standards that we set for ourselves - that is just as much a reflection of ourselves as it is of others.

In my next post, I'll show some options that I found for more modest swimwear that I'm looking into for this summer and summers beyond! I'm also open to any that you have found so pass them my way!

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