We had a program recently for the young women and their mothers. It was about modesty. It was a beautiful program, well thought out and well presented. I think this is such an important topic for women, and especially young women today. While modesty encompasses much more than just a way of dressing, the focus of this program was on clothing. It is hard to live a modest life without being modest in dress.
This is a topic that has been much on my mind lately. It’s been discussed at great length with a group of women bloggers I love. I read an article on modesty in the Wall Street Journal just the other day. The author wondered why mothers not only allow their teens and pre-teens to dress provocatively, but that many of them are more than willing to go along and pay for these questionable fashions.
The world would have us believe that we are not beautiful unless we look we look like the cover of Vogue or like a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Model. We are constantly bombarded with messages that women and girls need to be “sexy”, that we need to have short skirts and low-cut tops with plenty of cleavage to be attractive and modern and fashionable. Don’t believe me? Just Google the word “fashion”, click on “Images” and see what comes up–skin, skin and more skin–strapless gowns, bare midriffs, ultra low-cut pants, ultra high-cut skirts. And the tighter the better. Then Google “modesty” and see how even worse images come up. Some of them seem to be mocking the concept.
Why is it that we so mock modesty. . . that our society is so quick to denounce and scorn and belittle those who choose not to put their bodies on display for the world? They are called out of touch, prude, old-fashioned or worse.
The word modest has its roots in the same place as the word moderation. To be modest is not to engage in extremes, either of dress, of grooming or of action. So many of today’s fashions are extremes. Obviously, modesty in dress will mean different things to different people, but I’m pretty sure most of what I’m seeing online and on the mall would fit only the most liberal definition of modesty.
It is sad to think that “popular” culture, which can have such an influence on young women, would choose to present them with such a distorted and harmful view of style. Not only are girls today bombarded with immodesty, but they’re also given the message that modesty is undesirable. It is sadder still that so many parents are either unwilling to counter this idea or worse yet, that they encourage it, in the name of “fitting in” and being “fashionable.”
I’m sure you’ve already figured out that I’m not one of them.
And I thank heavens every day that my three daughters–and my son–have never made this a battleground. We have taught them all modesty since they were tiny–it’s just a way of life in our home.
So, back to the program when two beautiful, stylish and accomplished women taught these girls–and their mothers–that modesty is not only beautiful, it is also fashionable. They presented a wonderful and uplifting message, reminding the young women that they are special and valued and how they care for themselves and how they treat their bodies are reflections of that value. They talked about dress and grooming and how to dress appropriately for time and place.
After focusing on the WHY of modesty, including the great video clip below (after a brief and compelling message on modesty, there is a touching song–be sure you listen through), these women gave some great practical advice on the HOW of modesty.
They encouraged the girls to draw a line in their hearts–patterned after the concept of drawing a line in the sand–and commit to having the courage and the self-confidence to dress modest and to be modest.
The program ended with the girls each making private and personal pledges about their modesty (I really have no idea what commitments my girls made–they haven’t shared them). I know it left a positive impact on my daughters–and I have heard the same from other mothers and other girls.
One of the biggest problems young women face is how to alter today’s fashions to meet their standards of modesty. Layering tees, tanks and camis to wear under tops and dresses, slips to wear under skirts and dresses, modifying slips into underskirts that can be used to lengthen too-short skirts were some of the ideas they demonstrated. Some of these products are readily available on the web for those who can’t or don’t want to create their own.
For lengthening skirts, this site has some adorable underskirts. If you’re a DIY-er this site gives simple instructions for lengthening skirts. Long tee’s are available at one of my favorite stores, and online at a handful of sites. If you don’t want to need to alter things, a quick web search brings up dozens of stylish and modest shopping sites.
Beauty isn’t defined by the tightness of our shirts and the shortness of our skirts, true beauty comes from within, from the confidence of knowing who you are and that you are loved. When you know this, you will know that it is not necessary to “flaunt the assets” to feel and to be beautiful.
As Kahlil Gibran said, “Beauty is not in the face; beauty is a light in the heart. ”