This is a pic of me today – just what I happened to be wearing – it is pretty typical of what I usually wear. I know. It’s August and I am wearing long sleeves. That is because I am allergic to the sun! If I could have my arms in the sun without breaking out – I would wear short sleeves – so that is not a modesty issue for me!
I used to always wear jeans and t-shirts as a teenager and even as an adult on my days off of work. At work I wore khakis. I never paid much attention to clothes. Clothing seemed superficial and not very spiritual to me. I was most interested in my clothes being practical and fairly inexpensive. When your clothing allowance is $20/month in high school – frilly, fancy, pricey clothes just didn’t seem like a necessity. I had always dressed pretty modestly because I was way too embarrassed to dress immodestly. I guess it could be possible that I may have inadvertently been immodest at times because of clothes not fitting properly, but it was definitely never intentional.
My clothing was not particularly feminine. My husband had asked me several times, even in high school and college when we were dating if I would dress up a little more often. I didn’t really see the point. But sometimes I would wear dresses for him or when I worked at various pharmacies. Then I hurt my lower back very badly the summer we got married and I couldn’t wear fancy, girly shoes anymore. It seemed ridiculous to wear tennis shoes with dresses or skirts, so I just stuck with jeans all the time.
In March 2009, I was studying about godly femininity. I read a book that talked about playing up my femininity to increase the chemistry and attraction in marriage. It talked about that the greater the contrast between masculinity and femininity in the relationship, the greater the attraction and connection. That sounded strange, and maybe interesting, but I wasn’t very convinced.
I told my husband about the book and how it recommended wearing skirts and dresses a lot. I laughed about it. (I still didn’t understand how visual men were at the time.) And he said, “Well, do you feel any different when you wear skirts?” And I said emphatically, “NO!” Back then, I only wore skirts or dresses on Sundays and took them off as soon as possible after I got home!
I decided to do an experiment and wore skirts daily for 1 week. Hmm. I DID feel different – much more feminine, softer, less masculine. Maybe there was something to this dressing femininely thing that I had been missing. By this time, my back was stronger and I found feminine shoes that were comfortable and didn’t leave me in pain. I can’t do high heels, but that’s ok!
I also realized that it was a gift to my husband for me to look my best at times – to fix my hair in a way that he loved, to wear something beautiful when he got home from work. I used to just do jeans and a ponytail. Now I put a some effort into wearing my hair down most days (and keeping it long – that is how he likes it the best).
I began to truly cherish my femininity! I finally saw what an incredible gift from God I had!
Growing up, I did not feel very feminine – EVER. I didn’t have a curvy feminine figure or a teeny waist. I still can wear a girls’ size 14 top and have to buy my undergarments in the little girls’ section. On the plus side – it’s a lot less expensive that way! I am just very small on top, and I used to think that made me less of a woman somehow. I didn’t seem to “measure up” to the world’s standards of beauty – that was for sure! Thankfully, my husband was always very accepting of me and never had a problem with my shape and size. But when I started wearing skirts/dresses that week – for the first time in my life, I FELT like a girl. I felt feminine – and I discovered the power of my godly femininity! I LOVED IT! WHO KNEW!?!?
WHO HAS THE AUTHORITY IN THE MARRIAGE?
I also began realizing that the skirts/dresses were a GREAT tangible reminder for me as I learned respect and biblical submission that I did not “wear the pants” in the family. I changed my wardrobe as I was studying godly femininity, the influence of feminism on our culture and modesty. I also had a little girl who was getting bigger and I started really thinking about what version of femininity I was projecting to her. What did I want her to believe and embrace about femininity? What messages was I sending? I thought about that a lot, and I decided that, for me, dressing in a feminine, modest way was a WIN all the way around.
Then I also started studying about modesty. The more I learned about men and how they think and how visual they are – the more I realized that modesty is a REALLY BIG DEAL! Or – it should be. So many of us as women are wearing things that could make our Christian brothers stumble. Now, each person is responsible for his/her own sin. I can’t MAKE a man sin visually in his mind. I am not responsible for what he does with his thoughts. He is totally responsible for what he thinks and if he lusts in his heart. But I can definitely encourage him to fall.
That was a big shock to me on many levels. I didn’t think I was a temptation to any men because I was focused on the “flaws” that I perceived – so I never really thought modesty was that necessary for me. I think a lot of women think things like, “I’m too old.” ”I’m too big.” ”I’m too small” ”I have splotchy skin” ”I have a pudgy belly” – “so I don’t have to worry about being modest. No one is looking at me.” That is actually NOT true! Men look at all shapes and sizes and we all, as women, have a responsibility to dress in a way that does not bring attention to our bodies. I am responsible to God and to my Christian brothers for what I wear and for what my daughters wear!
Shaunti Feldhahn’s book, “For Women Only” has a lot of really helpful information for women to help us understand the struggle some men go through. There is a spectrum for men – some struggle almost constantly with visual temptation, others don’t struggle as much. But even if it is only 10% of men who struggle with seeing women dressed in skin baring or clingy clothes – I believe that it is time for us as believing women of God to be more responsible about how we dress and how our daughters dress. I like her comparison – it is similar to the way that some people would struggle with being in a room with a big chocolate cake all day. There are some who could be in the room and not be very tempted. But there are other people who would be ready to eat the whole cake within a few minutes if seeing it and smelling it.
I believe we might each want to go through our closets and our daughters’ closets, maybe even this week – and really pray over each item and decide to honor God by what we and our daughters wear in public. And I pray we might be sensitive to the temptations of the men around us and not purposely wear things that might cause them to stumble into sin. I personally check in with my husband and ask him his opinion about whether something is modest or not. Or you may be able to check with a godly, modest wife from church about her opinion. My general guidelines are to avoid low-cut tops, sleeveless shirts with armholes that reveal too much, sheer things, super tight clothing, a shirt that allows my midriff to show if I bend over, skirts above the knees… But these are not rules – they are my personal convictions based on what I understand to be tempting to many men.
To be continued tomorrow! … For part 2, read here.
I try to wear my hair the way my husband likes it best whenever possible. And I enjoy looking my best for him. I also love embracing being a girl and realizing that I don’t have to try to “man up” anymore and carry all that weight of the whole family. That is VERY freeing for me!