Oh, where to start? 🙂
As a girl and teenager, I figured that boys thought pretty much the same way that I did. I didn’t pay much attention to what anyone wore – so why would guys be looking at me? I wasn’t very caught up in clothing. I almost always wore jeans and a t-shirt, except I would wear a dress or skirt on Sundays for church.
I didn’t think that clothing was very important or made any real statements about anything about a person. I was horrified to dress immodestly out of embarrassment. But girly clothing seemed too expensive for my budget of $20/month as a teenager and it seemed uncomfortable and fussy. Dressy clothes didn’t fit me well – they almost always gaped in the chest area and were too tight in the belly. Shopping for clothes was always very frustrating for me. Still is!
I did start dressing up a bit more in college, when Greg asked me if I could wear dresses more often. When I got my first job as a pharmacy technician, I wore dresses to try to look more professional. Then a week after we got married, I severely sprained my lower back. Suddenly all the beautiful dressy, girly shoes were a thing of the past and I had to find shoes that didn’t hurt my back. Tennis shoes didn’t seem to go with feminine clothing at all, so I just stuck with jeans at home and khakis at the pharmacy for many years.
GROWING UP I FELT AWKWARD AND UNFEMININE!
I mostly remember feeling VERY unfeminine when I was in elementary school. I was kind of my Daddy’s “son” until my little brother (7 years younger than me) was old enough to take over that position. My twin sister was “the girly twin” and I was “the tomboy.” I didn’t relate much to a lot of the girls. I didn’t like the drama – and I became a target of some of the more popular girls in class who enjoyed teasing and making fun of me in upper elementary school. I got glasses in 5th grade – which made me feel even more awkward and un-pretty. So, I retreated into a bit of a shell.
- A boy made fun of my twin sister and me on the bus one day in 7th grade in front of everyone in the loudest voice, “You guys are SO FLAT!!!!!!” And he laughed hysterically and pointed at us.
I began to believe that guys couldn’t be attracted to me – that my body was too “flawed.”
I believed that being feminine was impossible for me. I was convinced that I was not “woman enough” because of the curves I lacked and my self-consciousness sky-rocketed. I felt judged and completely rejected by the world’s standards of physical beauty. I believed I was invisible to guys. Any guy who was friendly to me – I assumed just wanted to be my friend. I couldn’t accept that a guy would actually be attracted to me as a girl – so I became completely blind to how guys actually saw me or any interest guys may have had in me.
If I ever did hear teaching about godly femininity or modesty, I probably wouldn’t have paid much attention because I didn’t think those things really applied to me. I didn’t feel much like girl, and didn’t think I looked very beautiful. I didn’t understand the power of a feminine body or spirit. And since I had close to zero understanding of how guys think, I didn’t realize I had anything to be concerned about.
AS A YOUNG WOMAN
- A lady at Victoria’s Secret measured me when I was about 25 years old. She laughed loudly and said, “Oh, girl! We don’t have NOTHING here that would fit YOU!”
In fact, the only lingerie that fits me to this day is from the little girls’ department. Like – the children’s department.
Now, I am actually totally fine with my figure. In fact, I love my figure and am completely confident in my body these days. I am so thankful for the body God has given me. I am able to see the positives and even accept the things I used to see as “flaws” as beautiful. I am grateful to God that Greg loves my figure and has always been very accepting of my body.
Me (April) and our son – a month before I turned 30
I LOOKED YOUNG
Another issue about my appearance was that I usually looked MUCH younger than I actually was. I will be 41 this March. Usually – people these days think I am in my twenties. But people regularly asked me if I was 12 years old until way after I was 30. That got really old! Patients didn’t take me very seriously at work in the pharmacy many times. They didn’t think I could possibly be old enough to be a pharmacist. One man demanded to see my driver’s license because he didn’t believe I could even be 15. I was 27 at the time.
So – my figure made me look 12, my face made me look 12. I just never really could accept that I could feel feminine, womanly and beautiful. It seemed impossible to me for a long time.
HAVING A SON TOOK ME EVEN FARTHER FROM FEMININITY FOR AWHILE
Then we had our son and he LOVED to be outside- all the time. He would run for hours. So I continued in my jeans and a pony tail for going to the playground almost every day and running around in my tennis shoes. In fact, if I didn’t wear tennis shoes, I couldn’t catch my boy when he was 2-3 years old! I soon cut my hair short, even though I knew my husband loved it long. I was all about being practical. Who cared what my husband thought anyway, right? That was my mindset at the time. Turns out that short hair took WAY LONGER to style than long hair – for me, at least. I MISSED my long hair and decided I didn’t want to cut it short anymore after that.
April in 04-2006
THEN WE HAD A BABY GIRL
I started thinking more about femininity when I had a daughter and she was starting to be old enough to want to wear dresses every day and to love princesses. I loved how romantic the long dresses looked in her stories and realized that the effect just wouldn’t be the same if the princess was wearing jeans and a t-shirt! Maybe clothing makes more of a statement than I had ever really considered before.
Our daughter – 2 years old
I began to study femininity and God’s design for women/wives/moms and the way God made men and women to be so marvelously different from each other. I began to understand that a woman has a great deal of power in her appearance that affects her own attitudes and also significantly impacts most of the men around her – including her husband.
I was so excited to discover that I could actually feel feminine and womanly!
ME!?!? Who knew!?!
- I could have a gentle, peaceful, vulnerable, delicate spirit.
- I could be soft and beautiful.
- I could be the follower in my marriage instead of a take-charge leader, barking out orders and giving commands.
- I could wear girly clothing (once I found the right styles for me) and I did finally feel like a woman – especially in long, flowing skirts. The clothing actually did make a difference in my feelings about myself. Hmm…. that was interesting!
- I realized that the more feminine I look and act, the more feminine I will feel and the more masculine my husband will feel. That helps to really BOOST the chemistry and attraction! What a powerful revelation!
- I decided that I wanted to attempt to model godly femininity for my daughter – as well as my son – by my dress, my attitude, my voice, my expressions, my priorities, my character, my love for Christ – EVERYTHING.
MODESTY IS BEAUTIFUL
My understanding of modesty grew out of my study of godly femininity and also understanding men much better. Men think VERY differently from women and are tempted visually in ways I had never imagined. Kinda shocking for me at first! If I had known in high school what I know now – I may have worn a choir robe to school instead of jeans and a t-shirt every day! I think a lot of women think things like, “Oh, I’m too small, too big, too old, too young, too unattractive to have to concern myself with modesty. I am not a temptation to anyone.”
I know I felt like that.
Now, I know modesty is a gift we can give to others no matter what our shape/age may be. It is a way to show reverence for God, respect for myself, for my husband and for others around me (men and women alike). I REALLY love adding feminine clothing to the modesty equation- I feel softer, lovelier and more beautiful. I noticed more men holding doors open for me and offering to help me. I noticed that I feel so different when I “dress the part” of being a woman.
Clothing can tell the world you are a lady and it is interesting to see that people actually do treat a woman differently depending on what she chooses to wear. Skirts and dresses remind me that I have the honor of being a woman and that I am thankful I don’t “wear the pants in the family.” It is a subtle reminder to myself to savor my identity as a woman each day, to embrace my femininity, and it is a reminder to my husband that I am a delicate, beautiful, feminine woman to be cherished and adored by him. I like that!
Am I saying all women should dress just like I do?
I am just sharing my story.
My favorite definition of modesty is that it is “humility in clothing.”
If we have a spirit of humility- as Christ certainly did, and we are emulating Christ- then we will desire our clothing to draw attention to Him not to our bodies. And I will have mercy on my brothers in Christ by seeking to wear clothing that will not distract or tempt them to lust after me. And I will model modesty for my daughter so that she grows up seeing that modesty is “normal” and understanding the gift of her femininity and sexuality and how to properly use it and how to guard her great gift.
I think the subjects of modesty and femininity are fascinating. I kind of felt like I was building my identity as a woman from scratch 5 years ago. I pray that we might discover God’s beautiful design for femininity and live it well. And I pray we might pass along God’s ways, wisdom and perspective to the generations coming behind us.