From the view of a 20-something dream chaser.

Musings on Modesty

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Taken at my first CURVEXPO with Nubian Skin in February

If you follow me on social media, then it will come as no surprise that I’ve had quite a few conversations about modesty the past couple days. Six months ago, I had a really cool opportunity to model for Nubian Skin at the New York CURVEXPO. I left feeling so inspired. (You can read about my first experience here.) A couple weeks ago, they reached out to see if I could help out again. Of course! This week, I went back and learned so much more about boobs, bras, beauty and business. The company is a startup, so I got to work directly with the founder. I picked her brain on all things concerning beauty, boobs and business. She was even so generous to let me offer another giveaway to the like...ten people who follow me. To announce this, I posted a photo of myself in lingerie on my Facebook. (You probably gotta be my Facebook friend to see that.) There’s also a back shot on Instagram that I posted just for fun. And then came the onslaught of texts and phone convos...

...which I, of course, did expect, to some degree. I have a lot of thoughts on the topic of modesty, but primarily, I think we often use Christianity to suppress beauty, especially that of women. Our bodies are temples, but they’re also masterpieces created to do good things (Ephesians 2:10). In order to do said good things, should we hide our beauty and the skin that was created in His image? I think not. I always say this, but it is our own perversion that takes the human body from nature and a work of art to a sex object. An article I read titled Modesty: I Don’t Think it Means What You Think it Means makes three compelling points about the extremes of valuing modesty that are incredibly relevant in a society lost among outright nudity, shaming and hiding:

  1. We turn modesty into objectification when we hold women responsible for the thoughts and actions of men.
  2. We turn modesty into objectification when we assume there are single standards that apply to all people in all cultures.
  3. Finally, we turn modesty into objectification when we make women ashamed of their bodies.

Hello, somebody. Another point the author makes is:
"While popular culture tends to disempower women by telling them they must dress to get men to look at them, the modesty culture tends to disempower women by telling them they must dress to keep men from looking at them. In both cases, the impetus is placed on the woman to accommodate her clothing or her body to the (varied and culturally relative) expectations of men. In both cases, it becomes the woman’s job to manage the sexual desires of men..."

Ding ding ding! Legalism when it comes to modesty accomplishes precisely what it seeks to abolish: the objectification of people (namely, women). Wearing a bikini doesn't make one woman any less holy than another woman in a one-piece. SO many Christian women have been cultured to feel guilty about showing even a little skin, believing that their bodies are traps and should always be covered up as not to cause men to lust. Which is valid--I don't particularly want men lusting after me. But, you see, men have a way of lusting anyway. Second, there's a difference between acknowledging beauty--and potentially being attracted to someone because of it--and lusting after someone. Huge difference. It is our heart and thus our behavior that is valued above our actual attire.

When it comes to modesty, how can there be a universal standard? The Bible, no doubt, calls us to dress modestly, but what that meant back then culturally is much different than what it means now (whatever it means now). Most people refer to 1 Timothy 2:9, in which Paul instructs women to “dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.” What many don’t know is that the Greek term Paul uses for modest is kosmios, which speaks more to self-control, orderliness and appropriateness than it does to attire or sexuality. Also, please don't miss the elaborate hairstyles and fancy jewelry and expensive clothes he calls out. Don't nobody be preaching sermons on that. I'm just sayin. 

Of course, in good conscience, I can't just say I’ll wear whatever I want in Jesus’ name. I will say that I pray about everything and follow my convictions. That doesn't mean I'm exempt from being checked from time to time, though. As believers, we are called to sharpen one another (Proverbs 27:17). But hey, there's a way to say everything! In general, people are less likely to be offended and become defensive when approached out of a spirit of love. So if you feel a type of way--whether it’s about my attire or speech or behavior--do pray for me. And if you feel so led, approach me. I’m so nice!

You don't have to agree with my views on modesty or adopt them as your own; but if you’re reading this, you’re at least curious about it. I am always an advocate for exploring why we think the way we do about things. The Bible isn’t a picture book with clear visuals on what modest attire looks like. So you mean to tell me one day someone up and decided what is and isn’t modest for everyone? And we're just letting it rock generations later? Nah. I don’t believe there can be any such standard. Don't get me wrong--some things clearly cross the line for me. Many, in fact. It just so happens that modeling for Nubian Skin at a trade show does not. I think a lot of my friends have also forgotten that as a pageant contestant, I've appeared in a swimsuit on a stage at least a dozen times. Now, change the setting to a strip club and this is a different conversation. Why? Motive. Setting. Overall creepiness.

Our bodies are beautiful! We don't have to flaunt them around for all the world to see, but we don't have to hide them in those God-awful long jean skirts and turtlenecks either. You and I may disagree and that's fine. Don’t take my word or definition of modesty as the Gospel. It isn't. What the Word says is what it says--go to it. This is just my interpretation, one I believe frees us from generations-long held ideals and standards we may never have been meant to be slaves to. So explore it more deeply. Pray about it. Study the Word and see how it speaks to you. Think less rules and religion and more relationship with the One who made you. He will guide you. Your convictions matter. My convictions matter. That’s what makes life deleesh.

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