Allysen Kerr, Editor
Modesty. It’s the word that women hate to love and love to hate. Trust me, I know. Growing up in the Kerr household that word was thrown around like a boomerang. I always tried to dodge it but it always resulted in me getting knocked upside the head (figuratively of course). Especially once I became a teenager and discovered that I was a “woman.”
Just about every Sunday my mother and I would quarrel about my skirt being a little too tight or my shirt or dress not having any sleeves. I would get so angry because I thought, ‘I’m 13 now! I have rights, I should be able to wear whatever I want.’ Right…not in my Jamaican household. Even at 16, 17 and 18 (yes, even 18), my parents still got on my case about how I dressed. You would think that I was dressing like I was going clubbing or something, but that wasn’t the case. My parents were just trying to protect me. But like most of us, I didn’t understand from whom or what my parents were trying to protect me. I just thought they were stuck in their old Jamaican, traditional and Christian ways and of course, I knew better. Boy, was I wrong.
It wasn’t until I started attending the University of Florida that I began to understand. College is good for that. You tend to learn a lot. Before college, I wouldn’t say that I was quite the charmer when it came to getting the attention of the opposite sex. But college somehow changed all of that. Probably because there were ‘men who were actually more mature than stupid high school boys,’ I thought. They’ve got lives together, they’re in college, they’re doing something with their lives. I’ve hit the jack pot!
Nope, nothing. By sophomore year I quickly discovered that most men in college still only wanted one thing which wasn’t five kids, a house and a dog if you know what I mean.
I made a vow that I would never allow myself to become a victim of any man’s charm as long as I lived (yes, I’m a little dramatic. Stay with me). But as much as I wanted to blame men for looking at me in less than desirable ways and calling me by names other than the one on my birth certificate, I soon realized that they weren’t the only ones to blame. I was helping them.
Society teaches women that we should stand up for ourselves, embrace freedom, independent, be sexy, be beautiful. None of these things are bad but when taken out of context, it is no longer good. I thought that embracing freedom meant that I could wear what I wanted, act how I wanted and look how I wanted. So the clothes got tighter (but not too tight), the skirts got shorter (but I wore shorts underneath) and the tops got lower (but I layered it with tank). I was exposing myself to a can of unwanted attention and even more dangerously, lust. But I wasn’t the only one hurting. The men were hurting, too.
Last March, some guys in Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship got raw about their view on girls, dating and purity. When it comes to sexual attraction, most guys are like microwaves while girls typically are like slow cookers, they told us. It doesn’t take long to go from cold to hot when they see an attractive female or just the hint of certain body parts (thigh, cleavage, midriff). That see through shirt…yep, ladies in case you weren’t sure if it actually is see through, the men can see through it.
I thought my parents were being so old school about modesty so I decided to ask my 18-to 25-year-old male friends on Facebook about their thoughts on modesty. The question was “are you bothered by the way some women dress today.” Out of the 300-plus surveyed, 56 responded. Seventy 0ne percent of them said, YES!
I was shocked. But it gets better. Then I asked them to explain.
This is good. I’ll only share a few responses now but come check out the other responses after you read this article. I didn’t ask for names for the sake of privacy but here are a few responses:
- What bother’s me the most is how women feel the need to attract attention through clothing. Honestly, the many gifts a person has should be sufficient enough to draw people to them. Women should dress in a conservative yet stylish way because it radiates confidence and self-worth. -Author Unknown
- There are women who know exactly what they are doing when they are wearing low-cut tops, short skirts, or skin-tight outfits – they are getting our attention. Men are visually stimulated. I have a problem with women who manipulate men with the way that they dress, and I have a problem with women who act like it’s not a big deal – as if men should just tough it out and simply control themselves. Jesus said that if a man even looks at a woman lusting after her that he has committed adultery in his heart. Granted, there is a difference between a guy who has a problem with lust and a guy who stumbles into it. I would like women, especially Christian women, to understand that they can be a stumbling block for their brothers in the Lord simply by the way that they dress. Here’s some points to consider: 1. Revealing tops can be a problem – yes, sadly, this also includes swimsuits. As soon as a guy sees even a part of a breast, he is distracted by it. This includes cleavage and “side-boobs.” Some guys are good at hiding this fact, and they know how to fight the urge to look, but it is tough and it takes discipline…a lot of discipline.
2. Short skirts and some really short shorts – a guy knows that he can catch a glimpse of a lot of skin and possibly some panties when the girl sits down. Christian men have to fight the urge to look; it actually just happened to me today with a girl at church. It was very distracting.
3. Skin tight outfits – men like the shape of women. Bottom line – an outfit that reveals that hour-glass shape is distracting.
I’m not asking women to only wear long dresses; I’m just hoping that they will pray and ask God to show them what is appropriate and to not base it on pop culture or the latest trends. I like watching “What Not to Wear,” because it actually teaches women to dress well and, in most cases, very modestly.
- What some women do not realize is that clothing that they may see as harmless, can be a huge stumbling block for us men. For example, ANY shirt that shows any portion of a woman’s breasts, is bad. Period. Also, tight fitting shirts that contour to a woman’s curves and leave little to the imagination, bad. Short skirts and short shorts should be a given because both will usually tempt us to look at the very least at the woman’s legs and more times than not they will tempt us to look at her butt or in the case of a skirt or loose shorts, there is the temptation to look up the skirt/shorts. Bikini’s are bad news, but in that case it is more on the mens’ shoulders than the women. If we know we can not go to the beach without lusting, we should not go. However, on occasions where a woman knows she is going to be around guys and in a pool or at the beach, she should consider a one-piece or wearing a dark colored t-shirt over her bikini.
So you see ladies, I’m not making this up. The crazy thing is in our attempt to been seen as attractive, sexy, independent and beautiful, we’re causing men, especially our brothers in Christ to stumble. That’s not OK. We need to ask ourselves why we’re allowing this to happen. Is it because of pride, selfishness or a deeper longing to feel accepted? NEWS FLASH! Men aren’t stupid. They know when we dress to get attention and they know when we’re trying to get their attention. You’re not fooling anyone.
I heard a male pastor speaking out against immodesty one night. I couldn’t listen to him. I turned the radio off. Why? Pride. I was thinking, I know this man, isn’t trying tell women how to dress. That’s probably how the ladies in 1 Corinthians 11 felt too when Paul came in and tried to tell them to cover their heads in the temple and listen to their husbands. That wouldn’t go over too well today.
But woman-to-woman, we need to better. Not just for ourselves, but also for the men we call friends, brothers and even lovers in our lives. Just because you’re dating someone doesn’t mean that you those rules don’t apply.
Peter said it like this, “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. 4 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. 5 For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves.” 1 Peter 3: 3-5, NIV, BibleGateway.com.
We ultimately have a responsibility to help each other walk in life, not stumble. Trust me, we don’t need any help in the ‘How to Stumble” Department. Satan’s got that covered and if we’re not careful, he’ll use us as a weapon. I know this was long but we all could do better when it comes to modesty. Men and women alike. Yes, men, you, too.
Read the rest of the male responses in MEN TALK MODESTY