Modesty Soap Box Post

Modesty. That is a word that I'm not sure gets used too much these days. We live in a world of persuasion via media. Anything goes it seems. There are some days that I see something and catch myself staring with my mouth gaping wide open due to shock that the content is not censored. Maybe I'm getting old. Maybe I'm too conservative. Maybe the culture has changed so much that most people don't even flinch anymore to hear swear words in music lyrics and on primetime TV. That billboards advertise dating services and worse "family" TV boasts ads for adultry services! That's right..."not being satisfied at home, but don't want to go through the process of divorce? Try the discreet dating service that will provide you with someone who can fill that physical need without disrupting your marriage." REALLY??? And we think this is OK?

Maybe it is because I am a parent. I feel much more in tune with what I DON'T want my children to be exposed to. I'm not really ok with broadening their horizons regarding all social culture. I'm certainly not teaching them to judge others, but to understand that in our family we have certain guidelines that we've established to help in the formation of their values and virtues. It has been pretty well-recieved. If we get any resistance, it usually just takes some explanation and they're able to accept it, at least for a while again. I can't guarantee that they'll follow the rules or guidelines always, but at least they will conform to the ideas a little more because of how we present them.

There is usually room for misunderstanding. For example, when Alexis and Ryan came at Christmas, the boys laid into Ryan about having long hair like it was a bad thing. They felt like since our rule right now is that their hair cannot be long, that it was bad that Ryan's was and that we were not going to enjoy having him here because of his hair. It's not about the long hair...Ryan actually has really great long hair. Here, it's more about the fact that to get there requires that the boys' hair would be shaggy until it passed that awkward stage. It provided a teaching opportunity to again let them know that our decisions are for us...not someone else. We feel that the clean cut look works for our boys, not to mention that it's a school rule. They've always been told that there are lots of decisions that they'll be able to make differently if they want when they're on their own.

While tatoos and piercings and baggy pants are not permitted here, it is not our decision to make for someone else and it is not our place to judge anyone who doesn't share the same ideas. There are just some things that we feel are not flattering, and I'm not really talking about long hair here. I've never understood how wearing pants that are 3 sizes to big and need to be held up with a free hand so they don't fall around the ankles can be comfortable or conducive to even walking! What is the point of them? This is my opinion, and in all honestly, my first impression of a boy with shaggy hair, multiple piercings, tatoos, a sideways hat and pants hanging below his butt is probably less than what it would be of one who was "clean cut" and wearing clothes that fit. I consciously decide not to judge though, because chances are that the clean cut child could be quite a wolf in sheep's clothing. First impressions are often so important.

What does any of this have to do with modesty? Well, just as the acceptance to the language, violence, and personal appearance has increased, it has also increased in the area of modesty--or lack of it. It seems that 15-20 years ago, a Victoria's Secret ad/catalog would have been wrapped on the top shelf of the newstand at the gas station with a restricted purchase age. Now I find myself censoring my mail so that I don't bring soft-porn into my house. I don't feel like the TV, magazine or even commercial ads are very friendly to young girls and even young women...or men for that matter. It's been a newsworthy issue for some time, but has focused more on a girl's/woman's body size and shape than anything else. Girls have a Barbie doll body mentality that they feel is expected, accepted, and it led to eating disorders and unhealthy conduct. Other than efforts to tell girls that they are good enough no matter what their size and shape, the ads have not really changed much. Now it seems that in addition to that concern, there is one of what kind of clothing is acceptable and expected. The fashion trend is low rise pants, and low cut shirts, short shorts, and snug tops...all meant to flaunt what you've got.

I didn't always feel the way I do right now. I had a bikini and for a while I had a body that looked decent in it. I was in high school and college. It was really flattering if some boy thought I looked "hot". I liked feeling like I was the object of someone's admiration or attention. I had no idea really. I had no intention of ever sending a message that I wanted someone to do more than think I looked good. I would have been mortified if I would have known that someone could be thinking that I was someone I wasn't or, well, to put it bluntly, "easy" or looking for "something". In addition, I can't tell others what to wear or not to wear if they're not my children, but I feel that they could be made aware that I don't feel it is appropriate for them to be "revealing" when in the company of young boys. It is the public swimming pool I'm talking about here...I think lifeguards shouldn't wear 2-piece suits. I think they should have 1-piece suits on that won't possibly fall off or come untied during a rescue. I can't keep my kids in a bubble, but it sure would be nice if I could take them to family places without feeling like I should be offering a sex education course.

Until I was a mom of boys, it didn't quite make sense like it does now. After all, it is my job to protect their innocence, to guard their hearts. I recognize now that it is no fair at all to a boy (or a man even)to bombard them with so much bare skin. They have a hard enough time keeping those hormones in check when there isn't temptation in front of them. It may seem harmless...try to tell that to the devoted husband who is a sex addict. Try to tell that to the boy who desires to remain pure until marriage, but can't get away from it. Being a growing boy is hard enough business without adding the carnal pressures and temptations. This may be one of the most difficult things to teach young children because it is everywhere. You can't just turn it off. I'm not suggesting that my girls will be wearing turtle necks and long pants year round, rather that we will find alternatives to bikinis, tight fitting clothing, short shorts, pants that one can't squat down in, deep V shirts, skimpy skirts. I don't think it is necessary to send them to the pool in wet suits, but there isn't any need for someone to see their belly or their cleavage or their butt cheeks at the pool or anywhere else for that matter. There are clothing options out there that are just as flattering to someone's figure that actually cover the areas that should be left to one's imagination. It's so hard because it seems that barely dressing is the norm...but to many teenagers, so is having sex with anyone, anytime because it's fun and everyone is doing it. Why wouldn't you dress in a way that is quite revealing when the intention is that someone will want to have sex with you. I guess if that is the goal... God intended it to be so much more, but that's a whole different blog post!

Now, I don't mean to sound like modesty is a girl-only thing. It isn't. Seen Abercrombie&Fitch lately? Walking by the store seems a bit sinful! I don't want my boys parading around with their ripped abs turning heads to reveal half buttoned jeans and the waistband of their briefs! Attractive? Probably, but tends to lead thoughts to a whole different direction than "hmm, I wonder what gym he works out at?" And realistically, a girl's mind doesn't even begin to go the speed and direction a guys mind does. Will they look attractive with a shirt on and their pants buttoned? Absolutely. What does this image of a very fit and good looking guy who has already started taking his pants off, or hasn't quite finished putting them on lead us to think? That he can't button them and he needs a different size? I may be stretching here, but I'm thinking more along the lines that it appeals to the idea of continuing to undress him...that by wearing A&F, there is a much better chance of having sex with someone. How would I feel if Tim was ripped like this? I won't lie and say it wouldn't be extremely sexy, but I can say that...I married the guy! That's right, I said it. Too much information?? Hee Hee!!!

It's hard to imagine that this starts early, because what is more cute than a baby's naked little butt and their poochy little belly? I guess if it is just a "no" from the get-go, it won't be difficult to change later. I recognize that this is a "soap box" post and that if just anyone reads it, I would probably have to defend it or at very least upset someone who may not feel the same way. Bottom line: we teach the importance of modesty in our home to protect our children and those who they associate with. They are taught to respect their bodies and to have respect for others. I believe that we can instill enough confidence in them regarding their bodies that they won't have to feel like they have to show them to everyone to get approval...that people will like and respect them for who they really are without a first impression that their lifestyle or desire is less than pure.