Sometimes modesty is simply thinking about whether other should notice that you’re there. Since modesty isn’t only about clothes but about conduct, it’s important that we ask ourselves if we’re drawing attention to ourselves with what we wear, and thereby making the situation worse?
Cindy from Chocolate After Supper superbly illustrated this point in a comment about what modesty is had this to say:
I think modesty also involves blending in with those around you, as in, “not drawing undue attention to yourself.” I respect the values families exhibit when the mom and all the daughters are wearing long skirts and athletic shoes, but it does draw attention to them because it’s so odd in our culture. All should be in context.
For example, my daughter and I spent a couple of summers trying to find modest swimwear and it was an uphill battle. Where do you draw the line between practicality and modesty? We finally decided that the most modest thing for us to wear was a one piece bathing suit with swim shorts — rather than something so modest it looks like it came from the 1800’s– because at a public pool that is proper in context and doesn’t draw undue attention, and therefore we look modestly dressed. By contrast, someone wearing a swimsuit at the grocery store (like we’ve seen some women do in our small town) looks embarrassingly un-dressed. It’s out of context, and draws undue attention.
By the same token, we found that when we spend time hanging out in the river it feels more modest and appropriate to wear t-shirts and cutoffs, rather than a swimsuit, because, once again, a swimsuit feels out of context, and therefore immodest. And we found that clothes that are appropriate and modest in the context of gardening or picnicking are not the same ones that are appropriate and modest for a church service or a wedding. (although sometimes I’m embarrassed by how undressed the bridal parties often seem to be….My boys think it looks like someone gave all the bridesmaids’ dresses a hard yank, leaving too much dress at the bottom and not enough at the top…)
We found that if we looked carefully, we could find fashionable clothes that are still modest. Or alternatively, we could make them modest by layering or wearing undershirts (check out this site: shadeclothing.com)
This is a lot more fun and interesting than wearing oddball clothes simply for their “modesty,” and no one is staring at us.
So, there’s definitely something about not drawing attention to oneself, but at the same token we can’t be all going naked because everyone else is. This is one of those slippery areas where there needs to be firm standards, but there also needs to be care such that we do not draw negative attention to the cause of Christ.
8 thoughts on “One Who is Modest Does Not Draw Attention”
I don’t want to sound holier-than-thou, but I’m of a different opinion on this matter. If I decide, for example, that showing my knees is unacceptable, it’s unacceptable, period. If I can’t find a modest bathing suit, I just won’t swim, or will swim in a women-only area. Inconvenient, but I think it’s not too high a price to pay for modesty.
It’s important to know where the line is– that much is certain. Personally, I don’t know where my line is in regard to bathing suits. And if there’s a different line for small children and adults. What is a shame is that we have to have these kinds of discussions because people take advantage of the whole bathing suit thing.
I think that if you draw the line at certain body parts, then I think that you logically have to refrain from beaches with men present– that is right. If you have a lesser standard as far as what is acceptable, then the point is not to draw attention to yourself. Again, personally, I’m not sure how any bathing suit that clings to the skin is modest. Is it possible that it is more modest because everyone is wearing that: to me that’s the hard question.
I just can’t bring myself to believe that it is about NOT drawing attention to ourselves. I don’t think that should be the focus at all. In my opinion, dressing modestly should be about wearing garments that cover what God deems as nakedness, regardless of what society around us is going to think.
We all have our own personal tastes in the style of clothing that we want to wear, and that is just peachy. If one woman wants to wear a loud floral dress from her neck to her feet, good for her! If another lady wants to wear a stylish pencil skirt and coordinating sweater, that is just peachy for her too! 🙂
I think it is a sad thing to expect anyone to set aside their own sense of comfort or fashion for the sake of fitting in with the masses, so long as they are not showing off their nakedness. There is nothing wrong with looking “stylish”, just as there is ALSO nothing wrong with sticking out because you wear a “plain” style, etc. 🙂
You see, I think that it’s both, Jenna. I think it is definitely covering what God deems as nakedness. There’s a line in the sand that’s “this far and no farther.” But the humble side of modesty must try not to draw attention to oneself. But I’m beginning to definitely think that the comment is too far– I’m much more along the lines of avoiding the beach rather than going there. Or at least finding something more private.
I have read people’s responses to my comments, and I think many are misunderstanding me. For example, Jenna said,
“I think it is a sad thing to expect anyone to set aside their own sense of comfort or fashion for the sake of fitting in with the masses.”
I’m not suggesting that “anyone set aside their own sense of comfort or fashion.” Quite the opposite. I’m suggesting that, for myself, I don’t have to be uncomfortable in a long denim skirt with athletic shoes to be modest. For me, I feel immodest if I feel like I stick out and draw attention to myself. I’d rather no one really noticed me, so I like to dress in keeping with my surroundings– as long as I’m still covered, of course. Skimpy clothing is just as uncomfortable.
Several times it’s been suggested in this discussion, here and elsewhere, that according to this logic we would find ourselves naked in a nudist colony. My response is, “If you are concerned about modesty, as in ‘covering nakedness’, what are you doing in a nudist colony?”
If the fashions ever get to the place where absolutely nothing for sale anywhere is even remotely modest, I will be one of the first to create my own fashion for the sake of modesty.
“I’m suggesting that, for myself, I don’t have to be uncomfortable in a long denim skirt with athletic shoes to be modest.”
Of course you don’t! 😮 ) All that I am saying is that it is great for you to wear what you feel comfortable in, and just as fine for other women to wear what they feel comfortable in- even if it happens to be a long demin skirt that stands out as “not the norm”. *grins* I know that there are some folks that get so strict with what they think of as modest clothing, they would have all women in cape dresses and black leather boots every day. I’m not advocating that though, just that everyone be free to wear what they like, regardless of how “weird” our society may see them as.
On the plus side, while looking “weird” to other people may make one stand out- at least there is a good ice-breaker for starting good conversation. *chuckles*
However, I think we’d all agree, Jenna, that I shouldn’t go out dressed in strange clothes just to try to attract attention. At some point, people will stop asking and just look at you strange and think you are weird.
What really needs to be attractive is our heart and our personality– which is the point Peter is trying to make. That will attract people to us much more than me wearing clown makeup and clown shoes will.
Of course someone shouldn’t go out dressed in a strange manner specifically to try and attract attention. I also never suggested that anyone walk around looking like a clown. 🙂 Quite simply, the condition of the heart is top priority. Making sure that we aren’t walking around showing our nakedness is something that I think is beneficial, and what the Lord wants for mankind (based on what I have read in the Bible). Other than that, I don’t think that any of us have the right to judge others by their style of dress. Whether a woman wears a jumper dress and tennis shoes, or relaxed jeans and a sweater, each woman should be able to wear what she enjoys without worrying whether her sister in Christ is thinking ill of her.