There once was a time when I thought I was considered modest. A conservative modest, nonetheless. I never broke the dress code at my small private high school, I wore a shawl with all of my prom dresses, and I even added off shoulder sleeves to my wedding dress.
And then, I had a semi-hellish experience as a teacher, where a mom decided to publicly crucify me for having a belly button ring. Yes, moderately/conservative/goody t-shoes, had a BELLY BUTTON RING? Lordy Lordy. I didn’t broadcast it but one of my students figured it out. This mom spread the news around school, and suddenly, my stomach became the topic of everyone’s conversation.
And, 7 months later, my stomach once again became the topic of everyone’s conversation, when I finally became pregnant with our Gregory. (Spoiler Alert– I don’t still have a belly button ring. After I was about 6 months pregnant, I decided I didn’t want to be “that” mom and took it out).
It was then I entered the “Mommy Era” of Modesty, where everything is turned upside down on it’s head. For the first 24 years of my life, I was taught to COVER UP my chest and make sure that cleavage didn’t miraculously escape and flash someone. For the next 3.5 years, I had to teach myself how to strategically UNDRESS in public so as to nurse my baby.
Nowadays, I think less about modesty, and more about convenience. Thoughts such as, “If I wear this, will I still be able to pick up the kids and not embarrass myself?” are what I deal with. I think this is why I always want to wear yoga pants– they just don’t let you down in the comfort-meets-function department! Being a mom with young kids is basically an athletic event, right?
When it comes to skirts and church, I stick with the “longer is better” code because I am involved in a 2 hour standing/bending/picking up marathon. I love wearing boots with skirts, because it’s spring time and the sun hasn’t quite met my skin in a while, giving my legs a transparency vibe (and not the good kind). And a scarf just makes everything better, am I right?
See this awesome bracelet my sister in law gave me for Christmas? You can find it at World Market. And if you say (or politely think to yourself) that I have veiny hands, I KNOW, RIGHT? Every nurse in my entire life looks at my veins from afar and says, “OOH! You have great veins!” like a vampire.
What are your thoughts on Mommyhood and modesty?Related posts
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Becky @ bybmg says
Great post. I definitely regret the times I wear the jeans that I have to continuously worry about hiking up and the top that is just not quite long enough. Scarves totally make everything better!
Ugh, jean-butt crack is the worst! 🙂
a life from scratch says
Ok, I laughed at the vampire comment….! too funny! You look lovely as always and I’m with you on the scarf and I tooooootally had a belly button ring as well!
You too? I keep feeling like we have so much in common. It was a total impulse late night studying decision.
This topic makes me mad. I spent SO many years of my young life being body-shamed and told to cover up. I can’t help it if I have big boobs and hips! I felt like the only way to satisfy the stringent modesty requirements in my conservative home-school program was to wear shapeless baggy sweatshirts, and that I was personally responsible for the lustful thoughts of the boys at my school. I feel like the whole “modesty” thing sent the message that my body was wrong and bad and needed to be hidden, and it’s no wonder that I developed an eating disorder and body dysmorphic disorder for so many years. I remember just HATING my body and wishing I didn’t have one. I wish that we we didn’t put the burden of purity on the way girls dress, and instead taught our sons that they are responsible for their own purity, and that they are not the victims of any tank-top or pair of shorts that walk by.
I wish that as a girl, that I had instead been taught that my body was a beautiful and incredible thing, and that it wasn’t shameful or in need of hiding. I wish I had instead been taught that I could use my body to run marathons, and climb mountains, and bring forth new life. I wish the modesty conversation had been discussed in terms of respecting my own dignity and worth as a human being, and not in terms of filth and shame.
Nowadays, I don’t even care anymore. I don’t feel embarrassed when I nurse my baby, though I will respect other people’s embarrassment if it makes them uncomfortable. But that’s what these boobs are made for! I’m not going to let my baby starve because someone else has oversexualized breasts. It’s THEIR job to keep themselves pure, not mine. So I am modest, but only insofar as it is part of treating my own body with respect and reverence, and a thing of worth and dignity. Because the only way to be 100% sure no-one is stumbling over your body is to wear a burka. And even then, what if burkas turn someone on, when they imagine what is underneath it? The only really safe route is to never leave your house, and to limit contact with males to family members. I don’t think that’s the freedom Christ calls us to, do you?
Yes yes yes to the discussion about dignity. Girls don’t respect themselves and their own taste, which is why they go with whatever’s “in” or dress how they think others should see them. The modesty conversation is obviously something that requires a much longer post unpacking all of this. Working at a Christian school, we wish it wasn’t so much about how short skirts are, how thick straps are, etc., but about whether or not the students look nice and ready for school! We need to be teaching our kids what to wear and how to dress, or they’re going to hit the job market clueless. We wish we could send a student to the office for being sloppy, even if they are technically following all the rules.
Rachel G says
Yes, I think convenience and comfort is an issue as well as modesty. I was recently helping my Mom pick out some dresses and she wanted them to come down at least to her mid-calf because of getting up and down off the floor–she won’t be uncomfortable or worried about her skirt if it’s long. She doesn’t even have very young kids anymore but is still active and involved with children’s programs…and for the most part the less-modest clothing doesn’t tend to be exceptionally comfortable…
I agree! Then again, baggy shirts are usually the hardest to bend over in without flashing people, so tighter is sometimes better for convenience…ah!