Saturday, July 9, 2011

Pretty Pretty Princess

     After many conversations with Amy and with friends, it occurs to me that I have been shockingly remiss. What is it, I say to myself, that keeps me from fitting in with the crowd of female Christian bloggers? And, after thinking and thinking and thinking, I answer myself, why of course! I have not written a post about modesty yet! How rude of me. I therefore made the decision to leap on the bandwagon with all the aplomb in my feminine soul, and I’m just sorry I got here so late. However, that shameful negligence is behind us now, and without further ado, I shall present, for your inspection, criticism, and erudition, my thoughts on the subject of modesty (many of which, I might add, were thieved from Amy. Yes, plagiarism, the good old standby of the unscrupulous!)


     Modesty, and the definition thereof, has become a very very big deal. It depends on who and where you are, but in the circles in which my family has traveled in the past, modesty basically means
 dressing a) as plainly as you can or b) in clothes that are at least a size too big for your frame. The rules vary, but the gist of the idea is to convey to The World that you are “set apart.” Also, one must agonize daily over whether or not one is “causing brothers in the Lord to stray,” meaning, in essence, that it is a mortal sin to dress in such a way that a male might possibly view you as attractive. And above all, do not try to be pretty, you brazen, loose woman, you.


    That’s what it really comes down to, you know. Feminine beauty, and how we ladies feel about ourselves. The other posts on modesty I’ve read all have similar themes: “It doesn’t matter if you’re pretty on the outside as long as you’re beautiful on the inside.” It’s true, of course, but people always seem to add a subtle little clause along the lines of, “so you shouldn’t mind looking plainer than you really are.” It’s used to manipulate us and make us feel bad for longing to be beautiful.


     Because we all do, don’t we, girls? It’s a basic feminine instinct. I want to be pretty. I want it more than I care to admit. Beauty, the external beauty that people pretend not to care about, is vastly important to us. We like to look in the mirror and see someone pretty and attractive smiling back at us. And we like other people to see her too. Somehow, the idea that we look nice lends us confidence and happiness. It’s not the key to enjoying life or the world’s most important virtue or anything, but it feels good to be a pretty girl. And you know something? There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. God loves beauty. Girls, He made us beautiful on purpose! Why should we not celebrate that? And why should we not dress in a way that shows it?


     And I’ll tell you something else, too. It’s crazy difficult to feel beautiful in a denim jumper and a turtleneck. I’m not saying that you girls who wear these things are unattractive, because that would be both wrong and mean. But you get my drift! You’ve felt this way too, haven’t you? I know you have. Denim skirts and loose blouses are all right in their place, but they become tiresome very quickly. Do you ever have a fleeting, traitorous wish to own a pair of those blasphemous, trendy shorts that are just too short (well, they expose your knees, for goodness sake! And practically half your thighs! Don’t you know what men think of when they see a woman’s knees?)? Do you ever think that maybe you would look nice in a tank top? It’s not like you’re in a quest to expose all the skin you can without being jailed for indecent exposure, but sometimes… sometimes you just want to be pretty. And tank tops and shorts and dresses that hit above the knee… they’re so pretty! And deep down in our feminine souls, there is much we would give for the chance to feel pretty without feeling guilty.


     Because there is a definite coldness toward pretty girls in these circles. They aren’t exposing more skin than other girls or anything, but just catch a naturally beautiful girl dressing a little too fashionably…! No one says anything, but you can feel it. Resentment. Animosity. And no one likes that. It hurts. So they plain themselves down a bit, and that’s no fun at all, but at least the other girls will smile at them now. I don’t know exactly how to put this phenomenon into words, but I’ve seen it happen. It’s not exactly like everyone hates them, but there’s a definite disapproval. And, as I say, these girls aren’t dressing “immodestly” in any way: they’re just pretty.


     I’m not going to say anything in this post about how the inside is more important than the outside, and how if you’re a beautiful person inside that will shine through for all the world to see. I believe that that is true, and it’s a lovely sentiment, but for just a moment let’s be ruthlessly feminine and focus on how we look! There is nothing wrong with wanting to be pretty. We are female, and that’s something we like. It’s not vanity to like to be beautiful. It’s only natural. And don’t let anyone tell you different.


     And don’t fret yourself about your brothers in the Lord, either. They can take care of themselves. Any lusting or whatever is entirely his fault, and there’s no reason whatsoever that you should bend over backwards to make sure that men don’t find you attractive. Besides, men aren’t… okay, most men aren’t animals. They aren’t going to start salivating and acting like beasts just because your shirt does not come to four fingers above your collarbone.


     In short, the same God who paints the brilliant sunsets of molten gold against the jagged silhouette of the mountains every night made you. He put the brilliant ruby feathers on a hummingbird’s breast. He throws dancing patterns of light from the rippling sapphire ocean on the sides of neatly painted sailboats. The delicate, creamy pink satin of rose petals was His creation. Wide amber eyes on the backs of butterfly wings, the mysterious patchwork of shadows and light on a leopard’s coat, the crystal sparkle of sun on snow, He takes pleasure in these things. He likes things to be beautiful. Between ourselves, I am quite sure that He would rather you enjoy your life and feel like a pretty pretty princess, a child of a loving, laughing King, than worry about whether or not people approve of your style.


     Dress like what you are: a pretty girl. You, my dear, are beautiful. Feel like it.

Who says?
Who says you're not perfect?
Who says you're not worth it?
Who says you're the only one that's hurting?
Trust me
That's the price of beauty
Who says you're not pretty?
Who says you're not beautiful?
Who says?
~Selena Gomez, Who Says

10 comments:

  1. Thank you for correction your negligence on this issue ;-) I enjoyed your blog. I was looking at modest swimsuits last night and I definitely would rather have a modest swimsuit that looks attractive than a modest one that feels like I'm wearing a tent. I think we desire to look/feel/be seen as beautiful because that is part of our inherent design of God. And, while modesty is important, so is the divine design of beauty (not just inner, but outer beauty). Tho' I would say we should still be aware of how we dress can affect the male audience. I completely agree they ought not to just drool over what the girl is wearing...Guys notice and appreciate a girl who doesn't let everything hang out. And to look attractive doesn't mean either showing no skin, or showing more skin. I think it has more to do with finding the colors and styles that look good on you (I've even discovered there are some materials I can wear and others that don't look good on me) and fit your personality. I tend to shy away from yellow because it makes me look pale. I don't like to wear very bold bright things (like a zebra pattern jacket, etc) because that doesn't fit my personality. And I don't wear typical t-shirts because they make me look frumpy. Okay... I am done rambling. Also, today my little boy turns ONE! It is very exciting. Anyways, thank you for your posts and I hope you have a great day. =)

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  2. Good job, Andrea! As a mother of both teenage girls and boys, let me just say--young men want young ladies to dress attractively! It is not sinful to embrace one's femininity and to celebrate it by dressing attractively and stylishly.

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  3. I love this so much. In fact, I've been listening to that song lately and I laughed when I saw it! It never ceases to amaze me how we are all learning the same things. You nailed it in this post. Thank you thank you. <3

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  4. While I like a lot of what you're saying, I don't entirely agree with how you put it. Dressing modestly and dressing fashionably/nicely aren't mutually exclusive. Although I agree that women shouldn't feel obligated to wear nothing but denim jumpers (and all the rest of that nonsense), I do think we also have a responsibility to dress modestly. Beauty and sexuality are not the same thing; dress to show off the former, not the latter.

    That said, I definitely agree that femininity should be celebrated! Loved the post too, by the way-- it's the perfect length and very well written. Hope to see more like this in the future. You're such a good writer, I'm jealous! ;)

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  5. Elizabeth, congratulations! Tell your little boy I said happy birthday! Thank you for your comment, and I think you are right: showing more or less skin is only one element of fashion sense, if that makes sense. Some people can pull off shorter shorts and tank tops, and some (myself among them) cannot. It depends, as you say, on personality, coloring, etc. 
    Mrs. McKinney and Jessica, I am so glad you appreciated this! I was thinking of you a bit as I wrote it, actually. :-) I love that we are all learning and becoming bolder!
    Emily, I agree with the idea that dressing modestly and fashionably are not mutually exclusive. Obviously, there are limits as to what is tasteful and appropriate, but I am taking issue with the people who set up rules so that their "limits" fall outside the realm of what is pretty and stylish. I don't agree with banning tank tops, any skirt that hits above the knee, etc.  There's a whole world of difference between showing off a good body and showcasing the beauty God has blessed us all with.
    I really hope all this made sense!

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  6. Andrea,
    I LOVE this post. You really hit the nail on the head. God made us to want to be beautiful. Wearing something attractive and wearing makeup isn't sinful. I think it also helps a girls confidence when she wears something attractive.Thanks again so much!
    Joanna
    P.S. I love that song. Just be yourself and if people judge you shame on them.

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  7. I love everything about your comment, Joanna! And it's true; feeling pretty does wonders for the confidence. And I think a lot of us need all the confidence we can get.

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  8. Andrea!!! I LOVE the wallpaper- DON'T EVER CHANGE!

    Yes, I agree with all you say. But, I actually agree MORE with Emily in the end! Thank you Emily, for you insight. That's exactly how I would have said it.

    When I write a blog and get around to modesty, I will just link to this page because you all say it so much nicer then I ever would... is that cheating? How 'bout if I just do a lot of quoting? LOL!

    Favorite quote: "It's used to manipulate us and make us feel bad for longing to be beautiful."

    The only thing about this new format that is a little yucky is that I can't really ready other people's comments... the font is to cursivey:(

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  9. And... I just was astounded by your insight that some women are shamed for their beauty simply because other women are jealous! I never realized that! That is so true and so wrong I can't begin to begin to begin to tell you how much that makes me angry.

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