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