I was interviewed for an article recently, and was asked; “Obviously, the Bible teaches about the importance of modesty, but what do you say to people who aren’t Christians? Why should they care?” What a great question! So, let me answer that as best I can aside from my Biblical worldview.
Women dress to impress. That’s a given. That’s why we do it. Some women dress to impress men, and others dress to impress—or intimidate—other women. We do it impressourselves. If the image in the mirror impresses us, we conclude it must impress others.
So in this fury to impress, why do some women reveal cleavage, midriffs, bare backs or thighs? In a word: Attention. Whether negative or positive, no one can deny that a woman who dresses herself immodestly draws attention from both men and women. Not only that, she’ll use her natural sexual power that is absolutely unrivaled. If this were not true, advertisers would have found something else by now to promote their products. But advertisers know that nothing beats a woman’s body in getting attention.
But why the fuss? Who cares anyway? Isn’t it said, that “if you have it, flaunt it”? Maybe. But the deeper question isn’t why can we…but why should we. Why should I use my breasts to impress men? Why should I expose my upper thighs in a revealing miniskirt to get attention? Why do I have to have that kind of attention? Why can’t my strengths come from my abilities instead of my sexual prowess?
And we say men are shallow.
Secondly, either Biblical or secular, everyone knows that men are visual. Because I am certain of this (I am married,) why would I post an immodest façade that overshadows the internal gifts I really possess…my humor, talents and charisma? If a man can’t get past a woman’s scantily clad exterior to get to know her inner self, then she, not he, is to blame. It is what it is.
Thirdly, in speaking to women on this subject for several years, I have learned one common denominator with the issue of immodest dress: self esteem. What I have learned from personal interactions—and contrary to popular belief—is that women who dress immodestly have a greater negative body image than women who don’t. Many of these confirmations come from my 20+ years as a professional model, and working so close to others in the fashion industry. But far more come from speaking to and listening to teens and young women nationwide. But doesn’t it make sense? When a woman who struggles with a negative body image experiences a little burst of false esteem when she shows some skin and gets attention, what’s the harm? The harm is that her self esteem is challenged even further, and a vicious cycle ensues. She begins to find her worth in her “goods”, not her greatness. She will question her value beyond her sex appeal, and this is a dangerous journey for any female. I know, because I was her.
So back to my interview: Modesty in our society should be regarded with respect and courage. Draw attention from what you have to give, not gain. And yes, even that is a Biblical principle!
“…remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than toreceive.’ “
-Acts 20:35. (I just can’t help myself!)
-Rachel Lee Carter ©2010 Modeling Christ