A long time ago, two teen brothers were talking to me about this subject. One of the young men said he thought girls who dressed immodestly did it on purpose. I disagreed. He said they knew what they were doing. I disagreed. He said they wouldn’t dress that way if they really loved God. I disagreed.
Why do beautiful, godly young women dress immodestly?
Just so we’re understanding each other, let me define modest and immodest dress.
Modest dress covers the body. It isn’t short, tight, or low-cut. Modest is not sexy or provocative. A woman wearing modest clothing looks respectable. The beholder is drawn to her smiling face.
Immodest dress may or may not cover the body. It is suggestive and may include slits, openings, off the shoulder, low neckline, or be short or tight. It attracts the beholder to the wearer’s body and away from the face.
So, why do precious girls who profess Christ wear short shorts, skirts above the knee, skimpy swim suits, let their tops fall off their shoulders, show off straps, and put on clothing that fits like shrink wrap? I believe it’s because of:
- Ignorance—The woman genuinely doesn’t understand how her dress affects others. She doesn’t understand that the men and women who see her make judgments about her character by how she covers (or doesn’t cover) her body.
- Peers—She dresses like her friends. She wants to be like them.
- Parenting—Dad and Mom don’t insist on modest dress. They might even encourage her to show off her figure and skin. They might buy her immodest clothing.
- Misunderstanding—She doesn’t understand the concept of mystery. A beautiful girl who consistently dresses modestly shows she has dignity. Anyone who knows her feels respect and awe. What you don’t show the world is special. Modesty understands this.
Here are a few real problem areas when it comes to dress:
- Sports and exercise—Today, many girls wear sports bras with clingy pants to do these activities. Are they modest? No. Are they necessary? No. You can do a workout in a long crew neck T-shirt and looser pants. No problem at all. Choose modesty. (There is never, ever any need to wear short shorts.)
- Weddings—I hear the excuse all the time, “I went to the bridal shop, and all they had were strapless dresses.” I did the same thing some years ago with my own daughter. One store’s sign bragged “1,500 dresses on site,” but they didn’t have one with sleeves. (They did offer an out-of-style bolero jacket.) We decided on Plan B: we called all the bridal shops in the city and found four that had dresses with sleeves. We visited all of them. We also went online. If you type in “modest bridal gowns,” you will find everything you can possibly imagine and more, many in a price range you can afford. These sites usually also have beautiful dresses for your bridesmaids.
- Swimming and beachwear—Again, if you want to be modest, you can be. Search online for “modest swimwear.” There is no reason at all to be mostly naked on the beach!
- Fashion—“This is really ‘in’ and all my friends are wearing it.” Okay, fine. You can choose to be a clone, or you can choose to be “in” and wear modest clothes. You can really look fabulous and be modest. It isn’t either-or. Take the challenge and look for beautiful, in-style, modest clothing. This year, midi-skirts and maxi-skirts are stylish. Find one, pair it with boots, a great jacket, plaid shirt, and a wonderful scarf.
So, you see, it’s all how you choose to dress, how you choose to live. How do you want to be perceived?
- Do you want everyone to look at your body, or do you want to save it pure and holy unto God—and for your husband’s eyes only?
- Do you want to show off your body or show off your dignity?
- Do you want a little bit of mystery about you, or do you want everyone to know everything?
- Can people who see you tell you’re a Christian? Or do you look like everyone else?
- If you don’t know how dress impacts both men and other women, do some reading on this subject.*
- What are you advertising through your dress? A sweet face? Your body? Christ?
Quite a few years ago, a young man was talking openly with my husband about some of the Christian girls he knew. How did he describe them? By how they dressed. (He later chose to date and marry a young woman who was consistently modest. He admired her character.)
I really understand girls who don’t dress modestly, yet they love God. In my youth, I wore some things that weren’t modest. I wasn’t aware that my walk wasn’t consistent with my talk . . . or my heart, which truly wanted to please God. I sincerely didn’t understand.
If you want to stand out for Christ, dress modestly. If you want to be refreshingly different and attract the right kind of attention, dress modestly. If you want to show you are a serious, respectable person, dress modestly. If you want to be accepted for your ideas, intellect, and personality, dress modestly. Most of all, if you want to represent the Lord Jesus Christ, dress modestly.
In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel,
with shamefacedness and sobriety;
not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array;
But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.
(1 Timothy 2:9-10)