The Daily Mail’s (United Kingdom) opening story was a feature about a meeting between the Prime Minister, Theresa May, and Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister of Scotland. One can imagine the importance of such a meeting, the ideas exchanged, and the gravity of the situation, as “Brexit” (the British exit from the United Kingdom) was just around the corner. What was the photo? A picture of the two women seated together, focusing on their legs. The title said, “Never Mind Brexit, Who Won Legs-It!” Inappropriate and sexist? Absolutely!*
Now, Mrs. May and Nicola Sturgeon are both known for their sharp and (usually) modest clothing. The skirts they wore weren’t actually short, but when they sat down, they rode up. The photographer chose a low angle, which maximized their legs, and this photo ended up on the front cover of the newspaper.
If you’re a woman, and you want to prevent people thinking of you as your body instead of your ideas, I have some great tips for you. (Some people are twisted and only see people as bodies. They have a problem! You can’t prevent all sexist talk.) But, you can go a long way to prevent people ignoring your ideas and objectifying your body.
Here are my tips:
- When you try on skirts or dresses, before buying, make sure you can sit modestly. Sit on the seat in the dressing room. See how far the hem rides up. If it’s above the knee, from any distance, it looks short. If it covers the top of your knee, you need to keep your knees together and not cross your legs. If it covers your knee completely, you’re safe.
- If you will be seated on a platform or in a public space—anywhere—make sure your skirt is quite long.
- Be careful with low-cut tops. If necessary, layer.
- Watch armholes in sleeveless clothing. After trying on your outfit, stand next to a mirror. Stand sideways, and even look at the backside of the arm opening. Lift your arm. Move around a little. Can people beside or behind you see more than you would like them to? If so, consider buying clothes with armholes close to the arm—or wear sleeves.
- Be alert to tightness. The other day, I saw a news presenter who was wearing a top that completely covered her body. It was in a bright, pretty color. Over that top, she wore a black cardigan that buttoned just under the bust, leaving her curves popping out of it—in an eye-catching color! She was covered, but every outline of her chest was on display. Be careful about anything that’s tight—on any part of your anatomy.
- Be careful about accents. Since the way clothing looks depends on your body shape, be conscious about the parts of your body you don’t want to call attention to. (Ask a trusted friend, if you need an honest opinion.) For example: does a pocket, stripe, or flower fall right on the bust? Is the pocket detail on the curve of your backside? Does the cut accentuate bust, hips, or thighs? Be careful with color blocking, too.
If you want to be taken seriously, you need to dress like your ideas matter more than your body. Dress with class and flair, and keep modesty in mind. That way, no matter who takes your picture or where, no one will title it “Legs-it.” I promise.
Finally, let’s read a part of the description of the Virtuous Woman of Proverbs 31. Notice what she’s remembered for and how she acts, speaks, and dresses.
Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.
She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms.
She is not afraid of the snow for her household:
for all her household are clothed with scarlet.
She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple.
Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come.
She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.
She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.
Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all.
Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD,
she shall be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands;
and let her own works praise her in the gates (Proverbs 31:10, 17, 21-27, 29-31).
Let’s be women that people remember for our contributions to family, the Lord’s work, compassion, and strength. Our clothing choices are a big part of that. Let’s honor God!
* March 28, 2017 front page, The Daily Mail.