I got an email from my friend the other day regarding a post she’d seen on women and modesty. After some conversation, she asked me how I handled the topic of modesty with my girls.
I answered that we’ve talked about modesty as we’ve gone along.
Foundation of Modesty
When they were younger, we’d run into the Barbie Basics collection at Target. Most of the girls are dressed even more inappropriately than a normal Barbie and I’d just calmly explain that I didn’t think they were dressed appropriately and I wasn’t going to spend my money on them.
As they’ve dressed, I’ve tried to guide them as we go. Those shorts are too short, you need a tank under that shirt or those pants are too tight.
Just this weekend we were watching an awards show and one girl was showing too much cleavage and Scott piped up that her dress was inappropriate.
My girls know the phrase that’s inappropriate.
The email got me thinking though. What have I taught my girls about modesty? Sure, I’ve given them rules but have I explained why it’s important?
Learning the Why
I read this post by Lysa TerKeurst the other day about how she taught her kids about texting and driving by getting them to teach her and her husband about the perils of texting and driving.
My girls are only 8 and 10 so that might seem too young to A, get them to make a presentation or B, have them reporting on modesty. But let me say. My girls can work Powerpoint almost as well as I can. And, if this news about Victoria’s Secret new undergarment line geared towards middle schoolers is any indication, I need to be teaching my girls about modesty. Pronto.
The Immodest Modesty Plan
So I had an idea.
I wanted to sit down with verses to explain the why and then see if they could report on some rules about modesty.
I was planning to somehow carefully cut pictures from magazines or Google pictures and let them sort through them and report back, but that just felt like a loaded gun.
And then it hit me.
I was going to dress up in (somewhat) immodest outfits and they were going to A-gag, B-tell me what was wrong and C-make a rule for how to dress that fixed it.
The Modesty Why
I had them read 1 Timothy 2:9
Likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works.
Immediately, they were asking why it mentioned no braided hair. Honestly, I sometimes struggle with that part and I think that’s why so many of us shirk away from teaching it.
I just explained that it’s more important to be beautiful because of the good things you do versus how you look, but the point was we should dress modestly and properly. (This commentary from David Guzik is a good one on the verse).
Then I had them read 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
I explained that since we have the Holy Spirit inside of us, our bodies are temples and valuable so we needed to dress like it—modestly, as the verse before explained. I asked them would it make sense to dress immodestly if you knew Jesus was with you. Lexi says “No, Jesus doesn’t want to see that!” Ah, I love her. Just for the record, Jesus has seen it all and can, in fact, handle it. But phrasing it that way helps their minds process the Holy Spirit.
I then explained that the Bible wasn’t specific about exactly what we could wear—shorts, dresses, bikinis, etc so I was going to play dress-up and we could decide together what was modest.
Writing the Modesty Rules
I was a little scared it might backfire because my girls like to dress a little sassy when they play dress-up but oh, when I walked out with a T-shirt tied on the side up to my chest with my stomach showing all the way down to my low-cut jeans, the girls faces told me I’d done just the right thing.
You would have thought I’d just killed a puppy.
Mother! You need to pull your shirt down!
So, immediately they were writing down the first rule (in the ShowMe app ), Cover belly.
Next, I pulled out a shirt with a wide neck that I normally wear on my shoulders with an undershirt, but let it hang off one shoulder nearly down to my elbow until the top of my bra showed.
Oh my gosh! I can see your bra! You need to cover your shoulders!
Make sure bra covered.
This was going better than I even expected.
Next, I put on a brightly printed bra under a thin white tank which I pulled down so you could see the very little amount of cleavage I have.
No light shirt, dark bra.
Scott walked in at this point with a very confused face. I think he really wanted to like the scenery but couldn’t process what was happening. The girls explained I was “homeschooling them about modesty.”
Next, I got some elastic gym shorts, folded the waist band down 3 times and pulled them up high. More gasping as I walked out. Your legs! Too much leg is showing!
Next, I put on some tight yoga pants but kept my short tank on.
Pants not tight.
I decided to really drive home the point and pulled the sides of my underwear above the band my low rise jeans.
Mother, I can see your underwear!
Don’t show undies.
At this point, Lexi took over and said, let me show you inappropriate.
Y’all, you don’t even know how much that statement scared me.
She told me to put a tank top on, my short white shorts and my tall gold wedge heels.
She’s said that’s inappropriate.
They decided if I didn’t have the heels on, it seemed ok but when you combined all three, it was immodest.
No tank, shorts and heels.
At this point, I think they’d experience too much of inappropriate Mother and were ready to move on. I circled back and had them repeat the why and let them bounce back down the hall to their room. We had a total of 9 rules that would satisfy almost any immodest plight.
A Modesty Stake
Through this whole exercise I kept thinking about Emma and Lexi as teenagers. Maybe the sway of wanting boys to pay attention to them will overpower any sense of decency at times, but I can’t help but think this was a stake in the ground for them to point back at in those moments.
I hope they can look back in their minds and remember writing rules with their silly momma playing dress-up one afternoon and they’ll be more apt to listen when the Holy Spirit whispers, let’s do better than that, child.
Moms of daughters, how do you handle modesty? We still have a few more years to hammer this in, so I’m all ears.
P.S. Apologies to anyone offended by the descriptions of my outfits. Just be glad I didn’t include the pictures Lexi took.