The conversation about modesty tends to rear it’s head in summer time. Because you know what summertime means in our culture?
Bikinis. They are everywhere.
As a married woman, and a mom of a daughter and two sons, I notice my surroundings more than I used to, because I see them in light of what my kids are taking in. Which is why I found myself thinking through this concept just a little bit more while at the beach last week.
There was an insightful TED talk going around a few years ago, where former model, Jessica Rey, was sharing her thoughts about wearing bikinis and the evolution of swimwear.
In her video, she cited a famous study in which images of women in bikinis were shown to men. Brain scans revealed that the men’s brains would light up seeing a scantily clad woman in the SAME EXACT area of the brain that would light up when they saw a tool. Seriously. Like, a drill. There was NO emotional reaction or attachment observed in the brain, and researchers were able to conclude that women in bikinis actually caused men to react in a way that the women were simply seen as objects.
Whether or not you like this conclusion, it’s science based. You can argue with the facts, but they’re still the facts.
Which leads me to my next question, what, then, is the purpose of wearing a bikini? That’s what I want my daughter to consider one day when this question comes up.
Is it because it looks stylish? There are lots of stylish suits with more cover.
Is it to get her stomach nice and tan? Who’s going to be seeing that stomach?
Is it to get attention from the opposite sex? That kind of attention has nothing to do with true affection.
Is it because “I CAN”? Why not choose to assert your rights in ways that actually benefit you and society; in a way that changes and impacts the world?
Is it because “I have a nice body”? Yes, you do! And you should protect that awesome body from people who don’t value it.
It’s important to challenge culture and the perspective we have regarding modesty, because there’s a sad trend going around in which encouraging modesty has been slammed as “body-shaming”. As though covering up our body parts means we’re ashamed of them. “Don’t be ashamed”, says culture. “Flaunt it!”
But shame has no place WHATSOEVER in this conversation. This isn’t about covering up our body because we’re ashamed, it’s about covering up because we’re proud. I want my daughter to know that modesty is not body-shaming, it’s the very opposite – it’s body-VALUING.
You choose modesty because you value your body and realize that anything of value is worth protecting from objectification (and let’s not forget from the UV rays of the sun!) You choose modesty because your body is so valuable it’s not just for anyone.
In fact, as a married woman, I value my body so much that I choose to reserve it for the one I value more than anyone else in this world: my husband. Knowing that he will cherish it both physically AND emotionally.
In the same way, I want my daughter to value herself and in turn to value her body, because it’s so much more than flesh and bones. I want her to begin grasping that message now, as a little girl. As a teenager. And as a young woman.
All this to say, we’re saying no to bikinis in this family. Feel free to disagree. But that’s how we’re living our lives over here. Modesty is empowering, and it’s what we expect from both our girls AND our boys.
Catch the follow up article to see what I mean, because there are so many important pieces to this conversation: “Boys Will Be Boys” Until We Expect Them To Become Men
Debra Fileta is a Professional Counselor, national speaker, relationship expert, and author of True Love Dates: Your Indispensable Guide to Finding the Love of Your Life, and Choosing Marriage: Why It Has To Start With We > Me where she writes candidly about love, sex, dating, relationships, and marriage. You may also recognize her voice from her 200+ articles at Relevant Magazine, Crosswalk.com, and all over the web! She’s the creator of this True Love Dates Blog, reaching millions of people with the message that healthy people make healthy relationships! Connect with her on Facebook or Twitter or book a session with her today!