Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Modern Modesty

Last week I saw a blogging furor happen on another dear blogger's site.  The kerfuffle was a result of a post about SAHM's dressing nicely.  The guest poster used a adjective that was not well received by many of those who read this lady's blog.  And it all got me to thinking.

Modest dressing is quite the topic on many blogs.  Particularly by those who are conservative and believe that modest Christian women should wear dresses rather than pants of any kind.  This approach has always fascinated me.  What would you tell a Scotsman whose traditional dress is a kilt? And what about the men of Fiji who wear a straight skirt type of garment?  Then there are the men of PNG, whose idea of modesty and wearing men's attire is grass over their behind and a length of fabric hung over a wide belt thing in the front.  No doubt the traditional costumes of the women there would have the conservatives amongst us in a dead faint.  Having lived in a cross cultural situation, I find statements about what is appropriate and what is not to be quite odd.  It appears to me that each culture has their idea of what should and should not be worn and what constitutes modesty.  I think it would be wrong for any of us to impose our views on other cultures when it comes to dress code.

Of course, our culture has it's own sense of what is modest and appropriate and what is not.  I am quite tired of seeing the top bit of lace of young woman's bras.  And I'm tired of seeing the tops of their undies.  I'm really sick and tired of seeing most of a young male's backside.  Really...underwear is exactly that.  Items that are worn UNDER clothing.  Recently when we were visiting some friends I sent both my daughters back to change before we left.  Our friends have a mid-teenaged son and strappy straps and shorty shorts were, I felt, inappropriate.  Dh recently told the father of this boy of the conversation we'd had at home before visiting them and he thanked Dh for our sensitivity and the care we had shown for his son.

There are many items of clothing that I find difficult to understand as being appropriate. I'm not sure if I'm just getting old, but since most of my friends (both older and younger than I) agree I think I'm not too far off track.  Jeans that are painted on, too much cleavage, leggings with no skirt over the top...I promise you there are a number of things my daughters will not be leaving our house wearing! 

I think modesty is more than just a collection of rules and opinions.  Modesty is about respect.  Respect for ourselves and respect for those around us.  We show no respect for ourselves if we are showing personal attire or parts of our bodies that are not meant for public viewing. Our peers will have little respect for us either.  Indeed people who dress like this often earn pity rather than a positive reputation.  They could be the nicest person in the world, yet the way they dress will colour how others view them.

Likewise we should respect others in the way we dress. It is not fair on those around us when we insist on wearing whatever we feel like, knowing that what we wear will impact on those we are with.  While, in simplistic terms, we may have the right to do so, it shows no regard whatsoever for those around us.  Our responsibility to those around us must surely be more important than our rights as individuals.


Rel said...

You know my thoughts on this one, Trac :)

Good post!

Hugs xo

Left-Handed Housewife said...

I tell my boys that combing their hair and dressing in nice, clean clothes is a way of showing respect for others. They continue to dress nicely under protest, but one day the lesson will stick ...

I had an interesting discussion the other night with the mothers of girls--they say that it's hard to get modest clothes for eight year olds these days. How sad!


Tracy said...

It's true Frances. We've found the same thing. It's a tad easier now that the girls are into women's sizes. Now we just battle trends.