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I write a lot about modesty, mostly because it is a topic I’m experienced with and have a lot to say about. There are a lot of myths about modesty floating about society and social media, so here I’d like to address the more prominent ones that I’ve noticed:
Dress Codes are Sexist
This one arises primarily because dress codes are much more detailed for women than they are for men.
A large part of this is because there are so many more options for women than there are for men. When looking at dress wear and formal wear, women have choices about the color, fabric, sleeves, neckline, waistline, cut, hemline, and more. Men can choose color and, to some extent, cut, but mostly men’s dress and formal wear look more or less the same. Women’s dresses, on the other hand, have enormous variety. Many of these varieties involve showing off a woman’s boobs, back, or butt. When suits come with thigh-high slits or tops that threaten to fall off, then I’m sure men’s dress codes will become more detailed as to what is appropriate.
The other reason women’s dress codes are so detailed is that so many young women appear to not know how to dress themselves. Take a look on social media and you’ll find numerous stories of a young woman sent home from school or a dance because of immodest clothing. She or her mom or sister posts a melodramatic rant about what a sexist organization such-and-such school or church is. Social media, without question and without fail, fawns all over the victimized teen and joins in in vilifying the evil sexist patriarchy. The school’s only recourse (besides allowing anyone to wear anything) to events like this is to have a painfully detailed dress code so no one can claim they didn’t know what they were wearing wasn’t allowed.
In short, dress codes are not sexist. They are very detailed about women’s dress because modern fashion has a lot of variety and encourages immodesty, and there is always someone who will try to exploit any and all loopholes in the dress code.
Modesty is Optional
“Bare shoulders won’t keep you out of Heaven.” “Cleavage won’t keep you out of Heaven.” These are types of comments I’ve heard and seen. They are sometimes paired with a good message, that God looks at who we are and not how we look. These comments, however, overlook the fact that modesty is a commandment. For Latter Day Saints, in particular, it shows a lack of understanding of modesty, because immodest dress will keep you out of the temple.
Different Christian denominations have different views on what exactly constitutes modesty, of course, and I take no issue with that. What strikes me as a dangerous sentiment is that God’s commandments are subject to our opinions. We are not commanded to obey only those commandments that we want to obey or are convenient for us to obey. We are commanded to obey all of God’s commandments.
Deuteronomy 30:8 says: “And thou shalt return and obey the voice of the Lord, and do all his commandments which I command thee this day.”
Modesty may seem like an unimportant thing compared to other commandments, but willfully breaking any commandment makes us unclean, and “No unclean thing can inherit the kingdom of heaven” (Alma 11:37)
Young Women Should Dress Modestly To Keep Young Men from Thinking Impure Thoughts
I don’t know where this one came from, but it needs to die. I don’t have any personal experience with a teacher or leader teaching this, but others have, so I guess it’s a thing.
The reasoning goes, that young men looking at young women dressed immodestly will encourage the young men to think impure thoughts. I think Xander from Buffy the Vampire Slayer said it well: “I’m seventeen. Looking at linoleum makes me think about sex.” There’s not much young women can do in the face of that.
Additionally, we all have agency. It is our own responsibility to choose the right, regardless of what people around us are saying and doing.
Potiphar’s wife bluntly told Joseph to sleep with her. He refused her; nevertheless, she persisted for several days. One day, she managed to get him alone and even grabbed his robe (or some such article of clothing). He literally left the robe in her hands in his hurry to get away from her. (Genesis 39) Joseph had ample opportunity to commit sexual sin, but that did not excuse him. He was responsible for his own actions even when Potiphar’s wife was actually throwing herself at him. Young men today are similarly responsible for controlling themselves regardless of what the young women around them are wearing.
“Choose you this day whom ye will serve…but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15)
Modest is Hottest
At first, I thought this was a fun and harmless motto. It’s catchy, and reinforces the idea that you don’t have to wear a burlap sack in order to be modest. We can dress stylishly and still be modest.
But as I thought about this more, I saw how it draws us towards the world’s standards and away from God. What does it mean to be “hot,” after all? It means to be sexually desirable. If you are trying to look sexually desirable to the world, then you have missed the whole point of modesty, regardless of how much skin is covered.
We are supposed to be in the world but not of it. As long as we buy into the idea that a woman should make herself appear sexually attractive whenever she goes out into the world, we are of the world. When we are modest we can focus on more important things than our appearance: we can focus on eternal things.
Modesty is Just About Skin
Modesty doesn’t just include the number of square inches our clothing covers.
Modesty includes the cost of our clothing. Do we spend more money than we can afford, or money better put to other things? Do we buy certain items so we can feel better than others? Do we do we value our clothes and appearance more than we value others? This attitude certainly draws us away from God.
Modesty includes our language and behavior. Are we rude or disrespectful? Are we arrogant or showing off? If we are modest, we show kindness to others. We are thankful and gracious when others help and serve us. We are patient. We are willing to listen and to learn from others. We are willing to admit when we are wrong. Modesty means humility, particularly before God.
There are a lot of conflicting messages in the world about modesty. It can be hard to sort through them all to find the truth. That makes it all the more important to rely on God instead of our own wisdom, and God has commanded us to be modest.
There’s a lot of mixed messages about modesty out there in the world. Let me help you sort them out.
Also the left: Christian women who practice/encourage others to practice modesty are oppressive, part of rape culture, teach girls to be ashamed of their bodies, and analogous to forcing women to wear a burka! Also, you’re probably sexist!
All that mental gymnastics must be exhausting. No wonder the feminist moralizing fashion police are so cranky.
A while ago, I watched this interesting video. Caroline Heldman of Occidental College makes some really good points in the first part of her talk about what constitutes sexual objectification. If an ad focuses on just one sexy part of a woman’s body, for example, or implies that being sexually attractive is her most important characteristic, than it is sexual objectification. (That last one covers very nearly all advertising that has women in it!)
Ms. Heldman also points out that such objectification has become increasingly prevalent in the last 10 years, largely due to the increase of consumption of technology. We see approximately 5,000 ads a day. Honestly, that statistic was quite surprising to me.
Her analysis becomes considerably less useful when she gets to the “Plan of Action” part of her talk. She gives a lot of vague fluff about encouraging women to “stop objectifying themselves” and for men to not judge women based on appearance.
Well, that sounds nice, but it’s a bit too fluffy.
My advice to women is: Don’t buy fashion magazines. Avoid partying and celebrity gossip. Dress modestly. Practice chastity. Choose the people you spend time with and the places you go to with care.
The extreme sexual objectification of women we see in today’s society is only possible because women are complicit. Actresses and models who wear skimpy clothes for movies and advertising are doing so of their own free will. Actresses in blockbuster movies performing nude scenes are not doing so with a gun to their heads. They are willing participants in their own degradation. Similarly, women who wear skimpy clothes are actively objectifying themselves. They think they are empowered, but really they’re just inviting men to think dirty thoughts about them.
Of course, once I say something like this, I’ll have lots of whiny feminists accusing me of “blaming the victim.” Let me be really clear: a skimpy outfit does not in any way excuse sexual harassment, assault, or any other kind of aggressive or demeaning behavior towards women. You don’t, however, get to control other people’s thoughts. Something seen can not be unseen. If bending over at work reveals your thong, you can’t really expect your coworkers to not remember that, or think about it later.
Personally, I have experienced relatively little of what could be termed sexual harassment. This is largely due to the type of company I choose to keep. I spend time with people who treat me with respect, and avoid the ones who don’t.
I know many men who like to act very macho, but that “macho” behavior never means harassing women. In fact, they would be the first ones to defend me if someone tried.
If you go to a boozy party with a bunch of drunken college students, for example, you can expect to be harassed. If, as a woman, you go alone to a bar, you can expect guys to flirt with you, and it’s entirely possible that they will be uncomfortably persistent.
Why are guys in bars so obnoxiously persistent?
Because that kind of behavior is being rewarded, rather than discouraged.
When a woman goes to a bar, gets hit on, stays put, and goes to the same bar again, she is sending the message that she doesn’t really mind being hit on. If a woman does not tell him no in no uncertain terms, or keeps coming back without saying anything, she is actually sending the message that she doesn’t really mind it.
So…what should you do with unwanted attention at a bar?
First off, tell him very clearly that you are not interested. Don’t hint or try to be cute; he might think you’re actually encouraging him. Secondly, leave. Tell the manager you are leaving and will not be back because of the rudeness of his clientele.
If enough women choose to not frequent a bar because the guys are jerks, one day, one of those jerks will say something like: “Hey, how come there aren’t any women in here any more?” and someone will respond with something like: “Because you’re a pig!”
You might counter that you deserve to go to a bar without being harassed. I agree with you. Therefore, you should find a bar you can go to without being harassed. A bar that allows harassment of its female customers does not deserve your business.
People seriously underestimate the value of the free market. If a bar loses enough business from all the women going elsewhere, management will make changes.
Women have a lot of degrading, objectifying media to deal with. Teenagers and adolescents are particularly vulnerable to its harmful messages. It’s sad and horrific. Participating in it, however, will only make it worse. We have to make a stand against the sexual objectification of women by refusing to participate in it.
I like to post about a variety of things. My blog is kind of all over the place. The posts that always get the most views are the ones that are controversial in some way. Sometimes I choose controversial topics on purpose in order to get more views.
But a lot of things that seem like no-brainers are controversial now. Things like “camel toe is inappropriate for work” and “holding Republican politicians to one standard and Democrats to another is hypocritical” have gotten me some very strong backlash, both on WordPress and on Facebook.
Of course, that doesn’t mean I’m not going to say them anyway.
So far as I know, only one person on Facebook has unfriended me over the views I express in my blog. But I have noticed something interesting about some of my Facebook friends: they only comment on my posts when they disagree with me. Not on my posts about travel, movies, the funny things my students say, or any of my other benign topics. Nope, only (or almost only) the political ones, and only to disagree. It’s very disagreeable.
Granted, there aren’t very many such friends. I don’t plan at this time to unfriend them, but it does make me wonder why I friended them in the first place. I think the lesson from this is that quality matters over quantity, and I’ll only friend people on Facebook that I truly connect and want to keep in touch with.
You’re going to think I’m totally weird. Okay, I am totally weird, but keep reading anyway.
This might change your life.
I am about to explain to you how to make mashed bananas on toast, or, as I usually call it, “mashed nanas on toast.” I learned this from my dad, who learned this from his mom. I don’t know if it goes back any farther than that, but that’s far enough to say it’s been passed down in the family.
Use bananas that are ripe, and even heading towards overripe. Add a glop of the fruit spread of your choice.
Then you mash it all up. I ended up adding a third banana. You can add more banana or more fruit spread as suits you.
Then you spread it on toast. I grew up on wheat bread, but once I started buying my own groceries, I found I rather preferred sourdough. You can also spread butter on the toast first, but I didn’t (sorry, Dad).
This made enough for 6 pieces of toast. On average, one banana yields enough for two pieces of toast. You may need several napkins.
Go ahead, try it.
It may change your life.
No period is happy. That’s right, I’m looking at you, Always.
Periods range from incapacitating pain and uncontrollable tears to functional (but still lousy) discomfort and crankiness, with possibilities everywhere in between.
But a period is never, ever happy.
That is all.
As I’ve said before, I hate exercising. Passionately. Over the last year, however, I’ve started exercising regularly, mostly because I want to eat food that actually tastes good and still be skinny. (No, vegetables will never taste as good as bacon. Salad will never taste as good as pizza. Fruit, though enjoyable, isn’t a substitute for ice cream.)
I’ve tried a lot of different exercise videos (I refuse to go to the gym) and didn’t find anything I could really stick with until I found Fitness Blender. They also have a YouTube channel, which is where I found them. Daniel and Kelli are a husband and wife team who both work in fitness and created this site to make fitness more accessible to average people. I recommend them to anyone who is trying to get in shape but is struggling with sticking with a fitness program.
Their videos offer many advantages:
- Time – Many of us struggle with finding time for a workout. Many of the fitness programs out there include hour-long workout videos, and, frankly, I do not have time for that. As it is, during the school year I had to get up at 4:30 to find time to workout. Good news is, Fitness Blender has videos as short at 5 minutes long! I typically use their 10 minute abs workouts and 15 or so minute cardio workouts.
- Variety – I don’t know about you, but I get bored really easily. I don’t want to do the exact same workout more than once or twice a week. Fitness Blender has so many workout videos that I don’t even know how many there are.
- Adaptability – New to working out or have bad knees? Fitness Blender has numerous low-impact cardio workouts. Bad back? There are gentle lower back workouts. Bad posture? There’s an upper-body workout especially put together to help with that. No matter what your physical need, there is probably a workout to help you work around it. Unlike the hour-long super-intense workouts, there are numerous workouts from Fitness Blender that allows you to create a workout that accommodates your needs while still getting enough exercise. Plus, in many of their videos, they explain ways to make the exercises easier or more challenging.
- Clarity – The camera stays put. Clear instructions are given for each exercise, particularly ones that are more complicated. I’ve seen some exercise videos that become nearly impossible to follow, probably because the cameraman is dancing, too. Fitness Blender is never like that.
- No background music – Allowing me to listen to whatever music I want to while I workout.
- No fake encouraging crap – In one of the videos I use regularly, Kelli even says “Do what you can” instead of the typical “You can do it!” Seriously, after doing one of Billy Blank’s tae bo videos a few times, I wanted to punch him for his annoying pep talks. The attitude of Fitness Blender, when they comment on your motivation at all, is more like, “Yes, we know it sucks. Do it anyway.”
- Cost – Oh, and did I mention it’s free?
Seriously, Fitness Blender is awesome. I don’t even like exercising, but I’ve been able to stick with regular exercise for a year now because Fitness Blender helps me make exercising work for me.
Their website: https://www.fitnessblender.com/page/about-fitness-blender
YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/FitnessBlender