September 09, 2007

Modesty the new 4 letter word.

Oh be careful little eyes what you see, oh be careful little eyes what you see, for the Father's up above and looking down in love, so be careful little eyes what you see.

This week has been a week that the topic of modesty has found its way into my head alot. First I read Roxanne's bold post about her talk with her 8th grade girls in her classroom about modesty and appropriate dress, I am sure those girls thought that she was making something out of nothing, but I say, all pre-teens and teens need people in their lives to share with them that modesty is about dignity and cherishing yourself and your body and not being willing to share it unashamedly with the world. It seems that this world is selling a plate of goods to our younger generation that will one day crumble under them. We need more Roxanne's to say it straight and not just look the other way.

Then I watched the Today Show this week, and they had a college age woman as a guest on their show, who had been confronted on Southwest Airlines for inappropriate attire. She was asked to leave the plane go buy something else to wear from the gift shop as she didn't have luggage with her, then catch a later flight. She was humiliated by a male flight attendant who was questioning her character in front of the other passengers. She asked what she could do to please stay on the flight and groveled her way into being allowed to stay on the flight if she pulled her skirt as low as it would go, to make it look longer and squeeze together the shrug sweater to cover the top. The sad part of this story is that I have seen girls in less clothes at church, in the malls, and on the cover of magazines. The woman wore the same outfit on the Today show so the public could judge for themselves if she was dressed inappropriately. I have seen more cleavage on grown women in church, her shirt and sweater were form fitting, but isn't that all they sell at most stores these days in the young womens section, her skirt was very, very, short. But the several of the girls in the parade I went to yesterday had school uniforms that were the same length. The woman on the airplane asked for a blanket to cover her legs during the flight and just sat there and cried. My heart ached for her humiliation. I think there was probably a better way to handle that situation.

Then the West Texas Fair and Rodeo parade was yesterday morning. I couldn't believe some of the cheer and performance uniforms for a couple of the schools. These particular schools are outside of Abilene for all of ya'll AISD and WISD people. One group of girls in particular had bare midriff tops and skirts that were shockingly short. These girls were in high school, wearing uniforms that have only and inch or two more material than a bikini, tattoo's and naval piercings. If I had been with my family I would have absolutely covered my boys eyes. The shock of the crowd around me very apparently assured me that I wasn't the only one who thought the family parade had turned to part burlesq*e show.

Recently I shot a wedding. One of the things I do is take pictures of the decorated getaway car. Normally the grooomsmen do something funny, silly or a sometimes a bit racey to the car and most of the time it is funny to the bride and groom and attending family and friends. The bride and groom warned me earlier in the night that I should be prepared and to please don't be offended by the truck. I just laughed and thought to myself that there wasn't alot I hadn't seen and no big deal. Well I went out right before the bride and groom made their way out of the reception for their getaway and was not prepared, nor would I ever want to be prepared, for what I saw. The groomsmen were proud of their handiwork and asked me to take pictures of it all. I could not even consider taking pictures of what I saw, and as I was walking around to the front of the truck, purposely not looking at anything specific, to find an appropriate angle I saw the most horrible image and that was what they attached to the grill. Begging me to take pictures of the vehicle I told them that it was pure trash and I wouldn't even consider asking my lab to print such ugliness. I got a couple of far away shots and thought about the sadness of what I was seeing as a send off gift to the bride and groom. I guess it is a tradition in this group to make the cars outrageous and each one worse as the guys get married, but there were children and families present. This was not a bachelor party (can't even imagine what that was like, bleck!), but a holy union and celebration between a man and a woman.

Today I am in church singing praises to God and that image popped into my head. That horrible image. I did all I could to get it out, but it just wouldn't go away. I had tears in my eyes because I was in my church, singing praises to the Lord, standing next to my family and something so unholy found its way into my mind. Now, I have a slight understanding about what men go through with all the inappropriately dressed women around them, on billboards, on commercials. And one doesn't even have to search out the trash, it finds its way to them, just like that picture did to me. I would have never gone looking for that, but it is now in my memory bank, stored away.

God can and will take that image out of the forefront of my mind, but it will be a constant battle of redirecting my thoughts for a while. That was just one stinkin' horrible picture.

Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things. PHIL 4:8

As a mom it is my responsibility to teach my children that they must not gaze upon the world accepting all they see as normal. I have to take a stand against what is not pure, lovely and admirable, in my home. I used to go see a movie not even considering the rating. Several years ago I went and saw a movie that was R rated, I hadn't checked the rating and never even bothered to look. There was a r*pe scene in the movie and I couldn't get my eyes closed quick enough and I left the theatre that night and told my husband never again would I walk into a theatre not having checked out a movie. I made a choice that day to never see a movie with a se*ually overt theme, n*dity, or anything that would put an image in my head that I wouldn't want in there. I have checked out every movie prior to walking into the theatre so I would never be surprised again.
I have a friend who wont let her teenage boys go to the swim club because there are too many skimpy swimsuits there for her boys eyes to see. I have a friend who has teenagers who like to watch the popular tv shows, but when something inappropriate comes on, someone in their family stands in front of the television facing their family until the scene finishes. There are ways to be creative and not check out of the world completely. It is impossible to leave your house or turn on your tv and not be hit with trash that can make its residence in your mind, that can make something that is very wrong, seem normal because it is shown as normal on all the tv shows. I think that for me the most important thing is to not accept what is going on around me and my family as "that is just how things are nowadays."

I would love to hear from ya'll how you handle this part of our culture with your children or yourself. How do we as followers of Jesus, be a part of the world, but not be part of the world, looking no different than the non-believers around us. How can we bring an emphasis to purity and modesty and be relevant to our children and those around us?


Sarah said...

Someone brought this point home to me when I was grinching about how expensive an internet filter was. She said, "Yeah, but those are your babies -- and once they see whatever pops up or they accidentally wander to, it's in their head." So very true!

I don't have any creative solutions. I'm sure in a few years I will have great reservations about sending my son to the swim club, as well. What's worse, many of the girls who are dressed inappropriately will be his sisters in Christ. As moms of girls, we have GOT to be bold in our talk to our girls and stop tormenting boys struggling to remain pure in thought.

I wish, as a nation, we could convince clothing manufacturers to make modest clothes, but obviously, immodesty sells these days -- even in the tiny girl section. YUK!

Roxanne said...

I have no doubt that God can and will help to push that image to the back of your mind, but I, like you, have images seared into my brain that will never ever go away. Some I put there of my own free will--others were accidental.

Unfortunately, we even have to sensor the news. . .we are kind of like the family that has someone stand in front of the t.v. It's "real life", but I don't exactly want my children to know that some mother or father did something unthinkable to their child or someone else or each other. We hit the mute button A LOT or just turn it off altogether.

In our home we can monitor what images go in, but in the Wal-Mart bathroom yesterday I was brought LITERALLY face to "cheek" with a woman who had on an OUTRAGEOUSLY short skirt and NO underwear. Her top was low cut and there was, again, no underwear. (Tony told me to give her credit, she may have had a thong on.) Amazing. Luckily the kids were too busy drying their hands with the air dryer to notice.

As for Victoria's modesty, we have already begun the Harding fingertip test. If she can put her hands straight down by her sides and feel skin on her legs, it's too short to wear out--she can wear it to play in around the house, but she can't leave the house in it. That may see a bit ridiculous to impose on a newly 9 year old, but she doesn't question it because that's how it is. I am hopeful and even confident that little measure of modesty will stick.

jessica said...

This is something I have struggled with for a very long time. 3 or 4 yrs ago when I adressed it with a group of church friends I got the look that said I was being unrealistic... but it didn't change how I felt or feel about it. Rt has struggled with images on the compt and it isn't fair to him or any other male to be bombarded with images at church that could also be found at the club on a friday night.

Here is my personal struggle with this right now though... My girls and I discuss often the issues with modesty and clothing because Megs can fit into the clothes in the jr section. They know what my expectations are and that everything we wear says something about ourselves. When we see people (at the pool or at church which seem to have the two biggest issues) Megs usually asks me "why her mother lets her wear that." How do I answer that question without sounding judgemental? How do I teach my children and protect them from this stuff without 'talking about' others. I mean, most teachable moments happen when someone else is not wearing or doing what they are supposed to do. I am especially stressed out about behavior right now as we have a mom in church who lets her 3 girls run wild in the church and Megs doesn't understand why I won't ler her roam the halls with the 3 girls. Ugh!

holly said...

We don't have cable. While the channels we do have need to be monitored theres not much on there my kids care to watch. We cover our eyes and don't look at the T.V., we turn the channel, or we do something else.

We have started trying on almost all clothes before we buy them. This helps control how low the size 4 low rise jeans are. We make sure they cover before they come home with us. Right now the girls aren't into skimpy....but I know that day will come.

If they are like I was they'll own the bikinni and change after they leave the house.

Anonymous said...

One of my friends said to me "I really don't think my daughter is immodest, I just think she wants to be in style."
We believe that a girl hearing the message from her DADDY is much more powerful than from her Mom. After all, Daddy was once a young man, and probably remembers how the demon of lust came after him, too.
Most of these kids' clothing is bought by parents, so there should be some consistent rules by which the kids have to abide. "Just say no" and don't be afraid of your kids. Who is in control, anyway?
Most of all, the character of God must be brought into any teaching we do with our kids about modesty, which has to to with purity, which goes to the very heart of each of us.
God bless you for wanting to be proactive instead of reactive!
Peace to you & yours,
Sharon Winkler

Karen said...

Even though my religious beliefs differ from yours (I deeply respect your beliefs regardless), we share 100% a belief about teaching our children about modesty, purity and the value of chastity. Like your other commenters, I limit what my kids watch on tv, I will only shop in certain stores for my 6 yo girl, and I do my utmost best to model modesty of person, thought, and behavior for my kids. I think your commenter Sarah hit the nail on the head when she wished that manufacturers of clothing - and tv shows and the like - would think about their own children or future children when designing and producing.

(PS - Sorry about the lurking. You write a very personal blog and I bet it can be a little freaky to see a complete stranger commenting, but this really spoke to me. I think its vital for people of all creeds to learn about each other in order to bring peace to our world. Your journey through faith, which you write about with so much heart, has been enlightening to me.)

Denise W said...

My two cents, late: I felt bad for that girl on the Today show but when she sat down - she showed her WooHoo. I was glad that it was blurred since my son was watching.

I'm with Roxanne - teaching early. Like now. I turn down things for Abbie - they are just too much! I think I may even start the Harding test...

One thing we do over here - we stress "our family." "Our family" doesn't go there. Or "our family" doesn't watch that show. Or "our family" goes to church every Sunday. It's difficult to teach that people can have their own opinion and be so different from us. "Our family" seeks to honor God and we are His people.