The Bare Essentials: What I Tell My Daughters About Modesty

I was practically born in a bikini.

Okay, so I was probably wearing less than that.

But I did grow up hearing my mom tell people that I was only 3 weeks old when I took my first trip to the beach. Living close to the sunny Southern California coast, it’s where I spent most of my childhood—at the beach.

And, if you didn’t already know this, beaches and bikinis . . . well, they just kind of go together.

Like mint-chip and ice-cream.

Or something like that. 

My point is that I didn’t exactly grow up in an Amish community and modesty wasn’t the hot topic for those of us immersed in the beach culture.

Even though I attended church, I honestly don’t remember the topic of modesty being brought up there. Not in Sunday School, in sermons, or at youth group. Maybe I just missed it, but it was rarely, if ever, mentioned in our church setting.

So I feel a little funny telling you this, but it wasn’t until I was all grown up – a wife and a mother – that I realized that modesty wasn’t merely a “nice” subject for “nice” girls, but was actually a biblical one. Like, it’s literally found  in the Bible and that I should probably try to figure out what modesty really means. (I Timothy 2:9-10)

I said I was a mom, but I should add that I’m a mom to four girls. So not only did I need to come to grips with this whole modesty thing, I now had the responsibility of teaching our daughters about it. And it’s not quite as easy as it sounds.

Do I “lay down the law” and decide what the girls can – and can’t – wear? Or do I ignore the topic altogether and hope they figure it out for themselves?

Neither of these approaches set very well with me.

I’ll admit that I wish it was defined a bit more clearly. You know, what modesty is and what it is not. Seems to me that it would have made things a lot more simple.

But then again, the Bible also says we’re to “love one another fervently” and doesn’t explain the “rules” of how we’re to go about that. Yet it doesn’t keep us from seeking what love might look like. How that might play out.

So modesty doesn’t come with a rule-book either. But I’ve decided I’m willing to wrestle with it. And our daughters are right there with me and we’re working it out together.

Does modesty merely involve wearing more clothes? Ditching the bikini? Never wearing jeans? Always wearing skirts? But never short skirts? And . . . how short is “short” anyway?

I’m sorry, but you’re going to be disappointed if you were hoping that I’d answer these questions.

Except maybe the one about the bikini. That got ditched. A while ago.

But I do still love mint-chip ice-cream, just so you know . . . and if you wanted to send me some. 

What I can tell you is what I tell our teenage daughters. What I believe to be the bare essentials about a woman and modesty.

The Bare Essentials: What I Tell My Daughters About Modesty

Modesty has far more to do with our hearts, than it does with our clothing. Anyone getting all caught up in the apparel is probably missing the point.

Our beauty should come from within and not be wrapped up in our bodies. True beauty is found in our hearts and will be evident to anyone around us. Baring our bodies doesn’t make us more beautiful. No matter what the world might tell you.

God made women with feminine curves and that’s nothing to apologize for. So we don’t need to hide them, just not accentuate them to a point of distraction.

Save sexy for marriage. It’s the best place for it. In fact, it’s a great place for it.

Sometimes it helps to get a second opinion. Does this work? Too little, or too much? This is what friends – or sisters or mothers – are for.

Modesty doesn’t have to mean frumpy. No need to completely abandon style or taste in the process.

If God had wanted modesty to consist of a bunch of rules, He would have listed them out for us. Just remember the point is not to see how much – or how little – we can get away with.

Our definition of modesty might look a bit different than that of others. Some of our friends wear only dresses and some of our friends wear only jeans. As it happens, around here we wear both.

Sometimes modesty means simply dressing appropriately for the occasion. In other words, don’t wear a ball gown to the beach and don’t wear your bathing suit to the dance.

My job as mom is to teach the principle of modesty, but I didn’t sign up to be the Modesty Police. You belong to Christ and I won’t be dictating your clothing choices.

The Holy Spirit will guide if you ask Him for wisdom in this matter of modesty. Look to Him for direction and you will do well.

Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. ~ I Peter 3:3-4

So, my dear daughters, I hope you always walk in love and forever in beauty.

Imperishable beauty. 

Because you are truly precious.

In His grace,

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*I always welcome comments and discussion and look forward to hearing your thoughts and questions. A gentle reminder, however, that Club31Women is a community where we strive to speak both grace and truth, so please refrain from insulting, divisive, or judgmental comments.  Thank you ~ Lisa


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