Tuesday, May 31, 2011

I've got modesty on my mind.

As my daughter approaches her 13th birthday in June, I find myself thinking more about both modesty and purity (as well as how I'm getting old). Julia is growing up, and with that comes a gauntlet of subjects from clothes to heart attitude. I wonder how hard I should push on this subject, and what standards to put in place.

While my daughter and I are going through some growing pains in our relationship, she has generally been very good when it come to this subject. In fact, she really likes to know what is acceptable, and what isn't. I set off to do some searching with my trusty friend, Google. I found the Pure Freedom website, which had some very good guidelines:

This is the much requested list of creative tests to determine whether an outfit is modest or not. We developed them so a girl can go through the thinking process by herself and let her heart be molded into modesty rather than face a legalistic set of rules. These may work for you or you may want to develop your own tests. Try them out and send us new ideas!

"Is my shirt too tight?"
Take the tips of your fingers and press into your shirt right where your ribs come together in the "valley" in the middle of your chest. When you take your fingers away does your shirt immediately spring back like a small Smurf trampoline? If so, your shirt it too tight!
Solution: Get rid of the shirt. It's not going to get bigger overnight. Try a different bra first as sometimes that can make a huge difference.

"Am I showing too much belly?"
Stand and pretend you are totally going for it in worship and lift your hands up in the air with your arms fully extended to God. Is this exposing any belly skin? Even if you don't raise your hands to worship, just think of all the things you do every day that causes you to lift them up.
Solution: Go for layers and put a longer shirt under a shorter one. Our secret weapon: a ribbed t-shirt or tank from the men's department. They're nice and long and stay tucked in under a cool, trendy shirt.

"Can you see my underpants?"
Can you see a distinct outline of your panties through your pants, skirt or shorts? This can happen if your pants are too tight or because your undies are too bright! And while we're on the subject, can you see any straps from your bra? That's not A-O-K! The only straps showing on a girl of God should be the straps from her cute summer sandals!
Solution: Trash your tight pants. For lighter colored pants and skirts, keep a few pair of "Grannie Panties" (big plain white ones) on hand for a safe look. And as far as those bra straps...don't do it! Make sure your tank tops have nice wide straps to cover your bra.

"How short is too short?"
When you buy either shorts or a skirt, try this test. Sit in front of a full length mirror. Sit both "indian style" on the floor and with your legs crossed in a chair. What do you see? If you see too much thigh or your panties, guess what? So can everyone else. If you really want to up the ante, imagine that mirror is your dear ol' grandpa! (P.S. We stole this test from Susie Shellenberger at Susie Magazine.com! Thanks, Susie!)
Solution: Today's skirts are about extremes. Go for extremely long...extremely full...but pass on extremely short. As far as shorts go...they can be hard to find but keep looking! And check out the favorite places to shop on this blog. It'll help you find shorts with longer in-seams!

"Are my pants just too low?"
It 'aint cute on the plumber and it 'aint so cute on girls either. The terrible...the awful....crack view! Sit "criss-cross applesauce" on the floor. Bend forward as if you're about to devour a great magazine. Now, reach behind you and get a feel of what might be the featured view if your jeans are too low. (Or ask a girlfriend to check it out!)
Solution: Some low riders are just too low. Find a pair that won't cause viewers to blush for you.

"Tell me now...is my shirt too tight?"
When wearing a button down shirt, stand sideways and look in the mirror. Is the space between the buttons gaping open, even just a little bit? If it's pulling enough to cause a gap you're in danger of exposing way too much and in danger of losing a button!
Solution: NO Brainer. Shirts that are too tight are a totally bad idea if you want to dress modestly. It's not JUST about how much of our beautiful epidermis is showing, but how much of our shape is showing! Try buying a size or two larger. (If that bugs you cut out the tag when you get home.) Or, try a t-shirt under the button down and leave it open for a layered look.

"Is it cold in here?"
OK, girls...hate to bring this one up but when we get cold or nervous sometimes we can "get nippy"...if you catch my drift. When this happens, it is visible to others IF our bras are not thick enough. There's no test for this really...at least not one that I want to take!
Solution: Keep in mind that when you're wearing thinner shirts, wear a thicker bra to avoid this problem. When you have on a sweater or a thicker shirt, go for a thin and cute bra if you want!

"Is my shirt too low?"
It's time for a secret weapon! A men's tank.
Solution: Slip this under a button down that exposes cleavage below your hand when placing your thumb on your collar bone. You can also try a trendy layering technique by putting a button down under a polo or rugby shirt that plunges too low.

If you click through to the website, they have all of this on a really cute pdf you can print out. Go to Tips and More and then Modesty Tests. Here are some other resources I have found helpful:

From Positively Feminine

ABC News story on modesty - My favorite part:

Still, Sharman's message resonates for some. "When a guy thinks about me, I don't want him to think about me in the bathing suit that I wore to our swim party," one teen said. "I want him to think of me as the girl that helped him out with something. Like the girl that he wants to marry."

Another set of guidelines from the Pure Warrior website, which is aimed at men who suffer from pornography addiction.

So I have one final question, what do you think about spaghetti straps on a sun dress or romper in a hot Virginia summer? Should I make Julia put on a tank underneath? Ok for everywhere but church? Put a shrug on for church?

Let me know! This is all baffling!


  1. I'm not Christian, but I'm having similar issues pop up when buying clothes for my 8 year old. The guidelines I've come up with on my own are pretty close to the Pure Freedom ones.

    I've come to the conclusion that spaghetti straps are appropriate for at home, at the beach, or at the pool. Otherwise the straps have to be at least an inch wide on sundresses.

    Girls can have feminine, stylish clothes without looking like they're about to go clubbing.

  2. #3.....Many bras are now convertible to racerback so the straps are invisible under tanks.Try Victoria's Secret's PINK line, most of their t-shirt demi's are convertible with a hook between the straps (I own a few, and work there as well). For Mom? Almost all of VS's line converts to racerback now as well.

    The Pink line is designed for younger customers, so there are some simple, modest colors and styles. My daughter has some in plain nude and black that she wears every day.

  3. Wondering...why would her attire be different in and out of church??

  4. Brittany, I come from a family that gets dressed up for church, so I wouldn't allow her to wear jeans or athletic attire to church. Also some things that I would ok as a beach cover up, I wouldn't be ok with as a church dress.

    It probably doesn't make sense, but it is how my brain works.

  5. just found you and this resonates with me on so many levels! my daughters are 7 & 3. earlier this summer the 7 year old tried on a spaghetti strap sundress and asked, "is this much of my neck supposed to show?" to which i replied, no honey we will wear a white t-shirt under it. i am glad she thinks that way. now, she has worn that same dress to a pool party but that was a different situation. she also likes her shorts almost to her knees which are hard to find. i think about those things for myself also as she models what she sees.

    another issue is my 8 year old son ~ it's not affecting him yet, but what about the tiny bathing suits on the 12-13 year old girls at our neighborhood pool.

    i can't wait to check out the above sites!