Sunday, May 20, 2007

The Importance of Being Modest

Dressing modestly has become an issue to me in the past months. I'm not tempted to dress suggestively in order to garner some sort of male attention, but other reasons have caused this to be an issue. For one, I lived in Brazil for six months last year. My day-to-day outfit was a spaghetti-strapped tank top and capris, and I was dressed quite modestly in comparison to most. However, I don't feel comfortable at all wearing that here without some sort of cover up (and probably rightfully so). Another reason for this is that I know that V-necks look better on me because of my face and shoulder shape. Crew necks just look bad, and when I think I look bad, I feel bad. Conversely, when I think I look good, I feel good. So I dress in ways that make me feel confident.

Appropriately and thankfully, I've heard many a sermon on the importance of dressing modestly in my life, so I have a conscience for such issues. I know it puts out a message I don't want to communicate, and also I do feel a sense of responsibility for not being a stumbling block to others. Modesty is important.

Follow me on this; I believe they're related.

Recently I was talking to a good girl friend of mine about a relationship she is in with this guy. It's been going on for years and has been a destructive force in her life, but still she seems to find herself back in the same situation over and over again. And the key to her falling back into the pattern again and again is the small but significant emotional connections he evokes (provokes is perhaps more appropriate?) with her. I think this is the same thing as "leading someone on" or I've also seen it called "emotional defrauding".

It got me to thinking though, because I've seen this same thing happen with so many of my girl friends and also in my own life, and in talking to my friend I put the term "emotional immodesty" on it. It's not done intentionally all of the time and certainly not limited to men, but it does happen, and is quite comparable to the struggle women have with dressing modestly.

I don't think it's an over-generalization to say that men are visually stimulated more than women and women are emotionally stimulated more than men, and it's hard for each gender to fully comprehend the effect one has on the other in these areas*.

This might be the difference; I honestly don't know because I am not a man and have thus not had a male's upbringing in a Christian community. Girls and women are fairly often reminded of their responsibility to dress modestly. Are men warned of the temptation they can present to women emotionally? I honestly don't know, so I'm asking.

This just struck me recently. If anyone has any cheers, jeers, or other thoughts on this I didn't mention, please add your comments. I'm really interested in seeing what others think.

*Of course there are men and women who use these temptations purposefully as weapons against others or for their own gain, which is a sin and really quite hateful.


Bijoy said...

Cool blog, i just randomly surfed in, but it sure was worth my time, will be back

Deep Regards from the other side of the Moon

Biby Cletus

JAPierce said...

Ok, I'm way behind on reading your stuff, so I'm just going to have to start from here:


You might have to go into more detail for guys to even see where you are making the connection between clothing immodesty and emotional immodesty. But agree.

Jason Fry said...

From a guy's perspective, we received far less training on emotional modesty than you gals did on clothing modesty. It's hard to judge the extent of the problem from my perspective, but if it's anywhere near as bad as the problems our society's women have with their clothes, it's a big problem.

I've never seen modesty framed that way, but I tell you what, it'll preach.

crittermer said...

I definitely think you're on to something. My question would be what kind of teaching needs to be taking place to help men (and women, for that matter) be aware of and on guard against emotional immodesty? As you stated, most of us have heard a good deal of teaching/preaching about the importance of dressing modestly and keeping a tight reign on our television viewing habits (to name of a few) so that the dangers of physical immodesty don't get the best of anyone. What kind of tangible examples need to be at the forefront of our teaching so that we can be on guard against the dangers of emotional immodesty? I really think this could be a great point; I just need some help conceptualizing it! Ideas, anybody?

Anonymous said...

wow ann, great point. it's too bad it's not worded this plainly more often--I definitely agree with your points! it's a cool way to think about it, I'll be referencing "emotional and physical modesty" from now on--what a simple and easy way to compare and explain how important they both are.

Pamela said...

I haven't had any blog surfing time since my class started but I did read this last night right before I shut the books and went to bed. You have a an amazing way of expressing your thoughts Ann, and you also have some pretty profound thoughts. Eventually I'm going to post this to my blog as well although i have a little bit of blogging catch up to do before I can get to that point. :)

Dan Lovejoy said...

Sorry to be so far behind.

I think the phenomenon you're describing is probably codependency:

I'm not sure what you mean by "emotional modesty," but I do know a couple of people that are so self-absorbed that they can't seem to focus on anyone but themselves because of an addiction, a hurt, or a character defect.

The hurting/self-centered person doesn't depend on God. Instead, he/she dumps on family and friends and depends on them to be an emotional heat sink.

Codependency is VERY common in the families and friends of these sorts of people.

I would say that in the vast majority of cases where the relationship is bad and everyone knows it, but nobody wants to break out of it, codependency is running rampant.*

(* - I am NOT a therapist)