Monday, June 24, 2013

Modesty

I have divulged the family secret that we are terrible about modesty in this house, so if there is anyone to speak truth on this subject I am fairly doubtful it would be me. Me, the mom who has on multiple occasions taken a child on outings sans undies. Me, the mom who doesn't own a bathrobe and generally has to attend to someone elses need upon exiting the shower before I can even attempt to get fully attired.

This does not mean I don't have an opinion on the issue because of course I do.

I have read many an article on the subject that sounds like this. Now that one is delivered with a bit more love than most, but the the tone is the same.

I grew up in the church. I have heard the spiel. Heck, I worked with the youth, I have GIVEN the spiel. The church and I both missed it. Yup, I was wrong even though my heart was in the right place and I threw scripture at it. Imagine that, you can be misguided even when toss the bible at a problem!

Here is what I believe I, and the well meaning church, missed. I will use the Cosby show to illustrate. Why the Cosby family? Because when I was a little girl I watched it and one episode spoke more truth into my life regarding modesty than any church sermon/youth event/women's book I have ever heard or read.

It went like this:

Rudy and her friend are playing in Rudy's room. Rudy's friend is wearing a head scarf. Rudy asks her friend why she wears a scarf on her head and the friend responds "My hair is my glory. It is a special part of me only to be shared in private, with my husband"

Are you struck with wonder and awe? Ok, maybe not. But here is what captured my little girl heart, she kept something covered because is was so super special. There was no shame, she didn't look embarrassed or apologize for being different. She held her head high, confident that she was worth the respect of being waited for. She believe she was covered not because she was so tempting but because she was so glorious. As a knobby kneed, spectacled, frizzy haired and awkward 8 year old, I envied that level of comfort in my own skin, I yearned for the deep held belief that I was so valuable I needed to be respected.

Guilt, shame, judgement and blame are all motivators, just not good ones. For so long modesty has been spoken of from a place of ugliness and I hope that in all my many parenting failures, I don't do this to my kids. Modesty is subjective, and like the article says, it is a heart issue. I just don't believe that they heart issue is the one she says it is. 

If a child is taught that what they have is so special, that it is there "glory", and that they are a true treasure, will they treat themselves cheaply? If girls are told that they are powerful, not tempting, and if they are reminded of the responsibility they have TO THEMSELVES to live respectfully, will they be more modest? If children are told and raised with the belief that the value they have is INTRINSIC and in no way externally measurable, will they live their life feeling a need to flaunt their...ahm...assets?
Honestly, I just don't know. But I will do my damndest to find out. 

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