Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Speaking My Mind

Let's start off with a couple questions.

Would you think it appropriate for a woman to deliberately allow her friend's husband to see her in her underwear?  How about if she sent her friend's husband a photograph of herself in a bikini or otherwise revealing swimsuit?

No?  Really?  No?  Well then why, pray tell, is it any different for said woman to wear a revealing bathing suit in the presence of her friend's husband?  Or any other male she isn't betrothed to, for that matter?


Two years ago, we went to the coast of Florida to visit family.  It had been about five years since I had been on a crowded beach.  I don't think much had changed during those five years, but I had COMPLETELY forgotten the way many women (and men) dress (or undress) for the beach.

Everywhere I looked, I was looking at skin.  To not look at skin would have meant keeping my eyes closed the entire time (making it incredibly difficult to watch my children) or packing up and leaving.

I wanted to pack up and leave.

I didn't want my husband and my son AND my daughters to see what they saw everywhere they looked.  But we were on vacation...at the beach.  So, I convinced myself that it was normal and that I couldn't shield my family from every indiscretion, so I needed to buck up and get over it.

I hate that.

I hate it when society gets the best of me and I give in to it like some rubber-spined pushover.

One afternoon that week, Sam and I were at the shared pool at our condo.  The pool was otherwise empty.  We had been to the beach earlier that morning, but at this point Miriam was napping and Sadie and Jamey stayed back with her.  Sam and I don't get a lot of total one-on-one time and I was enjoying it.  Out of the blue he says to me, "Mommy, I like your bathing suit- how it has a skirt on the bottom and how your chest is covered up.  Why do those other ladies wear ones that almost show all of their privatest parts?"  This, coming from my (then) seven year old.

Good question, Sam.  Of course, I couldn't tell him what I really thought...but one day I will.

That little conversation prompted a new habit for me.  Even though my seven year old thought my bathing suit was modest enough, I've started wearing a t-shirt on top.  I don't want to (willingly) take part in possibly causing someone to stumble because of my swimwear choice (not that I'm even stumble-worthy).  The added benefits are that I'm so much more comfortable not having to worry about being properly covered or about getting sunburn in hard to reach/remember places.

So what brings this rant on now? Well, a friend I admire (thank you, Kimberlee) pointed me to this post.
This woman says everything I couldn't put into words here.  Please don't skip the video.  It reveals some fascinating research I had not heard before about, you guessed it, bikinis.

Alright.  I'm stepping off my soap box.  Except to say, we are approaching summer, dear ones.  Let's err on the side of being too deliberate...in the non-popular direction. Pin It


  1. I totally agree, my daughters have always worn t-shirts over theirs. I have always taught them to be modest. This is one thing they always thought was just gross to them (the are 19 and 20 now) I explained to them that yes young men might be looking at young girls, but so are old men. They now cant understand why parents would allow their young daughters to be googled at in bikinis. My son is 15 and I have to protect his eyes. Very sweet movie Soul Surfer, but I had explain to my son, I couldn't allow him to watch it because of this very thing. BIKINIS, I am proud of him not wanting to go to a swimming party last summer, because there would be girls in bathing suits. That made him uncomfortable. Parents are in control, they should teach their daughters to respect their bodies, then young men would also.

    1. Your children sound very nice and well mannered.You should be proud.
      However, I would be proud if my son went to an innocent swimming party with friends and set an example of being dressed modestly and behaving respectfully and just not hanging around the ill clad girls in bikinis. He missed out on an enjoyable time with good friends because of what others were wearing... Should Christian teenagers skip graduation, home coming,etc because they think some of the girls dresses are too short, because some of the graduating class uses drugs or alcohol or have different religious beliefs etc.? Of course not! We should be an example to others in what we believe and not shy away from innocent/ rewarding events because there are people there that are different than us.
      I completely agree with not watching a movie you feel is inappropriate. It is just a movie and not a life event.

  2. I think it takes maturity- as a human being but esp. as a Christian- to understand the whole 'just because it's allowed doesn't make it a good thing' (paraphrasing Paul). As I mature, I can see the cause and effect easier. I can understand that it is a kindness to be modest. A kindness to the man who might stumble because of immodesty. So, continue to speak your mind, Jane! This was well said and should be said more.

  3. Keep speaking your mind!Don't let society get the best of you..Show society what a great family vacation you can have while being respectful, modest and morally good.I am glad you did not leave. This is an excellent opportunity to lead by example. You do not have to spoil your family-fun time at the beach because of skimpy dressed women. They are just women who are wearing their differences and lack modesty and possible a good upbringing. I am sure there were many other people at the beach that were not as highly visible that are far worse. It was because of your choice to stay that you had a wonderful bonding moment with your son and an opportunity to speak to a per teen about this situation.Your son seems wiser than his years.

  4. I thought this was a very interesting & thought provoking post. I think I truly started thinking about the subject of modesty when I was first pregnant...and then nursing. My body changed so dramatically. And, I wasn't comfortable showing as much of it anymore. Then, I became more aware that it wasn't just because I wasn't as happy with my body, but because I truly felt more private about my body. And, it started to reflect in the way I dress.

    Also, I live in a community in which I am surrounded by Old Order (horse & buggy) Mennonites & Amish. While, I don't feel the need to dress as conservatively as they do, I definitely became more aware of how I was dressing. And, the low cut shirts I used to wear without a second thought, didn't seem as appropriate anymore. I even think twice before wearing a sleeveless top or blouse.

    That being said, I also like the 2 comments that Anonymous left. I think that we can live as an example. And, we live in this world....I don't think we are meant to separate ourselves completely...rather to live in it, just not of it.

    With four young boys, I know that helping them discern between the world's messages & God's message about modesty...and many other issues...is going to be a mighty task indeed.

  5. Very well spoken. Remember though, we are not home yet, and will at times have to be around those who do not value our beliefs. We are not called to stay home and preach to only our family. We are to go out and spread the gospel, even if that means God placing us in a situation we may be uncomfortable with. Stepping out of that boat is hard, but we must in order to spread God's amazing grace.

    blessings, jilly

  6. Stay up on your soapbox, there are those who are feeling the same way, but just aren't sure how firm to stand on the issue. I also posted on this issue at http://sheshallbecalledwoman.blogspot.com/2012/02/modest-swimwear-hard-to-find.html. It is a hard topic to confront, especially to cover it as well as you have. How many times do we get sucked into having to let things slide while we are in the world? Like Karen, we live surrounded by Old Order Amish and Mennonites and we interact with them constantly. They have taught us much and have really opened our eyes to how truly the "Englishers" are imprisoned to their fashion, almost as if fashion slaves both mentally and financially. We too do not feel the need to dress as they do, or to become Amish, but there is a lot to be said about many of their ways. I do believe that everyone has their own journey to travel regarding dressing modestly and to not do so pridefully, but to dress as God leads your heart. It has been quite a journey for me, and I wouldn't trade it for anything. I know where I came from and where I am now....only by the grace of God.

    Thank you for your post and your honesty on the subject. A book I found extremely interesting on this topic is Christian Modesty and the Public Undressing of America by Jeff Pollard. It speaks candidly about the swimwear industry and their agenda from decades ago and how powerful it has been and continues to be. It shows how through the ages, society has accepted and chased whatever they tell us is fashionable. It is an interesting book :)


  7. I agree with your post 100%. I too have caught myself going along with things and later wish I hadn't. We should not conform to the world!

  8. Thank you Jane! I'm with YOU! :)


  9. Amen!! I always find myself getting grumpy at the beach. I have 5 boys (and a husband!) who have to live in this society, and I know it's not easy. We have to be so proactive in our teaching on this issue!

  10. What an interesting post! :-) I always enjoy reading your blog and this post certainly sparked some great discussion in our house. Personally, I've never really cared what people wore at the beach. The nude and partially-nude beaches in Europe never bothered me either. If a woman sent my husband pictures of herself in underwear, I don't think I would be mad at her or even phased by it because I trust my husband completely. My husband would probably assume that she'd accidentally sent them to the wrong email address. :-) That said, I fully respect your feelings on the subject and sincerely wish that there were beaches labeled "Conservative" so that you could enjoy your beach vacation with your family. After all, there are beaches labeled "Nude" -- why not the opposite?

  11. My husband and I decided this verse summed up our feelings: "The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." 1 Samuel 16:7

  12. I try to pick modest swimwear for my kids and myself - but that said, I don't wear a tee shirt when I swim. Just not very comfy for swimming laps when a speedo will do just fine.

    It's a tough issue for sure. The world says one thing, we think another. Personally I think it is getting harder and harder to swim against the culture these days. Almost anything goes - in the name of being happy, feeling good, and so on. I am ready for Jesus to return :)

  13. "They are just women who are wearing their differences and lack modesty and possible a good upbringing." Really? Is this the message we want to send to our children? That the people who wear less clothes than us are less righteous, less morally astute? That was the colonial (and Christian) attitude toward indigenous people, after all. That worked... not so well.

    So often the societies that demand what we call "modesty" are those with the most gender inequality and excessive sexualization of what can't even be seen. Let's not forget how elbows and ankles were once deeply titillating. Living abroad, I saw loads of folks sunbathing with very little clothes on, and they were just families enjoying the beach together. Nothing sexual about it. I didn't feel like someone was trying to pollute my husband or children.

    I say this because I grew up in a family that tried very hard to control what went in front of our eyes, and it all ultimately seemed like strange perviness, to see sex and "impurity" hiding behind everyone's bathing suit. The result, I promise, was the opposite of the intent.

  14. I appreciated reading your post, Miss Jane, as it is a subject I've wrestled with the past couple of years. My sisters and I have made changes in our wardrobe based on our convictions. We too, don't want to cause a brother in Christ to stumble (1 Corinthians 10:32.) We desire to bring honor and glory to God in everything we do, especially in the way we dress.

    As a heads-up, I've found very attractive and modest swimwear for women at Dressing for His Glory. I've gotten lots of compliments on my swim skort and top!


  15. Love.. Love.. Love.. Love Thank you for a great post!

  16. Such a great post, yours and Carla Anne's. I live in FL and find that most of the time, I am the "weird" one for being concerned when I go to the beach. My husband and I chose to have kids young. We are both in our Mid 20's with two little kids. Being that my body is most likely in it's prime right now, I want to be proud to show it off to my husband in the privacy of our home. However, what ends up happening, is after a beach day, I want to run and hide! There are 15 year old girls who flaunt themselves across the beach like they are auditioning for playboy, in front of their fathers, nonetheless. Not only does it concern me that my husband is getting these images in his head without a fighting chance, but it concerns me for what my children see as "normal". AHH! Sometimes I just want to pack up and move to Alaska!!!

  17. Thank you for this post! I am a modest Christian and I have a "swim-dress" - it's wonderful and modest. The 1st layer (against my skin) is a spandex type material (not as tight as a regular bathing suit though) that is one-piece - it almost looks like a wetsuit. The legs go almost to my knees and the arms are "short sleeved". It is fairly high necked but not tight (like a good fitting t-shirt neck). This layer is a really pretty teal blue. The 2nd layer (top layer) is attached and is black nylon - it's a "sleeveless" jumper type dress that goes to my knees. Since it is attached, but 'sleeveless', you can see the neck and arms of the bottom layer. There is a zipper that runs from below my belly to the neck. Both layers are attached at the zipper. It is hard to explain. But when I wear it, it looks like a jumper on top of a t-shirt - most people do not realize it is a swim dress (in fact, workers at a local pool tried to kick me out for wearing "street clothes" lol). It does have snaps in the skirt that keep it down in the water (I don't worry about it normally as it doesn't stay snapped good). I absolutely love it - I'm plus-sized and it is very flattering (but not sexy, etc) and I do not have to worry about skin showing - all that shows is my neck and head (I wear a veiling so most of my hair is covered), my arms from just above the elbows down and my legs from the knee down. It is more than I would "normally" show (I normally wear ankle-length dresses) but both myself and my beloved husband feel it is appropriate for the beach. The beach that we do not go to because of others' immodesty...


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