Our oldest daughter loves to shop for clothes. She got it from me and my mother would say it’s payback for the hundreds of trips to the mall I required her take over my teen years. As you’d guess, she’s quite keen on the latest fashion trends and has honed her own unique style over the years. As you’d also imagine, shopping with a teen girl is much like walking through a minefield, where you have to choose your options carefully. So, as we were browsing the racks at H&M last Sunday and as she was picking out a few things to try on, we had a typical me / her conversation.
Her: I’ve been wanting a skirt like this, but I’m not sure if it will be too short.
Me: I think I owned that in 1987. (I say that a lot lately.) But, it’s cute, so try it on. If it’s cut well, it won’t ride up in the back and show your butt.
She tries it on and it’s borderline too short, so,
Me: I think it’s ok, but your dad gets to decide.
Her. Ok, I’ll get it and return it if he says no.
No drama. No throwing a fit because he might say no. And no wanting a lot of the other things we looked at that day, because she knows her worth. I’ve been teaching it to her since she was 3.
So, when we heard about the Superbowl Half-Time show later that evening and I looked at the photos of what people were describing, I was repulsed. I wasn’t in the least bit surprised. But I was disgusted. And once again annoyed at the utter hypocrisy of the entertainment business.
The Superbowl is the number one sex-trafficking event in our nation. Think about how many young girls and women are raped or exploited during that one weekend every year. Then watch the Half-Time show again. The #metoo movement was born out of the sexual exploitation of women. Think about how many women came forward and shared their stories, imploring men to see them as more than sexual objects. Then watch the Half-Time show again. Pornography is readily available at the fingertips of every person who has access to the internet. Think about how many marriages have been destroyed, children whose sense of healthy sexual behavior has been altered, and girls whose body image has been damaged. Then watch the Half-Time show again. Nothing is done in a vacuum and our entertainment choices really do matter.
It’s hypocritical to say we can have entertainment that reduces women to sexual objects, and yet we cannot have a society of men who see them that way. It’s hypocritical to create such entertainment around sex, and some form of bondage sex at that, and then say you want to protect women from sexual exploitation. It’s not just hypocritical, it’s wrong. And it doesn’t work that way in any other area of life. If women are more than sexual objects, which we are, let’s quit showing our boobs and butts and dancing around poles. Let’s stop promoting ourselves as the object of someone else’s lust. Let’s be proud of our talents, our accomplishments, our sculpted or curvy bodies, our beauty, our intellect. Let’s embrace the sexual pleasure we give to our husbands. Let’s be women who know our worth. That’s not prudish, it’s modest.
And here’s the thing about modesty. It isn’t for other people. It’s for us. Modesty says I am worth more. Modesty says I am inherently valuable. It says I’ve been made in the image of my Creator and my body is His. And it’s mine. Modesty isn’t about conservative clothing choices. It isn’t about morality. And for those who love the Lord, it’s about understanding who we are as image bearers of Christ and how we are to live in light of that. As women who have inherent, incalculable value. As daughters of the King.
There are many Christians who view modestly in a completely wrong light. They view it as something we must do to prevent something we don’t want. I’ve known mothers who tell their daughters they cannot wear a swimsuit because their teenage brothers will struggle with lustful thoughts. That’s not modesty; that’s shame. The same is true if we prohibit certain clothes without explaining why those parameters are in place. That’s simply moralism on display. What we want instead is to instill in ourselves a sense of identity that goes far beyond fashion trends, and then teach that to our girls. What we want is to know who we are in Christ and teach them the same.
Since our daughters have been very young, I have been teaching them about modesty. We talk about how they dress and dance and talk, yes, because they live in this world. But we talk about those things in light of who they are. In light of their identity. And I want them to know their worth.