What is Modest?

My daughter is dramatic.

Very dramatic.

There’s lots of drama in our home.

So, I decided to enroll her in a week-long Drama Camp this summer.

Her excitement is palpable.  That girl could win an Oscar.

The camp is hosted by this really great Christian drama program. I took my older kids to see their latest musical, Beauty in the Beast, three weeks ago. I was very impressed.
The summer camp will be held in a local church, in the Sanctuary.  

I got an email confirming my daughter’s registration.  The email also outlined the camp dress code.
Here is the drama camp dress code:
  • Absolutely NO stomachs showing. 
  • You must be able to lift your arms up and stretch without showing skin.
  • No spaghetti straps or tank tops.
  • No girl gym shorts or other short shorts.
  • Longer shorts are okay.
  • No skirts above the knee
  • No underwear showing, even when you bend over.
  • No bra straps showing, or see through shirts. 
  • Tank tops or camisoles are suggested for wearing under anything thin or see through.
  • No extremely low, tight, or gaping shirts
  • Swimwear must be modest (no two piece swimsuits, please) for the last day, which is Water Day.


Literally as I read this list, my bra strap slipped from under my tank top. Boy, did I suddenly feel trashy.

First of all, before any of you wonder where I stand on this, I was impressed that this Christian organization was so proactive and demanded high standards. 

We live in Texas.  And the dictionary defines Texas as HOT, like Africa.  Oh, yeah, just check.

And so, dress code can be sketchy.  Even for Christians.  

My daughter is 8.  Most of her shorts are short.  She wears tanks.  And, brace yourself, she’s sporting a bikini this summer.

But we don’t do half or strapless shirts.  I don’t like for her belly to show and she’s very self-conscious about even the band of her underwear showing, so really short things are out.

If you were to ask me, I’d say modesty is important to me.  

But after I read this, I knew I hadn’t really thought it through thoroughly or shopped accordingly.

I mean, will she want to wear a bikini 4 or 5 years from now because I let her now?  

I know there will be differing opinions from both ends of the spectrum on this and I can’t wait to read what you’ve got to say.

Bottom line for me (and I don’t expect everyone to agree):  I want to raise modest daughters who love their bodies and don’t feel the need to show it off.  
And, I’m pretty sure I can do better (although I won’t be banning tank tops anytime soon)!
Oh, and I’ve got a little shopping to do.

Food for the Soul:
I Timothy 2:9, “I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety …”

Comments

  1. 1

    Anonymous says

    Good for you. I do wish you luck on finding clothes that are modest. I find it hard to find clothes that I think are suitable for even my little ones to wear (who are under three)
    Kim

  2. 2

    says

    I think modesty is really important, but it is so hard to shop because there are so many cute little outfits and little bikinis. I have boys so this is not so much an issue for me, but I often see children dressed a little inapropriately.

  3. 3

    says

    We tried to figure out when we would enforce modesty rules when our daughter was young. We thought, “we’ll wait ’til she’s a teen.” But then realized how hard that would be, to suddenly start setting a standard then.

    We decided the best time was right then. I’m still amazed at the difficulty I have finding modest clothing for my 2 year old and 8 year old daughters. It takes more work, but the eight year old will be the first to point out that certain clothes are modest.

    She even chooses Barbies that are wearing modest clothing. (Another hard thing to find.)

    I’m glad that at such a young age she’s already setting a standard for herself.

  4. 4

    says

    I’m all for modesty at a young age. I don’t have daughters, so I know I have it easier as it is very hard to find modest clothing these days for young girls.

    I think it would make an easier transition when they get older. Also, sad to say, but young girls wearing anything that shows skin attracts attention from the wrong sorts of people. Didn’t seem like that was such a concern when I was little, but the thought really bothers me these days.

    Of course, you have to do what you feel God wants for your family.

  5. 5

    says

    Wow! This is a HOT topic around our house recently. (No pun intended despite the fact that we live in Texas, too!) My almost 13 yr. old daughter is very modest – standards she has set for herself -to the point of almost always wearing a camisole or tank under light-weight tops. However, she got it into her head that she wanted to have a bikini this summer. We are opposed to her wearing one. Part of her argument FOR being allowed to do this was that we had allowed her to wear one when she was little. You know – when she was TWO. I wish now we had just set the standard even back then and just stood our ground. It would have eliminated the “but that was then, this is now” discussions.

    And my advice to parents for deciding what the standard is when they are young – set the standard higher/stricter than you think you’ll ever need to be ’cause chances are you’ll be glad when that cute little girl’s body starts changing into a young woman. And, you can “relax” the standard a whole lot easier than you can tighten it!!! Finally, make sure both parents are in agreement with what the standard is and STICK to it!

  6. 6

    says

    Modesty can’t be defined only by a dress code. My husband, when working as a youth pastor, never had the “no two piece” swimsuit rule because sometimes tankinis were more modest than the one pieces that the girls picked out. We did have a “modesty” rule and “don’t dress like a slut” expectations.

  7. 7

    says

    Having 5 daughters we have talked about modesty a lot in our home. I suggest your pray about it. And ask the Lord if there are areas that you & your family should/could change. I mean obviously for the drama camp, the dress code needs to be respected. But maybe the Lord is using this to protect your daughters from something in the future.
    For our family, we don’t allow bikinis. And I LOVE that bermuda shorts are the trend this year! ;O)

  8. 8

    says

    My daughter shows more than her underwear band — she shows her whole butt and seems to not even notice. She’s the joke in her class and she doesn’t care. Poor girl has no hips … no butt … even adjustable waistbands don’t offer any assistance. Modesty. It’s definitely a concern for me. I shop accordingly (with the help of my husband who is more rigid than I), but our biggest hurdle is just getting the girl to know when she’s flashing people. :)

  9. 9

    says

    Hey, an organization that is making an effort to keep childhood where it belongs. That, my friend, is something to be happy about. Shopping for it is just the icing on the cake.

  10. 10

    says

    My dd is 8.5 and when I’ve gone shopping I find that the clothes for the 8 yr olds are the same as clothes for the 12 yr old, just in smaller sizes.

    Sorry, but I don’t think it’s going to work, b/c you see – the clothes for the 12 yr old are similar for the clothes for 15 yr olds and they are all imitating the adults.

    When we went to the zoo last week it was pretty shocking to see the way the majority of the women were dressed…there was more skin showing on the women than on the bare animals!!

    It’s hard for teens especially b/c they want to be “fashionable” – but “fashionable” these days, is not modest by any means. Girls learn early that low-cut, show-what-you-got, tight etc. clothes equals beauty – b/c that’s what all the beautiful “stars” are wearing and all the models are wearing that – so that must equal beauty.

    I think the way to handle it – is to begin early…within reason. Talk about clothes with your girls when you go shopping or see something in a magazine. Explain why it is modest or immodest and what are the effects of it. Do take the time to help her find appropriate things – and don’t squawk at the price of the appropriate things she does want to buy.

  11. 11

    Anonymous says

    i took my cousin in Limited Too the other day, and I about had a mild heart attack. Not only do they have “low rise” underwear, tube tops and the craziest prices I have ever seen- but their bikini’s have PADDING in them…and it was a size 6 in children’s. I do not have a girl- but I am assuming, that is about the size of what 6 year old would wear? Geez…a 6 year old needs padding in her bikini?!
    Libby

  12. 12

    says

    I feel like that is a special situation that perhaps needs a special dress code – the kids obviously will be physically active during a drama camp; bending, stretching, sitting on the floor, and the like.

    I don’t think putting a two-piece suit on a baby is a big deal. I’m not sure what I think about teenagers because I don’t have any yet! :) I think maybe a good rule is “save it for when you’re married.”

    Also, I’m from the South – I know heat! But there are a lot of cute “burmuda” shorts in style now, maybe a pair or two of those would work for the camp.

    We wear tanks, too, oh yes ma’am. Maybe you can find something that have little cap sleeves, so they’d still be cool but not technically a tank.

  13. 13

    says

    I have an 11 almost 12 yo dd and we are going through this right now!
    My idea of it is this. I have been trying to teach my daughter that she is beautiful, wonderfully made in the creators image.. that said..she has a cute little bod and she likes to shake it.. HOWEVER..that is not appropriate in public!
    She needs to dress in clothing that is not suggestive (think hoochie coochie)..and be appropriate in her BEHAVIOR! Because actually in my opinion the behavior is worse than the dress!
    We can’t be responsible for others behavior or action towards us, but we can try to keep our own behavior reflective of the Christian girls we are raising.

  14. 14

    says

    We have 4 girls. We allow tank tops, but hat is about it. I buy shirts a size too big to keep bellies covered. My oldest will wear whatever I put in front of her. It is the second oldest we have to watch. She is VERY aware of what the other kids wear. But, she is the first to see someone and tell me “She needs more clothes!” The two peice swimsuit debate is big here. The youngest girls are just 3 and 4, but with the 6 year old, everything has to be FAIR!!! So, one peice suits for all it is! It sure makes my life easier!
    Tonni
    mom to a few drama queens herself.

  15. 15

    Coffee Please! says

    I’m smiling as I read this one because just yesterday I was heading to Target with my 17 year old and I asked the 12 year old to come with. I pointed out that her current bikini did not offer sufficient coverage to my standards and perhaps she should look for a new one.

    While there my 17 year old said she’d like to look for a 1 piece for boating and water play as then she wouldn’t have to be self conscious.

    I laughed when my 17 year old called out from the dressing room that she wasn’t going to show me the 1 piece because it was “too revealing”! LOL. While her 12 year old sister showed up with another bikini – she informed her sister that she thought the bottoms were not big enough to cover sufficiently and that she needed to buy the next size!

    I laughed and asked her how it felt to shop with TWO Mothers. *grin*

    (She got a size bigger, with sufficient coverage and BOTH her ‘moms’ were happy.)

  16. 16

    Coffee Please! says

    PS: I hope that post was clear that it’s the 17 year old “mothering” the 12 year old and making sure her swimsuit was sufficient. LOL.

    She and I both debated, held up the bottoms to her backside AGAIN even when we were in line to pay and throughly mortified her. ;)

  17. 17

    says

    I grew up in the SoCal desert, so I know from whence you speak. But I wonder, at reading that list, where on earth you will find such clothing. Do such things even exist anymore? Can you sew?

  18. 18

    says

    I have 3 girls (8,5,2). We are all about modest clothing. The girls wear 1 piece suits, but we agreed that we would renegotiate if we get a pool, or when they are teenagers. I’m thinking 2 piece would be ok for sunbathing or swimming in our own backyard only.

    I see nothing wrong w/ a tank top! Or spaghetti straps for that matter.

    Our problem comes in the shorts. My girls are so skinny, that the 8 y.o. wears a 6, the 5 y.o. wear a 3-4 and the 2.5 y.o. wears an 18 months. If I buy them so that the waist fits, they are pretty short. Sometimes I’ll add a decorative ruffle at the bottom. They think it’s cute & I cover another 2 inches of their thighs.

    I can understand all the rules for this event because they will be so active, but that seems like a lot of restrictions for a kid in the heat of Summer.

    I say start now.

  19. 19

    says

    At this age bikinis are just cute- but all of a sudden they develop and yikes- I guess as long as you talk about why it is important to you for girls to be modest you will help your daughter make the right choice when it becomes neccessary. That said- I hope the camp has AC. :)

  20. 20

    says

    I agree with you wholeheartedly. As a society we’re allowing and even encouraging our girls to dress older than they are, and then we’re surprised when they start acting that way. Actions always have a consequence.

    I’m even debating how much damage the whole princess phenomenon has done. My daughter, 6, already talks about having a boyfriend and wanting to kiss him. I’m convinced it’s because she sees the “princesses” doing this. I think I’m just going to have to go blog about this.

  21. 21

    says

    First of all, good for that church! I agree with you that it’s good they set the standards high. I think the best thing about them sending the list is that no one will get a ‘talking to’ that way. It informs the girls and the moms right from the get go.
    Secondly, even better for you that you are thinking through modesty more. Lots of people may have read the list as “only for that drama camp” and not applied it to their whole lives.
    Thirdly, we, too, live in TX and it’s “Africa hot” (one of my all time favorite movie lines) so we try to dress as to not pass out if we are outside. God led us in the modesty issue while our firstborn dd was pretty young because we took in a foster son when she was 9weeks old and he was 12. Talk about helping you see life differently!! We had to think about what he was seeing. We realized modesty was twofold: how she portrays herself AND if she is a “stumbling block”. It *is* interesting that we are comfortable swimming with the opposite gender with something on we would never walk around the grocery store in. Something that clings to us, shows parts of us we keep covered, etc. A recently made a friend who does not even allow swimming with the opposite gender. Interesting. Not saying it has to be the standard, but she is consistent with her boundaries. For me I don’t understand the bikini thing with some. If showing the belly is not allowed with a shirt, mid-driffs are immodest, then why wear a bikini? Especially when there are one piece suits?
    My firstborn dd has helped me and she has told me on more than one occasion, “Mom, I think that shirt is too immodest.” Even if I didn’t agree (I usually have, but I felt pretty in it so I was going to try it), I changed shirts to encourage her high standard.
    Even though it’s harder, it’s totally do-able to dress nicely, like a woman/girl, pretty even, and still be modest. It *does* take work, but most things that are worthwhile do.

    In Him,
    GfG

  22. 23

    says

    I so admire your courage to write about this issue. It is a “hot” topic, and everyone has their own opinion. I am so glad to see that most people do think we need to have some modesty. I have a 24 year old daughter that I am ashamed of how she dresses at time. I have made issues of it, and now I am just trying to let it go. It hurts my heart and soul. She is a cute girl, but not short shorts, low cut cute. She needs to cover more and not let everything hang out/over/around. I know she will always struggle with weight issues, it’s in her jeans I mean genes! but she has to learn how to be more appropriate. Her father (my ex) told her the other day she was fat and that her swim suit did not look good on her. She cancelled her plans to go diving with him in Mexico. She cried. I just listened. What do you say? I agree she does need to dress better, maybe it would have been a good time for him to suggest they go shopping together? Maybe he didn’t say she was fat, but that is what she HEARD. Life is so complicated, and I am no more prepared to handle a 24 year old than I was a 14 year old. Good grief.

  23. 24

    says

    Good question on the “can she wear a bikini later” thing. I don’t (yet?) have girls of my own, but I guess I always imagined I’d be one of those moms that said “no” to bikinis and make-up. But I also didn’t think that it would be bad for an 8-yr-old to wear a bikini. Interesting – why would I think that? I’m also happy to hear that list of dresscode items. There are too many little girls who want to dress like Britney long before they know what that means!

  24. 25

    says

    I struggle with this as I pull out the summer clothes for my 5 year old too… so I hear ya sistah! what’s good for me… what’s good for her, where is modesty….

  25. 26

    says

    Well, I guess I don’t understand how dressing a certain way makes you any less a christian, as long as you’re not all “Here it is! You can look but not touch!” But I also have never seen a christian dress like that any way! And I’ve lived in Dallas, and I man oh man, it IS hotter than “you know where” there. Having said that, I really don’t really think there is anything wrong with that dress code. I mean, at home, who cares? But around all those other kids, I can see how certain clothing could become a distraction!

  26. 27

    Kim says

    I don’t have kids of my own, so I really can’t speak to this subject, but I have always wondered…

    While teaching in Christian schools, parents would always say, “She’s only 10. A bikini is fine now. It’s not like she has anything to show.”

    This always made me think, “If you start a precedent now, how will you justify not allowing a bikini later and aren’t you just setting yourself up for a fight?”

    What say you?

  27. 28

    says

    My baby is just one, so we haven’t had to think about modesty yet.

    Being a public school teacher, I would LOVE rules like the ones you mentioned. I watched the students come in this morning in near butt cheek baring shorts and skirts. It’s disturbing. I wish the girls would understand that they are attracting the wrong kind of attention. They just don’t get it.

    I think this goes far beyond a Christian issue. It’s really a self esteem issue. Why aren’t we teaching our young girls to respect themselves and their bodies? Why is it okay for their bodies to be on public display?

  28. 29

    says

    I agree with Kristen M. that sometimes the tankinis are more modest than the one-pieces out there. That was the problem I ran into as a teenager.

    I was raised in a Christian school with extremely rigid modesty guidelines as far as clothing for girls (including nail polish and earrings bigger than a dime). I think that long lists of do’s and don’ts start muddling the whole point. Those lists can turn the attention away from God and onto the rules. And, it caused the rebellious teens at the school to really push the limits. I believe, and am raising my two girls accordingly, that the focus should be on an attitude of modesty and godliness, on a view of oneself that is in line with Scripture.

    I also believe it is the parents’ responsibility to guard against media-induced desires to dress like a slut (for example, we don’t watch MTV or the like in this house). If the girls are raised with the proper attitude in the proper environment, they will be more likely (not 100% guaranteed, but more likely) to maintain that attitude as they get older.

    I also believe the girls will mirror our sense of modesty, so I attempt to conduct myself in the way that I expect my girls to conduct themselves.

  29. 30

    says

    I’m with you, but now we are living with the middle school backlash. It seems, according to our 13 year old, that we have never let her dress like “everyone else.” We still don’t, but it’s very difficult to find cute but modest clothing. I also wonder at what age she will be comfortable enough with herself to not want to look like everyone else.

    I think you have a big task to find clothing that allows a child to raise her arms and stretch and show no skin.

  30. 31

    says

    Wow, this was great! I’m glad you brought up the topic. Looks like you’ve had some great ideas here on your comments.

    I raised 5 sons, and coming from my view, I think it’s really important you set your standards now.

    It’s hard to reverse things as your daughter grows older. I think these are great Wow, this was great! I’m glad you brought up the topic. Looks like you’ve had some great ideas here on your comments.

    I raised 5 sons, and coming from my view, I think it’s really important you set your standards now.

    It’s hard to reverse things as your daughter grows older. I think these are great guidlines.

    I know when I gave my son his first girl/boy party at 13 I was blown away by the bathing suits and outfits the girls came dressed in. Now these were all “Christian girls!”

    My son was actually (at the time) uncomfortable with it and the boys shied away from the girls!! Funny to think back now!

    I just wish someone would pass this on to the older women also! It’s hard for a man to go to church and keep his mind pure when there is so much flesh being flashed around!!

    Oh well, just my 2 cents. I now have 3 grand-daughters, I will teach them about modesty!

    Blessings♥

    PS I’m from the south and it is HOT!

  31. 32

    says

    I am sick of seeing other people’s junk, including the covered, but nonetheless digusting, muffin top.

    That oozing over the jeans thing is sooooo yesterday.

    Lets put an end to this modesty talk and just make everyone wear Iraqi wear. Head to toe veils.

    The Maid
    PS – I am serious by the way…so sick of the skin dilemma.

  32. 34

    says

    Great conversation! I started reading the comments but only got about halfway through. I love tank tops. I do understand christian camps needing to set some standards, and I’d certainly respect them if I were sending my kid, but I am not about to ban tank tops, either on me or on my daughters.

    I have a 5 y/o and a 2 y/o and I don’t have trouble finding modest clothing. I have heard my friends say that as their daughters get older, it’s harder.

    I’m a HUGE fan of the tankini. It’s all I wear, and I try to always buy them for my daughters. Makes pottying SO much easier. I just don’t see the big deal.

    I am all for modesty, but I don’t get extreme about it.

  33. 35

    says

    We live in Arizona, and I know how Africa “HOT” feels. I don’t know if you get the humidity to go along with it, which is probably worse than where we are.

    And I agree, my daughters wear the short skirts, and shorts, and tanktops, and very thin cotton Ts.

    I am all for being modest, nothing shows that shouldn’t, and their clothes are in good taste. I feel as long as it doesn’t look trashy,(I also have a 14yo)or look like she’s bringing attentiong to herself, then the clothes she’s wearing are fine.

  34. 36

    says

    I am blessed to have two daughters that have no desire to show off their flat bellies, or amazingly long legs.
    Modesty has been a non-issue with them. Both wear pretty preppy clothing, Savannah likes shorter shorts, that sometimes make me cringe, but as a whole…they are very modest girls.
    Madison just might be the least modest human on the planet. She likes to be naked. She strips, literally…if she is too hot- no matter where she is at.
    I have a feeling I’m going to have to homeschool this one.

  35. 38

    says

    I am wearing a tank top as I type this… And my daughter wears tank tops too. We remain in the modest category of dress but, I think no tank tops is a bit over the top. When we came to Tx in February it was 78 degrees so I can’t imagine not wearing a tank top. How many times can I actually reference a tank top in one comment…

  36. 39

    says

    Boy, you got a lot of comments on this one.

    With two girls, Its hard sometime to get through to them on the whole modest thing. Especially when all there friends are wearing the other things.

    My rules are:

    don’t let your bra straps show. If you have a spaghetti strap shirt wear a wider tank underneath it.

    Camis and tanks need to be longer to cover the top of the pants for when you bend over.

    Your booty should not hang out of your shorts.

    Be classy not trashy. No one wants to look at a 12 year old hoochy mama.

  37. 40

    says

    This is such a great topic!!

    When pulling out my 6 year old daughter’s summer clothes this spring, we did the tummy test. I have done this test with her since she was two. If your tummy shows when you raise your arms it is to small. If you bend over, and cheeks show, it is to small. If you wear a skirt without shorts (like a skort), it must come to your knees, or put some cotton shorts under it.

    I now buy clothes a size to big in most cases. That is one of the only ways to find shirts that aren’t tummy-baring shirts. Besides, most shirts shrink a little that first wash, so then it fits the way it should, not the way stores want it to.

    I grew up in a house where my mom would tell me one thing, but never inforce it. My dad wasn’t there enough to make me change so I never did. I was the most immodest child ever, and I do not want that for my child, son or daughter (son does the tummy test as well).

    Tank tops, they are fine in my book. My daughter loves to layer, so she almost always has two on anyway. She wears tank tops year round under shirts, expecially thinner shirts. That is something that I do, so she wants to as well.

    The swim suit issue is one I have had since Boo was little. She does have a bikini, and a one piece suit. She wears the bikini only when we are at a friends house (all girls in that house) or the cabin. Otherwise when we go to public pools, or she is at the babysitters she is in a one piece. But, I agree that some of the one piece suits are worse than the bikinis. She tried one on at Target, and the back went to her…well you get the idea. That one quickly went back. The tank two pieces are great, that is what I wear, with shorts. Boo even likes these ones.

    The skin battle is one that has been fought long before us, in many forms. At one point if you didn’t wear a sweater over your blouse you were considered trashy. It is a battle that our children will fight when they have kids.

  38. 41

    says

    It seems a little strict, though I suspect they’ve probably had so many lines crossed over the years, they’re trying to be clear and not judgmental.

    But I’ll tell you, honestly, that I’m not a fan of little girls in bikinis. When do you stop? I definitely don’t want my daughter wearing one when she’s 13, so we’re going to set the standard now and not let her wear one when she’s 3.

    One more thing (sorry–I’m rambling–), as a mother of sons, it’s sometimes a little frustrating when I try and try to teach them about treating girls with respect, and then little girls show up wearing “EYE CANDY” emblazened on their butts. Seriously.

  39. 42

    says

    We have rather firm guidelines on modesty in our house. No tank tops, no low cut tops, no belly baring shirts. My shorts come to the knee, but a few inches higher is okay for my 7 yr old daughter.
    As for heat? We have lived and vacationed in hot places. We got used to it.
    Think about it this way. A bikini top is cooler than a tank, but you wear a tank for more coverage. You don’t say, it’s too hot, I need a bikini.
    I feel the same way about t-shirts vs. tanks.
    Now, this is not a judgment on others. Each family has to draw their own line.
    For those looking for modest options try googling “shade clothing” “Modbe clothing” or my personal favorite “the winkie cleavage cover”.

  40. 44

    says

    I am a big fan of starting them out modestly from the beginning. I hate the fact that the only jeans I could find to fit my super-skinny daughter this winter were called “The Girlfriend” cut. She doesn’t need to be thinking about that kind of stuff yet.

    We do wear tank tops, but they are the wide-strapped kind, not spaghetti, and we don’t let the girls wear shorty shorts.

    Good Luck with finding clothes that will fit the bill!

  41. 45

    says

    Good topic to tackle – and brave of you since this can be controversial! :) I have four boys and a girl. My girl is the second youngest and only 2, but even now we are big in to modesty for her. I think it will be so much easier to have this mindset from the beginning, rather than have to “change the rules” as she grows older. If nothing else, having boys has actually helped me to remember that my little girl needs to be dressed modestly and have a modest mindset. We are teaching her from the beginning that her body belongs to the Father, created for her future husband and he is the ONLY one that needs to see much of that beautiful skin that she has been given. :)

  42. 47

    says

    Those rules sound just like the rules from my Christian summer camp. Skirts and shorts had to come to the top of the knee, sleeveless shirts we okay – no spaghetti straps and no 2 piece bathing suits.

    My husband and I have had strong clothing rules/standards since our 2 girls were young. As they have gotten older (they are 10 & 11), I see how much it has impacted their choices and likes in clothing and it makes me proud. We do not have battles when we are shopping because they know what is acceptable to us. Some of our rules – we allow 2 pieces but only the tankinis and we also have the no tummy showing shirt rule (plus it’s a rule at their school). And if you really want to drive my hubby crazy – show him a pair of shorts with writing across the butt – it infuriates him that a company would even make such a thing for little girls!

    I had a revelation this weekend when I picked my daughters up from a pool party – either they will be fine with these rules they have grown up with or the battle is about to begin. Let me first tell you that this party was attended by 4th and 5th grade girls. Then I want to say that I couldn’t believe some of the bathing suits these girls were wearing – those side-tie bikini bottoms with padded tops….what??? An 11 yr old should not be wearing either of those things!!

    In the end, as with everything we teach our kids, we hope the rules sink in and they hear us in the back of their heads when they need to!

  43. 48

    says

    This is a huge topic. And it’s ultimately a heart issue. If a girl flirts and acts suggestive with modest clothes on, she’s still immodest.
    And what’s considered modest in one situation may not be in another situation. I wear a spaghetti strap tank that covers well while working in the garden or running errands, but I’d never wear it to church.

  44. 49

    says

    Hello :). It’s my first visit to your blog (I ended up here through a series of fortunate clicks) and I must say, bravo! You are an excellent writer and brought humor, truth, and a great perspective to the modesty issue. Job well done…I look forward to getting to know you. Happy bloggin’!

  45. 50

    says

    I’m not reading all the above comments to see what majority says, but from me. I agree with you on a modest daughter who doesn’t need to show off her body. Props to you.

    I do, however think that wearing something a little skimpy to stay cool (though I couldn’t if I even WANTED) is not necessary making me something trashy. It’s HOW you wear it. And that’s all I wanted to add. Completely how you wear it.

  46. 51

    says

    So?

    Did you anticipate this range of responses? Has it helped you clarify your own thoughts or just clouded the issue more?

  47. 52

    says

    Wow this one of those topics like uniforms in public schools. My main feeling is modesty is always the best policy but I think there are definate shades of gray in there. For instance, I don’t necessarily look at any girl or woman in a bikini and think trashy or immodest… It depends on the particular bikini they have on.

    Right or wrong I think a lot of the times it is a person by person, outfit by outfit case.

  48. 53

    says

    From the Hotness (temp) of Alabama, AMEN Sister. You see it all but you don’t want your daughters to be the ones showing it all. I didn’t have that type of guidance when I was younger and when I try to hmph and complain about what girls wear now, Hubby always says “Well what about you? I remember some pretty skimpy clothes.” Jerk.

    Anyway, thanks for sharing this and I am behind you 100%

    Jen

  49. 54

    says

    This is on my mind more and more as my daughter gets older. I so want her to grow up feeling good about her body and not feeling the need to show it off, too.

  50. 55

    says

    I don’t have any daughters yet, but I was raised in a “modest” family. I’ve always agreed with reasonable rules like no belly showing and fingertips shouldn’t touch skin. I’ve always thought the tank top and bra strap rules were ridiculous though. It’s HOT in the summer!

  51. 56

    says

    Everytime we see girls out in public dressed in the popular style of letting even really little girls dress as adults my husband says with a chuckle ” I am so glad we have boys, all boys”

    I admit at home in Texas I wear a lot of tank tops, shorts and spaghetti strap tops. I keep them cut modestly enough to not be showing much, if any cleavage. Here in Indonesia I dress more modestly in deference to the conservative muslim culture (Indonesia is the largest Muslim nation) Shorts are a rarity in my wardrobe, only at home or the American club, NEVER NEVER in public, but I do wear lots of capris, I usually wear t-shirts. If I wear a tank top I always layer another top over it before heading to the store or for a walk. Last summer I threw on a tank top and shorts my first day back in Texas and felt so naked.

    As far as heat, I have grown so used to seeing women dressed in Long skirts, long sleeves, and a head scarf regardless of the equatorial heat that i feel like I can deal with a little heat to in my capris and t shirt. (middle eastern style burkas are very unusual here, in fact most women that adopt full muslim dress are beautifully and fashionably dressed and somehow manage to look cool and composed all the time, maybe the hair being neatly tucked away helps the appearance)

  52. 57

    says

    WOW, some of the people that I work with in the Operating Room wouldn’t even pass this checklist…. got a chick who shows off her thong everytime she bends over…..
    Ahhhhh, my eyes!

  53. 58

    says

    Wow, I think I am all for modesty, but tank tops and shorts and skirts are what we live in in the summer. I don’t think they even make long shorts or many skirts that fall below the knee. Then again, my daughter is 4 so maybe I am unaware what happens as they get older.

    We are pretty firm on the no bikini thing just so we don’t set a precident. That being said, my 2 year old will be in one all summer because I am going to try and potty train and don’t really want to try and manuever wet, sticky one piece off in a moment of urgent need :)

  54. 59

    says

    Shopping for my four daughters is such a hard thing…so I don’t. We get LOTS of hand-me-downs, and the kids all know that EVERY piece of clothing has to get past both mom and dad…and that mom has higher standards than dad, even….

    We have never let our girls wear bikinis…and are very careful about the tankinis/one-piece suits…Now, my 14-year-old is even more strict on her own wardrobe than *I* am! SHE helps keep unacceptable things out of the wardrobes of my little girls.

    Now, if you can help me get my 10-year-old to willingly wear a dress…I’ll be THRILLED!

  55. 60

    says

    Camp rules are camp rules, but really, people can be very legalistic about the issue of modesty. This is such a subjective issue. Some may believe that dressing modestly means a well fitted and slacks, while others would define it as a billowy dress that goes to the ankle. (I tend to lean a little more to the former…)

    I agree with many of you ladies that girls need to learn what is and is not appropriate early on so that later in life they will be prone to make responsible decisions.

    Personally, I don’t have a problem with women and girls wearing tank tops, V-necked shirts, shorts, short skirts, etc. as long as they are not extremely low/high/tight. I’m not a bikini fan at any age, but I love tankinis and would allow my daughters to wear them.

    We DO have bodies, okay, there’s no way around that. While I agree that modesty is important, and we should be mindful of the way we dress, if a bra strap accidentally slides out, it’s not that big a deal. Everyone knows women have breasts, and there has to be something there holding them up!

    Once, a man ogled me at an event. I was later approached by a member of his family and told that my clothing was causing men to sin. I was EXTREMELY offended. My husband bought the dress I was wearing as a gift for me, and he would never want me to go out looking like a slut! Several people had complimented me for looking pretty, but my self-esteem was totally ruined by the puritan who blamed ME for his inappropriate behavior! My response to situations like that would be that men are responsible for their own thought lives. If they are lusting, perhaps they need to spend more time in prayer.

    As long as women and girls are making an honest effort to dress modestly and please God, that’s all we should have to worry about.

  56. 61

    says

    Excellent post.
    I agree with the dress code, although i also allow my 6 year old girls wear tank tops.
    Hmmm….
    i stress the modesty issue so much that my girls don’t know why their papa (daddy) can go outside in our front yard without a shirt on.

  57. 62

    Anonymous says

    I have a 7yo dd, and I have always promoted age-appropriate, modest clothing with her. We have talked about what is appropriate and what is not, and I try to model that for her. That being said, she will be in a two-piece this summer. They actually fit her better than a one-piece–the one-pieces can actually look a little gross on her, what with the wedgie in front AND back. Plus, she can grow and it will still fit. Perhaps it is just the way she is shaped, but I think it looks better.

  58. 63

    says

    I was a dance leader on our church dance group and we had the SAME standards. The Bible requires that we be modest. I don’t feel it’s trashy to sit in a tank top in the privacy of your own home or at the store. But when you’re the center of focus and attention in a Christian institution, it’s definitely important to maintain those standards!

    GOOD FOR THEM! That’s so awesome that they have those rules.

    Also, the Bible says we should not cause men to stumble. We shouldn’t deliberately wear something that will cause a man’s head to turn… and honestly there are men who will look if you’re wearing dirty rags. But the point is to be consciously modest and make an effort to be decent!

  59. 64

    says

    i was just having a conversation about this the other day. i have boys, so i don’t have this problem. but a friend of mine has a little girl who runs around in her bikini and she doesn’t mind, but her husband has a fit! and i think it’s really cute to see husbands progress from boyfriend to fiance to husband to protective daddy over things like this. so cute! anyway, it is nice to see they’re promoting modesty, sometimes i cringe at the outfits that are out there, even outfits for little babies are being made skimpier and skimpier!

  60. 65

    says

    The big thing for me in modesty is the effect that it has on others. I totally agree with the church standard and it encompasses some of the the standards that my family already follows.

    Immodesty dress can be a stumbling block for believers and non-believers alike. We all have a hard enough time trying to live righteously and I want to teach my daughters to dress in a way that will not cause another persons mind to think immodest thoughts.

    Starting young is the key. Habits are ingrained from day one. When raising our children we musn;t focus just on today but on their tommorrow as well.

    Will we want them wearing this at age 15? Sometimes a style such as a two piece can be thought of as cute on a 1 year old but seductive on a 14 year old.

    A womens body is a special gift for her future husband and I am teaching my daughters to keep it wrapped until marriage.

  61. 66

    says

    Those are pretty much the guidelines that I try to stick to, and for the most part what I ask my daughters to abide by, though sometimes we wear tank tops – but I try to keep the bra straps from showing.

    My plan of attack is this: Start now with the rules I want them to abide by later and stick with it. To that end, my daughters don’t get to pick out bikini swimsuits.

    Honestly though, the rules have always been the same and have been that way so long that 98% of the time they don’t argue or complain. They don’t even ask what the rules are. When we’re shopping they already know what to pick out. And if their eyes do land on something outside the rules, I just have to ask: “What is wrong with this outfit?”

    Kids are smart.

  62. 67

    says

    First of all..the modesty discussion is ALIVE and WELL in this household….really….going to the pool YESTERDAY drove home the talk….it’s not too early I assure you….because it IS about tomorrow! Raising girls who love their bodies and DON’T feel they need to SHOW IT OFF…is an empowering thing…I just wish all moms out there could read the same books! I saw some things yesterday at the pool that would surely show up on WHAT NOT TO WEAR and Stacy and Clinton would be HOLLERING! Seriously, we need to take responsibility too…I have to tell you, I walk in shorts…running shorts…because it’s SWELTERING HOT, not because I want the landscape trucks honking….I have to be aware of who is out there…I just don’t need the attention!!!

    Great post…I’m not a tank top gal…years of fast pitching made me aware of my muscle arms…so that just ain’t my issue….

    AMEN from the back row….I’m with you…13 and 11….I’m in it…and with a boy on their heels..I have to raise HIM to see girls for who they are and not the skin they show!!

    LOVED it….
    (and I’m impressed…Vicki Courtney…commenting…well done girlfriend!!)
    lori

  63. 68

    says

    Bravo!!! I wish we had a summer drama camp like that here.

    I’ve been asking my girls if the Bratz (HATE!) or Barbie doll is wearing modest clothes. I talk about how “pretty” the modest clothes are and how “icky” the immodest clothes are. I started telling them as 5 year olds that princesses dress like a princess. They point and comment on doll clothes now. Cool.

    Kids that young don’t understand the implications…in fact, even most teens don’t, not the REAL consequences, anyway.

    It’s tough work swimming against the tide, but God’s equipped us to do it.

  64. 69

    says

    The effort it takes to be truly modestly dressed is well worth the effort and as for the heat – I’ve found that a lightweight, lightly colored, not tight fitting top with 3/4 length sleeves is cooler than a tank top any day.

  65. 70

    says

    I started a blog dedicated to the finding of modest clothes. it is themodestmaven.wordpress.com.
    There are a lot of good resources out there these days and companies who are striving to be modest like Christa-Taylor.com, LayersClothing.com and there is a whole new fashion magazine that focuses on being classic and lady-like, ElizaMagazine.com.

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