There are many reasons that, as I became adult, I stepped away from organized religion. I still believe in God and Jesus. I still am Christian, but I believe organized religion focuses way too much on everything bad with people, judging, and putting unreasonable expectations on others. One of the lessons I have always hated is that of teaching modesty.
Teaching my kids, I do not want them to feel those unreasonable expectations.
I want them to learn of unconditional love and so many skew the Christian religion away from that.
I have read many articles and blog posts online of ‘The importance of modesty’ and every time I think “Why is the precedent set on the girls? And why is modesty set with this standard of humility.” I found an article written that stated “True modesty means not purposely drawing attention to one’s self.”
I find fault in teaching girls to be reserved, quiet, and to not stand out.
The Christian religion, specifically a few specific churches, teach their members that they are unworthy of God’s love without looking a certain way. Dressing appropriately and modestly is a part of this worth.
Modesty is not a virtue and it keeps girls and women from rising past their set roles by society. What should we be teaching our daughters?
We should teach them to be comfortable and dress for themselves.
This means to help them grow their self-esteem in their appearance and abilities. Teach them that they should dress in a manner that makes them comfortable and to do it for themselves. Do not wear short skirts and low-cut tops if it makes them uncomfortable. They should not wear something they feel they need to for a boyfriend or to fit in. They should not be ashamed of their body, but they should do what they want.
There are many key questions you may have them ask themselves when wondering if they’re comfortable in what they’re wearing. Such as…
- Is it appropriate for the activity? Are you going to play soccer and wearing high heels?
- Is it practical for the weather? Out in the snow I’d rather you not freeze.
- Does it fit within social norms for the setting? Don’t wear white to a wedding if you’re not the bride. Don’t wear tie die and ripped clothes to a funeral. Make sure you’re showing respect to others in those situations.
Teach them that there will be times they have to abide by rules set on them.
Respecting others does mean sticking to the rules of others they will interact with. This means when they’re going to school, they are expected to follow any school dress code. When they’re working, it is expected by many employers that their employees dress professionally. Most employers have their own guidelines of what is professional. Follow those.
Teach your daughter they have a voice and it should be heard.
It is not bad for our daughters to be heard. They should stand out and be okay with doing so. Celebrate their accomplishments. Help them realize their potential by always supporting their dreams. Make sure you’re not steering them to some expectation you had, but rather helping them find out for themselves what and who they want to be.
- Teach them to say ‘No’. They have a right to say ‘no’ and their ‘no’ should be accepted by anyone around them.
- Read her empowering books
- Teach her about historical empowered women.
- Make sure she knows her rights.
- Don’t do things for her she can do herself.
- Set an example.
Teach them it is never THEIR fault if they receive negative sexual attention.
There is a long-standing connection between modesty and rape culture. Teaching modesty helps every victim blaming standard. When we are teaching girls, they have to dress modestly we also teach them that they are responsible when dressing in more revealing clothes for the attention those clothes may bring from boys. When then, if they receive negative sexual attention, including rape, the question arises “what were you wearing?” This shows the same girls that if they had been covered up, they never would have been raped.
This standard is untrue and is telling our children a bad precedent. Rape was around long before clothes styles became revealing and many women have been raped while wearing long pants, long sleeved shirts, and “modest” outfits.
We should teach our girls manners to protect themselves from negative sexual attention and rape but what they wear has nothing to do with it. We should also make sure we are in turn teaching both girls and boys the importance of consent.