Me in 2005. I actually had long hair all through high school, college and up till this point. But the hair got on my nerves. I was all about being practical and trying to fix long hair every day seemed like too much work. Funny. The short hair actually took a LOT more time to style than long hair!
Oh, where to start? 🙂
Well, as a girl and teenager, I didn’t realize that guys and girls were that different. Yes, guys were bigger and stronger, but I figured that boys thought pretty much the same way that I did, despite all the constant evidence to the contrary! And I didn’t pay much attention to what guys wore at all- so why would they be looking at me? I wasn’t very caught up in clothing. I almost always wore jeans and a t-shirt, except I would wear a dress or skirt on Sundays for church. I didn’t think that clothing was very important or made any real statements about one’s spirituality or anything about a person, for that matter. I was horrified to dress immodestly out of embarrassment. But girly clothing seemed too expensive for my budget of $20/month as a teenager and it seemed uncomfortable and fussy. I had been a bit more of a tomboy growing up and my identical twin sister was more of the girly one.
I did start dressing up a bit more in college, when my boyfriend (now husband) asked me if I could wear dresses more often. And when I got my first job as a pharmacy technician, I wore dresses to try to look more professional. Then shortly after I got married and sprained my back that summer, all the beautiful dressy, girly shoes were a thing of the past and I had to find shoes that would not leave me crippled in pain after an hour or two.
Tennis shoes didn’t seem to go with feminine clothing at all, so I just stuck with my jeans at home and khakis at the pharmacy. Three years working at Target pharmacy where I had to wear khaki’s and a red shirt every day to work had me really raring to try a new wardrobe, so I began studying and researching around March 2009 and decided I wanted to begin wearing skirts just about all the time. I loved how they made me feel and how much more comfortable they were- and I found feminine shoes that worked for me. Hooray!
GROWING UP I FELT AWKWARD AND UNFEMININE!
I mostly remember feeling VERY unfeminine myself growing up even when I was as young as 8 years old. The other girls seemed more svelte and graceful in ballet and gymnastics class. I was unhappy with my figure and felt awkward a lot of the time and that continued through middle and high school, and college, too! My chest was VERY small and my belly tended to bloat a lot with some medical issues I had. NOT a feminine looking combo, that’s for sure!
If I ever did hear teaching about godly femininity or modesty came up, I probably wouldn’t have paid much attention because I didn’t think those things really applied to me. I didn’t feel much like girl, and I thought I wasn’t a temptation to guys. I was wrong! But I didn’t understand the power of a feminine body or spirit. And since I had close to zero understanding of how guys think, I was extremely naive, so I didn’t realize I had anything to be concerned about. I did dress modestly, but not very femininely most of the time.
HAVING A SON TOOK ME EVEN FARTHER FROM FEMININITY FOR AWHILE
Then we had our son and he LOVED to be outside- all the time. He would run for hours. So I continued in my jeans and a pony tail for going to the playground almost every day and running around in my tennis shoes. In fact, if I didn’t wear tennis shoes, I couldn’t catch my boy even when he was 2-3 years old! I soon cut my hair short, even though my husband loved it long. I was all about being practical. Who cared what my husband thought, right?
THEN WE HAD A BABY GIRL
I started thinking more about femininity when I had a daughter and she was starting to be old enough to want to wear dresses every day and to love princesses. I loved how romantic the long dresses looked in her stories and realized that the effect just wouldn’t be the same if the princess was wearing jeans and a t-shirt! Maybe clothing makes more of a statement than I had ever really considered before! I started thinking about what kind of femininity I wanted to model for this precious little girl and the subject became much more critical to me as she grew older.
I began to study femininity and God’s design for women/wives/moms and the way God made men and women to be so marvelously different from each other. I began to understand that a woman has a great deal of power in her appearance that affects her own attitudes but also significantly impacts most of the men around her- including her husband. I was so excited to discover that I could actually feel feminine. I could have a gentle, peaceful, vulnerable, delicate spirit. I could be soft and beautiful. I could be the follower instead of the take charge leader barking out orders. I could wear girly clothing and I did finally feel like a girl. The clothing actually did make a difference in my feelings about myself. I had no idea! And I decided that I wanted to attempt to model godly femininity for my daughter- as well as my son.
MODESTY AND FEMININITY ARE BEAUTIFUL
My understanding of modesty grew out of my study of godly femininity and also understanding men much better. Men think VERY differently from women and are tempted visually in ways I had never imagined. Kinda shocking for me at first! I think a lot of women think things like, “Oh, I’m too small, too big, too old, too young, too unattractive to have to concern myself with modesty. I am not a temptation to anyone.” I know I felt like that.
Now I know modesty is a gift we can give to men no matter what our appearance may be because men are drawn to look at women of any size, shape or age. But I love adding feminine clothing to the modesty equation- I feel softer, lovelier and happier. I noticed more men holding doors open for me and offering to help me. Clothing can tell the world you are a lady and it is interesting to see that people actually do treat a girl differently depending on what she chooses to wear. Skirts and dresses remind me that I get to be a girl and that I am thankful I don’t “wear the pants in the family.” It is a subtle reminder to myself of my identity as a woman each day, and it is a reminder to my husband that I am a delicate, beautiful, feminine woman to be cherished and adored by him. I like that!
My favorite definition of modesty is that it is “humility in clothing.” If we have a spirit of humility- as Christ certainly did, and we are emulating Christ- then we will desire our clothing to draw attention to Him not to our bodies. And I will have mercy on my brothers in Christ by seeking to wear clothing that will not distract or tempt them to lust after me. And I will model modesty for my daughter so that she grows up seeing that modesty is “normal” and understanding the gift of her femininity and sexuality and how to properly use it and how to guard her great gift.
I think the subjects of modesty and femininity are fascinating. I kind of felt like I was building my identity as a woman from scratch a few years ago. I pray that we might discover God’s beautiful design for femininity and live it well. And I pray we might pass along God’s ways, wisdom and perspective to the generations coming behind us. I also pray that we might not consciously put stumbling blocks before others so that we aren’t getting in the way of any other believer’s relationship with God and/or his spouse.
The Respected Husband and me at Christmas 2011. I finally feel, dress and act like a girl! And I LOVE IT!