Beauty Redefined Blog

Modest is Hottest? The Revealing Truth




Modest Not Hottest ImageWomen and girls are more than just bodies. But you wouldn’t know that if you looked to media, or even sometimes well-meaning religious* rhetoric, for the truth about females. And you wouldn’t know that if you listened to the way so many of us discuss the topic of appropriate dress, or “modesty,” today. We are growing up and growing older surrounded by profit-driven media’s fixation on bodies – from “Perfect Your Parts, Perfect Your Life!” billboards to always-Photoshopped magazines and TV obsessed with judging what women wear and how much cellulite they have. In an inescapable media world that pans up and down women’s bodies and focuses so much attention on their parts, no wonder girls learn to display their bodies as something to be looked at. No wonder girls learn to survey their bodies at all times, and in all things they are wearing, and in all places they are going.

Today in many circles, issues of female “modesty” are very popular. From many religions’ focus on appropriate dress to schools having rules on how high above the knee girls’ shorts can and can’t be or how much bare shoulder is too much – modesty is a trending topic. (For LDS audiences, we now have a modesty lesson plan here). Fashion boutiques have crazy names like “Sexy Modest” and “Modest is Hottest!” is a popular phrase endorsing full-coverage clothing. While reasons for suggesting modesty vary greatly, we at Beauty Redefined can attest that far too much emphasis is being placed on arbitrary standards that are harming females from a very young age and keeping us fixated on females as bodies alone


If you’re pro-modesty (by whatever definition that means to you), then live it and teach it as a means for empowerment and benefit to yourself, not as a service or protection for men. You are capable of much more than being looked at, and your clothing decisions can reflect that. Simultaneously, let’s make sure we’re not shaming or blaming any girl or woman for what she chooses to wear. We’re in this fight together!

From a research-driven point of view, there is power in modesty. Many cultures and religions echo that sentiment  to varying degrees — that covering up your parts is crucial to respecting bodies, which are viewed as sacred. Regardless of your spiritual orientation, an open discussion about modesty from the perspective of our research can get us somewhere much more powerful and valuable than the shallow “modest is hottest” mentality so prevalent today. Here’s the truth you can stand behind:

We are more than bodies to be looked at.  Self-objectification is an epidemic among females today, as our research can attest, and it keeps females “in their place” as bodies in need of constant preoccupation and perfection. It takes place when we internalize an outsider’s perspective of ourselves. We literally picture ourselves being looked at as we go throughout our days, and research shows it gets in the way of everything we do. Everything. When we have to accomplish a task while also thinking about what we look like while doing it, we’re at a major disadvantage.

girlsinmirrorWhen we live “to be looked at,” self-conscious of our bodies, we are left with fewer mental and physical resources to do what can really bring happiness. We perform worse on math tests, logical reasoning tests, athletic performance, have lower sexual assertiveness (including the ability to say “no” when needed), and we are left unfulfilled and unhappy. When we self-objectify, which is the norm today for little girls all the way up to older women, disordered eating and cosmetic surgery procedures increase, we stop raising our hands in class, and we quit pursuits of math and science degrees at greater rates. We experience immense body shame, anxiety and depression, and fixate on our bodies enough that we never get on to the great things we can and should be doing.** Girls and women LOSE — and so do the men all around us — when we fixate on bodies.

If modesty is a concept you subscribe to, there is great power in changing the modesty conversation from what you LOOK like to others to what you FEEL like inside.  Studies on the epidemic of self-objectification show us that “clothing represents an important contributor to the body and emotional experience of contemporary young women” because body-baring clothing leads to greater states of self-objectification, body shame, body dissatisfaction, and negative mood (the latest study of this kind was just published in May 2012’s Sex Roles academic journal)***. What this tells us (and what our own experience living in female bodies tells us is a no-brainer) is that when we wear clothing that is revealing or emphasizing our parts, we become very self-aware of those parts that are being looked at. We self-objectify and are in a near-constant state of adjusting our clothing, fixating on what we look like, and looking at other people looking at us. It’s OK to like being looked at, and even to like attention from others for our looks, but if it’s getting in the way of progress, happiness, and health — as so much research confirms that it is for many — we’ve got to move on to being more than an object to be looked at. Research shows a level of modesty can be an important tool in safe-guarding ourselves and our daughters from being in a constant state of self-objectification.

Many discussions of modesty, from diverse cultural or religious perspectives, revolve around the idea of keeping sinful and unholy female bodies and body parts from the gaze of others — particularly men. This privileges the male gaze, in a  backward sort of way, and puts females at a disadvantage for being the ones in control of what others think or feel when seeing their bodies. When we speak of modesty strictly in terms of covering our bodies from the sexual gaze of others, we are keeping the level of discourse at the shallow waters of women and girls as bodies alone.  We have very little control of what other people think when they look at us. Even in cultures where women are required to or choose to cover up a great deal, there is still an incredibly high incidence of rape and sexual violence. Covering up has no bearing on men’s ability to control themselves. If we are teaching the girls in our lives that the primary objective of modesty is to keep themselves covered so boys and men don’t think sexual thoughts about them, then we are teaching girls they are responsible for other peoples’ thoughts and they are primarily sexual objects in need of covering. (See our thoughts about the massive debate on leggings here). No girl or woman’s body is sinful, and no one should be taught that. Modesty, as an ideal, can be about so much more than shaming females into covering up.Capable of Much More bR Sticky Note

We complicate it even further when we throw in phrases like, “modest is hottest,” which again teaches that girls should dress modestly for the benefit and approval of others, and not for themselves. Modesty can be a powerful concept when we believe we are more than bodies. And when you believe that you are capable of more than looking hot, then you might dress differently than someone who perceives her value comes from her appearance, or the amount of attention she gets from men. Someone who sees herself as a capable and powerful person with a body that can help her achieve great things might act differently than someone who exists solely to look “hot.” She’ll treat her body differently and think about it differently. If you believe your power comes from your words, your unique contributions, your mind, your service, then you don’t need to seek attention and power by emphasizing your parts and minimizing yourself to your body.

We see why suggestions regarding the length of hemlines and the depth of necklines are important, because we live in a sexual world where even the youngest of girls are sexualized to an extreme degree and they are told their “sexiness” will bring them popularity, love, and happiness.  Studies show girls as young as 6 years old are sexualizing themselves because media messages show them being sexy yields rewards (a July 2012 study in Sex Roles reveals the latest). As we‘ve written about before, even girls’ TOYS and cartoon characters are sexualized to the extreme these days. But when we fixate on the inches showing we are missing the pointWhen we judge girls and women for the skin they are or are not showing, we are minimizing them to their bodies and repeating the same lies that females are only bodies in need of judgment and fixing. We are even perpetuating the shame-inducing belief that female bodies are sinful and impure, and must be covered to protect boys and men who can’t be held responsible for their thoughts or actions.

Modesty is defined differently by different cultures – even different families – and it’s time to stop shaming people into covering themselves and start teaching truths that need shouted from the rooftop: We are more than just bodies to be looked at. When we begin believing that, we begin acting like it, and female progress in every imaginable way will move forward. We will spend less money on cosmetic surgery (up 500% in the last decade with 92% of the surgeries performed on women) and every other product we need to “fix” our flaws. We will spend less time hiding and fixing and obsessing over our insecurities beneath our clothes. We will spend less time emphasizing and obsessing over our favorite parts on display in our clothes. We will perform better academically, athletically, and in our careers. We will love other women more and feel more compassion toward them because we will not be judging them as bodies. We will feel greater self-love, happiness, and power to live authentically chosen lives. We will pass along all of these powerful truths to the little girls growing up in an increasingly sexualized world.

Check out our new See More Be More T-shirts!

Check out our new See More Be More T-shirts!

Please pass this along. Let’s change the conversation currently steeped in the negativism of “cover yourself” to “you are capable of so much more than being looked at” and positive, powerful outcomes will follow. 

*After many requests, we have created a lesson plan on modesty specifically geared for LDS audiences.

Need more help developing body image resilience that can help you overcome your self-consciousness and be more powerful than ever before? Learn how to recognize harmful ideals, redefine beauty and health, and resist what holds you back from happiness, health, and real empowerment with the Beauty Redefined Body Image Program for girls and women 14+. It is an online, anonymous therapeutic tool that can change your life, designed by Lexie & Lindsay Kite, with PhDs in body image and media.

**For a comprehensive list of self-objectification’s many negative consequences, see the American Psychological Association’s Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls

***Tiggemann, M. & Andrew, R. (2012). Clothes Make a Difference: The Role of Self-Objectification. Sex Roles. Vol. 66 Issue 9/10, p646



  1. Steve

    A guy will find it much easier to see a woman as a whole person when she dresses modestly. It coveys an essence of quiet confidence, respect and strength since her self-worth comes from within instead of being inexorably tied to an unhealthy over emphasis on sexuality.

    There’s nothing shameful about dressing frilly or being feminine. The problem is when there is a lack of balance resulting in either over-sexualization, or false shame and doubt which can lead to women being covered completely up as it is with some cultures.

    In similarity to this fine article, author Wendy Shalit also makes some good points in her book, “A Return to Modesty” I hope we can insulate our girls and boys from our unhealthy, over-sexualized culture and affirm healthy views of themselves and human sexuality…They’re certainly not going to get it from the movies and pop-culture.

    • Maddie

      Steve, with respect, I think that your comment betrays you have not fully internalized the message in this article, which encourages us to stop evaluating women based on what they are wearing. Your opening sentence is quite revealing (no pun intended): “A guy will find it much easier to see a woman as a whole person when she dresses modestly.” The thing is, all women are always whole people, no matter how they are dressed. It’s just as much the viewer’s responsibility to stop reducing the other person to an object as it is the subject’s responsibility to make sure they are not attempting to objectifying themselves.

      • Steve

        I couldn’t agree more with Maddie’s tenets and the basic postulates of this well written article. Like what was already stated, a woman (or anyone for that matter), has inherent value as a compete person regardless of what they wear or their status in life. In the ideal world, a woman could potentially walk down the street wearing anything since her self-worth is not derived from her clothing.

        Unfortunately, we live in an imperfect, overly-sexualized world where people are evaluated based on their appearance. Whether we want to admit it or not, everyone makes subconscious judgments about people even at first glance. These are rooted in such factors as: Age, race, social class, religion, gender, and many more. Based upon these culturally derived paradigms, we come to expect a person to act, speak and behave in a particular way based on certain social constructs.

        Is it fair? No. But it is something we contend with. It grieves me that many girls are basing their self-worth and identity on an unrealistic and unhealthy cultural view of sexuality…An over-sexualization which has the potential to harm even a boy’s healthy development and view of women as well.

        Reinforcing the stereotypes and unhealthy beliefs propagated by pop culture and media through what we wear will serve to only foster inequalities and perpetuate maladaptive behaviors. There is no shame or any one person to blame, but in order to refute these misconceptions everyone has a responsibility to dress in a way that demonstrates the self-respect and inherent value we already possess.

        If we where to be honest, women know how to dress to get a man’s attention in a sexual way. To then go on say it is entirely a man’s fault for noticing this overt sexuality ignores all cultural constructs and socialization, in addition to male biology. Are you aware that science has shown the male brain is more prone to be affected by visual sexualized stimuli? True, a man has no excuse if he victimizes someone…It is never a woman’s fault. However, the relationship to perception between men and women is reciprocal.

        In this manner, dressing proactively is like placing the cookie jar in front of a child and then blaming the child for staring at the jar and getting hungry for a cookie. In essence, all of us – men and women carry at least some responsibility and must work together to fight gender inequality. The only real shame or blame is on those who refuse to unite for this common and very worth while goal.

      • Amy

        Well said Steve! One of my greatest frustrations is reading/hearing women ‘male bash’ in an effort to move ‘forward’ in a feminist way (of course the bashing of ANYONE is equally frustrating). I’m a feminist in the sense of the Susan B Anthony tradition and find most modern feminist movements going in a direction I have little interest in.

        “The only real shame or blame is on those who refuse to unite for this common and very worth while goal.”

        This sums it up perfectly in my opinion wether male or female. When we stop making any of it about women vs men or vice versa and focus on uniting in our advocacy of investing in EVERYONE’S inherent worth, THEN we will see the changes needed!

      • CM

        Steve this is wrong and you completely missed the point of the article. Women have 0 responsibility for the actions of men period. Just as the cookie jar is not responsible for a child’s behavior.

      • CM

        In other words, you can look and you can have feelings but being civil or humane means you can’t act on your urges if it violates another person’s boundaries (such as killing when you’re angry).

      • Jalala

        You can’t compare an animate object with one that is inanimate… Women vs a cookie jar?

      • Beth

        No, he wasn’t saying it’s the fault of the inanimate cookie jar. It’s the parent whose motives are questioned. A parent who doesn’t want their child to chase sweets all the time puts the cookie jar deep in the corner of the counter, or away in a cupboard. That way, if a cookie is taken, the parent is more likely to notice and is able to take the matter up with their child to hopefully improve behavior. A woman who does not want to be objectified does not dress in the same way as the models and celebrities who feature in magazines and advertisements – which are the same images she complains are being used to objectify other women. Of course those images are not the fault of the camera – but of every individual (the subject included) who led to them being taken and published. A camera is designed to take pictures, just as the male brain is designed to seek out images of attractive women. If we don’t like that fact – then the woman must stop dressing provocatively and the man must prevent himself from actively seeking that stimulation.

      • Dawn

        CM, he said that women are NEVER responsible for the physical actions of men. “True, a man has no excuse if he victimizes someone…It is never a woman’s fault. ”
        It’s called a metaphor that’s when you make a comparison between to things to clarify a point. Not saying that the two things are the same, have the same rights or value. It’s a device in which you use an easier to understand concept to explain a more complicated concept. It’s a very valid writing technique that they teach in elementary school. It works very well in arguments and debates. You can recognise that this is a figure of speech because he uses the word “LIKE”. For example, I’ll throw some emphasis on the important word:
        “In this manner, dressing proactively is LIKE placing the cookie jar in front of a child and then blaming the child for staring at the jar and getting hungry for a cookie”
        The things that are the same in these relationships are not the woman and the cookie jar, it’s “man’s desire” and the “child’s desire”. Note, this is not the actions of man having sex with a woman or a child eating a cookie; simply the desire to have the perspective wants. You can’t blame that they say “wow! that looks good” when you set it directly in front of them, but you can if they reach for it without expressed permission.

        Yes, you can compare animate and inanimate objects. No, it doesn’t lessen the value of either objects.

        You actually agree with Steve.

      • CM

        Why can’t I edit comments? As I keep reading your post it’s appalling how much you missed. First of all, biology is no excuse to kill or rape. “Male biology” is simply a scapegoat for rape and telling women to dress a certain way

      • Kelsey

        You’ll notice that Steve *specifically* said, “… a man has no excuses if he victimizes someone [i.e. rapes them]… it is never a woman’s fault.” I saw nothing in his comments that said it was okay for men to rape women or objectify them or not “be civil and humane”. He simply said that by presenting an image that has been culturally defined as sexual – a very bare female body – it is unreasonable to assume that sexual thoughts wouldn’t come. Whether or not a man chooses to reject those thoughts, and how he chooses to act as a result is – it’s true – ENTIRELY his choice. Certainly all young men (and older men) need to accept this reality and control their thoughts and actions. No rape is excusable. It is also true, I think, that making modesty exclusively about men’s thoughts and actions is a dangerous ground on which to walk. However, I am grateful to know that by covering my body, I can help men who don’t want to think about women as sex objects to do that. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with including a respect for men in the discussion on modesty. It has helped me, and, for me at least, it helped to humanize men in my mind, to think about them as people with feelings and struggles that I could help to negate, if I chose. I believe what matters is that discussions about modesty are thoughtful and well-chosen, considering many different perspectives.

      • Courntey

        Oh so close Steve, but I’m afraid your analogy is just wrong. First off, men aren’t children, and I wish men would stop insulting themselves by saying so. I know many adult men who are much more capable of controlling their thoughts now, than they were when they were children. Second, women aren’t objects, so it was very poor to compare us to a cookie jar.

        A MUCH more appropriate analogy would be that it’s like someone with a love of chocolate chip cookies not paying attention to the conversation that they are having with a person who is holding a chocolate chip cookie, because they are too busy looking at the cookie, thinking about the cookie, perhaps even considering ways to obtain the cookie. Whether asking politely, tricking, or stealing the root issue is that this person cares more about the cookie then the person talking. Focusing on stopping that type of attitude is just as important as stopping other people from feeling like they need wave cookies in front of people’s faces in order to obtain a relationship.

      • Janna

        Courtney, you’re a genius. I LOVE that “person holding the cookie” analogy. Brilliant. And I’m going to share it on FB. This is such an important conversation. I don’t know you, but I love you! :)

      • Dina P
        Dina P01-28-2014

        THIS. You are brilliant and articulate. Now, about that cookie…

      • brit

        True! No person should be reduced to being viewed as a cookie. A person holding a cookie is much more appropriate of a description. I would also add that it’s not polite to wave cookies in someones face if you’re not planning on sharing. :) Correct social behavior balances on both parties doing what is good. But even if someone isn’t upholding their side if the social contract, that is no excuse for the other party.

      • Dawn

        Courtney, I like your analogy. I really think that is well thought out. I almost agree with it more
        However, Steve didn’t say a man is the same as a child. And he didn’t say that a woman is the same as a cookie jar. Those weren’t the things being likened to each other, and although those items held parallel roles to each other, that’s not how you read an analogy.
        The things that are similar are the man’s desires and the child’s desires. Which were incurred by object of those desires in view(This follows the common phrase “out of sight, out of mind”). Also the same were getting angry about the desires(not the action of them, just the passing thought) when it is very likely they wouldn’t have thought about cookies/sex except that it was advertised to them.
        Not every part of an analogy is considered a perfect representation of it’s counterpart. For instance in your analogy, I could complain that sex is not a cookie and is much more important than a cookie. I could say that comparing a woman’s sexuality to a lowly cookie is disrespectful of women. I could also say that is unfair for you to say that men are so gluttonous that they cannot control their thoughts in the least way when a cookie/sex is forseeable. Most grown men have the ability to dismiss stray thoughts, and most men do. However, I know you were writing a figure of speech, so I’m not going to treat every little section as if you were claiming fact. I know you don’t think that a woman’s sexuallity holds the same value as a cookie, that would be reading way to far in. I’m also not going to assume that you meant that every man has no control over his thoughts, that would be an over generalization.

        In the end, you actually agree with Steve. You are both saying the same thing. That a man being distracted by sex can be like a person(or child) being distracted by a cookie. The desires and distractions are comparable.

      • flyn

        “Are you aware that science has shown the male brain is more prone to be affected by visual sexualized stimuli?”

        Actually, there are several studies showing that women’s brains are just as affected by visual sexualized simuli as men’s brains. It’s just that women are less likely to report it because society looks down on sexual women, (calling them “sluts” for example).
        These studies that didn’t require women to report with words, used certain tools/machines instead, which ended up showing that women’s bodies were affected and aroused the same amount as men’s bodies were.

      • Courteen

        Men are more visually stimulated to sexual content then women. Women know it and men know it. Why do you see men in the community dressing however which way they like without the paranoia and fixation women tend to put on their dress? Answer: men don`t care. Women do care about how they are seen and how attractive they look. And women “score a point” when they observe a man shooting her a glance. Furthermore, if you talk to women, they will admit that we women tend to compete with other women. We compare ourselves to other women. I`m not saying its healthy. It`s just something women do.
        Good article.

      • Nappaljarri

        Flyn – I don’t know what study you are referring to… but I thought I would chime in with more info about women’s brains. Yes, women may respond to sexual stimuli… but not by equivalent stimuli and not in the same time frame. I bet women will agree with me here. 1. Women take quite a bit longer to be stimulated by visual. 2. Women would be less stimulated by looking at half naked/naked men’s images, as men would be by looking at half naked/naked women images. 3. Women would be more stimulated by looking at images of a male and female being intimate – and probably because emotions are stirred in her body of love and closeness….. as opposed to the actual physical act. Studies have also shown that 10% of women have the same brain function as men – so yes there are many women out there who are very visual like men and are stimulated sexually very quickly… but the majority of women do not react in this way. As a contrast there are about 2% of men who whose brains do not behave as the ‘norm’ – in regards to reacting to visual sexual stimuli.

      • Jahanpanah


        Let me say something about ‘sluts’ (I hate the term). There are many men these days who actually don’t care about the term but it is still in vogue because of the women themselves. As someone below you commented that women often dress to compete with other women, it is because of their envious and jealous nature, the very nature that prompts the other woman who because of her beauty, sex appeal or brains is able to attract many men.

      • Jahanpanah

        Edit – the very nature that prompts the other women TO LABEL THOSE WOMEN AS SLUTS who because of THEIR beauty, sex appeal or brains EVEN is able to attract many men.

      • SilverRain

        Except . . . men aren’t children. They ought to be expected to take responsibility.

      • Jill

        You are so right, Steve! Well said.

      • Ashley Zappe
        Ashley Zappe11-23-2014


        I hope I can have your permission to quote you for a class of teens.

      • CM

        What Maddie means here by “the subject is not objectifying themself” is that they’re not harming themselves by defining themselves by their appearance or attire, and NOT that they will somehow magically predict and prevent a predator from approaching them.

      • Lianda

        Yes, women are judged by what they wear, but on the other side; women are wearing provocative clothing to attract attention to themselves. You don’t walk around with your bra, or your body totally exposed for NO REASON. Honestly, there has to be some motivation behind the choices you make. I don’t think men mostly go around wearing tight pants to exhibit their crotches. And in fact, it very often backfires for women, because others do judge them, rightly or wrongly.

        It’s a two way street here. Women have to start believing in themselves and their value that is NOT associated with solely with their appearance.

      • Bethany

        Exactly! Women kills me sometimes when they get mad at a guy who is staring at the breasts she is showing off by wearing a neckline down to her belly-button. No woman on this earth gets dressed to the 9’s NOT to be looked at, but she gets angry when it happens?

        Of course no woman is responsible for the reaction of a man, but she certainly can make it easier for him not to have to battle with staring her down or getting to know her personality.

        I said this recently online: “A guy that walks around with his shirt off is asking for compliments but a girl who walks around with cleavage showing isn’t? Modesty isn’t about pleasing others, it is about pleasing yourself by forcing others to concentrate on your personality; it’s personal gain.”

      • Jahanpanah

        For whom your message is Linda? I’ve often found (at least in my country), women who have got more brains dress more provocatively. Perhaps it’s because clothes represents what you are and such cloths are symbol of their sexual liberation where they are not bound by the rules of society and culture which expects them to control their sexual thoughts and behave in certain manner.

      • Israel Zubieta
        Israel Zubieta06-03-2014

        @ Bethany a gree I had a friend that got mad at guys (different age) that where more observing to her breast to her face while she was at work so I mention maybe she should wear something on top with the clothes she wear at work and reluctantly she did and she felt mmuch better after the following weeks

      • Jahanpanah

        Why don’t women simply wear the burqa, it’ll be much easier for everybody.
        First and foremost thing women should feel comfortable with their body (as a guy feels, for example if somebody is staring at him, he wouldn’t be mad) most guys will feel ashamed and will avert their eyes but there will be shameless people anyway and so if the woman doesn’t feel comfortable there are all sort of modest clothes available that they can wear. It’s that simple.

      • Rachel

        Well i can testify that i am in high school and clothes do every thing, and that is horrible! girls who wear modest clothes are mostly more respected and they normally have better relationships with guys and with girls, and what you wear is what you attract, its true the more skin you show the more people are gonna notice you its not their fault you just decided to wear it and look like that, dressing immodestly is like rolling around in manure, sure your gonna get attention but mostly from pigs and fly’s. fashion is just purposely getting immodest and immodest as we go down the line of fashion and that makes me sad! and yes the level of modesty does effect on what friends we are gonna get, i was texting a guy one day and he said he liked that i didn’t wear “slutty” clothes that he hates it when girls do because they are just begging for attention, and its true it has been 3 guys that have told me that they respect that i wear modest clothes, and that it lets him see that I’m a person and not a piece of meat. i know girls want to look good and all but u can still look good with out showing your belly button or half your boobs, and steve is right, guys cant help it, although you think they can they will see you differently than if you where dress modestly, if you put a child in front of a cookie jar of course they are gonna want the cookies no matter what they are told they want the cookies it like going on a diet and wanting to have a quick snack of course your gonna want to just u can choose not to but on the most part some will go for the cookies, and we cant help that we cant control guys minds and they can try but their first glance will with out a doubt be bad but they can try to change it, if we can give the first glance a good meaning than that’s good and we can be confident and not need to worry about the out come. like i said im in high school and our generation is A LOT different and some time i wish it was not but that’s life.

      • Jahanpanah

        First define me ‘slutty clothes’. You’re putting the slutwalk campaign to shame which was against this term. Actually this is the attitude of people where they blame the victim in case of a sexual crime.
        Secondly I’m thinking about the guys whose opinion about girls are based around how and what they wear. They’ll mature with age, I hope but this is the problem with the major part of the society because historically we are used to see women in a certain way.

        Let me tell you, for many many years I used to have this opinion as to how women should dress, I even used to think that they shouldn’t be wearing pants (all sorts including jeans) either but it all changed (basically I started looking at the things from a different perspective and it revealed the truth to me). The cookie analogy is great but if a person is getting to eat cookie everyday or has a tasted variety of cookies or is just simply isn’t hungry for cookies then he wont be interested in the cookie being offered. Likewise one must understand that dressing in a certain way has a particular meaning. First of all these kind of cloths were first adopted by the celebrities and promoted by the fashion industries where the culture that is observed is never the same as the general society we see around us (they are more liberal in every sense). These clothings also emerged as a symbol of women’s (sexual) liberation and her sexual assertiveness (but general mass only adopts things in letter rather than in spirit i.e. they’ll wear those clothes without having the same underlying principle of being sexually liberated, hence getting mad when a guy ogles at them) and it’s only going to be more accepted when the society becomes overall more liberated and society is certainly heading that way.

      • jaq

        Raul said: “If you choose to show cleavage, you choose to convey a message. The simplest message might be, “I want you to see my cleavage.” ”

        Wow, Raul. The nicest way of putting it is that your comment makes you look like an ignorant JERK. Women who are big on top can’t NOT show cleavage unless they wear turtlenecks. Anyone with any basic intelligence should be able to figure out that women are different sizes there. Duh. Us your brain– if you have one that is! Your comment suggests you don’t. If a guy has well muscled arms and he wears a t-shirt is he saying “I want you to see my muscles”??? NO, he’s wearing NORMAL clothing.
        Seiously, you sound like an angry 14 year-old. GROW UP.

    • Natalie

      If a man can’t see me as a “whole person” or take me seriously because I’m showing a bit of cleavage or shoulder, he isn’t someone I care to associate with and the problem lies with him, not me. I think walking into a room with good posture and a smile on my face, making eye contact with the people I encounter is a show of confidence and strength, no matter what I’m wearing. Also, I hate the word “modesty” because I think the religious climate in my home state has worn it out. I prefer the term “classy.” :)

      • Liffey Banks
        Liffey Banks09-28-2012

        I completely agree, Natalie. If we are to redefine “beauty,” let’s also redefine “modest,” to mean what it originally meant – humility in our manner, interactions, and, perhaps least of all, dress. Modesty is a concept that has very little to do with hemlines at its core.

        And one more thing! There is nothing inherently sexual or impure about our knees or shoulders, and indeed, in some cultures to mere glimpse of an ankle is enough to provide ammunition for sexualized male gaze. So, let’s not make the mistake of thinking that modesty is a prescribed dress code, immutable across time and geography, the violation of which guarantees the ogling of then men around us. Not to mention the fact that all of the men I know and love are perfectly able to control themselves around women dressed in any variety of ways – even at the beach, where most women are wearing next to nothing at all. What a thought.

      • Liz

        Liffey, this was great. Thanks for articulating such a well thought out response!

      • Penny Murdock
        Penny Murdock04-18-2014

        Very well stated Liffey!! I truly agree!

      • Dawn

        Knees and shoulders may not be sexual to you. That doesn’t mean no one else finds them appealing.
        Shoulders are definitely a very common thing for guys to be attracted by. I don’t get it myself, I think it has something to do with being part of a female body. But they are soft, they’re close to the breast and neck(which leads to the face).
        I think knees are pretty ugly, but when it comes to touch, the knees are the border between the calf and the thigh. And that’s a pretty significant line.

      • Heidi

        Let’s be realistic. We would all like to not notice what people are wearing (or what they are not wearing), but it’s human nature to notice and make some kind of judgement, hopefully kind. It has nothing to do with money.

        Maybe I’m old (40), but I’ve never seen so much cleavage in my life. Just going to a hometown days carnival. It’s embarrassing. I’m no prude, but it seems popular for women to dress as prostitutes nowadays. Unfortunately, that’s what available at the stores. We’ve been conditioned to accept that.

        No one’s saying that we should wear burkas. But I know I feel more comfortable and confident in modest, classy, flattering clothes. Tight clothes are not pretty.

        Throughout history (until very recently) royalty wore lots of clothing. Servants and slaves wore scanty clothing. And I’m raising little princesses, not second-city specials.

        Yes, women will keep dressing immodestly–it’s a verified addiction–and will keep getting offended when they get unwanted advances from men. But what are these poor men to think? Be realistic.

      • Jadey

        Agree Heidi, well put!

      • Annie B.
        Annie B.10-04-2012

        Seeing cleavage bothered me when I was younger but I think that was because I was also very ashamed of my own body as my parents had conditioned me to be. I was taught I had to keep covered from shoulders to knees, often at the expense of my own comfort or preference, because any show of skin would be considered a sexual invitation. I know my parents were doing the best they knew, but the way they taught me modesty only perpetuated the worldview that women’s bodies are nothing but sex objects. I learned that’s all my body was, and I judged others accordingly too. I always thought of a show of skin on others as a cry for sexual attention (and sadly, I’m sure my brothers picked up on that concept, too). I’m so glad that I don’t view my body that way any more! I think having kids helped. I now appreciate my body for all the things that it does, including bear and nurse children, house an analytical mind, physical labor, and serve as a vehicle for a joyful life experience. I think I’m able to appreciate other’s bodies in the same way because of the healthier way that I now view my own body.

        What we wear does affect what others think of us, and in a lot of cultures cleavage is thought of as obscene, which is why I dress conservatively in a conservative community, as much for my own protection as not to offend anyone. And I would not be offended if a man were to compliment my looks, but would be offended if he put his hands on me or made overtly sexual remarks. But I’m so glad there are people and communities who teach their sons and daughters that bodies (breasts included) can be sexy, but are not solely sexual, and not to automatically perceive them that way on others. In past cultures where ankles stayed covered, men were conditioned to have a sexual response to seeing bare ankles. In communities where breastfeeding is done in the open for convenience and comfort, men have little to no sexual response to seeing cleavage, and children as well as adults are not embarrassed by the sight of breasts because it’s natural to them. I think this shows that it’s possible for us to teach our boys (who will become men) that skin, while beautiful, does not always equal an invitation for sexual advances.

      • CM

        Wow Heidi you also missed the point, I think it’s quite embarrassing for a woman to side with the perpetrators that are making unwanted advances to women and then to call them “poor men”. No woman no matter how they dress deserves to be objectified or harassed. There is much victim blaming going on here.

      • B.Y.

        No, Heidi and Steve are not wrong or missing the point, they are just pointing out other important aspects of this debate. The issue is more complex than the perpetrator-victim perspective reveals, and it is lovely to hear other views.

        I believe both women and men tend to be equally confused in how to navigate this issue. There are many a woman that dress in a certain way because she (thinks she) wants sexual attention, and expects a man to give feed back on that – otherwise she might feel undervalued. To a male it can be very confusing – he may try to be friendly and show appreciation in a non-sexist way, but still it is taken as an insult. Many of my male friends have expressed frustration at this. “Damned if you do and damned if you don’t.”

        When I realized this, it made me feel more compassionate towards men. Many of them are fed up with women continually valuing themselves mostly on their looks and expecting men to play along, and are just waiting for us to see that we are complete, complex, wonderful beings. It made me relax and think less on my apperarance, made more forthright in my dealings with men and I have stopped completely to dress to impress. I dress the way I do because it feels good. And when a male friend compliment my look, I know that it is heartfelt and not because he thinks it is expected of him.

        It is an inescapable fact that one person feels attraction (sexual and otherwise) to other human beings. The key is HOW to express this attraction. I believe that with dialogue, women and men can agree on ways to express it in a way that is wholesome for both parties.

      • Heather B
        Heather B07-31-2013

        There’s a lot around this issue which is neither good nor bad, but is simply a fact. It’s important to take some things that are simply facts into consideration. Dressing modestly can be an asset, especially in contexts where a woman wants to be heard and understood.

        For example, someone close to me has a very well-endowed employee who wears tops and dresses which show lots of cleavage. She will come to discuss something important with him and he finds it very distracting.

        He is a very nice man. He doesn’t want to make her uncomfortable, he doesn’t feel overly tempted and he certainly doesn’t feel out of control. He respects this employee and values her contribution. Furthermore, knows he can’t stare, he would never, ever make a comment. He’s not a child, she’s not a cookie jar, they are two professional adults.

        However, he definitely notices breasts too and he does like to look at them, so in order to not stare at her breasts, he ends up thinking “look at her face, keep looking at her face, don’t look down, look at her face…” unfortunately, that’s usually followed by “What did she say?” because he’s focusing his attention on not focusing his attention on her breasts.

        “Cleavage is distracting to most men” is a statement of fact. It isn’t good, it isn’t bad, it is simply true. If a woman is in a context, such as work, where it’s very important that what she says be heard, remembering that cleavage is distracting to most men can help women dress to put the focus on her thoughts and ideas.

        Nice men, like the one I’m close to, who are truly interested in a woman’s thoughts and ideas, will appreciate it if the women around them make focusing on their words easier by not pulling focus with cleavage. “Men tend to be lousy at multi-tasking.” is also a true statement. He may really want to hear what she’s saying but finds it impossible to split his focus.

        Not good, not bad, just a fact.

      • Melanie

        Thank you Heidi! I love the way you said this, I am sorry for the negative feedback you’re getting:)

      • Raul

        If you choose to show cleavage, you choose to convey a message. The simplest message might be, “I want you to see my cleavage.” You know full well this will garner some attention and you shouldn’t be surprised when it does. How much attention do you want a male to focus on your physical message and how much attention do you want him to focus on your brains, personality, and words? I think I would prefer he listened to my words and hear what I have to say. This seems to be a case of “having your cake and eating it too.”
        Some women want the access to men that their display of cleavage attracts, but then want the men to ignore the message they’re sending in “look at my cleavage.” I don’t know that you can have both. Despite this, should a man be able to see the “whole person?” I believe so, but a lot of men will dismiss you as “serious dating material” if you attract them with provocative clothing. Unfortunately, they will be more inclined to have sex with you than consider you a future girlfriend. It’s their pathetic way of saying they want to like you for the person you’re inside.
        I personally believe wearing provocative clothing that reveals too much cleavage, butt, and midriff is trying to speak to the sexual side of males too much. They don’t respect that, but they want to respect you. I just don’t think you should “roll the dice” when it comes to meeting men by attracting men with less than honorable intentions. If the first message they get from you is “look at my cleavage,” don’t be surprised if the rest of the actual conversation is viewed from the narrow lens of sex.

      • Raul

        * That was meant to “not serious dating material”

      • jaq

        Thank you Natalie. Judgments about whether a women’s clothing is too sexual are all just the opinion of the observer. My experience has been that disrespectful jerks are disrespectful jerks, they don’t magically become respectful or leave you alone if you put on a mumu.
        Respectful guys are respectful regardless of what you are wearing.

        Guys, the reason that women get annoyed when you stare even if they’re dressed “sexy” is because staring is RUDE in the west, no matter what you are wearing. Were you raise by pigs or something, that your mothers or fathers never told you it’s rude to stare??
        Here’s how you respond when you think a woman is sexy:
        Give an appreciative glance, but don’t ogle and stare. The clothing she is wearing doesn’t give you permission to be rude.
        If you want to interact with her, say “Hi.” (not “hey sexy” not “hey beautiful” not “hey gorgeous.” you might think these are complimentary, but when you do this you are literally dehumanizing and making her into only her looks. Even if she wants you to notice her looks, she doesn’t want to you disregard everything else about her)
        If she doesn’t respond or responds coldly to your greeting, it means she doesn’t want to talk to you. Move on with your day. Her clothing, even if she is dressed to get attention, doesn’t mean she wants your attention specifically and does not entitle you to her time.

    • jaq

      “If we where to be honest, women know how to dress to get a man’s attention in a sexual way. To then go on say it is entirely a man’s fault for noticing this overt sexuality ignores all cultural constructs and socialization, in addition to male biology.”

      No, actually, our gender doesn’t magically make us able to read the minds of men. Men are sexually attracted to all different things. Whether or not an outfit is “overtly sexual” is a judgment that the VIEWER is making, not the wearer.

      For example, one day I was wearing ordinary slacks and a t-shirt and a woman yelled at me because she thought I was in the wrong bathroom. Five minutes later, I was propositioned by an old guy on the subway who thought I was a prostitute.
      Explain how clothing is the problem when one person thought I was so “overtly sexual” that he mistook me for a hooker and another person couldn’t even tell that I was female.

      I am generally very girly, and like to wear dresses. Some guys view this feminine style as sexual, no matter if necklines are high and hemlines are long. I have short hair. Some guys think this means I am loose. Not sure where that stereotype came from.

      And finally, I am white, living in a country where I am an extreme minority, and a lot of guys are going to view me as overtly sexual regardless of what I wear.

      “I personally believe wearing provocative clothing that reveals too much cleavage, butt, and midriff is trying to speak to the sexual side of males too much. They don’t respect that, but they want to respect you”
      How much is “too much”????? The is NO DEFINITION OF THIS. NONE. It is 100% in the eye of the beholder. So, NO, someone who does not respect me because in his opinion (which is NOT a set standard of ANY kind) my clothing is “too” short or tight or whatever he takes issue with does not WANT to respect me.
      Respectful people don’t suddenly become arseholes when they are put in a room full of people whose clothing they disaprove of. If you or anyone else disrespects women based on how they are dressed it’s because YOU are not a respectful person.

  2. Jeanette

    I LOVE this post, and I love what you two are doing with your research and this blog. I work with our church’s young women’s group, and always feel a real twinge of annoyance when we teach lessons on modesty and sexuality. It’s the same feeling that I felt when I was a teenager and got the same lessons. I don’t even want to dress immodestly (quite the opposite), but there was/is something about the way it is often presented that really rubs me the wrong way, and you did an excellent job at putting these feelings into words for me.

  3. Alice

    This post is amazing!

    Growing up in a church always preaching modesty, I always wanted to be modest. But once people started saying that I needed to cover myself to keep boys in check, I became very insecure. In high school, I had a very large chest on a tiny frame. I KNEW I was always being looked at. I even had a member of the volleyball team, a female, tell me they discussed my boobs on a volleyball trip because they were so large. I had many boys, religious and nonreligious, tell me they loved my boobs. Boys that I had just met would ask me if I would make out with them, and some even offered sex. I was so confused and felt so awful about myself. What could I be doing to cause these things if I was dressing modestly? After someone assaulted me, I knew I had to change and began to wear large, frumpy clothing to try to hide my dominating features, stopped wearing make up, and stopped doing my hair. No matter what I did, I felt like I was causing people to think immoral thoughts.

    It wasn’t until I met my husband years later that things changed. He told me that, no matter what, people would always look at me. I COULD NOT CHANGE WHAT THEY THOUGHT ABOUT ME OR THE ACTIONS THEY TOOK. He told me I should not be responsible for that. He reminded me that I was more than my body, and my focus and confidence should be based on what I can do and who I can be, not in how I look.

    One day, I will have daughters that may or may not receive my genetics. But I don’t want them to feel the way I did because of the way modesty was taught to me. I want them to know they they are capable of much more than being look at.

    Thanks again!

    • Ash

      Alice, you could be telling my life story.

    • jaq

      It’s so sad that so many experienced this. I was luckily older, because I do not have the body type that gets a ton of attention in America.
      So I always felt, well, I’m doing a good job, because no one really harasses me or comments on my appearance. I was very conscious of being modest, and making sure this continued. I didn’t dress frumpy, just rather… preppy? I was that girl in highschool who was always wearing button down tops and slacks.
      Eventually, my style changed in college, but I still never had many problems with unwanted attention, and I felt like this was because I was classy and modest.
      Then I moved to a rural town and Asia and got harassed and propositioned because I am white. Had my phone number and address stolen by a guy who harassed me– luckily he was not dangerous, just called me all the time. At work, on my cell phone. Called me to ask if I was home at (my address)… it freaked me out and I didn’t know what to do about it.
      I saw other girls wearing tanktops and super short shirts, but if I wore my modest, long sundress, I would get propositioned and sometimes even followed. One time I was so mad about all the unwanted attention and feeling like I should go back to my apartment and get a shrug, even though it was 100 degrees and humid. And then this man on a scooter pulled over and I prepared to once again deal with this mistaken belief that white girls are hookers. The man was very elderly. He took off his helmet and asked politely, in perfect English asked “Excuse me, are you American?” I told him I was, and he asked about my job and my school and we chatted for several minutes.
      This man was elderly, had never traveled to America or any other western country, and had met few westerners, but he was polite and kind to me anyway. This instance of kindness and respect from a total stranger (and elderly person, from a rural area where people tend to judge one stereotypes) really made me realize that I was not dressed in a way to draw disrespect, I had simply been in the path of a lot of disrespectful people that day.
      No one should believe that being on the receiving end of disrespectful, dehumanizing behavior is the result of how they are dressed.

  4. Alice

    Also, I would be interested to know how to teach boys about the subject of modesty. How would you do that?

    • Angel

      Tell them not to sag their jeans

      • Colleen

        Yep, I learned the hard way myself – as much as I covered up, I still got comments from people (especially males) that made me feel uncomfortable. Add to that, I went through puberty early, and that made me feel embarrassed (the worst remarks were made by kids my age, and sad to say, some of them were by girls as well). As if I could help having boobs that were bigger than the average girl my age then?

        And yes, I do cover up because I feel more comfortable covering up, and I choose to do so. I am personally not too fussed about the skimpy and tight fashions out these days, but know I don’t have to look completely frumpy either. I think if a guy (or another girl for that matter) is genuinely interested, then they will be so regardless of how I look or dress.

  5. reactivatedfeminist

    I think it is important to note that modesty is subjective. Observe the many different religious views of modesty, Islam, Sihks, Mormons, Protestants… all have different views on what is considered to modest and many still have the same reason- to prevent immoral thoughts/actions of a man… I agree modesty needs to be re-examined and all people held accountable for their own thoughts and actions. Lets not play the blame game nor reduce each other to objectification.

    • Melanie

      As a Mormon, I would like to sat that dressing modestly as taught in our church is not just to prevent immoral thoughts of a man. That is one aspect, yes. Any immoral actions a man makes are never justified; however, it is proven that a man’s brain is more easily directed towards sexual thoughts when a women dresses provocatively. I do not ever want to do that to any man’s thoughts. Another huge aspect of modesty for us and me personally is to respect the body God has given us. I do not believe I am the body, I know I am so much more than that. However, I know the body is sacred and to me is such a valued gift to be able to live my life. I feel that dressing in a revealing manner sends the message that I do not respect the true value of my body – a gift that God has given me to become someONE great. I am not a thing..I am not my body. Dressing that way sends the message that that is the part I most value about myself. I do not judge those who believe or choose otherwise but that is my personal standpoint.

  6. Richard

    This is perhaps a very difficult topic to really answer. On the one hand there perhaps is too much focus on either what women look like, or the somewhat ridiculous assumption that sexual attraction is inversely proportional to the amount of clothing a woman is wearing. Moreover, if we go down that route, we’ll end up being counter-productive- what does a woman covered from head to foot, face included, do for seeing a woman as a human being? Often, too, it’s what someone is showing, or not showing, that matters- it would be better, in my view, to be partly or mostly naked than to something that appears deliberately to tempt, but not to reveal entirely. Many a wrong thought can come as a result, and I speak from experience.

    On the same hand, of course, is if in focussing attention on what the woman is wearing and not on the thoughts of the man. We men are as much to blame for not keeping a check on ourselves or allowing the wrong thought patterns to develop- or deliberately thinking or acting in an improper manner.

    On the other hand if we ignore that fact that how one dresses doesen’t affect how people see us, and that particularly dressing in a sexually suggestive way isn’t going to focus the attention of men on that aspect of a woman to the detriment of others, we are just as much deluding ourselves. There is some effect, even if it’s limited. And we mustn’t igonre that some women may do this deliberately for whatever reason- and I don’t exactly countenance that. (I don’t speak of what gois on in the bedrooms of married couples and neither one partner is using the other- but outside of that it could be misleading, manipulative, or part of the sort of sexual relations that aren’t appropriate. Yes, I do believe sex is meant for marriage, not outside it- you may disagree but I stand by that.)

    It’s also important to note “modesty” as a term isn’t really used in a strictly sexual way in the Bible. consider one passage:

    “In the same way, that women also adorn themselves in decent clothing, with modesty and propriety; not just with braided hair, gold, pearls, or expensive clothing; but (which becomes women professing godliness) with good works.” (1 Tim 2:9-10).

    Here the emphasis is not so much on sexuality as adornments suchas clothing, jewellry, fancy hairdos and so on- this is actually more about not showing off externally, a theme running throughout the Bible, and applying as much to men. Jesus had as much to say about the (male) Pharisees who did similarly:

    But all their works they do to be seen of men: for they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, (Matt. 23:5 ASV). [What is referred to has to do with garments mandated by the Mosaic Law, and these guys were showing how “holy” they were by showing them off. Not necessarily to do with ideals of beauty, but same principle- outward appearances can be deceptive.)

    The apostle Paul in 1 Timothy seems to be using examples of things what might easily denote wealth or status, ad it’s unlikely the poorer women would be able to afford them. And notice that instead, he emphasises good works- it’s the character of a person that should stand out, not their outward appearance.)

    (Yes, I admit some feminists might be put off by the fact that was a male authority figure and for what else he appears to be saying regarding women- but the understanding that last part is debated even by those who hold to the Bible as divinely inspired and authoritative in its entirity, so I would rather not focus on that!)

    • jaq

      I’m not put off by Paul’s words at all, I’m put off by the people that misinterpret them.
      There is so much right about your comment. This is how I would put it- how you dress can INFLUENCE the way people think about you, especially when you meet someone for the first time. However, your clothes does not DETERMINE their thoughts. My clothing cannot “cause” anyone to think a particular thing about me. Thoughts are “caused” by the person thinking them, and that person alone.
      Matthew 6 also addresses not doing your good deeds before men in order to be seen and praised by them, and this is, I believe, a problem in some churches today. The world glorifies appearing sexy, the church glorifies appearing modest. Both are focused on the outer appearance. This is the problem with “modest is hottest”; we’re taking a concept that was supposed to make us LESS focused on vanity and looks, and making it about appearances in a different way.
      Paul gives similar intruction to men– that they be respectable– but somehow few people decide that means men must dress a certain way.

  7. Linda

    I never liked that phrase. It sounds so lame. Why can’t we just tell girls to dress modestly to avoid being objectified, instead of telling them that they will look the hottest if they dress modestly? Good article.

    • jaq

      Because clothing does not prevent objectification. People are quite capable of objectifying women in their school uniforms, work uniforms, and freaking puffy snowsuits. Dressing “modestly” doesn’t prevent people from objectifying you.

  8. Sarah

    Can we discuss the issues in thinking that if someone isn’t dressing “modestly” then they are dressing “too sexually” or “slutty”? Although one might be the exact opposite of the other, there is a lot of room between the two on a continuum. Just because you are wearing shorts above your knees or a tank top that shows your shoulders, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re dressing in a way that is over-sexualized. Living in Utah, I’ve felt the ramifications of some people’s interpretations of dressing modestly as a “right” and “moral” way to live. Wearing sleeveless shirts has earned me comments aimed at shaming me and even a discussion on how I’m being a bad influence on an 8-year old who wanted to wear a similar sleeveless tank top (full strap, not even a spaghetti strap tank top). I think it’s problematic when modesty versus over-sexualization is seen as a black and white issue when there are clearly different shades of modesty dressing. I appreciate this article a lot because it is blurring the black and white lines of modest dressing and it’s creating a space for a productive conversation. I hope we can teach our young girls what this article is saying, especially that our bodies are not sinful and therefore need to be covered up but rather we should teach them to think about how their dress makes them feel.

  9. Kristen B.
    Kristen B.10-01-2012

    I think this sums up nicely some of what you are discussing here. Sexualization can also be part of viewing the world through the “male gaze.” I suspect modesty, in some part, is not attracting that gaze but being strong in self confidence.

  10. Franca

    Excellent article! thank you.

    I ind the topic of modesty intriguing but very problematic and what people say about it often infuriating. I live in the UK, and it’s not a concept used only occasionally in relation to specific religious communities (the UK is much more secular of course) but it’s not a mainstream concept. I’m 31 and don’t hand out with teenagers, so I may be ignorant, but I also don’t see the over-sexualisation of young girls to anywhere near the same extent as what people are describing in the US. I do see girls on night outs wearing very short skirts, no tights, strapless tops etc, and I would be lying if I didn’t judge them a little bit in terms of unflatteringness and health (if it’s december, for example), but I honestly never think they do it because they’re ‘desperate for male attention’ and I would certainly never draw conclusions about their sexual behaviour. And I think most people I know see this style of dressing the same way I do.

    The thing is, I dress in what could objectively be described as ‘modest’ – I am usually covered completely. But this is due to climate, my laziness with body hair removal, and because I have a visual preference for layering. I would be a bit offended if people thought I was doing it because of some externally imposed standard of dressing designed to protect men from impure thoughts. I hate the reductive mechanistic view of human desire this implies. I think people’s sexuality is a bit more complex than boobs=dirty thoughts! And it really really bothers me that it’s only ever about men’s desires while looking at women. No one ever talks about women looking at men.

    I’ve written a number of posts about this actually:

  11. Sarah

    I’ll add my two cents from an Islamic perspective, since I see religious views have entered the conversation. Contrary to the stereotype of a male-imposed dress code, Muslim women dress modestly for their own benefit: for their own focus and liberation from society’s constant pressures. No one can force her to dress modestly, however, as it is a personal decision that reflects a certain mindset. To say that religion asks women to cover because without covering properly, men are excused and are allowed to rape or degrade women is a weak and hugely problematic argument. It implies that men have no self-control.

    Islam unequivocally demands that a man is responsible for not ogling women or viewing them as sex objects, no matter what she wears. It is this understanding of both genders that I find complete. I’ve read through academic papers and scholarly writings that assume (what I find to be) an unbalanced approach to the problem of sexualization. It takes a holistic commitment from both genders to make a healthy society. One where a woman’s dress reflects her desire to be seen in a professional and respectful manner, and one where a man does not sexually degrade woman, even if her clothes lacks in taste or class. And God knows best what’s in everyone’s hearts.

    • Batya

      Salam/Shalom to you, Sarah! Yes to everything you said, I’m Jewish. Like Islam, we have varying degrees of observance of laws of tznius (modesty/appropriateness). There are laws of tznius for men and women to follow, as I understand Islam has as well (for us, men must cover their knees, depending on strictness some men always wear pants, some wear longer shorts on occasion…it depends. Some will also never wear short sleeves, but I’m not sure if that’s a law or just custom.). Men are not to look at women (other than their wives) lustfully. This includes those who aren’t dressed tznius. It’s not all on the women. If a man is looking at a woman sexually, it’s his problem (if she’s not his wife. With husbands and wives, almost anything is okay), no matter how she’s dressed. What I think a lot of people fail to understand is that dressing a certain way is us exercising autonomy–I choose to cover my body this way or that. It’s not “Oh poor oppressed women!” There are many more laws dictating how a man is to conduct himself around women and how to treat women properly than there are laws dictating how women should dress. I think that says something right there.

      • Chana

        in reply to Batya & Sarah as well: I appreciate the perspectives both of you have offered, and I think the way that Sarah has expressed the Islamic viewpoint is how many Orthodox Jewish women look at modest dress. However I think there is a danger that’s being overlooked. When modesty in dress becomes a norm (a socially, if not religiously, mandated rule) then along with it seems to come the idea that all of the responsibility is on the woman, as though we have the power to control men’s minds and they don’t. The implication that men do not have self-control then becomes accepted as fact. I see this in strict Orthodox Jewish communities, and it seems to be the message of the strictest Muslim societies as well. In both Judaism and Islam, there are those who blame the victim when a rape occurs (in the Old Testament, there is a law that if a woman is raped in a city she is put to death. In some Muslim and Christian communities in the Middle East, honor killings still occur after a woman has been raped). I think there are two distinct ways to look at modest dress in both communities and what it says about men and women, and understanding that both extremes (high levels of respect for women and very low levels of respect for women, even going as far as blaming the victim) can be linked to how the subject of modesty is understood and discussed. It can either elevate or denigrate. And i believe that’s part of the message of this post. A dress code isn’t as important as the internal attitudes.

  12. Tiffany Thorne
    Tiffany Thorne10-09-2012

    Hi, I was very intrigued by this article. Particularly the assertion that there is power in modesty. You had mentioned it was a research-driven assertion. I was hoping for a reference there?

    • Beauty Redefined
      Beauty Redefined10-12-2012

      Hi Tiffany! We wrote about it in the post here: If modesty is a concept you subscribe to, there is great power in changing the modesty conversation from what you LOOK like to others to what you FEEL like inside. Studies on the epidemic of self-objectification show us that “clothing represents an important contributor to the body and emotional experience of contemporary young women” because body-bearing clothing leads to greater states of self-objectification, body shame, body dissatisfaction, and negative mood (the latest study of this kind was just published in May 2012’s Sex Roles academic journal). What this tells us (and what our own experience living in female bodies tells us is a no-brainer) is that when we wear clothing that is revealing or emphasizing our parts, we become very self-aware of those parts that are being looked at. We self-objectify and are in a near-constant state of adjusting our clothing, fixating on what we look like, and looking at other people looking at us. It’s OK to like being looked at, and even to like attention from others for our looks, but if it’s getting in the way of progress, happiness, and health — as so much research confirms that it is — we’ve got to move on to being more than an object to be looked at. Research shows a level of modesty can be an important tool in safe-guarding ourselves and our daughters from being in a constant state of self-objectification.

  13. HyeKeen

    Reading this article, it brought me back to my teens and twenties. I’ve always been a fairly modest dressing person, with occassional non-modest outfits for parties or dancing at clubs. What I remembered was how much I thought about my appearance – always adjusting my clothes to make sure my skin/fat/rolls didn’t show. That makes me think that the WHOLE clothing thing is more about the greater attention that we place on women’s looks – and increasingly (or always) really everyone’s looks – I’m sure you could find a (formerly) overweight male who felt the same way I did growing up.

    For me the issue was never about viewing myself as a sex object, but rather wanting to make sure I wasn’t an object of disgust, or a body that would attract being made fun of – which is really what I was trying to avoid. At that point in my life I would have loved to have the smooth, skinny body to wear revealing clothes – because it would mean I wasn’t ashamed of my body.

    Dressing modestly or not doesn’t really give a person (at least in current US society) the ability to focus on the mind, the talent, the personality, etc. It’s more a matter at this point of self-esteem, feeling confident in your body and person. I’m at the point now as a 30-something where I’m more comfortable in my skin (although not 100%). I don’t wear makeup because I just don’t want to, I don’t usually shave my legs, and in general I wear modest clothes because it’s comfortable and I don’t have to worry about something inappropriate “popping” out. I still adjust my clothing to ensure my skin/fat/rolls aren’t showing or at least showing as much, so I still have a ways to go before just focusing on my inner self.

    I’m trying to work harder on appreciating my body for what it does for me – and trying to learn to love myself more so that my daughter will grow up learning to love her body and herself for who she is and the good things her body can do.

    It’s a challenge for sure!

  14. Ruthie Oberg
    Ruthie Oberg10-22-2012

    I noticed something recently about the way I greet little girls and, honestly, it shocked me that I had never noticed it before. Every time I met a new little girl I always said, “Oh, how pretty you are!” in an effort to boost her self-confidence. Then it hit me “BAM” I am teaching her to build her confidence based on her looks – why on earth would I want to set her up like that when she is six years old? So I now make a conscious choice when I meet a little girl to say, “HI Sweetie! I bet you’re a really smart girl…can you tell me about a book you have been reading lately?” All of the sudden conversations open up and I’ve made a connection with something much deeper than the usual “What cute shoes you have on today.”

    • Caitlin

      I never thought about that. Wow. Thanks for sharing that!

  15. Jessica Brown
    Jessica Brown11-03-2012

    This article *almost* came off, as prude-shame like. If anybody remotely sounds like they’re criticizing someone for dressing too revealing they’re accused of slut shaming but if someone criticize a girl for dressing too modestly than that’s noo way that’s shaming someone for their looks.

    If a girl want to dress revealingly she is empowered but if a girl feels comfortable expressing herself modestly then there must be something wrong with her, she must be a prude, she must be a slut shamer, she’s jealous, insecure of how all the boys like me instead.

    I like how this article shows that regardless of what we wear no one has a right to judge who we are on our looks but out of all the blog posts on the Internet telling others to back off on the “sluts” it would refreshing to see some telling others to back off on the “prudes”.

    • jaq

      The article doesn’t criticize dressing modestly. It criticizing the reasoning many are using for dressing modestly.

  16. Caitlin

    Wow. This article was so enlightening and definitely opened up my eyes to the reality of all this modest talk, and how much we let others opinions of us affect what we do. It definitely hit home for me, even from the being afraid to raise our hands in class. Beautiful message.

  17. pfspiegel

    You women want to not be seen as eye candy, but you want to be able to wear anything you want. Until we evolve our primate/reptilian part of our brain, which will be some day (new era for humans), men just won’t respect a women who dresses with a lot of skin showing. It’s just not going to happen. When a man sees that, immediately he lusts after it. When a woman sees a mans chest, she lusts after it (I’m being general, there are always exceptions in some cases one might not be attracted ect.). You want to be less oppressed, but there always has to be some boundary. Better to be respectably modest, because otherwise you fools will never be deemed anything else.

    • AKCurtis

      So you are claiming men in cultures where it is the norm to show more skin (for example indigenous cultures) respect women less than mainatream US culture? My experience is the opposite. When I am in cultural spaces where body covering is emphasized, I am treated with less respect than when I am is cultural spaces where very little covering is the norm.

    • jaq

      Lust is a choice we make. Take responsibility for your choices. We are not animals. If you think lust is an automatic reaction and not a willful choice, then you are confusing lust and attraction. Attraction is a feeling, an emotion, like happiness or anger. Lust is a choice, like joy or wrath.

  18. Kristin

    I’m offended that just because someone wants to be more covered, particularly for religious reasons, that must mean they find the female body “sinful and unholy”. My body might not be special to the world, but it is special to me and I don’t feel like just anyone and everyone deserves to look at it. I prefer to dress more modestly because I DO think the female body is beautiful and special. I also don’t think that just because you care about your appearance that you must be an unintelligent underachiever. Give me a break.

    • Beauty Redefined
      Beauty Redefined01-29-2013

      Kristin, please re-read the post! We’re with you on all points. I never said anything about a woman wanting to be covered, particularly for religious reasons, being “sinful or unholy”! In fact, this post was all about the importance of modesty for the individual. From the post: “Research shows a level of modesty can be an important tool in safe-guarding ourselves and our daughters from being in a constant state of self-objectification.” And caring about your appearance definitely doesn’t make you an unintelligent overachiever, which was never even alluded to. This foundation is called “Beauty Redefined” because beauty needs to be something so much more all-encompassing than media would have us believe it is. To us, beauty is happy and important and so much more than what we see it defined as.

    • Tom

      Kristin, you misunderstand. It’s not what girls think of their bodies that’s the problem, it’s what guys think. The natural state of man is with his eyes! As Adam sought for his mate looking upon all the animals, he saw no other human being, particularly a woman! Men are driven by sight, women are relational. Girls, are so relational their heart is fixed on boys long before they get their periods or reach the age of accountability.

  19. Nikki

    Beauty Redefined, there’s a reason she quoted “sinful and unholy”. It came directly from your article referencing churches that teach modesty as teaching it so women would cover their “sinful and unholy” bodies. If you don’t understand why someone would extend that to people who choose to dress modestly for religious purposes then perhaps you should get to know more religious people before writing about them again.

    Here are two new words for why churches may be teaching what they teach: special and sacred. Some churches believe that when things are special or sacred they should be protected and not just available for anyone who may not value their sacred nature. It’s like the idea of not casting your pearls before swine. Sex is not “sinful and unholy”. So why do we keep it hidden? Because it’s sacred. My church has sacred ordinances that we perform, and only those with a recommend are allowed to view them. Why? Because it’s sacred. It’s special. Those things aren’t things that should be common or ordinary and available to just anyone. The female body isn’t ordinary. It’s special. So is the male body. That’s why my church holds men to the same standards of modesty as women. (This is just how my church views it. I’m not saying everyone has to think this way.)

    You don’t have to believe in my religion (LDS) or any religion at all. I just hope that maybe before you remark on what churches teach and why, you actually do some research into the churches that teach it. While my church has members and yes, an occasional misguided leader, that teach modesty as something that is “helping men” it is NOT what the church itself teaches.

    If you read this link you will notice a lack of the words sex and sexual. That’s not what all churches believe. I would also like to point out that unless it specifically states one gender or the other, it’s referring to both. I hope this can provide more insight into the subject. I also hope this can also help more members of my church teach this principle correctly.

    • Beauty Redefined
      Beauty Redefined04-02-2013

      Thank you for stating what your church teaches! Again, if you re-read the post, you will see we NEVER claim that is gospel teaching in any specific church: “Many discussions of modesty, from diverse cultural or religious perspectives, revolve around the idea of keeping sinful and unholy female bodies and body parts from the gaze of others — particularly men. This privileges the male gaze, in a backward sort of way, and puts females at a disadvantage for being the ones in control of what others think or feel when seeing their bodies. When we speak of modesty strictly in terms of covering our bodies from the sexual gaze of others, we are keeping the level of discourse at the shallow waters of women and girls as bodies alone.”

      We stand by this statement. Many discussions of modesty DO leave it at the shallow waters of women as bodies to be covered. Of course we would never call out any specific church for what it believes and bash it. If you know anything about us, you’d know were are deeply spiritual and deeply religious, which is what drives all we do at this nonprofit.

      So please, re-read the post, and direct your anger elsewhere. This post also aligns perfectly with LDS doctrine and helps get individuals attempting to teach modesty somewhere so much deeper and more helpful for the females AND males listening.

      • Julie

        Beauty redefined, Why did you assume Nikki’s post was “angry”? you asked her to “re-read the post and redirect your anger elsewhere”. That was a little harsh. I thought it was very well written and informative. Funny how we get defensive with others written words when we can’t hear voice inflections, or see facial expressions. In my experience, the phrase “modest is hottest” is always said tongue-in-cheek. It’s simply a fun catch phrase to go against what these young girls are being bombarded with in the media everyday. It’s not meant to say that if you dress/act modestly, boys will find you hot. Rather, it’s to reinforce that you don’t have to be a slave to the latest fashion trends. I can wear a shirt that is not see-through, tight, and low cut and still be fashionable. I don’t have to wear booty shorts just to fit in. We could say “modest is the way to go” or “modest is awesome” but those just don’t have the same ring to them :)

      • jaq

        Julie I imagine it was this quote, which came across as very snarky, and honestly rather rude:
        ” If you don’t understand why someone would extend that to people who choose to dress modestly for religious purposes then perhaps you should get to know more religious people before writing about them again.”
        There is no call to make the assumption that the writer doesn’t know or understand religious people in general simply because one or two people took offense.
        As Beauty Redefined points out, the whole article was about the importance of modesty as a concept for the individual, so both commenters who took it was a criticism of their personal choices regarding modesty quite clearly misunderstood the whole article in a way which is actual rather humorous when you think about it.
        The basic point of the article was that modesty is based on your personal convictions, and a choice for the individual, and Nikki and Kristen both basically responded along the lines of “how dare you criticize our personal choices regarding modesty!”

    • Spencer

      Best comment!

  20. Sarah

    I hate the end when it says ” the negativism of ‘cover yourself’ to ‘ you are so much more capable than being looked at”. I don’t know about some of the others girls out there but I dress modestly so I’m not looked at. I don’t want people staring at my boobs or my downstairs area. That just makes me uncomfortable. When you dress immodestly you send a message to your peers. And not a good message. Modest really is the hottest.

    • jaq

      So what you’re saying is, you’re you believe modesty is actually about being vane and striving to please the world with your looks?

      That IS the reasoning behind your words. Think about it.
      You’re saying dress for the people who might look at you — exhibiting that you are more concerned with what the world thinks than your personal convictions on the subject.
      Then you’re saying that to dress this way is to be “hottest” –basically to have an outer appearance pleasing to the people you want to impress.
      Your whole attitude is caught up in what the world thinks of you– it makes no matter if it’s the “Christian” world you’re trying to impress, it’s still materialistic and vane at the the end of the day.

  21. Megan K.
    Megan K.06-17-2013

    I love this website but this article did seem a little confusing. Can you tell me why someone would wear a string bikini other than because she is supporting the sexualization of the female body? Or if we were to follow this train of thought couldn’t we say that if some women feel confident enough to go naked then we should honor them instead of sexualizing or judging them?

    That being said, I do think the idea of “sexy modest” and “modest is hottest” misses the point. We dress modestly so we can stop being nothing more than sexy – we dress modestly so we can remove ourselves from the meat market.

    • Beauty Redefined
      Beauty Redefined06-17-2013

      We need to remember how normalized and unquestioned bikinis have become. Media and culture have framed it as the only acceptable, fashionable option. So some girls and women wear them because they don’t even critically examine that they have other options — they rarely see alternatives. And the other reason may be to get more sun/less tan lines, which is trying to fit beauty ideals, but not necessarily for men’s eyes only. To respond to your second question, we recognize the need to strike a balance between feeling good about your body and clothing it appropriately for different situations — which definitely counts out the going nude in public scenario. What we want to emphasize is that girls/women’s power is not ONLY in their bodies, but that their bodies are powerful instruments for their own benefit (not just to pleasure others by the sight/comsumption of them). We teach girls to make decisions regarding modesty based on respecting and valuing their own bodies, which acknowledges the fact that they have bodies that they can take pride and ownership in AND decentralizes the focus on the appearance of the body or the idea that female bodies are sinful temptations to others. We teach that the power is in who we are and that our perceptions of “who we are” can show up in our choices for clothing. Honoring and respecting your body doesn’t necessarily follow the logic of bearing it all — it might even mean covering up more.

      • jaq

        ” which definitely counts out the going nude in public scenario. ”
        In your culture. There are plenty of cultures where public bathing in the nude is common and not at all sexual. Finland and Scandinavian cultures have no problem with family and friends of both genders using the sauna together.
        Here in South Korea, the sauna bathing areas are seperated by gender, but a lot of Americans and people from other countries not used to this are very, very uncomfortable with the idea of bathing naked with strangers at first.

    • AKCurtis

      Well, I wear a string bikini because it is the most comfortable option and I don’t think the tiny amount of additional skin it shows (compared to a regular bikini) matters. Thanks for 1) sexualizing me because I don’t ascribe to your views, 2) presuming you know why I would choose to do something, and 3) assuming you know what the norms are for my community. Your judgemental attitude is exactly what is wrong with “modesty” culture.

      • ACH

        I agree with AKCurtis. I like to wear bikinis when I swim for one reason alone: comfort. If you’ve ever lived somewhere hot and HUMID like where I live you would know that even if you’re in a wet swimsuit, having your skin covered at all is miserable. I have fallen victim to patriarchal beauty standards in my time, I can’t and won’t deny that, but I will say with confidence that I have never chosen a swimsuit based on sex appeal.

        Here’s an idea: let’s not assume that we know a woman’s reason for wearing something that she does. If you have not lived her life then you cannot know. And even if you know the reason, let’s not shame other women for doing and thinking differently than we do.

      • jaq

        I agree. I wear bikinis too. I am very thin and have small shoulders, but big hips. A two-piece allows me to size up on the bottom so it fits, and a bikini top allows me to tighten and adjust the straps in multiple places. Once in place, I readjust and tug on my bikini far less than I ever did when I wore a one-piece.
        Plus, also wet frabric around the middle feels gross.

  22. Sarah

    I love this article and I couldnt agree more! Modesty is more about self respect than just clothing. Often the clothes we wear are a reflection of our level of self respect and convey a message to others about who we are and what we hold in high regard, sacred even. That said, it is also up to us to find value in other people beyond their bodies and other superficialities. One key point is that not everyone agrees on where modesty stops and immodesty begins. This is why we should avoid being too judgmental of others who may not share our beliefs. Regardless, some forms of dress are considered immodest to just about everyone, including the person wearing them! That would be the point, haha. Joking aside, it is in our best interest to curb this unhealthy obsession with appearance and teach our girls AND boys to respect themselves and each other. Everything I want to say is pretty much in this article! I will add though that I know some very immodest people who do cover up completely. Our appearance can and really should be a reflection of who we are inside, but not everyone is who they want you to think they are. Great job Beauty Redefined :)

  23. Kristi

    I’ve always disliked that sexuality is always discussed in terms of what men want, think, feel, and do for their own pleasure, and what women look like and do for men’s pleasure. My body is not sex, you only think my boobs are sexual because you’ve been told they are, and I’m wearing these skimpy clothes because I have a sweating problem.

  24. Julie

    Clothing – whether it be modest or immodest, dressy or causal, “current” or “dated”, all makes a statement about the wearer. We wear things for a purpose – a dress for a wedding, jeans for the football game, or a bathing suit at the beach. Wearing a flannel shirt and overalls would not be appropriate (at least in the US customs) to wear to a formal wedding reception. Clothing styles have times and places where they are appropriate and where they are not appropriate.

    Clothing is also a form of self-expression . We choose what we wear to represent us. Our clothing is what people see before we open our mouth. Clothing is a way of of giving ourselves an “image” – whether it be positive or negative. Choosing our clothing and getting dressed is an action, so yes – when you make a judgment based on how someone dressed, you are judging an action. Judging actions when trying to figure out how to interact with someone is not shallow, it is natural and necessary.

    When factoring in that clothing styles having a time and a place, and how our clothing gives ourselves an image, every individual is then responsible for dressing appropriately and choosing how they would like to be seen by others. Different activities and circumstances naturally lead towards styles of clothing for a circumstance, and dressing contrary to those expectations will almost always get a response out of people. (“why is she wearing 4 inch heals and a skirt to a late season football game while it is snowing???) There might be a good reason for it (she just came from a job interview??), but it still looks very out of place, and naturally we all notice.

    Regarding the whole modesty and sexuality thing – I agree that a woman holds no responsibility for the actions of a man. A man can choose to look away and think other thoughts, and a man can certainly decide not to rape her. However, there is a reason why porn stars and strippers do not wear jeans and tunics (at least while they are “working”) and flannel night gowns are not replacing negligees. Also, not that I have taken a survey, but I suspect many married couples dress differently for each other in the bedroom than they do at work or at the mall. A natural association between showing skin and sex has been developed for very obvious reasons.

    As a woman who respects herself, I want to dress appropriately for the occasion. I want to show respect for the circumstances and those around me. As far as what parts of my body can/cannot be seen I am not opposed to showing shoulders and thighs at all – just only at the beach in a swimsuit, but I would not show my upper thigh at a restaurant, for example. I want to choose clothing that promotes the image that I want to share with those who see me. I do not want my body to be associated with sex, so I do not dress in ways that are reminiscent of how someone would dress to solicit sexual attention. I do not want people to look at me and think that I am someone I’m not or want something that I don’t. I dress in a way that shows that I am aware of the circumstances and that I want to show respect for myself and others. It has nothing to do with protecting men, it is merely saying to men and everyone that I am not seeking for and do not want sexual attention. Wearing “sexy clothing” makes people associate what you are wearing with sex (hence it being “sexy clothing”). When you are choosing to wear something that is associated with sex just simply in the name of “self-expression” but then claim to not want that kind of “attention” is crazy. People are just responding to your own actions. How can someone say “I’m going to do this, this and this, but that’s not what I’m really like. You can’t use my actions to figure out how to treat me.”

  25. Luke

    So here’s my question…

    I completely understand (and agree) that modesty is much more than the standard “guard the eyes of men” rhetoric, but is it less than that? In other words, are you saying that modesty isn’t at all about showing decency so that men don’t mentally associate a woman with acting provocative, or are you saying it also has to do with that, but it is so much more?

    If a woman says to herself, “Hey, I know if I dress a certain way, act a certain way, and talk a certain way, I will be displaying sexual cues, and men will pick up on those cues, therefore, I will choose not to do those things,” is she somehow misled?

    • jaq

      The Bible never correlates modesty with lust-prevention.
      Is the woman being misled? Absolutely, because the teaching (and you see several people in these very comments parroting this line) is that if you dress modestly you will be treated with respect. This is NOT true. The kind of guys who make comments to a woman in mini-skirt aren’t going to feel any shame about doing the same to a woman dressed in a knee-length pencil skirt and jacket- common office attire. This teaching often begins VERY young, so girls 10, 11 years old accept it and feel like they’re being treat like ladies because they are acting/dressing like ladies. And the puberty hits and some of the girls grow a lot. And this is when they have to either reject the teaching that said dressing modesty will result in respect, or constantly feel shame, trying to cover their bodies because no matter what they do, boys notice their boobs or hips.
      If the woman understands that disrespectful men are disrespectful regardless of how the person in front of them is dressed, and she is choosing to avoid things some men say are a distraction, she is free to do so. The problem is the teaching that it is woman’s responsibility to guard the thoughts of men, which is not even possible, let alone reasonable.
      Given the responses of the men in the rebelution modesty survery it’s pretty clear that many believe the mere existence of a woman is sexual and distracting. So the problem is that women are being shamed for normal behaviors, and if you read the comments some of the men who took that survery made, they are ripe with extreme entitlement- “ladies please don’t do this, and that, and the other” with no thought about how unreasonable the request is. It seems that they never once considered that women aren’t adjusting their bra straps or removing their sweaters or stretching to attract men, but because these behaviors are perfectly normal and acceptable.

  26. jb

    I don’t understand what’s wrong with realizing that it IS challenging for everyone (I include women in this) to think appropriate thoughts and trying to help one another out by trying to dress modestly. Most men I know realize very clearly that it is their responsibility not to objectify women, and work very hard not to do so, yet they also lament how challenging this is when it is so hard to get away from women who are dressed in a revealing way…
    I don’t see why it can’t be framed as, “Yes, it is the viewer’s responsibility not to objectify, and our clothing choices can support that.”
    And people can help on the other side by expressing appreciation for modest clothing choices, encouraging it, complimenting it, and not rewarding immodest clothing choices or acting as if they have zero effect on people’s thoughts/choices.

    • Courteen

      thank you for putting it all so plainly, for telling it like it is!

    • jaq

      How, pray tell, do I do that? If it’s our responsibility to try to prevent others from thinking bad things (which is impossible anyway) then where do you draw the line? Many men say stretching, removing your sweater, adjusting your bra strap, panty lines, and words on the front of your shirt, and one-piece swimsuits without shorts over “cause” them to stumble.
      I have heard men saying pants on women are immodest, crossbody bags are immodest, skirts above the kneee are immodest, long necklaces are immodest, pendant necklaces are immodest, the color red is immodest, bright colors are immodest, make up is immodest, short hair is immodest, dyed hair is immodest, jewelry is immodest, showing more than a couple inches below your collarboes is immodest, showing your elbows is immodest, showing your hair is immodest.
      Clearly this list of what some men find “immodest” or distracting is unreasonable, what what do we do? We either wear an abaya and head covering, or we decide it is impossible to avoid all the things men say tempt them and instead form our own standard of dressing, and dress to fit that.

  27. Rissa

    There are lots of ways women can influence others. Women (and men) are more then just their bodies. However, we still have bodies and we are responsible for the influence that our bodies have on others. Please note the fact that I said influence. I am not trying to say that men are not responsible for their actions. That being said, we women can make it easier or harder for them to have clean thoughts and good actions. One way that we can do this is how we dress and act. If we dress immodestly or act with crude behavior or language we make it harder for men to be good men.

  28. Julie

    It is true that a way a woman dresses can make it harder for a man to think pure thoughts. (That is in fact, science. However, a man is still capable of overcoming this.) Unfortunately some men purposefully find scantily clad women to assist them in thinking those thoughts. However, as far as teaching modesty is concerned, I think it is so much more than and so much more important than “help the boys and men keep pure thoughts”. If we can teach girls and women of all ages why it is important to dress modestly for themselves, I think it will be more effective.

    Part of our human nature is to be a sexual being. (I am LDS, so if this sounds very Mormon, that’s why) When our sexuality is used in the way it was intended – to create beautiful bonds between a husband and wife and to bring children into this world, it is a holy and sacred thing. When it is used the way society has decided it is to be used, that’s when problems begin. My body, including my sexuality, is a gift from God. By flaunting my body and using my sexuality in a way that it is not intended, I am hurting myself. I am harming my own virtue. When I dress and/or act proactively in a situation that is not appropriate, that hurts me, and it of course may also affect “bystanders”. I want to stay pure for myself. My body and sexuality is a gift that is to be shared between me and my husband. Likewise, his body and sexuality is a gift that is only to be shared between me and him.

    So yes – while at least some men may find it extra “challenging” to keep pure thoughts when around an immodestly dressed woman, it is just as much about her virtue as it is his. A girl would have a hard time understanding all of this from a guy’s perspective, but she can be taught to understand herself and her own body and learn just how special and sacred it really is.

    This, btw, is my explanation of the importance modesty for other LDS people and those who share our values on sexuality and modesty. My previous response is my explanation of the importance of modesty for people who don’t share those same views.

    • Grackle

      “It is true that a way a woman dresses can make it harder for a man to think pure thoughts. (That is in fact, science. ”

      To say that it is is, “in fact, science” is to ignore the multitude of ways in which boys and men are taught to view their own sexuality–justifiably voracious, unstoppable, powerful–and how we’re all brought up to view women–as innately sexual objects whose ultimate purpose is to satisfy the male appetite. We’re all taught that it is the woman’s responsibility to hide however much of herself a given society has deemed too sexual for general viewing because men are “visual”–whether it be her cleavage, her arms, her legs, her ankles, or her entire body. To say that the sexual responses of bystanders is our responsibility is to say the burqa might just be justifiable after all.

      I think that we have different views entirely in regards to purity, etcetera, because I’m not religious–though I certainly respect your nuanced opinions on the issue. I’m just not going to get into it because this comment is long enough already!

  29. Emily Currie
    Emily Currie10-05-2013

    Being a natural 34hh chest, I have learnt that if I wear baggy shirts I get the same attention equal to wearing something provocative. I made the decision long ago to wear clothes which make me feel happy. I am 26 and I can easily wear something from bon marche to a corset ensemble. The only conclusion I have learnt of those who judge aesthetic equalling a definite attitude towards depraved sexual nature are those who bind visual with low self esteem. I think the reactions of what people say about a woman in a provocative outfit says more about them than the subject they seek to value/devalue. To be honest I can talk to a girl who wears a bin bag or a astronaut suit since I attune more to the words an individual speaks than the illusion of what clothes they wear. Afterall true kindness can emerge from any shell modest or not.

    Have a lovely day guys and ladies xx

    Em x

  30. Sonja

    There is an aspect of linguistic and insinuative psychology that the author is overlooking, sadly.

    by CHOOSING the term Modesty for a way of dressing your body a certain way you attach the full meaning of this word as a subtext to the dresscode.

    I am very much on board with
    (a) the idea that how you dress, and doing it with care and self love can be very empowering and will probably (outside of summer and hard work) end up with containing more fabric (and as a lover of such I am always for MORE fabric) and
    (b) the idea that it is important to divest this conversation of the subtext that it MATTERS a great deal how the attire under (a) or the body in that attire looks.

    My issue is with choosing the term MODESTY for this.

    Modesty is NOT an empty word which is free to be filled with whatever we like to fill it with. Modesty is first and foremost a form of humility. (Which is why I don’t really get when it got from modesty MEANING to not care so much about how you look sexy at all, but rather to look modest, as is to NOT wear tons of accessories etc, as in the OPPOSITE of being vain and attention grabbing To A WAY TO LOOK HOT and be super-stylish just with your lady parts being covered (all the while sometimes QUITE tight fitting and therefore quite equally revealing)

    You cannot CARE about your appearance much, wear gold and sparkles AND be modest in that sense at all. (and originally this was also how the dresscode was viewed.

    Now, I don’t say that humility or modesty of this form is a bad thing, not at all. But I have noticed in the last 4 years that I – as a non america socialized person have live in the USA – find troublesome in that context:

    (a) American women are WAY too modest as it is: I have been unable to get any of my amazing american female friends finish this sentences (as in I have asked about two dozen grown up women of varying ages and not ONE finished it with confidence)

    “I am excellent at…..”

    The top of the crop was a young lady who is a twice Fulbright scholar, with a background in math and robotics who has learned one of the hardest to learn languages mostly by herself , who after much prodding was willing to admit that she makes good brownies. In fact, any of the ladies who in the end said something like “I am good at” choose something incredibly trivial (not to diss brownies)

    (b) Modesty may be a very desirable mindset. But it has become a GENDERED mindset, when it wasn’t always so. Nobody is asking men to dress modest (in fact, if anything we could nudge them to take a bit more care with their appearance, but in truth we don’t) and the majority of american men I met wouldn’t have any trouble finishing that sentence

    (c) You ABSOLUTELY CANNOT divest words of their subtext.

    Which is why I find using the term Modesty in the context of empowering women almost INVARIABLY problematic.

    We know the way to get recognition in your field is NOT to be overly modest, is, in fact, to claim your ability and to loudly proclaim your successes and to minimize your failures as learning processes. (yes, so far we tend to be accepting of this more in men than women, but it is NECESSARY to be visible like this to change things) so clamoring for any form of modesty as a way to EMPOWER women is more than merely counterproductive, it strikes at the heart of self confidence.

    (d) dressing in a way that makes you feel good about yourself (not dressing for somebody else, but YOURSELF) is IMO indeed a form of self respect.

    But If breathing is something that is easier with some cleavage, then, take a deeper neckline, no MATTER what.
    If you feel better with long skirts, because the way they bounce around your calves makes you feel merry and romantic and adds a flair of romance to your statistical analysis? go for it!,

    If pants give you a sense of no nonsense, I can handle the world today: go with that!

    Whatever floats your boat. (and though it shouldn’t be relevant: chances are it will indeed make you look attractive because contrary to what the media tells us, in real life we are all drawn to people who are at ease with themselves, and you can only be that if you are comfortable in your clothes)

  31. Jake

    What is “modesty” in the first place?

    Are we gonna accuse tribes in Africa because they go half naked on top, for being immodest? Are we gonna call mothers who breastfeed in public in Southeast Asia immodest? Are we gonna accuse Europeans of being immodest for their nude beaches?

    Was it not that 100 years ago, showing your ankle (for women) was immodest?

    The problem here is that American society sexualizes things are not sexual “biologically”. Butts weren’t really sexual decades ago and before the advent of bras, breasts were not considered sexual either!

    And did not the ancient Greeks and Romans sculpted a lot of nude statues?

    Are these tribes in Southeast Asia immodest for wearing this kind of clothing?

    Problem is, society(both men and women) cannot distinguish societal constructs from purely biological constructs. Often times, we pull the “biological” card when it is actually societal dictation

    • Stephen

      I think, for me, immodesty is like bragging. Lots of women try to get social power from showing off their bodies and decorations.

  32. Alison Moore Smith
    Alison Moore Smith02-27-2014

    Out of the ballpark, ladies. I beyond love this.

  33. Janna Mauldin Heiner
    Janna Mauldin Heiner02-28-2014

    I’ve been working to change that conversation since I was a teenager, long before beautyredefined and other groups picked up the baton. I thank you for joining those of us (many of us who advocate for modesty based on religious standards; I myself am LDS) who have been working on this for decades. Thank you for coming on board.

    • Beauty Redefined
      Beauty Redefined02-28-2014

      Yes, this definitely is not a new conversation! We’re grateful for those who have been seeking to improve conversations about modesty for long before we ever questioned the idea. We feel that our research on the ways clothing choices influence self-objectification is a unique contribution to this discussion.

  34. Wendy

    This is such interesting and healthy communication! Thanks for posting and weighing in. Keep it up!

  35. Dalva Maria de Oliveira
    Dalva Maria de Oliveira03-02-2014

    Thank you for this article. I have never thought like that. It makes so much sense.

  36. Karissa

    Personally, I don’t see this as shaming girls into wearing clothes. I see it as telling girls it’s okay if you don’t want to show so much skin.
    If you look at women portrayed in the media for men – women are mostly naked with little to no personalities, and they’re considered ‘hot’. (See: Billboard Top 100 music videos, action movies, etc.)
    I believe this saying is trying to do the exact opposite of what this image says. With women being sexualized nearly everyplace you could look, it makes girls feel that they need to be naked to be accepted. This slogan is saying that’s not the case – you don’t have to show skin to be attractive. To me, this is telling young women not to worry about this metaphorical standard of attractiveness, but rather making your comfort a priority. Comfort leads to security, and security brings confidence. What’s ‘hotter’ than a girl with confidence? Thus, ‘modest is hottest’. Being comfortable in the clothes you’re wearing is far more attractive than making yourself into something you’re really not. This isn’t implying girls are responsible for other’s thoughts or attractions, it’s saying the opposite – don’t worry about ‘fitting in’ and making yourself feel uneasy.

    Personally, I am very uncomfortable showing much of my skin. It’s not because of confidence issues, or anything of the like – I just prefer for someone to focus less on my body and more on ME. It really sucks when every woman in a music video I see on VH1, most models on catwalks, women in video games or movies, are all showing tons of skin and here I am – refusing to even wear short sleeved shirts. It really makes you want to reconsider your choice of attire and comfort zone because most girls WANT to feel attractive. Not for men, not for their peers, but for themselves. Who wants to feel grossly out of place all the time? This little slogan here says to me “it’s perfectly acceptable to remain covered”. And I really appreciate that.

    Again, this is only my opinion – but perhaps it could give a bit of perspective to the other side of the argument.

  37. Paul

    Good article — such ideas need to be more prevalent. The one issue I take, which is reiterated in some of the comments, is the presumption that we live in an over-sexualized world. That is a masculine position in the same way that modesty is a masculine projection of blame onto women. Sex “as a bad thing” is no different than revealing clothing “as a bad thing.” The problem is that our society has ingrained in us religious notions of good and bad that were invented to gain and maintain power, especially among men. If we buy in to the idea that we are currently over-sexualized, then we can never overcome the oppression of women, because women will always be blamed for over-sexualization by men, who still unfortunately have most societal power. And their power is so traditional and embedded in culture that the most enlightened women are enabling it. Like Audre Lorde said: “the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.”

  38. Marley

    We should stop being police officers of women’s bodies because they’re not for other people to judge and criticized. Clothing choices are not to be blamed for their fate. Besides it’s not their fault something bad happen to them because they were wearing different clothes. I think the media is to be scrutinized because the media is so cruel. So stop supporting bad media. The bad media that doesn’t value girls and women’s abilities in every field: art, music, science etc.

    I hope things will change when we stop shaming other people’s styles, especially women.

  39. Rahul

    In earlier times when ever we see a vivacious women the initial word which pops out of our mind is that she is looking beautiful,Thus sadly today the word beautiful has been replaced by SEXY,SCINTILLATING, The media has persuaded the minds of the masses to assume that women are just sex objects and are the weakest sex,hence women are born only to exhilarate the man with sexual pleasures. That is the reason for most of the women not deliberately but wear revealing attires,cause their mind s have been poisoned to think exposing bodies is a sound thing to do which depicts modesty. I think for me as a man it delivers a wrong signal to us about their character,I am an indian boy who appreciate women who are descent and have utmost self respect in themselves.
    When we switch on the television you’ll get to watch music videos which includes dozens of naked girls engrossing in a seductive dance which is unpleasant. This might be a huge impact on rape cases as well
    I most frequently question my self that why we men wear clothes which is not revealing and women who should not expose where revealing clothes?????

  40. Rebecca

    I wrote an article on this a little while back that you can read here ( It was really interesting to see the amount of men who contacted me with feelings of gratitude. They said that they always felt uncomfortable sitting in modesty lessons because they felt like they were being degraded by being treated like cavemen who had no sense of self control. Positive modesty rhetoric is important for everyone.

  41. Teresa

    We all have our agency to choose what we say, how we act, how we dress, etc. We can control our actions but not the consequences of those actions. Like it or not, we all affect each other. Hopefully we are aware of this and choose to love, serve, and help each other vs. selfishly deciding to do whatever we want. Yes, ultimately we are responsible for ourselves and accountable to God for our thoughts, intentions, and actions. I am thankful for a loving Savior who encourages us to choose the right and allows us multiple opportunities to obtain forgiveness for our poor choices and helps us grow to reach our full potential. All of us working together for good is the key.

  42. Teresa

    My understanding of the beginning of the “modest is hottest” slogan is positive. There was a group of high school boys (LDS) who came up with it. Their intention was to encourage girls to realize they are beautiful when they respect their bodies and dress appropriately. They intended to build girl’s self esteem and help both boys and girls live God’s commandments. These boys attended high school with my teenage daughters. Many teens- both boys and girls benefited from this slogan. Please view it in the positive light in which it was created and encouraged. Thanks! :)

    • Megan

      This is a great point. Where the phrase gets confusing is when it’s used in a context like “sexy modest.” “Modest is hottest” and “sexy modest” have become a little arbitrary, paradoxical, and confusing. I find that most advertisements for “sexy modest” is pushing clothing that meets 2/3 of LDS modest standards, and then is also overtly sexy in some way. As though women need to be modest AND hot at the same time to be fully accepted (as though modesty gets you accepted in the LDS community, and sexy gets you accepted with potential dating partners and even LDS and other friends). It’s so confusing! “Modest is hottest” started out great but it became another way of pushing that dual expectation. *I’m not saying it’s not entirely possible to be both, or to choose one or the other, or a variety of both. It’s just a huge expectation for women. I’m married and definitely think I amped up the sexier nature of my clothing prior to finding my spouse, and it “worked” (fortunately :), but unfortunate I felt I needed to do that because he would have dated me anyway. Or maybe he wouldn’t have noticed me. Who knows? My thoughts are not complete here, but I’ve tried to express why “modest is hottest” is disconcerting to some.

  43. Teresa

    One more thing: modest is hottest for guys, too. Guy please dress appropriately. Covering your bodies helps you and women/ girls as well. Many guys remove their shirts, wear pants that reveal underwear, wear short shorts, etc. The standard goes both ways for the benefit of all. Thanks! :)

  44. Ron Wolf
    Ron Wolf04-22-2014

    Thx for the thoughtful blog. Guys, mee too, need help with re-reframing and your blog is quite helpful. I really like how you give women suggestions for personal action. Tho they are mostly actions for women, which makes sense. You have some gender independent suggestions but they are usually pretty general. Specifics appreciated. For instance, “When we judge girls and women for the skin they are or are not showing, we are minimizing them to their bodies and repeating the same lies that females are only bodies in need of judgment and fixing. ” Agreed, so what to do other than self-critique? What are the positive ways that guys can be part of the change? OK, its not like I don’t know some. More would be appreciated. That or links to complimentary guy oriented sites. Again thx!

    • April

      First of all, what was that girl wearing if she passed the dress code? Was this the church’s dress code or the school’s dress code? And it seems to me that everyone dresses for someone’s approval even if that someone is God. So really, the question should be, “Who’s approval do you want?” There are two ways to teach modesty in my opinion. Out of love or out of fear. I teach my daughter that we dress modestly to show respect for the gift God gave us which is our bodies. I don’t ever tell her to cover up because Im afraid there are guys out there who would want to take advantage of her if she didn’t.
      Not only that, but just because dressing inappropriately does not take away a boys agency, it still influences him. That is something Steve had said which some just didn’t seem to get. “I have never seen an inappropriate woman,” said no porn addict ever. Surely it’s not the naked or half naked women posing in that magazine that made them think impure thoughts. It’s not at all the womens fault!! I will not say that rape or anything like that is justified because of the way a girl dresses but to say that “placing responsibility of someone else’s actions on your own shoulders is demeaning to everyone involved” is just false in many cases, (but not all). I will give a simple example. Oftentimes the actions of our children are our responsibility as parents. Obviously not always. They still have their choices. But to act as though whatever they do is their own doing and act like I have nothing to do with the choices they make is quite irresponsable. So yes, it would be irresponsable to not recognize that the words we speak and the life we live and even the way we dress can influence others desicions, whether its good or bad. Even the scriptures say that if we don’t teach our children correctly it will be answered upon the heads of their parents. Thats means in many ways we are responsible for others choices. Anyway, I know this is just a post but i just thought some of the ways they presented the teachings of being modest were not correct. Ive never heard anyone say that women are primarily sex objects that need covering and thats why we need to be modest. That is just someone’s false perspective on what modesty means. I think the Modest is Hottest phrase was intended to let the girls know that they can still look attractive without having to look like a sex object by wearing popular, inappropriate attire. However, I do like that the post suggests that the name of the lds prom should be changed because it does foster this idea that the girls need to be “hot.” It only focuses on their appearance and not on their character.

      • jaq

        Again, with comparing men to children. They are not children. Parents take responsibility for their children’s decisions because children’s brains haven’t developed enough to always make responsible decisions. Are you saying men’s brains are not developed enough?
        ” Even the scriptures say that if we don’t teach our children correctly it will be answered upon the heads of their parents. Thats means in many ways we are responsible for others choices.”
        No, it does. It means you are responsible to teach your children correctly. It does NOT say “and if your children do stupid sinful things even though you taught them, it’s your fault.”
        You are responsible to teach your children well.
        Your children are responsibily for putting that teaching into practice. If you teach your childen, and they ignore you, are you guilty of the sins they commit? NO.

        In any case men are adults! Stop comparing them to children like they’re incapable of making adult, responsible decisions on their own!

        ” It’s not at all the womens fault!! ”
        It’s not the woman’s fault AT ALL. I am not repsonsible for what some other person is thinking!!! Why is this so hard for people to grasp?
        If a woman is immodest, she is guilty of immodesty. If a man looks at her and lusts, he is guilty of lust. His sin doesn’t transfer over to her. She is guilty of behaving immodestly, he is guilty of lust. She is not guilty of lust simply because she was the object of his lust. He is not guilty of immodesty simply because he was the target of her immodest behavior.
        They are both guilty of the sins they chose to commit. They are NOT guilty of the sins some other person committed.

        If a man cheats on his wife, and the wife gets angry and screams and swears at him, is the man guilty of using the Lord’s name in vain, because he provoked her? No! The man is guilty of cheating. The woman chooses how to react.

  45. Terry

    This is why I’m a nudist, and why I think nudism is good for everyone. It promotes body-acceptance and the idea that everyone is human and that what we wear (or don’t) is not as important as who we are.

    • Meagan

      I am not trying to crititiz you, But i think the body is just as presious as you, that is why i think it should be kept hidden from everyone but your spouse.

  46. erica

    What absolute drivel, more pitiful “science” from the dullards of psychology — though Taliban members would love this article. Another reminder of the evil alliance between religious fanatics and feminists, all of which nonsense about “modesty” in dress and the “respect” that supposedly comes with women covering up (as though her very body is shameful) adds to pervasive, bizarre anti-sex attitudes and sexual double standards. Sex has nothing to do with morality! A women who dresses scantily is NOT immoral is not showing lack of respect for herself or anyone else. NATURE “objectified” women as a way to help ensure reproduction of the species, the same way it has females — and in some cases, males — of other species. BTW: the APA Task Force to which you refer readers, has produced materials every bit as moronic as that offered here.

  47. Jen

    The series of articles that appears on the first page of a Google search for “modest is hottest” is both damning and sad. Curiously, they all say the same thing. Curiously, some are dressed in religious tone and some are from secular sources. They are all characterized by severe over-analysis of the catch-phrase and failed logical gymnastics that intend to ironically paint modesty motivations as objectification. They could all be right at home on, which is especially damning for the articles that appear on supposedly Christian themed websites.

    Before the generally observed logical tactic in these long articles could have any social credibility and therefore relevance whatsoever there would need to be equivalent long articles on the same websites that say the same thing about the rampant objectification of women spurred on through immodesty that absolutely saturates the media landscape. Where are these articles?

    Modesty acceptance and promotion offers a socially acceptable alternative to girls who are otherwise are taught from a young age, through the media, that their bodies are most of their self-worth. Social acceptance of modesty is an extremely positive movement that creates a safe environment for women that is more absent of body based judgment, and the resultant negative self esteem issues, that is inherent in an immodest culture that excludes and judges those with differing bodies. Article authors that attempt to undermine this modesty movement, mostly through incoherent moral relativism that is clearly poorly construed out of a purely liberal political agenda rather than genuine concern for women, should be absolutely avoided and ignored. Their admonishment is absurdly imbalanced when all of the practical social and psychological issues are taken into account. The fact that their poorly obscured political agenda does not have the best interests of women in mind is actually very clear.

    In conclusion, there is a world of immodesty out there for young women and families to bathe in if they so choose. These authors can take-part in and reap the rewards of that side of society if they so choose. Liberalizing every alternative to that society is inappropriate. The phrase “modest is hottest” exists because it rhymes and attempts to compete with and redefine the pathological notion of “hot” put forth by immodest society. It serves no other purpose than to offer a socially attractive alternative to young women, and is by no means objectifying despite the immoral, liberal attempt at strange logic to define it as such.

    • Beauty Redefined
      Beauty Redefined06-30-2014

      You realize we are advocating FOR modesty, right? That we teach it as a means to lessen self-objectification? That girls and women are MORE than bodies to be looked at? Did you read the post?

  48. Rebecca

    What a great article!
    I find it interesting that in Judaism, modesty exists not only for the women but also for men. The most important factor for modesty in Judaism is that a body is holy and precious, and just as precious things that we own are kept out of sight, our bodies should be covered.

    This article was emphasizing just that: our bodies are not bad or cheap. Just the opposite, they’re beautiful and precious. The more we thrust our bodies out there, the more we objectify our parts, the more they decrease in value.

    Don’t treat your bodies like goods to put on the shelf, and no one will slap a price on it!

    • Meagan

      I completely agree. In Christianity it is the same.

  49. John Brown
    John Brown10-10-2014

    Boys and men are largely limited to long- and short-sleeve shirts, pants and cargo shorts, which stop a few inches from the knee. It is socially unacceptable for boys and men to unnecessarily show a lot of skin.

    Girls and women want to wear a lot less and show a lot more skin. Why? Girls and women want to be as sexy as possible so they can be as attractive as possible to males. With feminists complaining that women are often seen as sex objects by males, showing more skin only reinforces the viewpoint that girls and women are sex objects, at least from a male perspective.

    Moreover, you can’t teach boys and men that girls aren’t sex objects. The more skin that a woman shows, the more sexy and alluring she is to males, and the more males think she is open to casual sex. After all, people usually remove clothing to have sex, they don’t put more clothing on and hide more skin. Moreover, when women show a lot of skin, high testosterone males often get electrical shocks. Sometimes, the women even glow. These biological responses can’t be educated away.

    The most society can do is teach boys and men that it is unacceptable to take advantage females and to treat females as sex objects, even though they may look like sex objects to boys and men.

    • Sara

      “Moreover, you can’t teach boys and men that girls aren’t sexual objects.”

      I am containing my urge to slam my head against the keyboard after reading this comment. Women aren’t sex objects. We aren’t. We are people, just like you, and you can, in fact, teach men the truth – that women are not sex objects. A woman is much, much more than her genitalia. Instead of telling men that their sexual thoughts are uncontrollable, we need to teach individual responsibility. We need to teach men not to judge a woman’s sexual availability/desire by the way she dresses. Many men have been able to grasp this concept, so tell me, why can’t the concept that women are much more than sex objects be taught? It’s more than just teaching men “that is is unacceptable to take advantage and to treat females as sex objects.” We should teach men that women are not sexual objects, period. When you say that women “may look like sexual objects to boys and men” you take women in their entirety and constrict them down to the bodies they were born with.

      “Biological responses” do not justify actions. You are not biologically forced to check out a woman’s body, nor are you biologically forced to continue checking out a woman’s body. And you are definitely not biologically forced to act on any thoughts. You’re right in saying that biological responses can’t be educated away, but you’re wrong in jumping to the conclusion that since men have biological responses to female bodies, men will always view women as sex objects.

      Limiting a person’s thoughts and actions down to their biological inclinations detracts from what separates human sexual behaviour from animal sexual behaviour, namely that human sexual behaviour does not revolve around instinct. Humans have the awareness and rationality to make conscious decisions regarding sexuality, so please, please do not limit a women to her exterior, nor a man to his biological responses.

      • jaq

        Some of these people don’t have a CLUE what lust is. They think attraction (biological response BOTH men and women normally have toward the opposite sex) is lust.
        Lust is not a biological response, it’s an intentional choice.
        If I see a guy at the beach with his shirt off and he’s really good-looking and muscular, I’m going to thing “Man, he is hot!” That’s not lust. Lust is changing your thoughts from simple admiration of someone’s body to imagine them as your possession- your object to undress or do whatever you want with. That is lust.

    • Anca Chitoi
      Anca Chitoi09-09-2016

      My name is Anca. I grew up in a Christian family with morals. This topic is spot on for me. I am 27 years old and I am still battling with acne. The only reason a woman would wear what you would call skimpy clothes is to try and feel better about themselves. Nothing is worse that having been told from grade 1 to 8 that you are ugly and hit you. Words from guys influence girls. I am still feeling insecure. I dont like the way I look. To fix this problem society should tell women of all ages that they look beautiful. That would maybe increase a woman’s confidence.

  50. Brenna

    I read this article and the responses. I guess i see both standpoints. I struggle with these thoughts right now. I wear very tight dresses, but all of them go down to my knees and always cover my shoulders with sleeves down to the elbows. They expose no chest of back or anything. I love the pattern on them. I don’t wear them for my self worth, i wear them because i like them. But i do realize that they will still bring attention with them because they show my figure. I am completely covered though. I am still stuck on what to do. Dressing modestly isn’t easy on my hourglass figure. Things look frumpy or baggy and i look larger than what i am. I haven’t found clothing that is modest that fits well. Even when i wear looser skirts and shirts (a lot looser), it still never stops men from gawking at me. I am sorry, but even wearing sweat pants to the gym is extremely hard for me. They are uncomfortable and i have never found a pair to fit right and they are completely unappealing to me. The men there never stay covered up either. I just work out and mind my business and no one bothers me either. They seem to lift weights by themselves without hesitation for those around them. I don’t know though. I guess i am confused on what to do with my dress code at the moment. Even when i dress down, people still talk to me like i don’t have intelligence and don’t value my mind. I am in engineering (very male dominated) and it’s always been the same. I remember even working at a hotel with a frumpy outfit they gave us, and men still said inappropriate things to me and to a few others as well. There wasn’t an ounce of skin showing. We were covered with dark brown oversized pants and shirts that went from neck to wrists to feet. Nothing, and still wasn’t respected. I give up. i am struggling with this dearly. I keep praying for an answer. Then i cry when i read this thinking i have to give up everything in my closet just to maybe be a normal person. It’s so depressing.

  51. Meagan

    Girls must learn to be modest. Who want a guy that only likes you for what you look like? As an eleven year old, it is hard to be modest with the culture around me. But God said no, so I say no. I need to be in the world but not of the world.

    • jaq

      “Who want a guy that only likes you for what you look like? ”
      So you wear a face mask then? Or is it only stomachs and thighs guys care about- if it’s your smile he was attracted to, that’s ok? but God forbid you show your shoulders! He might want to be with you just because your shoulders are attractive!

      Seriously… also, just because a person notices the looks of another person doesn’t mean that’s all he cares about. My dad always says he asked my mom out because she has such pretty brown eyes. They’ve been married over 40 years, but I guess by your reasoning, my dad doesn’t care one tiny bit about my mom except for her looks.

  52. Anthony

    I agree completely with the writer, women when they are modestly clothes are alot beautiful than those who are almost naked and the solowet of their private parts are slmost realing. May as well walk naked.

  53. Ashley Zappe
    Ashley Zappe11-23-2014

    When I was trying to stop eating gluten on my doctors orders, all my friends tried to avoid offering it to me. I was so grateful. If someone had said “well, you’re not a child or a mindless stomach unable to control your behavior, so I’m just going to eat this delicious pasta right in front of you, and you can just get over it.” I probably wouldn’t feel respected. Or want to be friends anymore.

    If you are a woman saying men can ‘just get over’ their attraction to scantily clad women’s bodies, you are being insensitive. We must help each other.

    the first commenter, Steve, was right on when he said the solution to objectification MUST BE RECIPROCAL. We must UNITE in mutual respect.

    • jaq

      Your comment highlights the problem. You equate attraction with lust. This is like equating smelling pasta with eating it. When you and others continually fail to even acknowledge the difference, you shame both men and women for normal feelings, which they do not control and cannot possible avoid. Let them say this again clealry so you all understand: ATTRACTION IS NOT A SIN. THERE IS NOTHING SINFUL IN FEELING PHYSICALLY ATTRACTED TO SOMEONE.
      Lust and attraction are NOT the same thing. As for eating pasta in front of you, this comarison is absurd. Your friends are aware for your personal circumstances. Your friends do not go around assuming they can never ever ever ever ever offter pasta to ANYONE just because that person might just possibly be gluten-free- no, they make this change for YOU, because they KNOW you struggle with it, they don’t stop offering things with gluten to every person, or stop making things with gluten, or refuse to order gluten in a restaurant because there might be a gluten-intolerant person there.
      A man struggling with lust and determined to go to a beach anyway is like you going into an Italian restaurant and screaming “Stop tempting me with gluten you horrible disrespectful people!!!”

      • Ashley

        My whole point is that we should 1) expect people to control themselves, AND 2) respectfully and reasonably not make it more difficult for them. It doesn’t have to be either/or. It’s not about shame. I don’t feel ashamed that I eat gluten, and i don’t feel ashamed about attraction, but in certain cases I choose to join my friends in not eating bread out of respect for their feelings, and I chose to not wear string-bikinis for the same reason. I don’t feel I need to go around shouting either “STOP TEMPTING ME” nor “I CAN DO WHATEVER I WANT.” Both are equally wrong. This is my only point: RESPECT IS A TWO WAY STREET. And I just don’t understand what is objectionable about saying respect should go both ways.

      • jaq

        LOL, it is idiotically, stupidly, insanely unreasonable to dictate what type of swimsuit women should wear.
        ” in certain cases ”
        Exacly what I said. YOU are saying that in order to deserve respect, a woman must dress a to fit a thousand-million different standards that exist ONLY IN THE MINDS OF EACH INDIVIDUAL PERSON at all times, so you can stop making yourself look foolish by claiming that is “reasonable”– it’s not even POSSIBLE.
        ” I chose to not wear string-bikinis for the same reason.”
        YOU chose, because it’s a personal choice, and you’re welcoim to make that choice, but arguing that all women who don’t agree with your narrow-minded opinion are disrespectful of men and therefore don’t deserve respect, is, again, unreasonable.
        ” I just don’t understand what is objectionable about saying respect should go both ways.”
        You aren’t saying that. You are saying women don’t deserve respect unless they first “respect” men by wearing certain clothing. Men are not being told they must wear certain clothing to respect women. Men are not being told that they must go to expense and inconvenience in order to conform to the million different standards of all the women they might encounter in a given day. When you expect men to spend time, money, and thought on influencing or not influencing the thoughts of random women they pass, and claim that’s basic “respect” and that men who don’t do it aren’t respecting women, THAT would be a two-way street. But what you are decribing is men being entitled to respect and women having to earn respect by dressing a specific way.

  54. KalkiFashion

    I read this article and the responses. It’s very nice.

  55. sandra

    I like this article and this website, especially because a quote they posted on one of their other articles about how living in a world where women are so routinely naked and men are not is a reminder of inequality. People often forget that. I like this article because yeah, girls are more than their bodies and shouldn’t be forced to cover, but I think people need to realize that everything needs balance. Like how it is unfair to live in a society where women are shamed if they show some skin, it is also unfair to live in one where women are constantly showing skin in every day life (on TV shows, films, etc. Like how on shows such as Game Of Thrones they’ll have a nude girl often, but you’ll barely see a boy nude. That’s also unfair. And on magazines you’ll see girls half-naked, looking non-threatening and are sexualized, while men are clothed and in suits.)

    I just think there needs to be balance. In modest cultures, it’s not just the girls who are covered – the men are too. Everyone is modest. And in cultures where the body is not considered something to be hidden and is not sexual, both men and women show skin. It’s safe. It’s equal.

    But ours? Ours is toxic. It’s like, you don’t dress modestly, you’re a whore. You dress modestly, you “can’t be a feminist.” And as I said, women are routinely naked and men aren’t, so it’s like we’re told over and over: “this is what you’re good for.” And “you’re a sex object.” Everything seems to be for the male gaze. In showe and films, women are undressed unnecessarily and are used as a distraction for plot holes or to attract more viewers. Lady superheroes are sexualized while the men look strong and intimidating. And if we say ANYTHING about it, we’re “slut-shaming.” Like, God forbid I ask for balance.

    And while I can agree that men are sexual without being called names, they sleep with whoever without being called a slut, but I don’t know. They have sexual freedom, but there not on the other side of the extreme. Men, for the most part, dress modestly. (Okay they’re shirtless but no one really considers them private parts. I don’t know.) And when they do not, they are told, not specifically “cover up” but for instance when they sag their pants, ARE told to pull up their pants. Which I suppose is the equivalent of telling a girl to cover her butt cheeks when she’s wearing short shorts. No one is called gross for telling a boy to stop sagging. Then why am I “trash” for thinking that there are some lines that shouldn’t be crossed? That your butt cheeks should at least be covered? People often think that by thinking some private parts are private, you’re saying that the girl is to blame if she is assaulted. But that isn’t true. Modesty does not equal = it’s your fault. Muslims and Christians who believe in modesty are actually very much against men who think it’s okay to touch a woman. You should go to the Middle East – it’s a very modest place but the people don’t tolerate that kind of bullshit.

    A music video that really opens your eyes to the difference between sexual freedom and sexual oppression is Jennifer Lopez’s “I Luh You Papi.” It’s a music video where for ONCE, it’s not a male ‘artist’ who is objectifying and treating women like sex objects, but the other way around. Males commenting on the video said it was just SO degrading and SO insulting. Well, YES! IT IS! AND THAT IS HOW WOMEN FEEL ALL THE TIME. Or rather, most of us have gotten SO used to it that it’s common, it’s “normal.” It’s “okay.” It isn’t okay. And in the video, did the men not do it with free choice? But it was still harmful, was it not? So when women do these music videos and allow male singers and/or rappers to treat them like shit, like objects, (such as the Blurred Lines video) they are giving their consent, but the videos are still sexist. Still harmful. So thank you to JLO for giving men a little taste on their own medicine. For showing that there is a difference between sexual freedom and sexual oppression. (P.S. I know JLO sexualizes herself but she’s still a powerful woman. I realize sexy can mean power. But our world is sort of over-flowing with it, is it not?)

    So please don’t talk badly about modesty. Modesty can be harmful in some cases, but as obviously shown in our world today, so is…immodesty. I don’t know how else to say it. So, I’m just trying to say if we had some balance between men and women, there wouldn’t be so much hurt. If one sex is going to be so sexualized, so should the other. If one is modest, so should the other. And we should really train our boys not to look at women so sexually. Breasts shouldn’t always be sexual, considering their for breastfeeding, for nurturing a child. It’s as simple as – just treat women how you treat men. I know there are differences between us, our drives and bodies, but you shouldn’t over-sexualize women regardless.

    Women rule. (Safe and supportive) Modesty rules. Everyone rules.

    Inequality? Doesn’t rule.

  56. talfonso

    I’m Catholic, and I couldn’t agree more. My religion values modesty, and your article redefines it as a way that women are viewed more than on how they look like. I read several articles on modesty and a lot of it relate to our views! And I realized that most of my life not going swimming or going to a water park in bikinis mean so much more than not promoting lust. I prefer one-piece swimsuits under swim shorts because it’s comfortable and when I slide on a body slide at a water park, I don’t have to worry about wedgies!

    I just got a bad body day earlier today when I’m shamed into covering up in a shirt or loose top whenever I work out outside in a bra top (I do this because it makes me feel confident). But besides worries about rape culture (and being coaxed into dressing this way involves WAY more than that), I realized that modesty is a toll to have people see me more than a belly, a pair of hips, a pair of thighs, a pair of bingo arms, and a butt. I just read the article top to bottom and can’t wait to reread it AGAIN.

    Thanks for pointing out the truth about modesty. I am beginning to disassociate it as a shield from lust and I’m seeing it as a message that I’m WAY more than a body.

  57. Dave

    Shouldn’t we be the change we wish to see? Love yourself and others unconditionally and ridiculous matters, like cloth shape/ size over flesh, will slowly but surely be remedied.

    • Jen

      I could not have agreed more. Very well said, Dave!

  58. Alan Au
    Alan Au03-20-2015

    Coming from a fashion background, I first heard the term “Modest is Hottest” in a talk from a young woman over 10 years ago that later became an article written about modest clothing and I’ve taken it that modest clothing is hottest meaning “trending strongly” as commonly used in fashion. Being hot doesn’t always mean being sexy or provocative, but to mean a strong growing trend. Something that looks hot doesn’t always mean the same that something is hot. Modest IS Hottest if conservative clothing (in style, color, pattern or design) is selling well.

  59. jage

    All the people here blame the media but are already influenced by them themselves…if i like dresses, i wear dresses. If pants, than pants… why should i care of what anybody could think of me? I got abused though wearing jeans^^ those u wanna hurt will hurt. So stop circling around this sex issue. We do not harm anybody with our clothing choice. It is the same with language. Just because i speak my dialect, do i harm someone? Do i have to speak the standard variety now to please others? According to society in a way yes…but i say No. And i got jobs and everything. So i don’t have to wear standard clothes either. My goodness… who always feels this need of judgement, classification and stigmatization? Who s sitting at home and inventing new rules and for which purpose? And the comparison with slaves being not sufficiently covered whereas well-off people wwre…. are u kidding me?!? Just because rich people wore more clothing they were better? Black and white issue revisited…I would really like to know what ur history teacher was like… just stop comparing cultures and nations… it is not working. There are different starting points. Stupid ethnocentrism…we need polycentrism!

  60. Mike

    Take it from a man’s perspective. Our divine nature does make us visual, which is a good thing…BUT, after being exposed to thousands of billboards, magazine covers, and bikini summers, we just get past it. It’s just part of being a man. Then there’s that part of us that wants something infinitely more…a real woman to love. When that time comes, trust me, we’re just happy to get a date! Really, we could care less how pretty you think you are. The fact you find me handsome is HUGE! Men are much simpler creatures than you realize.

    • Lisa

      BullS***!. Mike. I don’t see any average women on those Billboards. That’s a fact.

  61. Jen

    Thank you to every single person who commented on this link. I find tremendous reassurance that our world ISN’T going entirely insane yet. Thank you all for that comfort, it means so much to me!
    I am a 15 year-old girl from Southern CA, a place where we all know how ridiculously hot it gets. I feel quite self-conscious when I see “beautiful” girls walking around, dressing immodestly, & not…well….getting utterly shrieked at for dressing like that! It is unbearable for me, as well as others, for us to need to deal with such conditions.
    This clothing problem also is connected, in my opinion, to some makeup issues. My guy friends SAY that they like little to no makeup on girls — yet they fall head over heels for a full-on shebang of product. Does anyone think that this is necessary to look “beautiful” by ANY culture/standards?
    I agree with Mike’s comment above (the last one I saw when I scrolled down). Yes, men ARE much simpler than we women believe them to be, and definitely vice versa. So why exactly are people making fusses about the opposite sexes?
    I enjoy talking about these things, yet I feel awkward doing so… the concept of modesty seems very out-of-reach to me now that I’ve braced myself past elementary school and middle school. And I’m sure that the rest of high school, college, and beyond aren’t gonna be any easier with this subject — to think of it, even adults themselves have modesty issues!
    We live in a queer world, a world in which children look up to adults….yet sometimes we find ourselves more confused than ever before.
    Any ideas or comments?

  62. westernwilson

    LL Bean just put out an email add featuring an attractive blonde in non-revealing swimwear, using the tagline:
    True style is flattering, not revealing.

    Which puts very nicely an idea I have struggled with for years…when friends insist on wearing bikinis that are unflattering and distracting. I have no problem with the fact that most of us have less than pinup body types, and deplore the shaming in our culture of bodies that are not sleek and perfect. But there is an angry kind of pushback/militancy/ nihilism in wearing revealing clothing that is not flattering.

  63. virginia

    thanks, it helps.

  64. kalx

    men use women to propagandize the role women play in a male-dominated culture where men have less to lose by being unattractive

  65. eve shelly
    eve shelly05-09-2016

    this is such a good article

  66. Ashley

    Jaq, I didn’t say any of that. I didn’t even say “men” and “women.” You did. I said persons should try to both give and receive respect. I do think men should dress in a way that is respectful to women, and vice versa. I do think women should be respected even if they are running naked through times square. And I don’t think anyone should be coerced to dress any certain way, or to wear clothing at all. BUT I do think we should each choose to be respectful to everyone around us. I chose to be modest in order to give respect to others (both men and women). I also expect to be respected whatever I wear (by both men and women). I still don’t see why mutual respect is such an offensive idea.

    • jaq

      The implication was CLEARLY that women are not currently being respectful with the way they dress and men are. It does not matter in the least that you did not say it overtly. You stated that respect “should” be a two way straight, meaning you think it is not currently.
      And you didn’t say women? No? So this quote in YOUR comment, where did it come from then?
      “If you are a woman saying men can ‘just get over’ their attraction to scantily clad women’s bodies, you are being insensitive.”

      ” I do think we should each choose to be respectful to everyone around us.”
      AND you are saying women must go to expense and inconvience and waste time and money to “respect” men BUT MEN DON’T DO THIS. So again, SAYING you want a “two-way street” is a big fat lie when the PRACTICE of what you want requires women to change what they wear and not men.
      Mutual respect is not offensive, lying about wanting mutual respect when you actually mean one person must earn respect and the other is entitled to it is what is offensive. You say you didn’t mention men or women, but you have a problem with bikinis and didn’t mention anything about men going shirtless and habitually wearing less than most women at the beach. You are promoting respect as a one-way street and saying it is a two-way street does not make it true. When last time you saw someone analyze a man’s t-shirt and complain it was too tight and distracting? It does not happen! Women are not complaining about men’s skinny jeans or muscle t-shirts and saying they should wear looser clothes. Men are not told they must cover this much skin or wear something cut just high enough or just tight enough but not too tight. I have never seen women say they have trouble respecting a man who takes off his shirt to mow the lawn or go to the beach.
      If men have trouble respecting women who wear shorter or tighter clothing than they prefer than they have a problem with respect that they need to address on their own. The problem is not fixed by putting more clothes on the woman, the problem is fixed when the man acknowledges the fact that the woman is God’s creation no matter how she is dressed. That is NOT “insensitive” it is TRUTH. You can treat men like spiritual babies and demean them as having no self control if you want.
      I will treat them like equals who are strong enough to be responsible, who have self-control and intelligence enough to see women as God’s daughters and be spiritual leaders.

  67. Modesty Rocks!
    Modesty Rocks!07-28-2016

    Thank you for the article, and most importantly everyone for their comments.

    From ages 14-24 I dressed in provocative outfits. Mini skirts, high heels, shirts showing cleavage with pushup bras.

    Say what you want, but it is much easier to change yourself than to change others. Dressing as I did, I also believed like many that cat-calling, stalking, shouting at, and making sexual advances was unwarranted because {I} knew that I was not slutty — simply I liked to dress in sexy clothing.

    The thing is, a lot of people (men especially) have a difficult time reading between the lines and simply assume:
    Dress provocatively = Want sexual attention. Maybe I have a chance!
    Dress modestly = Cat calling and sexual advances won’t work. The men who use these advances may find it difficult to approach a woman in a more modest fashion to match her dress!

    I went through my teens and early twenties having men of all ages leer at me, female “haters” as I assumed them suggesting my dress was inappropriate.

    After being one of the 1% sexually assaulted by a stranger, the policeman suggested I cover more skin to prevent it happening again. I did not respond, but was offended because society/the media had {taught} me that dressing in skimpy clothing was {empowering}!

    — It wasn’t my fault men would stalk me; they should have learned better self control! —

    When I moved countries, I continued to wear provocative outfits. That is, until a lot of long skirts went on clearance. I decided “why not?” and tried some on. I stopped showing cleavage and wearing heavily padded bras. I still wore heels and dressed nicely, but with the majority of my skin covered.

    Overnight, the way I was treated changed drastically. Females seemed more comfortable and at-ease around me. Men seemed to care about the genuine {me}, the {me} as an individual — not as a sexual, walking mannequin. I returned to the same places I would in the past receive much unwanted attention (men following me in their cars shouting, whistling, cornering me to “talk”). The advances had all disappeared. When a man spoke to me, it was done respectfully.

    I have dressed provocatively a few times since switching to modest clothing, and like a switch, the sexual advances and dehumanizing treatment would resume. Before dressing modestly I would make excuses to myself such as {I am simply built curvy, so anything would sexualize me} {My body is better than my face} {I receive a lot of attention dressed this way} {Once a man gets to see my personality, he will realize I am innocent despite how I dress}.

    These were all excuses. Even if you have large boobs/butt, dressing conservatively can still look good…I think it simply takes a while to get used to the look of looser clothing! If you think your body is better than your face, try focusing on your hairstyle/makeup too. The attention I received was BAD attention. The men who would like my personality would not approach me, only men who like my body would approach. A good man will not want a slutty girlfriend/wife (even if you aren’t, if you look like a slut in most people’s eyes you ARE a slut!).

    >>Talfonso above shares perfectly my new feeling:
    “I am beginning to disassociate it as a shield from lust and I’m seeing it as a message that I’m WAY more than a body.”

    I wanted to share my viewpoint because I have been on both sides of the fence as far as dress and treatment. I hope that in the near future, young girls are encouraged to also embrace modest fashion in the western world, instead of taught to make the same excuses I used to make such as {I should be allowed to dress how I want!}. These excuses caused me many problems, and I don’t wish them on other women!

    Whether it is right or wrong, dressing modestly has allowed other females to feel more comfortable in my presence, and for men to treat me as a human being more than as a sexual object. NO, I do not have men walking up and hitting on me on the streets any longer. It’s not because I became “frumpy” after becoming modest, but because my dress no longer attracts these kinds of men!

    From my experience, I encourage every woman to try at least 1 month in modest clothing.

    As an aside, I used to dress like:×610-skirt-pencil+skirt-mini+skirt-tight+skirt-clue+skirt-blue+skirt-orange+skirt-outfits-clothes-cute-shoes.jpg

    Now I dress like this:

    It is a WORLD of difference, and I greatly encourage any women suffering unwanted sexual attention to try this!

  68. Harumi

    I live in South Asia where being modest is the norm. That is covering the body from the collarbones to the feet and at least wearing half sleeves. People here predominantly wear the shalwar kameez suit. Wearing a jeans and tee shirt raises eyebrows. Of course there is a modest version of that if you wear it loose with tee shirt long enough to cover your bum and you wrap a scarf around your neck that doesn’t display the fact you have breasts. Some women also cover their hair with headscarves.
    Despite the fact that most women follow this code, women get harrassed, molested, cat called, raped at a far higher rate than men and you know what, these women were not dressed provocatively.
    Once the saree was the traditional garment that women wore and now even wearing that invites so much male attention, sexual attention, especially if you are a middle or upper class person. My mother is hyper focused on how I dress and I have been in positions where older, powerful men with authority thought it okay to leer at me or intimate sexual innnuendo and sexual invitations and boys my age had no problem outright declaring how I wasn’t particularly modestly dressed in less polished language.
    Being modest is not helping men from acting like human beings here. I think this whole idea of respect of women at least in my society is heavily tipped in policing women’s bodies and not teaching men basic respect for women. Women are raised as objects to look and grab at an early age from where I am from and this is unfortunately the case for even the more educated, richer class of men who have money, wealth and a university education from some first world country. That has to change from where I am from.
    I do believe that modesty if done for the self is powerful and I do support modesty. But I will not judge a woman who dresses provocatively and she can if she wants to. I just think there is also modesty of gaze and modesty in mannerisms and in the way one conducts oneself in different societal settings. Many people here don’t have that.
    Since now the latest trend involves wearing fitted pants and shirts for men, many guys with the fast growing gym culture has toned physique and strut around in super tight jeans or well fitted t shirts. It is not like only men have a monopoly on sexual objectification and yes, I have the power to ogle, to stare and objectify these men. I appreciate good looking, toned men. But I also have the power to look down and treat them with respect instead of just getting turned on by hot bodies.

  69. Tom

    There is much to say about this article but, I’ll keep it short. If we are going to talk about modesty then let’s do it right. Scripturally speaking, if a woman’s/girl’s HEART is modest before the Lord, then all her actions and her lifestyle is modest. Women caused this problem and women can rectify it. For example, A few years ago the statistics for rape in the US was 1.3 women/girls every minute! That’s over 1000 girls every day! If women and teen girls would dress modestly from a biblical standpoint, there would indeed be less rapes in the US. Example: 2 girls are standing side by side, one is dressed modestly, the other is dressed very provocatively; on which girl are men going to be lusting after? There are re-actions to every action we do, man or woman! The internet is filled with girls posing nude but, there are also many girls and women who have blogs who are very modest in their dress. Now do men have an addictive problem that is fixated on these modest girl’s blogs? Of course not! Concerning there girls blogs, what is there for men to lust after? The sin of immodesty surely pays a price which is devastating actually, and sometimes even deadly. The sin obviously reflects it’s consequences no matter what that sin is! Girls, PLEASE do not give guys the opportunity to lust after you in a sexual way, You will be much better off!

  70. Anca

    What you are saying is false Tom. Men have to change. It is not the woman. It is the man’s problem. Stop putting this burden on women. This has been done for centuries and women still have been raped and leered. If the man disrespects women then it is his problem not hers. You dont solve the problem by putting more clothing on women but teaching mutual respect between men and women.
    Women will still dress provocatively whether you like to or not. This will not vanish. Women will always try to dress this way because it makes them feel good about themselves. It gives some women power it will not disappear.

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