If you grew up in the era of the Purity Movement, you may remember a corny little phrase: “Modest is Hottest”. Not only is the statement untrue, but I wonder why the purity culture was encouraging that message in the first place. Is our goal to be hot? Or is our goal to be honorable?
Short skirts and catcalls
There I was, 23 years old, heading to a bachelorette party downtown for an old friend. She and I did not share any mutual friends, so basically, I knew I was going to be the outsider at the event (not my favorite situation socially). From my friend’s Facebook, I was well aware she and her friends loved hitting up local clubs on the weekends and dancing the night away. As I looked at the dresses hanging up in my closet, I selected one I normally always wear with leggings due to the short length, I put it on, and then convinced myself that, though I normally am not comfortable with things that short, I could basically guarantee the other girls’ dresses would be much shorter, and no one would notice mine or think anything of it.
As I waited to cross the street to get to the restaurant in my shorter than usual dress, it happened. At that moment as I waited for the light to change, a group of men rolled down their car window and hooted and hollered at me. It was my first experience truly being catcalled.
Standing there, I realized that, despite the catchy phrase, modest is NOT hottest. My short dress was indeed the hottest choice I could make. After all, no one has ever catcalled me while I’m wearing a pair of high-waisted skinny jeans and a sweater. I guess it could happen, but no one has ever heckled me due to my flannel shirt. There I was, exposing more skin than I ever have on a city street, and I was noticed.
What kind of attention DO I WANT?
Processing through the events of that evening, I had to decide for myself what my goal was. Did I want the attention that comes from being hottest? Or would I prefer the attention that comes from being truly known and respected? Now, that’s not to say we should not dress up cute and be noticed for our appearance. After all, I do love walking into a group and wowing those around me when I have a new outfit or am trying a new look. And it’s not to say we can control the responses or the lust of those around us (more on that later). But I am responsible for what I wear. And what is MY ultimate goal?
Am I respected for my charm or my character?
As Proverbs 31:30 says, “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”
Any woman who had on the same dress I did as I stood on the street corner would have received the same hoots and hollers. It had nothing to do with me, just my skin exposure. The attention, while it was flattering for one moment, quickly caused sorrow in my heart. Those men had no idea who I was deep down, no sense of understanding for what made my heart tick.
Dressing for attention is way easier than putting the time in with relationships to become known, but being known is so much more personal, and in my opinion, so worth it.
The pursuit of hotness alone will attract the type of men who are simply chasing hotness. If that’s their goal, they will eventually tire of you and find someone else who can “fit in the dress.”
The type of men that modesty attracts are the ones who are interested in your character. They are the ones who will stick with you through thick and thin. They are not simply attracted to your sexuality, but the reality that you are a woman who fears the Lord. And those men, those are the keepers.