Excuse me but the “Modest is Hottest” logo on your t-shirt draws too much attention to your chest.

Remember the other day when I said every guy has a different “line”? Well…

According to The Modesty Survey, I am a stumbling block to at least some men NO MATTER WHAT I DO OR WEAR because I might stand, sit or walk the wrong way.

I humbly submit to you that you cannot follow all of these “guidelines” that are meant to be “helpful”. Just for grins I went to a website by a woman who is trying diligently to dress modestly.

STOP HERE and go check it out: http://inspiredbyfamilymag.com/2012/08/24/how-to-dress-modest-and-stylish/

Ar you back? Cute right?

Every outfit on that page is immodest to at least some of the 1600 men who answered this survey.

Here is a simple list of the percentages of men from the survey who either agree or strongly agree that a particular action or garment or way of wearing said garment is immodest.

The Headings are theirs. The underlined comments are mine.

GENERAL

Girls should always wear clothes that show little body definition (e.g., jumpers or loose dresses). 16.9%

Exposing the chest below the collarbone, even without cleavage, is immodest. 26.1%

Denim jackets with faded sections on the chest draw too much attention to the bust.  31.9%

Girls with less curves can wear clothes that girls with more curves should not. 34.2%

Leotards, sheer skirts, and tutus in theatre or dance performances are immodest. 35.8%

Even modest pajamas are inappropriate for a girl to wear in public. 48.6%

Zipping a form-fitting jacket to just below the chest draws too much attention to the bust. 56.8%

Nude colored clothing looks too much like bare skin. 57.5%

A technically modest outfit can be a stumbling block when it has attached sexual associations (e.g. a “school girl” outfit after Britney Spears released a music video where she was dressed as an “innocent” school girl, but acted very provocatively.)  61.8%

Showing any cleavage is immodest.  70.4%

A modestly dressed girl can still be a stumbling block because of her attitude and behavior. 93.8%

SWIMSUITS

A one-piece swimsuit with shorts on top is immodest. 14.3%

A two-piece swimsuit consisting of a long tank top and skort is immodest. 16.4%

A one-piece swimsuit is immodest. 25.7%

It is a stumbling block when swimsuit ties stick out from under clothing (e.g. tied around the neck). 35%

A tankini with shorts is immodest.  41.8%

A tankini with a bikini-bottom is immodest.  62.6%

It is not okay for a girl to wear a revealing swimsuit (e.g., a bikini) if she wears a t-shirt over  it. 55.1%

Halter-top swimsuits are immodest. 56.1%

UNDERGARMENTS

Halter-top bras (i.e. bras with string straps that tie at the back of the neck) are a stumbling block. 56%

Showing bra straps, even unintentionally, is a stumbling block. 57.4%

It is a stumbling block when a girl reaches into her shirt to adjust a bra strap. 65.4%

The lines of undergarments, visible under clothing, cause guys to stumble. 71.6%

SHIRTS/DRESSES

Dresses that are fitted at the waist (e.g. with a belt or waistband) are a stumbling block. 8.4%

Fitted dresses are immodest, even if they do NOT show skin (e.g. a high-neck prom dress). 11.2%

Shirts with floral designs across the front draw too much attention to the bust. 11.9%

Shirts or dresses with chest pockets draw too much attention to the bust. 18.6%

Semi-transparent sleeves are a stumbling block. 19.1%

Sleeveless shirts or dresses (i.e. bare arms) are immodest. 21.1%

Shirts or dresses with cap sleeves are immodest. 21.2%
(Seriously? Cap sleeves?)

Sweatshirts with messages across the front draw too much attention to the bust. 25.1%

Shirts or dresses with empire waists draw too much attention to the bust. 27.5%

V-neck shirts or dresses are a stumbling block, even if they are not revealing. 34.4%

Shirts or dresses that show the shoulders (i.e. more than a normal sleeveless top) are immodest, even if they are not otherwise revealing.  38%

Shirts or dresses (long or short-sleeved) with slits in the sleeves are a stumbling block. 40.8%

A shirt buttoned to just under the bust is a stumbling block, even if a modest shirt is worn underneath.  41.6%

Shirts with messages across the front draw too much attention to the bust. 47%
       (Wait, Even if it says, “Modest is Hottest? I am so confused!)

Girls should not wear thin shirts or dresses since they tend to be clingier. 48.3%

Lace-edge camisoles sticking out of the top of shirts look too much like underwear. 50.9%

Shirts or dresses that are gathered around the chest draw too much attention to the bust. 57.1%

Tank tops are generally immodest.  57.6%

Shirts or dresses that are low in the back are immodest, even if the fronts are modest. 58.8%

Shrugs, the short shirts and jackets that just cover the chest, draw too much attention to the bust.  59%

Spaghetti-strap shirts and dresses are immodest. 60.9%

Shirts with a low crisscross in the front draw too much attention to the bust.  61.2%

The same standards of modesty should apply to wedding and bridesmaids’ dresses as to everyday attire.  65.1%

Strapless dresses are immodest.  65.9%

The lacy, lingerie look of some tops is a stumbling block. 66.1%

A camisole is immodest if worn alone.  67.5%

Seeing even an inch of skin between the bottom of a girl’s shirt and her pants is a stumbling block.  71.3%

Halter-tops (shirts or dresses) are immodest. 73.5%

Tube tops are immodest. 85.6%

LAYERING

It is not a stumbling block if a girl’s shirt creeps up, as long as she has a camisole tucked in underneath so that no skin shows.  15.8%

Wearing spaghetti-strap tops over modest shirts is a stumbling block. 24.7%

Seeing a girl take off a pullover (i.e. a shirt that must be pulled over the head) is a stumbling block, even if she is wearing a modest shirt underneath. 37.3%

Wearing a very low shirt (e.g. a shirt with a neckline that reaches the belly button) is a stumbling block, even if a modest shirt is worn underneath. 42%

Wearing a tight shirt under an open button-down shirt or a jacket is immodest. 48.7%

Wearing a semi-transparent shirt over a sleeveless shirt (e.g. camisole, tank top, etc.) is immodest. 52.8%

PANTS/SHORTS/LEGGINGS

It is immodest for a girl to expose her calves (i.e. knee downward). 6.8%

Jeans are generally immodest, even if they aren’t tight. 14.4%

Nude colored nylons are a stumbling block. 14.5%

Wearing nylons is more modest than having bare legs, regardless of the length of the skirt or dress. 24.1%

Wearing short skirts or mini skirts over jeans is a stumbling block.  27.4%

Skirts are more modest than pants (even loose fitting pants).  28.6%

Any shorts that are shorter than knee-length are immodest. 34.2%

Tights with designs (e.g. polka dots or stripes) draw too much attention to the legs. 38.8%

Decorative stitching and designs on the back pockets of jeans draw too much attention to the rear. 44%

Jeans with worn marks across the bottom, on the thighs, etc. are a stumbling block. 47.6%

It is immodest for a girl to expose her legs up to mid-thigh. 64.5%

Miniskirts, long shirts, or short dresses over leggings are a stumbling block.  64.9%

Fishnet stockings are a stumbling block. 66.8%

Skin-tight jeans are a stumbling block.  76.2%

Any shorts that are shorter than mid-thigh are immodest.  83.8%

Wearing pants with words across the backside is a stumbling block. 84.3%

SKIRTS

Sparkly, shiny skirts are a stumbling block, regardless of length. 9%

Skirts with slits are immodest. 29.1%

An ankle-length skirt with a knee-high slit is more modest than a knee-length skirt. 31.6%

Form-fitting skirts are a stumbling block, regardless of length. 32%

Seeing a girl’s slip through the slit in her skirt is a stumbling block. 34.3%

A skirt that is tight around the hips, but loose below the hips, is a stumbling block, regardless of length. 36.8%

Skirts made out of many layers of semi-transparent material to form an opaque skirt are a stumbling block, regardless of length. 38%

Full skirts are more modest than narrow skirts. 48.1%

Skirts that fall above the knee are immodest.  58.3%

Slits that go above the knee are immodest. 71.8%

Miniskirts are immodest.  93.1%

POSTURE/MOVEMENT

It is a stumbling block for a girl wearing pants to sit cross-legged (i.e. Indian style). 14.3%

It is a stumbling block to see a girl lying down, even if she’s just hanging out on the floor or on a couch with her friends.  22.5%

Lifting a long skirt any higher than the knee in order to step over something is a stumbling block. 47.4%

It is a stumbling block for a girl to sit with her legs spread apart. 51.3%

Seeing a girl stretching (e.g. arching the back, reaching the arms back, and sticking out the chest) is a stumbling block. 56.8%

A girl bending over and exposing her lower back is a stumbling block. 63.6%

The way a girl walks can be a stumbling block. 74.9%

A girl’s physical posture and/or position can be a stumbling block. 84.7%

MAKEUP/JEWELRY/HAIR/SHOES

Necklaces that create a “V” are a stumbling block. 14.8%

Playing with jewelry, such as a necklace, is a stumbling block. 18.6%

Anklets draw too much attention to the legs. 23.2%

High-heeled shoes (2″ or higher) are a stumbling block. 24.5%

Putting lip-gloss on in front of a guy is a stumbling block. 27%

High-heeled black boots are a stumbling block. 29.3%

Wearing heavy perfume is a stumbling block. 32%

High-heeled shoes cause girls to walk in a suggestive way. 35.8%

Wearing heavy makeup is a stumbling block. 37%

Shoes with straps that lace all the way up to mid/upper-calf are a stumbling block.  40.6%

A purse with the strap diagonally across the chest draws too much attention to the bust. 47.5%  (yes your purse strap is immodest!)

ARE YOU AS EXHAUSTED AS I AM?

And before you say well some of those statements are only approved by less than 10% of the 1600 guys who replied, remember that is still 160 dudes!

I have a query in to the creators of the survey as to denominational demographics of the men (aged 12-50+) who participated. I have not received a response as of yet. You can read all the available demographic information here: http://www.therebelution.com/modestysurvey/overview

The Modesty Survey grew out of The Rebelution website’s gender segregated chatrooms. The Rebelution was created by Alex and Brett Harris of “Do Hard Things” fame. Their older brother is known for writing “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” and their father was one of the catalysts behind the modern homeschooling movement.

The folks behind The Modesty Survey describe it this way on their website:

The Modesty Survey was not intended to serve as a scientific measurement of what the average man thinks about modesty. In the strictest sense, it isn’t a survey, but a discussion between Christian guys and girls who care about modesty. Over 200 Christian girls submitted their questions. In less than twenty days, over 1,600 Christian guys (12 and up) responded. Close to 200,000 separate pieces of data were collected, including 25,000 text responses.

After presenting women with all of this they are kind enough to say that the ultimate responsibility for lust lies with men…Oh good. Thanks for making that clear.

Bikinis, Sepulchres & Bathing Machines

Hey lovelies, I started this post several days ago and since then the brilliant and talented Rachel Held Evans has chimed in with a fabulous post on this very topic titled: Modesty: I Don’t Think it Means What You Think it Means. You should read it too even though I am going to quote it a couple times. 🙂

Bikini Girls from a Mosaic found at Villa Romana del Casale a 4th century Italian villa.

If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations—“Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” (referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings? These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh. (Colossians 2:20-23, ESV)

Putting on regulations that look and sound good because they make us feel like we are safe from ourselves DO NOT WORK. They are of no value when it comes to stopping the indulgence of the flesh. You want to know why lovelies? Because keeping the “rules” doesn’t change your heart. As Jesus said to the Pharisees, that is just a whited sepulchre: Pretty and clean but full of death.

Summer is upon us kiddos and you know what that has meant (at least in my Facebook feed)? A plethora of articles from my well meaning Christian friends that tell me what I can and cannot wear at the beach or even in my own swimming pool if I am going to claim to be a proper Christian lady. Bikinis are taboo my friends and not just for me but also for my 10 year old daughter if I don’t want her to grow up to be some sort of floozie. The logic goes, men are visual creatures, they can’t help themselves. They are unable, you see, to overcome their biology. They are weak and they need me to cover up so they won’t think about having sex with me and in so doing commit adultery in their heart.  So if indeed I am a kind and loving person I will help them out by wearing a one piece. Oh wait but not any one piece, that can’t be too revealing either. Perhaps a cover up over it. But why stop there? Bathing suits are form fitting. Maybe they should be looser. Maybe I should just wear board shorts and a t-shirt. But wait, not if the shorts are too short.  Maybe we should go back to some of the old suits or even bathing machines? Where does it end? Where is the line between too sexy and just sexy enough? Because the same folks who tell me there are rules about me wearing a bikini also tell me there are rules about not “letting myself go” and making sure I am still sexy enough for my husband. Sigh. It is exhausting.

Side note: I have friends who say, just ask any man he can tell you where the line is. Well, I’ve got news for you lovelies, every man has a different line.

Several of the articles I have read quote a Princeton study that says,

Brain scans revealed that when men are shown pictures of scantily clad women, the region of the brain associated with tool use lights up.”

Men were also more likely to associate images of sexualized women with first-person action verbs such as “I push, I grasp, I handle,” said lead researcher Susan Fiske, a psychologist at Princeton University.

[You don’t want to be seen as a mere tool to be used do you? is the question that comes next. But wait we will get to that later.]

Tamara Smith-Dyer (Full-time data analyst at the University of Pennsylvania and Cabrini sociology professor) asserts that the sample in this study is very biased. “Including 21 undergraduate males from Princeton does not provide a representative sample of the population. For example, the age is limited. Race and socioeconomic status will be skewed in this sample as well.”

“The sample size, 21, is very small. While the scientific community typically holds a minimum acceptable sample size to be 30, which is more than the current study’s sample size, statisticians including myself know that even 30 is very limited and samples should be much larger than this when possible in order to prevent ‘false positive’ study results,” Dyer said.

Not only that, the Christian “anti bikini” articles that I read liked pointing out that, “the part of the brain associated with analyzing another person’s thoughts, feelings and intentions was inactive while viewing scantily clad women” however this statement is out of context and is also misleading. When performing the study “the participants, 21 heterosexual male undergraduates at Princeton, took questionnaires to determine whether they harbor “benevolent” sexism, which includes the belief that a woman’s place is in the home, or hostile sexism, a more adversarial viewpoint which includes the belief that women attempt to dominate men.”  The study goes on to state that for “the men who scored highest on hostile sexism, the part of the brain associated with analyzing another person’s thoughts, feelings and intentions was inactive while viewing scantily clad women.” One analyst put it this way, “those who viewed women as controlling and invaders of male space—didn’t show brain activity that indicates they saw the women in bikinis as humans with thoughts and intentions.” Do you see the difference that one little fact that these were the men who held the most sexist attitudes prior to the study makes? So now these are not all 21 young men who took part but only those of the 21 who scored highest for hostile sexism.

SO… of the 21 college men those who had the most aggressive sexist attitudes did not see women in bikinis as having thoughts and intentions. Hmmm. It seems to me they thought that before seeing them in bikinis.

It would seem to me that the way we teach our boys to think about women has a bigger effect on whether men see them as objects than what they have on. Don’t get me wrong, I am not naive, I know men will look at women in bikinis and find them sexually attractive. They will also look at women in shorts, skirts, pants, blouses, dresses and for some even shapeless denim jumpers and find them sexually attractive. As RHE stated in the post linked above,

The truth is, a man can choose to objectify a woman whether she’s wearing a bikini or a burqa. We don’t stop lust by covering up the female form; we stop lust by teaching men to treat women as human beings worthy of respect.

Contrary to what some think I personally do not believe the mere biological, chemical and psychological processes involved in sexual attraction are in and of themselves sinful.

I am the mother of one middle school aged son and one middle school aged daughter. My daughter wears a bikini. The other day we had a conversation about this topic. I assured my daughter that if someone looks at her and is sexually attracted to her she is not sinning. I assured my son of the same. I also assured them that if they were sexually attracted to someone they were not sinning. Sin enters the picture between our ears and in our hearts when we choose to objectify that person and look at them as something to be possessed. I will quote Rachel again here,

It is important here to make a distinction between attraction and lust. Attraction is a natural biological response to beauty; lust obsesses on that attraction until it grows into a sense of ownership, a drive to conquer and claim. When Jesus warns that “everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart,” he uses the same word found in the Ten Commandments to refer to a person who “covets” his neighbor’s property. Lust takes attraction and turns it into the coveting of a woman’s body as though it were property. And men are responsible for their own thoughts and actions when this happens; they don’t get to blame it on what a woman is wearing.

I promised you I would get back to the tool thing so here we go…this part of the study was actually done on both male and female undergraduates and suggested that men are more likely than women to link women wearing bikinis with first person action verbs such as “push,” “handle” and “grab.” However when the men looked at fully clothed women they associated them with the third person forms such as she “pushes,” “handles” and “grabs.” The researches felt this implied that the men viewed women who were fully clothed as in control of their own actions. I just think well, duh. It is kind of obvious that heterosexual men would be more likely than women to see a woman in a bikini and think push, handle grab than they are to think those words about a woman in say a business suit. I don’t think this implies a dang thing about their motives or whether they will choose to sin or not.  Also, as far as I can tell in this portion of the study no questionnaire was given as to what sexist attitudes any of these men (or women for that matter) may or may not have had and so we do not get to know if there would be the same correlation as before with people’s preconceived attitudes about male and female roles/relationships and what they thought when presented with images of women in bikinis. I suspect there would be. Once again, just because one has a thought come to mind or a biological process kick in, does not mean that person, either the man who’s tool sector (see what I did there?) is kicking in or the woman in the bikini at the pool, is sinning. It just means they are attracted, they see something they want to touch. What seems to matter most (at least to me) is the attitudes they already brought to the table about the roles, relationships and motivations of men and women.

All that said, I think it is up to each woman whether she wears a bikini. Some women are comfortable in one and some are not. Here’s a fun little exercise. Let’s have a look at Romans 14 and how it might look in re to our current conversation…

As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome her, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes she may wear anything, while the other wears only what is “modest”. Let not the one who wears a bikini despise the one who does not, and let not the one who does not wear a bikini pass judgment on the one who does, for God has welcomed her. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before her own master that she stands or falls. And she will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make her stand.

One person esteems one bathing suit as better than another, while another esteems all bathing suits alike. Each one should be fully convinced in her own mind. The one who does wears the bikini, wears it in honor of the Lord. The one who wears, wears in honor of the Lord, since she gives thanks to God, while the one who does not wear, does not wear in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives to herself, and none of us dies to herself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.

Why do you pass judgment on your sister? Or you, why do you despise your sister? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; for it is written,

“As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.”

So then each of us will give an account of herself to God.

So to all my Jesus loving women friends out there (yes you!) rock that suit, bikini or not for you are beautiful and it doesn’t matter if the whole world knows it. Being attractive is not a sin. Judging your sister is. Being attractive does not cause sin any more than being hungry causes gluttony.  And to all my Jesus following male friends out there. Sexual attraction is not sin. Treating a woman as less than you is. Admiring beauty is not sin. Treating a woman as something to be possessed is.

BONUS CONTENT…

Hey, I just thought of this on my laundry folding break…

We don’t say:
The chef caused me to be a glutton, they are sinning by making the plates look so beautiful and the food taste so good.
They should have to make it less delicious and less appetizing so I won’t over eat.

The car manufacturer caused me to envy, they are sinning by making the cars too fast and stunning to look at. They should design uglier cars so I won’t envy.
The clothing store caused me to shoplift, they are sinning by setting the price higher than I can pay. They should lower their prices so I don’t steal.
He was working with his shirt off, he is sinning by being out where women can see him. He should put a shirt on so women don’t lust after him.

We do say:
Her dress is too short (or she is wearing a bikini), she is sinning by being too sexy. She should wear a longer skirt so men don’t sin.They did something I find annoying, they are sinning by causing me to get angry. They should stop doing that so I don’t lose my temper.

I wonder why this is? I guess that is fodder for another post.