Is modest really hottest?

Number one thing I want to tell teenage girls.

When the average teenage girl hears the word “modesty,” she rolls her eyes and makes a guttural noise in her throat: “Ugh.” I know this, I’ve been there. There are three realities that teenage girls, myself included, need to understand before making that “ugh” sound.

  1. Women’s bodies are beautiful.
  2. Men like to look at women.
  3. It’s not bad.

One of the great perks of being a woman is that we get to be curvy and soft and inviting. Femininity is a superpower. Too often we make modesty about hiding. Consequently, girls feel like “modesty” is someone trying to take away their superpower. We first have to understand that our bodies are nothing to be ashamed about, they are secret weapons of awesomeness, and it’s okay to love them.

Men like to look at women.

Men like to look at women. Even married men. Even good, kind, respectful, stand-up men. Even Christian men. Men are hardwired to enjoy women. Says who? Says God. The sooner we all agree on this, the sooner fifteen-year-old girls will stop using stupid resolutions like, “It’s not my fault I have a chest. Therefore I have the right to buy a prom dress that is missing a torso.”

Society makes modesty about going on the defense — about protecting young women from predators. It doesn’t take long for the average girl to see the absurdity of this. A smart girl knows that a man who intends to stare will stare, regardless of what she is wearing so she says, “If they stare anyway, I can wear whatever I want.” Men like to look at women; modesty is not about making oneself immune to stares.

It’s not bad.

Men enjoying women’s bodies is not perverted, gross, immature, or offensive. When women get the idea in their heads that men are pigs for liking women’s bodies, everything gets messed up. It causes feminists to hate men and it causes hyper-conservatives to oppress women — insisting they cover up, creating shame and frustration. Now, don’t get too blushy when I say this next part. A man looking at your body and enjoying it is good. If you think you don’t, it’s because you are only considering half of the equation. You think you don’t want men to stare at you, but that’s not true. You just don’t want the wrong men to stare at you.

When the right man looks at you, you walk a little taller, and you feel beautiful. That man is there by invitation, and as such, his appreciation of you is welcome. When the wrong man enjoys your body, it is a violation. Modesty is about taking control. Dressing modestly is a way of telling every man in the world, “I have not given you permission to stare at me and objectify me, even in passing.”

“I only attract jerks” (“Jerks” is interchangeable with “creeps”, “weirdos”, “idiots” etc.)

Have you ever said that? I sure have.

The truth is that you’ll attract what you bait. Are you carrying yourself to bait godly young men? Or boys that sexualize everything? If we, as women, want to be viewed as whole people, we must present ourselves as whole people. Men who value compassion are drawn to compassionate women. Men who value intelligence are drawn to intelligent women. Men who value bacon are drawn to women who cook bacon. There is a pattern here. If your figure outshines your positivity and personality as the most prominent thing about you, then you’re baiting baiting the kind of boy whose primary interest is your body.

And modesty doesn’t mean frumpy or lacking style. Modesty is about choosing clothes that intentionally communicate what you want the world to know about you. It is being mature enough to reckon with some realities: the reality that men like to look at women; the reality that clothing speaks and the way we look matters. In closing, all attention is not equal. It is possible to get a man’s attention and never have his respect. Use modesty as a tool to pursue which is greater: admiration, respect, and love.

Read more about Kate Conner, the author of “Enough: 10 things we should be telling teenage girls” here.

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