Monday, February 22, 2010

For Sale... ?

Yesterday, I walked through a big mall in Capital City (the city where I grew up) for the first time in forever. I had the girls with me, we were just killing time waiting for Daddy.

Now, maybe I'm just getting sheltered living in a small, comparatively conservative city these days. I have walked though the mall at home fairly recently, and don't remember being overwhelmingly shocked.

I was quite shocked walking through this particular mall. Some of the store fronts have very nice displays... one in particular had a nice assortment of bath and beauty products.

Most clothing stores, however, were horrifying. They were equally appalling for children, teens and adults. They screamed the same message, over and over.

"I am for sale"
... as in, "My body is for sale".

I've noticed that it's getting harder and harder to buy clothing, even young children's clothing, that's modest. And by "modest", I mean no cleavage, no belly buttons, no bum cleavage, and something that hangs slightly from the body instead of being skin-tight. Not unreasonable, I would think?

But it's hard. I don't think anyone needs to see my three-year-old's "cleavage". Try buying a dress larger than a 3x that doesn't have a plunging neckline, spaghetti straps, or a tightly-fitted bodice. No small task, I tell you!

Lingerie for eight-year-olds? Why? We encourage our children to dress like they're going clubbing when they're in grades 1 and 2, and then we're shocked and surprised when they are sexually active at 14 or 15.

I often buy used and second-hand clothes for my kids, and gladly take hand-me-downs for the sake of economy. However, I find that I am increasingly purposely buying older-style clothing for my children because I have difficulty finding appropriate attire for them in the "new" clothing section.

I have been giving a lot of thought about modesty lately. What does that mean? I know several people... evangelical protestants, mostly... who only wear below-the-knee skirts because they feel that they are compelled to do so by the Bible (they generally site Deutoronomy and 1 Timothy). They have a two-fold concern: firstly, that women should dress differently from men. They feel that this means that women must wear skirts, always and never pants. I see many flaws with this argument, none of which I feel like I want to get into right now.

Secondly, and this one interests me, is that they feel that it's more modest for a woman to wear a long skirt. Certainly, there are immodest skirts out there... I saw several in that mall. But the idea of what constitutes modesty intrigues me. It's so... counter-cultural. We are not taught to be modest anymore. Do we even know what that means?

Do I know what that means?

More on this later.