In All Manner of Dress.

Yep, you guessed it.  I’m going to talk about fashion.

I once said that there are three types of women – those who dress for men, those who dress for other women, and those who dress for themselves.  I realise that this mindset is a bit simplistic, in that we usually think of all three at any given time.  Sometimes one takes precedence over the others, but they’re all considered in our choice of dress. But the thinking behind it was this – do you dress to attract, to impress / gain approval, or to reflect your personality?

I made that statement primarily because of some – er – bold fashion choices I’ve seen. Coupled with specific types of behaviour, it’s hard not to draw conclusions and pass judgement on other women.  (I apologise for my snootiness.)

I admit, there were times when I chose to dress in a way that flatters my figure and attracts more than a little attention.  Every girl has her insecurities, and we mask these by making ourselves attractive in whatever way possible.  The easiest way we know how is to work on the physical aspects.  That’s why we go on crash diets, buy tons of expensive makeup, and wear clothes that make us look or feel ‘sexy’.

There, I said it.  As a woman, there is this part of me that wants to be desired, physically and emotionally.  Modern culture – specifically advertising and consumerism – has exploited this weakness to our moral detriment.  We settle for physical attraction instead of deep spiritual connection.  In short, we’ll take what we can get.  Affirmation and validation at a very high price, making us – ironically – cheap.

We’ve forgotten the essence of true beauty.  It’s not what we wear or how we fix our hair.  It’s got something to do with something deeper – it’s about character.

1 Peter 3:3-4
Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear—but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.

Clothes shopping has always been difficult for my unusual frame in Asia (where everyone is about two sizes shorter than I am).  But it is now nearly impossible to find a skirt that doesn’t make me feel uncomfortable at its length (or lack thereof).  Or tops that don’t have more than the requisite number of holes (which is four, if you’re wondering).  To an outsider, it would seem like we are running out of material to make proper clothes.  I start to think – what ever happened to modesty in dress?

We hate being restricted and subject to rules or guidelines, especially in something as personal as our wardrobe.  What I wear is my business, you may think.  Well – yes and no.  It is your personal choice, yes. But does it affect only you?  No.

Ladies, listen up.  As much as you would try to deny it, what we wear affects how men see us, and how they think of us.  And no, it’s not just THEIR responsibility.  It’s also ours.

We can’t control how men think.  If we wear something that triggers lustful thoughts – who is to blame?  Sure, men can choose to look away and pray and confess.  But you can also choose to wear something else and avoid the possibility of sin altogether.

Let’s be clear.  I am not siding with the camp of ‘women get raped because they dress like prostitutes’.  Sexual assault is not cool.  Someone with malicious intent is difficult to deter.  But what about our Christian brothers who genuinely want to remain pure?

Men are men.  They struggle with sexual sin more than women do.  It is real, and it is not something you can brush aside for your own ‘freedom of choice’.  If you can honestly say that wearing a midriff top doesn’t mess an average guy’s head, then I won’t press further.  But I pray that you think long and hard before you answer.

1 Corinthians 10:23
“All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up.

You won’t get arrested for dressing immodestly (in most countries, anyway).  But just because it’s not illegal doesn’t mean it’s ok.  Ask yourself – is your outfit helping or hurting?  More than that – does it reflect the character of the daughter of a King?

We owe it to the men to dress appropriately.  We owe it to ourselves to look respectable.  And we owe it to our Maker to be honourable – from the inside out.

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