“Moooommmm. WHY do we have to wear a coverup with our swimsuit?” my oldest daughter whined. “Because, sweetheart, it’s what girls do,” I replied. But is it really what girls do? Do girls and women really know how to be modest? Do they know how to feel beautiful without adding sexy into the mix? I’ll be honest, it’s not really a thought that entered my mind until I had two girls. And, as the summer season is upon us, the reality of raising my girls to be modest has moved up the priority list.
Taking it a step further, I really hadn’t given much, if any, thought to the whole “Is it okay to wear a bikini?” question until I read two articles from Catholic women I greatly admire: Jackie Francois over at Life Teen and Lisa Schmidt at The Practicing Catholic. Add to the mix, a Facebook post of a friend clad in a low-cut, revealing bikini. I decided it was time to give this one to prayer and see what happened.
Just how much skin is too much? How early should we begin teaching our girls the lessons of modesty? And, I am just being a complete prude when it comes to the whole swimsuit thing?
How much is too much? I’m reminded of a beautiful quote from a Dominican Sister. During theology class she mentioned to her middle school girls, “Don’t wear anything that invites someone else to sin.” Those cute shorts with the writing on backside, yeah, too much. Wearing your bikini top with shorts, but without a coverup into Target, yeah, probably too much. There is one scripture, in particular, that comes to mind:
Avoid immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the immoral person sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been purchased at a price. Therefore glorify God in your body. – 1 Cor. 6:18-20.
Wow. When put that way, it makes you rethink everything you wear. I might just be posting that on a sticky note in my girls’ bathroom in a few years.
How early does modesty begin? I say, it’s never too early. I’ve insisted my girls wear coverups since birth and that we buy swimsuits that help my girls develop a healthy body image. It probably has much to do with a mom who’s pretty modest herself. Childbirth and the entourage of people in the labor and delivery room was a huge leap for me! During a car outing several years ago, my oldest son (eight at the time) asked why we didn’t eat at Hooters. Quite the discussion ensued. Ultimately, I ended the conversation with, “If it isn’t something that glorifies God, then you probably shouldn’t wear it.” It was at that point he made this declaration: “One day, when I am President, I will shut down all the Hooters.”
Am I just old-fashioned? Perhaps. But, I believe there are some parts of a woman’s body that should only be seen by God and her husband. I pray my girls see their bodies as a gift, not an object to be flaunted. That they are valued for their brains, not their chest size. That they come to see the magnificence of the creation, rather than as a way to seduce a man.
So, to bikini or not? What do you think?