PS A few days after I wrote the below post, I found a few other posts on modesty and this four part post is AWESOME! It is on Feminist Mormon Housewives blog written by Starfoxy and describes my thoughts a lot better than I did and makes lots of other good points. Click here.
This is just my (Teyanna’s) thoughts on modesty, instigated by a youtube video (click here) and then a blog post that responded to it (see here) – these were shared on Facebook quite a bit but probably only in Mormon/LDS circles.
I agree with the blog post that we should not judge other’s clothing choices and that it is not women’s job to dress so that people won’t have any bad thoughts. Their thoughts are their own responsibility and adult men and women should be able to interact with other adults regardless of what they are wearing. That is part of being an adult. If you can’t handle talking to someone in a bikini you probably shouldn’t go to the beach.
Dictionary.com defines modest as:
1. having or showing a moderate or humble estimate of one’s merits, importance, etc.; free from vanity, egotism, boastfulness, or great pretensions.
2. free from ostentation or showy extravagance: a modest house.
3. having or showing regard for the decencies of behavior, speech, dress, etc.; decent: a modest neckline on a dress.
4. limited or moderate in amount, extent, etc.: a modest increase in salary.
Both of the links deal with the 3rd definition. However this definition is quite subjective. Being modest or decent at the pool is different than what is decent at work. What is decent today is different than 50 years ago. What is decent in the US is different than many other countries. What is modest to your religion is different from another.
I agree with the blog post that women should “wear what you want, like, and feel comfortable in, not for its effect on other people, but so that you can be happy and free as you go about doing many good things in the world.” However if for whatever reason a person feels like they should dress modestly, I think following the first two definitions would make more sense.
These definitions of the word are more timeless. When thinking “Am I dressed modestly” instead of asking things like “are my shoulders covered?” or “is my skirt at least x length?” we could instead ask “am I being humble & moderate?” “am I free from ostentation or showy extravagance?” “am I wearing this to get attention?” So by this definition of modesty wearing huge diamond jewelry would be immodest as well as wearing a super short tight skirt. However wearing shorts to go running would not necessarily be considered immodest.
Just my thoughts.
But it is someone’s choice if they want to be modest by any definition and we shouldn’t judge. However at the same time we should recognize that in certain settings (like work) some types of clothes are inappropriate.