Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Modesty is Relative

That's me letting orange rolls go to waist so they don't go to waste.

Would you ever look at a t-shirt like that and think that it was immodest? Neither would I. Even if it was on someone who was in possession of a tiny bit of cleavage, it would still be quite decent. Not immodest. At least that's what I thought when I bought them (I have a purple one, too). It turns out that they are, though.

See, when you have a toddler some seemingly innocent items of clothing become much less modest. A neckline that seemed very reasonable on the hanger at the store becomes extremely revealing later when it is on your person and little hands grip it and use it to pull up onto your lap. It also doesn't provide enough coverage the twenty thousand times a day you have to lean over and use both hands to clean up a mess, help a child get out of a precarious position or stick a Baby Einstein video in the VCR.

Then there are the shirts Evie likes to buy for herself. She bought a hot pink long sleeved shirt that completely covers her: neck, stomach, arms. Very modest. But Greg doesn't like it because it has a picture of a cartoon owl on it with enormous cartoon eyes. The placement of the owl and its eyes is not bad. I think it's an innocent shirt. Still, it's not Greg's favorite.

I remember back when Greg and I were just friends we would go swimming at the Campus Plaza swimming pool and he once told me that he didn't like my (totally modest, maybe a tiny bit high cut, but not bad) swimming suit. It was royal blue with lime green stitching and a lime green "Body Glove" embossed across the chest. He told me he doesn't think girls should wear things with words in that area. Whatever is written there it might as well just say, "Guys Look Here!!"

I don't buy shirts like that anymore, but I still think he's a little overly sensitive. Unless a shirt is tight and/or a woman is particularly buxom, I don't see much wrong with it.

Then one day Ewelina told me that she found a shirt she wanted to buy. It was just like a shirt her best friend had, but with a different picture. It was a fitted gray tee with a picture of a banana on it. "A banana!" she said. It reminded me of the days when I was about exactly her age and loved things that were random and weird. I, too, would have loved to have a shirt with a picture of a banana or a cloud (like her friend's shirt) on it. Funky, cool, cute.

So she bought the shirt and showed it to me. Super cute cut, very long tee. Big, yellow, old comic style half-peeled banana on the front. "Cute!" I thought.

A little while later I realized that I didn't really like that shirt. I went upstairs and showed it to Greg and asked what he thought about it. He didn't like it a lot more immediately than I didn't like it. He said he really didn't think she should wear it. I totally agreed. I was the lucky one who got to explain this all to her. While it's not strictly immodest, it kind of falls under the same category (i.e. inappropriate (or not quite appropriate) clothing)

So now we have a bunch of new standards. Is the shirt toddler-proof? Does it contain any offending words symbols, pictures or colors? Are the non-offensive words, symbols, pictures or colors located in an appropriate area of the garment? Are we a thousand percent sure that nobody would ever think anything but the very most virtuous thoughts when glancing in our direction while we are wearing this item of clothing?


We sure know how to make things difficult around here.


Susan said...

I have the solution: burqa. :)

Carolyn V said...

I had a shirt that I thought was pretty modest, until our neighbors came over and I leaned into their car window to say something. Yeah, they got an eyeful. Needless to say, I threw the shirt away. How embarrassing.

Christina said...

I lived at Campus Plaza, too! Anyway, what's helped me with necklines that are high but loose so they fall a little when you bend over are half-tees. I don't know if you've heard of them, but they do a great job at sticking to your skin and providing an extra layer, just the upper half. Just a suggestion.

Kimberly said...

Oh the things we have ahead of us as parents of three girls...

I'm very, ahem, buxom, so finding modest clothing seems next to impossible short of wearing voluminous turtlenecks.

Kazzy said...

Every body type has an issue with every clothing article. It's tough.

L.T. Elliot said...

Yeah, I have a bit of the buxom problem (thanks, Grandma!) so sometimes it doesn't matter what I do. However, I don't care for shirts with the logo on the chest, either. Even if it's modest, it does draw the eye. ;)

MelancholySmile said...

Finding clothes that meet that exact criteria while ALSO hiding a bit of pudgy stomach or accentuating lean legs whilst also being stylish... yes clothes are far too complicated.

I also lived at Campus Plaza! 6 girls + 1 bathroom = not fun. :)

Moody said...

I hate the sweats with the words on the butts. Ugh! My daughter got some as hand me downs. They're pajama attire only (and until I toss them.) A lot to think about.

Anonymous said...

I feel bad for a little girl that has to learn why a banana shirt's not a good idea. :( Not that I disagree with you, just that it's a stupid world.

I feel the same way about innuendo. I sometimes see nice innocent mommy bloggers inadvertently use words that they don't know to be innuendo-laden. I almost never point it out to them, but I do cringe. But there are also some folks who will find innuendo in ANYTHING, and I hate that there won't be any words or gestures left innocent.

Erin said...

Now that I serve with the young women in church I am much more self conscious that everything I wear is a good example to them. I find those undershirts invaluable because they protect you if a toddler pulls a shirt down or you reach up for something or you bend over or whatever. They sell them at Downeast outfitters. Should I bring you one?