Modesty for men - tank tops


So modesty for men…
My brother is doing senior pictures and wants take some in a muscle shirt/tank top. My mom is conflicted about what to do. Would it be immodest for him to do so? Is wearing a tank top as a man immodest? I mentioned the immodesty issue to my brother and he said I am just jealous that i don’t have a body like him. I don’t, I’m tall and skinny, but I’m not jealous. I wear a shirt at all times, even at the beach because I believe that men, not just women have a responsibility to dress modestly. Thoughts?

What are some guidlines for modesty for men and what advice can I offer my brother and mom?


I’ve never considered muscle shirts or tank tops on men to be immodest if worn in the right setting. For example, if a man wears one to the gym, to the beach, for a casual outing with friends, or anyplace where it’s hot and he’s going to be doing physical activity (like dancing, playing the drums, working in the yard) it’s no problem. Also, I’m presuming that he’s physically fit enough that he doesn’t look like a slob wearing the shirt.

I wouldn’t expect a man to wear his muscle shirt or tank top to church, to an office job, or to any kind of dressy event, the same way as I wouldn’t wear my exercise clothes to those places. I know some clubs and bars also prohibit tank tops and sleeveless t-shirts on men, because they want an elite image and tank tops are associated with gangs or criminals in some neighborhoods. It’s not really a matter of modesty but just what is appropriate for the occasion.

By the way, a man wearing a shirt at the beach to stay modest sounds really weird, like you’re living in 1910 rather than 2018. If you’re worried about getting a bad sunburn or you’re just not comfortable showing off your physique, that’s fine, but it’s not necessary for a guy to wear a shirt for modesty on the beach.


The wisest thing for you to do would be to stay out of it. It is not about you.


All makes sense. I just think that men should be held to some level of modesty of dress if women are. If women are obliged to cover up parts of their bodies that attract men, why shouldn’t men do the same with parts of their bodies that attract women?


Because gender norms are cultural and relative and are rarely equitable. It’s just how it is. Modesty, then, is in fact informed by what’s culturally normative. It’s not immodest for women in some parts of Sub-Saharan Africa to expose their breasts. It may well be immodest for women in some parts of the Middle East to show their hair.

Coming from a Western perspective, I don’t know that it’s immodest for your brother to wear a muscle tee in his senior pictures, but it sure is tacky! Disclosure: I’m a 30 year old American male.


Men and women are pretty different when it comes to what provokes them to lust. That’s why shirtless men aren’t a problem for most women while a shirtless woman would be a problem with most men. And, as a woman, I’m okay with that. It does not take that much more effort on my part.


I was at a Roman Catholic Mass and there was a band with huge speakers at the altar and the men in the band were all wearing tank tops, showing off their skin and underarm hair.


I don’t know if it’s a modesty issue, but it’s tacky.


No. It’s too casual for graduation pictures. As an adult he will cringe.


That’s the clincher, I think. It’s the kind of thing he will likely come to regret in a few years’ time. I can imagine his grandchildren giggling about it in 2060.


Unless your brother is a powerlifter or on the wrestling team or something, and the tank top is a direct reflection of “I spend 40 hours a week in the gym my senior year of high school”, the tank top picture is most likely inappropriate for wasting senior pictures on, in the same way that it’s inappropriate to wear gym clothes to the orchestra, or wear gym clothes to a $50/plate restaurant.

But it’s not a matter of modesty— it’s a matter of recognizing that Occasion X invokes a certain level of dress and behavior.

He can go to JC Penney’s in his tank top and get their $4/sheet photos to his heart’s content. I bet they’ll even have cool graduation props he can use. And they’ll probably be a whole lot cheaper than whatever photographer his school is using.


I’ve never seen such a thing at home or abroad in a Catholic context. I don’t know where you were…but that sounds pretty weird.


Your brother doesn’t seem like a very nice guy, tbh.
As Denise said, a tank top is more thacky than immodest. Let him wear what he wants. Even if you come with a great argument, chances are he won’t listen anyway.


It is unlikely that the school will allow that photo in the year book, so I hope he plans to have some taken in a proper shirt as well.


In certain settings I am distracted by men in muscle shirts, but at the pool I am not. In a classroom setting it would be distracting, so I’m going to vote for not wearing one at school and by extension not wearing it in a graduation picture. But it would be just fine in a sports photo. Modesty is very dependent on social factors.

But I’d let my relatives work it out for themselves.


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