I’m 22, and for me the concept of modesty has changed A LOT in the last couple of years. As I grew in my faith, and desired to have a chaste relationship with my boyfriend (now my husband) I started to realize that I needed to change the way I was dressing. ESP. for my DH’s sake…how could I ask him to be chaste with me while wearing a really low-cut shirt, or a really short skirt?? Not fair. Plus, I started to realize that I still LOOKED like my peers, and thus I was still treated the same as other girls…I was on Spring Break in Florida and pretty miffed that guys kept making passes at me, and not treating me respectfully…for days I was so mad, thinking, “Can’t they tell?? *I *am a Catholic, I am chaste…etc.” Then, toward the end of the trip, I looked around and realized…“Oh. OF COURSE they can’t tell. I’m sitting out here in a bikini, so basically, my underware, just like everybody else. Leaving no mystery, nothing to the imagination.” That was a big revelation moment for me
Modesty is certainly an inward disposition, but I believe that it reflects itself in how we dress and behave. I won’t wear anything that shows my stomach, nor will I wear strapless things, spaghetti straps, low-cut blouses, or skirts shorter than knee length. The way I see it, I’m not ashamed of my figure, I’m veiling the best parts because only my husband (or previously, my future husband) has the privilege of seeing them. As a side note, I enjoy being respected and treated like a lady by men much more than I ever enjoyed getting “checked out” by them in my pre-modesty days…I feel like I am seen for more than just my body.
I DO think modesty in dress is dictated to a certain extent by culture, and by circumstance (ie I wouldn’t wear a really short skirt, but I’ll wear a one-piece bathing suit to the pool/beach…it’s appropriate there). I’ve actually often thought that those tribes who wear the least amount of clothing are closer to how Adam and Eve must have been before the fall, “naked and unashamed” before one another. Clearly in those cultures, the sight of a woman’s breast does not incite lust, because they’re not surrounded by over-sexualized images constantly like we are.