It has been a long time since I've posted, but I've had modesty on my mind and really want to get my thoughts down. *This may not be a very cohesive post
I do believe that modesty is important. Personal modesty. I don't believe the hype that seems to be touted by a lot of Christians that women have a 'role' in keeping men's thoughts pure. It is up to the men to keep themselves pure in a society that flaunts the sexualized body. If we are to be integrated into society then men will be around women in bikinis. That is an inevitability. They need to learn to avoid the impure thoughts.
As an LDS (Mormon) woman who has been to the temple and wears garments (if you want to learn more about Garments and their role in the LDS church click here) I have made a covenant with God to only wear clothing that covers from my shoulders to my knees and I keep that covenant. Because I made it. But my children who haven't been to the temple yet are not ready/capable of making these covenants yet. So they do not wear only clothing that is 'Mormon modest.'
They wear *gasp* tank tops and *double gasp* short shorts! Why? Don't I want my children to be prepared to enter the temple? Don't I want them to keep their body pure? Yes, yes I do. But I also don't want them to grow up with a judgmental attitude towards those who don't cover their shoulders and who wear things other than capris. I was taught not to judge. I was. My parents never said anything about anyone who wasn't dressed 'Mormon modest.' And yet I grew up not necessarily judging those that didn't dress modestly, but hyper aware of it. There was such emphasis in my home growing up that I had a very hard time not noticing the clothing of those around me. I don't want my girls to care or notice. I don't want them to ever have the thought cross their mind that someone else isn't doing things 100%. And I don't want them to judge themselves. I want them to see their body as good and natural.
My Mom was a very modest person, hyper modest. My Dad isn't. I grew up walking in on my Dad while he took a bath quite often because he didn't lock the door. I wasn't embarrassed. I just grabbed what I need and left. It was no big deal. He slept in just his garments and didn't mind walking downstairs to get some water without putting on pajama pants. Contrast that with my Mom who was always covered. I never saw her shoulders, never saw her change, she always had the doors locked, etc. The first time I ever saw her without clothing was as an adult when she was going through her cancer treatments and needed help.
So I've gone the opposite way with my children. Both Josh and I dress modestly. We try to keep our entertainment wholesome. But when we are home we are more relaxed. My girls are often found running in and out of the bathroom while I'm in the tub. They don't think anything of it. Last year was very special for me. Akira was 7 and she was in the habit of waking up earlier than her sisters and me. So while Daddy was showering for work she would sit in the bathroom and they would talk. Their talks were never deep, but my 7 year old wasn't embarrassed to see her Daddy naked. She simply didn't care. It is normal for her. Just like walking in while Mommy is taking a bath is normal. My kids are learning that their bodies aren't something to be ashamed about. That they don't have to look like a supermodel to be beautiful, have confidence and enjoy being in their skin.
Contrast that to how I felt growing up and I never remember feeling comfortable with my body. I was always awkward, and then as I got older I put on weight and grew curves. Which my Mother didn't have. It was very hard to see me as anything but 'fat.' And I was and still am a very healthy weight! I don't want my kids to ever feel that way, and while I can't control their thoughts as teenagers, I hope that by keeping everything open and having nothing being 'taboo' hopefully when they feel that way they will be more comfortable talking about it.
We still have our own standards, they just aren't at the same level as those who have gone to the Temple maintain. We don't wear bikinis, I believe they are designed only to flaunt our body and I don't want my little girls wearing them. They don't bare their midrift. Again, I think it sends the wrong message about what the person wearing it thinks of themselves. However, when my girls get older if they choose to buy something that I don't think is appropriate and wear it, absolutely we will discuss why I don't like it, but it is their choice to wear that and there will be no shaming. I don't want them to measure their self worth on their body. Not one iota!
I believe that by modeling 'Mormon modesty' because of the choice I made will be enough to help my girls choose to marry in the temple. Actions speak louder than words and if I model the 'Mormon modesty' then they will (and have) ask(ed) questions that lead to honest discussions. They know why I wear what I wear and I hope and pray that when my girls are ready, they choose to make the same covenants and maintain the same level of modesty that I have modeled their entire life. But only when they are ready.
Congratulations for making it to the end of my rambling!