Suiting Up Modestly

Summer starts tomorrow, and it’s time to make those warm-weather clothing choices, particularly a swimsuit (if you plan to swim this summer). Growing up in a conservative Christian home, I was taught that two-piece swimsuits were off limits. But in the 20 years since then, I’ve noticed a shift. Lots of Christian young women wear bikinis. It’s become acceptable. Of course there are still those who hold out on principle, but they may find it hard to understand what’s really wrong with wearing a cute two-piece.

A few weeks ago, a blog post called, “The Bikini Question,” started showing up on my Facebook newsfeed. I was excited to read the blogger’s arguments for choosing a more modest suit, but it was more of a personal testimony (one with which I agree) than hard evidence.

Then this video came to my attention. In it, designer Jessica Rey talks about the history of the swimsuit, how bikinis were created by a lingerie maker (and quite shocking at the time) and how the sight of immodest clothing stimulates the “using” portion of a man’s brain rather than the “knowing and respecting” portion. 

Essentially, women present themselves as objects when they dress skimpily. From the accompanying text to the video:

“The evolution of the women’s swimsuit is one place where there has been a visible shift away from modesty. In the current world of swimwear, small is often beautiful and less is considered more desirable. But designer and actress Jessica Rey asks, ‘Who says it has to be itsy bitsy?’ Rey argues that within the construct of modesty, there is a freedom—that modesty isn’t about covering up what’s bad, but about revealing dignity.” 

I think part of the reason bikinis have become acceptable for Christian women is that we view being bound to one-pieces as giving something up. But Rey emphasizes that in choosing modest swimwear, women reveal their own dignity and help men have a healthier perspective of them. Something to think about as you suit up this summer.