Modesty Reveals Much

Early next week I’ll do that one thing teachers dread from the moment commencement ceremonies end in the Spring: I’ll look squarely at the month of August and see the date when all of summer’s lingering slower pace will abruptly end. So, I realize you may not be in the hunt for another swim suit for what’s left of this evaporating season, but I’m pretty sure given what I’m about to share with you, you’ll want to order one ASAP, if not for you, then for all the young girls you know.

I stumbled across this exciting clothing line somewhat by accident as I perused through one of my favorite websites: Ladies Against Feminism. For whatever reason, I decided to click on several links, one of which revealed this treasure.

For swimmers and sun-worshippers alike WholesomeWear has now introduced their WaterWear line designed to provide modest options for those who want to draw attention to their faces. Smartly created with bright colors at the neckline and with an outer no-cling layer over the inner layer of Spandex these suits allow for maximum movement with none of the unwanted eye-googling effects of other less thoughtful swimwear. Available in three stunning styles, one is sure to catch your eye.

Now, you may not anticipate it, but I, for one, am thrilled about these new modest options because I was once required to wear a school-approved suit, modesty mandated by administrators and uniformly enforced. Granted, it was about a hundred years ago and at a conservative Christian university, but I imagine similar restrictions still exist in a number of schools.

A friend of mine (a guy, if you must know) asked me to meet him at the university pool for an evening swim. Having completed my homework, I agreed and quickly packed my duffle-bag with my beach towel, flip flops, and swim suit and headed across campus, not realizing what was in store for me.

Upon entering the aquatic center, I had to provide my campus ID and then surrender my bag with its contents. In return, I was handed a heavy, black one-piece with wide shoulder straps and an extra piece of material covering the bottom of the bodice, though not trendy enough to be a full-blown mini-skirt. Baffled by this horrible turn of events (would you want to slip on a swim suit worn by countless others?) but not feeling like standing up my friend, I pulled on what was possibly the ugliest thing I’ve ever worn—and I’ve worn a lot of really ugly things—and with my head down, I sprinted to the edge of the pool and jumped in hoping no one would see me. And, that wasn’t the worst of it. Once wet, the weight of the heavy material resulted in dramatic sagging and stretching. My attempts of freestyle strokes almost resulted in a freestyle I imagine administration officials didn’t desire.

Despite the claims of others that “modest is hottest” this embarrassing experiment—it was only once because I never went back—does not rank even close to being one of my hottest moments. But it did then and does now make me wonder why conservative Christianity continues to get the issue of purity (from which the corresponding idea of modesty arises) wrong?

When people make purity the central piece of their program, and there are many who do, it conveys to young girls some terrible things: their sexuality is the most important aspect of who they are; they are solely responsible for how others see them and therefore must dress in ways to be consumed as objects; and despite being told men should be in control of their lives (fathers until they are married and then husbands), they—as girls—are to guard their sexual purity because in this case, boys cannot be trusted.

Ironically, the purity movement in seeking to separate itself from what it sees as an overly sexualized culture, promotes exactly the same end result: men own women’s bodies and women are primarily sexual beings whose sexuality must be controlled by others.

Nevertheless, you can’t convince me the culotte version of WaterWear doesn’t tempt your swimming sense of style. Just remember, I found it first!