Recently, several of you have been duking it out right here on the blog about the topic of fashion—specifically cleavage! Many of you are adamant that low cut shirts and short skirts are fine. Others disagree. In fact, the debate has gotten so heated; that many of your comments haven’t made the blog because the way you presented your arguments was enough to make me blush (and believe me, I am not easily shocked or embarrassed).
What’s interesting is that so much debate has been sparked on a topic that we barely mention in the book. But we certainly do want you understand the truth about modesty and the destructive power of immodesty. So, let’s talk about it.
Dannah Gresh is the co-author of Lies Young Women Believe. She is also the author of Secret Keeper a little book that has a lot to say about this subject. She addressed these very issues in an article for Brio Magazine several years ago. Let’s take a look.
Do you have a “most embarrassing moment”?
I sure do.
I once stood outside the driver’s side of my minivan, the door wide open, while I bent over the seat to reach my stuff inside. It was a loooong reach. As I turned to slam the door shut with my arms loaded, I noticed a guy sitting in his car right beside me with his jaw dropped so low that his mouth looked like the Grand Canyon. His face was red when I caught him staring.
That’s when the draft hit me—a cool spring breeze announcing to me that the hem of my skirt was wrapped around my waist, and my underwear was the featured view. You can guess who was blushing now!
I was on the way to my high-paying, high-profile, fast-paced advertising agency when that happened several years ago. Okay, so it wasn’t high-paying or high-profile. It was fast-paced. And it was also intriguing. I learned some of the amazing tricks that advertisers use to control your pocketbook . . . and your mind. Most interesting to me was the power of your body. (Yes, I did say your body.)
Got a few minutes? Let’s talk, Girlfriend!
Lesson No. 1: Your Body = Power.
Advertising researchers have actually attached little wires to reader’s eyeballs to follow the visual path and figure out what makes someone spend time reading an ad, increasing an advertiser’s chance of sales! Crazy, huh? They’ve discovered lots of little tricks that will increase the viewing time by one percent … two percent . . . maybe three percent. But if you really want to stop the reader, use a woman!
I’ve heard different numbers, but it seems a photo of a woman will increase the length of time someone spends with an ad by anywhere from 14 percent to 30 percent. Waaaaay more than anything else!
That’s what first made me think about the incredible alluring power of the female body. And guess what—God’s Word affirms that power! I’d like you to hear it from a guy’s perspective. Here’s my husband, Bob.
God knew what He was doing when He created you. He originally created woman to complete and finish man. Check it out! In Genesis 2:18, God Himself says, “It is not good for man to be alone.”
Alone? The God of the universe was walking and talking with Adam. How could he have been alone? God could have easily filled the void in Adam. He didn’t. Instead, He crafted a masterpiece—woman! You are one of those masterpieces! And you’ve been given all of the power of a masterpiece that is worthy of every glance you receive.
Given the purpose, it’s not a stretch to believe that our carefully crafted and curved bodies create quite a stir in guys. A girl’s body really drives a guy crazy.
According to God, there should be one catch to all that craziness. Check out Proverbs 5:18-19 where it tells a man to “rejoice in the wife of your youth . . . may you be ever captivated by her love.”
The word captivated would be better translated “intoxicated” since that’s what the Hebrew writer was trying to say. Imagine this: Your husband filled with a holy drunken stupor at your presence. That’s what God wants for you one day if His plan for you includes marriage.
But there’s a catch. Notice the earlier part of the verse where it says, “the wife.” In other words, one woman. Again and again the Bible reconfirms that this intoxication is only to be shared with one guy—and after you’re married.
Until then, it’s under wraps . . . a secret to be shared with your husband. As you might have noticed, girls today aren’t the best secret keepers. They flaunt their bodies in hip-huggers complemented by belly rings, miniskirts matched to high heels, tight shirts to go with tighter pants and . . . well, I could go on.
But, wait! you’re thinking. That’s just today’s fashion!
Lesson No. 2: Showing Less Controls More.
Let me tell you about the Gestalt Theory! (Warning: College-level brain food ahead!) The Gestalt Theory teaches a graphic designer to control a viewer’s time by forcing him or her to mentally complete a visual image. Because the brain is intrigued by completing the incomplete, it will always pause to finish an unfinished picture.
Check out this trio of circles. What else do you see? You think you see a triangle, because that’s the most common image that your brain wants to use to complete this.
How do you think this theory works when a girl walks down the street in front of a guy wearing a tight shirt with her belly bared? Yikes! You really need a guy’s perspective on this. So here’s Bob again.
It’s much more tempting for a guy to see a girl dressed in today’s skimpy fashion than it would be to see her naked. Does that astound you? It’s true. A Christian couple I know recently flew to France for vacation. At one point, this pair unwittingly stayed in a hotel next to a nude beach. It wasn’t tempting at all. In fact, my friend was rather grossed out.
There was nothing left to the imagination . . . which is the most tempting part of immodesty. The control comes from the unfinished picture and the imagination that it takes to complete it. If a guy sees a girl walking around in tight clothes, a miniskirt or short shorts, you might as well hang a noose around the neck of his spiritual life. To us, this is not “just fashion.” It’s a constant source of spiritual failure. Have some mercy!
I have a confession to make. That day my skirt tried to strangle me, I’d created my most embarrassing moment. My skirt was too short and too tight, but I really thought it was “just fashion” that made me look good. Though I didn’t struggle with immodesty before I was married, I did find myself falling prey to fashion’s whims after I was out from under my parents’ watchful eyes.
I know how hard this is.
Sometimes I walk through a mall or along a crowded sidewalk and see heads turning toward a girl who’s dressed like Britney Spears. And . . . are you ready for this true confession . . . I wish it was me turning those heads! Don’t you feel that way sometimes? We ache to be noticed and adored. That’s where knowing these advertising tricks could get dangerous. I know that you could abuse the power of showing less to control more. Please don’t do that. I think you’ll miss the truth behind the power of your body if you do what we find in lesson number three.
Lesson No. 3: Perceived Value Increases Worth.
In the early days of our marketing business, we designed company logos for approximately $1,250. One day, because we were concerned with how time-consuming the logos were, we hiked our prices up . . . to $8,000. We expected to have far less logo work to do, but instead, we had more! It was the perceived higher value that drove the demand and the worth of the project. When clients perceived that this project required not only a great deal of financial investment but also a patient investment of time, they wanted it badly.
The same principle is at work when you dress either immodestly or modestly. Immodesty removes the obstacles and invites any guy to desire you in his mind. It’s a cheap thrill requiring no investment on his part. It offers him the power of your body at his control.
Modesty protects the true secret of your body for one man, requiring him to invest time, romance and passion into your life in order to one day enjoy your allure. It invites a guy to earn your virtuosity.
No matter how much temporary attention immodesty may gain you, it will never equal the thrill of passion that follows a life protected by the power of modesty. Does it mean you’ll be less attractive? On the contrary. (I’ll never figure out a guy’s mind.) Again, I give you Bob.
When we were dating, Dannah presented herself with impeccable modesty. It didn’t dampen my desire for her. In fact, it fueled it. She could’ve worn a burlap sack, and I’d have been attracted to her. I can’t explain it, but a guy yearns most for what he can’t have. Because Dannah did not freely give herself, I desired to earn her.
Admit it. You want to be desired! Me, too.
The question is: Will you be desired by guys looking for a cheap thrill in their minds? Or will you be romantically and passionately pursued because your modesty demands it?
Modesty is the first line of defense for your purity. When a guy perceives that this has been protected, he’ll rise to romance you and earn your heart. It may not happen for a few years, but the best things in life are worth the wait. And that’s it — my lessons in modesty from the world of advertising. Hey, speaking of advertising, Philippians 4:5 says, “Let your modesty be known to all!” Advertise that!
What Are You Advertising?
So what’s a girl to do with all the “just fashion” mentality that advertisers carefully toss her way? I recommend you start in your closet. Why not take inventory of your wardrobe today? Do this with a friend. It’s as easy as 1-2-3.
1. Make three piles. One is the “Cheap Thrills Pile.” In this pile, you’ll toss all the clothes you’ve been wearing that invite a guy to complete the picture of your body in his mind. This includes anything that shows too much skin, such as short shorts or shirts and low shirts or pants—as well as anything that shows too much shape—tight sweaters, jeans or T-shirts. Ceremonially trash these with your friend!
2. The second pile is your “Power Pile.” In this one, put anything that actually hides the secrets of your alluring body in a fashionable and comfortable manner. These go back into your closet and drawers. These items make up a part of your high price tag that will require one man to pay a high price to earn your heart.
3. The final pile? That’s your “Fuzzy Friend” pile. You’re a bit “fuzzy” on these items. They could go either way, so you’re going to ask your friend to make the decision for you. Whatever she says goes. Don’t compromise. (And by the way . . . moms and dads make great friends for this project!)
This article appeared in Brio magazine. Copyright © 2002 Dannah Gresh. All rights reserved. International copyright secured.
So, what do you think? Is it possible that wearing low-cut shirts and short skirts, could be sinful, even when your intentions are innocent? Is this an area where Satan lies to us? What are the consequences of believing those lies? Do the clothes in your closet indicate that you’ve been operating under the assumption that it’s just fashion instead of intentionally saving your allure for your husband? We’d love to hear about it.
And, be sure to check out our next post, where my friend Scott, who just happens to be a handsome, funny, talented 18-year-old boy, offers his perspective on what you’ve been saying. I think his thoughts will surprise you.