It was the spring of 1992. I was a freshman at a very conservative Bible college in Tennessee. My dorm mom marched into my suite where I was sitting on the couch watching TV with some of my friends.
Without so much as a “hello,” she demanded, “Stand up!” I stood.
“Turn around!” she barked.
Stunned and embarrassed, I did what she asked. I had never even had a conversation with the woman, and had no idea what I had done to deserve her obvious displeasure.
“Hmmm…you can sit back down. I’m not exactly sure of the problem. I just got a call from one of the professors. He saw you walking across campus and was distressed by the way you were dressed. He said you had left little to the imagination. I don’t see anything apparently wrong with what you have on, but I don’t think I’d wear it anymore.”
Those of you who know me, know I am an extreme rule follower, and am certainly very conservative in the way I dress. I still vividly remember the outfit I had on. My pants consisted of light pink leggings with a long white, pink, blue, and lavender striped shirt that fell a few inches above my knee. Instead of a backpack, I carried a satchel, and the only thing I can figure is that my shirt got caught up under my satchel in the back without my knowledge. Of course these days, leggings as actual pants with nothing covering them has become a norm…a trend which is probably banned even now in 2015 where I went to school.
With this new “leggings as pants” trend, there has been a fair amount of rhetoric. Good Morning America recently ran a story about a young mom blogger who wrote about her decision to not wear leggings out in public. Women are sharing stories of how their husbands freely admit the trend is distracting to them. Men are begging women to not cause them to lust after them, and women are begging men to get their eyes/minds/hearts under control.
All of the finger pointing distracts from what I think is the core issue: personal responsibility and the intention of our hearts.
It is a fact, at least in our society, that most men are very visual beings. It is also a fact that all women deserve to be treated with respect in relation to their bodies, regardless of the choices she makes.
I read this quote the other day credited to Marilyn Monroe (a little ironic, maybe): “Your clothes should be tight enough to show you’re a woman but loose enough to show you’re a lady.” That’s good food for thought for women in an attitude of respect toward men.
As for men, Job 31:1 says, ““I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a young woman,” an excellent reminder that how men look at a woman is a willful decision. One that is sacred and needs to be taken seriously.
So who bears the greater burden? Both sexes. Another great scripture that applies to all of us regardless of gender is this: “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it,” Proverbs 4:23.
Regardless of religious beliefs, or lack thereof, it would be nice if there could be mutual respect in this matter. I find it a little disturbing how little is said about this issue by the mainstream. I couldn’t find any secular quotes about men being careful with their eyes. The opposite is encouraged. However, the general public is finally being made aware of the ill effects of pornography, which is a step in the right direction. My friend posted this article from GQ magazine recently that encourages men to stop watching porn.
I don’t find legalism helpful. The shame of my “wardrobe malfunction” still stings. Let’s be sensible, and ultimately strive to show respect to the opposite sex.
I would love to hear your thoughts or experiences! And, please share with others, if you agree.