Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Beyond the Bikini

Wow!  I have been overwhelmed by the intensity of the discussion the last post created!  This is wonderful!  This is just the type of discussion new feminists need to be having!
If you missed the excitement, check it out! Catholic Girls in Bikinis 

I just wanted to follow up that post briefly.  (And I do mean briefly, because I have a fantastic topic for the next post: men!  With male guest author…oh yes, you’ll love it!)

I see three things happening in the last discussion:
First, a provocative statement made about bikinis, though it truly was about modesty.
Second, whether agree or disagree, most women (who posted or just emailed me ;-) took a side on the bikini statement.
Third, each side seemed to defend against what they assumed was the opposing position.

Do you want to know what I think?  I think you are all right!  

THIS is the beauty of new feminism!  We are not against one another; we are seeking the same goals.  I see women who defended the bikini as defending feminine beauty.  What I hear in their arguments is that we should not be ashamed of our bodies and that God created us beautifully, that sometimes a one piece is more scandalous than a bikini and that feminine beauty will always be attractive to men.  They also referenced that it’s not only what we wear that is important but how we act, what we say and what we think.

And you know what, they’re right!

The women who defended the author against the bikini had great points too!  What I hear from them is that we need to teach our girls what is right and good about our bodies.  We need to show them how beautiful they are – so beautiful it should be respected!  We need to lift others to God in how we dress, what we say, how we act – not draw attention just to ourselves. 

So, I believe they are also right!

With new feminism, we do not have to judge.  I don’t believe any of you would look at a girl and think less of her because of what she is wearing.  On the contrary, I know my heart extends with love and assumes the best always striving to give the benefit of the doubt.  (Judge not lest you be judged…)  It’s easy to be defensive and reactionary, but new feminism gives us a third side!  We can take the best of both worlds, find the commonality and move forward!

So, it’s about more than the bikini.  We must move beyond the bikini and cut into the depth of the real matter.  Modesty.  It’s a word that even to me sometimes makes me wrinkle my nose thinking of women and girls in shirts buttoned up to their chins and skirts down to their ankles.  It’s saddled with so much mucky baggage that it’s hard to understand it for what it is.  In a world that prides itself on being able to “sell” yourself and your qualities in order to get hired or get that promotion, modesty is foreign and awkward.  And yet, for a beautiful woman (or even young lady), modesty says, “Thank you!  I am beautiful!  I am blessed to be so!  But it’s not by my doing, but God’s gift to me!”  She does not deny her beauty, but embraces it as a gift from God.

Forget the bikini vs the tankini vs the one piece discussion.  It’s not what one puts on that makes a person, but it’s what is in one’s heart that determines what one puts on.  The same two women could be wearing the same cute dress to mass and yet one woman looks lovely and even gets compliments while the other draws attention, walks with chest out, speaks loudly and seems to be desiring excessive attention.  It’s not the clothes; it’s her heart.

With all of you so right, perhaps I may press it a bit further!  I think it’s one thing to understand how a woman is comfortable with her God given beauty, but it’s an entirely different thing to imagine how men see a woman’s body.  Their minds are “programmed” differently if you will.  We as women truly have to stretch our minds to begin to comprehend that what might be simply “adorable!” to us, might lead men into arousal mode.  We want to pretend they are like us and can shut it down like we can, but men and women are different. 
Here’s a short clip discussing the study I spoke of.  Only 3 minutes, please watch it before reading on!

 Did you know that was the origin of the bikini?!  I didn’t!

So, what I see here are two issues: 1st – the beauty of a woman’s body as a gift from God and our need to elevate her amazing femininity.  And 2nd – the issue of taking into account the difference of how men think and finding a way to incorporate that into our understanding of ourselves and how we present ourselves.

 What I heard recently, and thought it was interesting was this:  a teenage girl asks her youth leader how does she know what’s right or wrong to wear.  The leader responds after much thought, “I know you are praying for your future husband and that’s wonderful!  Think about your future husband right now as a teenager and he’s looking at another girl in her swimsuit.  Whatever you don’t want him lusting over on her, cover that up on yourself.”

Interesting thought!  What do you think? ;-)

Well, that’s my view of it and I welcome yours!  (Please comment below!)
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  1. So weird to think about how guys think... I know it's not "their fault" and we have to appreciate their manliness in the way God made them, but sometimes it seems so animalistic ... Hmmmmm maybe that's why we are called to help them rise above that by protecting them from that lust??? Still weird to think about! ;-)

  2. Ok so from the other side of the bikini discussion we went to water park on Father's day and I made a mortifying observation. Whenever my son (12) saw a young lady around his age in a bikini he would do a double take and blush a deep red whereas when he saw a young lady his age in a more modest bathing suit he had little or no outward reaction.

  3. Theresa -

    is the video clip of Jason Everett? i think it's him - he spoke to our diocesan youth rally a number of years ago.

  4. My younger brother has always told me that, for example, wearing the type of gym clothing that is popular in some gyms with young, and even some older, women (equivalent to a bikini) is not going to garner the kind of attention I would want. That made me feel better because I've never dressed that way. Even though I'm 41 and single, I'd rather be myself (modest) and single than "loved" for something I'm not: an object.