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Can You Teach Modesty Without Body-Shaming?

Can You Teach Modesty Without Body-Shaming?


Mar 6 2013
Girls told to cover their "irresistible" bellies, boobs, and bodies.

It seems like we can't stop talking about modesty lately. From the Super Bowl to the Grammys, Brooklyn storefronts to Christians' closets, we're fixated on what women are wearing… or not wearing. Amid all the chatter and clatter, what's a modesty-minded Christian woman to take away from all this discourse?

Enter Dannah Gresh and Secret Keeper Girl, a website designed for Christian tweens. A Secret Keeper Girl, she says, "values modesty, she surrounds herself with wise friends and she embraces Godly beauty. So, she keeps the deepest secrets of her beauty for just one man." So far, so good. But as I clicked my way around the playful pink-and-orange flower-filled website, I started to feel decidedly uncomfortable. Something, that I couldn't quite put my finger on, felt off.

Much of what is offered on the Secret Keeper Girl site I found worthwhile and helpful; I applaud any attempt to encourage clothing retailers to offer age-appropriate choices for young girls, as the Secret Keeper Girls do, and I also applaud anyone, anywhere who speaks out against fashion magazines and their objectification of women and their bodies. Dannah Gresh's short devotional on self-talk is wonderful:

It's almost a popular thing for girls and women to say really terrible things about themselves…but here's the cold, hard truth about negative selftalk: When God created you, he said, 'Very good. Exactly as I need her to be.' When you say degrading things about yourself, you're telling God it wasn't 'very good' when he created you. If you say something negative about yourself long enough, you'll eventually believe the words you're saying, and that's how you'll live. Isn't that sad to think about?

That's a powerful message.

But beyond that, the Secret Keeper Girls and I start to part ways. When I clicked on the "Truth or Bare" link—sparkling flowers trailing my cursor all the way—this is what I read:

Stand up straight and pretend you are going for it in worship, and extend your arms in the air to God. Is this exposing a lot of belly? Bellies are very intoxicating, and we need to save that for our husband!

Bellies are very intoxicating? On 8-year-olds? Yes, they are, secular media would say...and apparently, Gresh would agree. The website then goes on to suggest how to tell if your shorts are too short, your shirts are too low, or your tops are too tight:

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Can You Teach Modesty Without Body-Shaming?