How Modesty Made Me Fat

by Sierra

This isn’t a story about how modest clothes allowed me to “let myself go” and conceal a growing figure. It’s not even a story about how wearing modest clothes kept my self-esteem at rock bottom and thrust me into a too-close relationship with Ben & Jerry. It’s a story about how modesty doctrines impacted my mind, in ways that had real, negative effects on my body. Modesty was one of the reasons my defining relationship with my body became whether or not I was “fat.” Modesty was one of the engines that pushed me into a full-blown eating disorder. It’s not just a dress code: it’s a philosophy, and it’s one that destroys young women, mentally and physically.

Modesty taught me that my first priority needed to be making sure I wasn’t a “stumbling block” to men. Not being sexually attractive was the most important thing I had to consider when buying clothes, putting them on, maintaining my weight (can’t have things getting tight!), and moving around (can’t wiggle those hips, or let a little knee show). Modesty taught me that what I looked like was what mattered most of all. Not what I thought. Not how I felt. Not what I was capable of doing. Worrying about modesty, and being vigilant not to be sexy, made me even more obsessed with my looks than the women in short shorts and spray tans I was taught to hate.

Modesty taught me that I was always on display. There was no occasion in which it was acceptable to be immodest. Not the beach, not at the pool with friends, not in my own backyard (sunbathing was out because a neighbor might glance over and see me). This took my normal self-consciousness as a teenage girl and amped it up to an impossible degree. I once had a bee fly down my (acceptably loose) shirt and, in flailing around to get it out, had a family member comment that I’d just “flashed” my own grandfather. I was horrified for the rest of the week. That’s not normal. The normal order of priorities is getting dangerous animals out of your clothing first, and then worrying about making your own relatives perv on you second. Not so with the modesty doctrine. I should have let it sting me, apparently. Getting stung was the lesser risk.

Modesty was not just about dress. It was also about moving like a lady. Knees together, butt down, breasts in, arms down. It is impossible to get physically fit while adhering to ladylike movements only. You might be able to run, but only if you wear two sports bras to keep anything from jiggling inappropriately. You certainly can’t do anything with weights. In college, I had the chance to join a horseback riding team for a couple of semesters. I soon realized that staying on the horse required starting some kind of fitness regimen. In the gym, I found a couple of hip abductor/adductor machines that were handy for building the thigh strength necessary to grip the horse. The problem? I was so embarrassed that somebody might walk in front of me while I was on the machine with my legs spread that I started going to the gym the moment it opened in the morning and avoiding exercise when men were present. In this instance, modesty was literally keeping me weak. Eventually, I grew comfortable enough with my own body to exercise without worrying about other people happening to look at me. Now, I do an exercise routine that would have scandalized my old self: squats, deadlifts, and barbell rows. I have so much more energy and my mood is so much improved – plus, I can move my own furniture! But I couldn’t have got to this point without dumping the modesty doctrine. Because I couldn’t concentrate on hauling iron while worried that some perv behind me might happen to glance my way and pop his gym shorts. That’s not my job anymore. I’m not responsible for men’s souls, because I no longer think of myself as an object to be looked at and evaluated.

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But They Look So Happy!

Excerpted from Dulce De Leche:

All of the recent news about the Duggar’s newest baby spawned a number of online arguments.  One of the most frequent comments was about how cheerful their family is, especially the children.  How Michelle is a great mom who doesn’t yell.  It must be working for them, because the kids are well behaved and look happy.  Sounds reasonable, right?

I might believe it, if I didn’t know what I know of Gothard/ATI and the Pearls.  The Duggars are deeply enmeshed in ATI, and ATI takes allegiance very seriously.  It isn’t a vague Statement of Beliefs that you sign so your kids can take the courses.  It is several pages of in depth info that covers what kind of music you can listen to (no Christian rock), the kind of TV you watch (mainly Christian DVDs), the way you dress (those jumpers are about modesty), the kind of punishments the parents use (spankings), and more.  It isn’t just a curriculum–it is a lifestyle that delves into family finances, child planning and every other detail.

There has long been a lot of speculation about whether the Duggars use the controversial punishment methods taught by Michael and Debi Pearl in To Train Up a Child.  Things like the blanket training, certain phrases that are used, and the general popularity within that subculture have fueled that, as well as many people who claim that it was recommended previously on the website.  I can’t prove that they follow TTUAC, but as of yesterday, the Duggar’s website included it in their Amazon links along with a glowing recommendation.  Considering that some of the other recommendations list personal details about how the materials were used by the family, I cannot believe that it was randomly included on their site without their approval.

One of the creepiest things about Gothard and the Pearls is that they teach that happy is the only acceptable emotion.  If you do not have a joyful countenance, you are publicly shaming your authorities.  In other words, if the kid looks unhappy, it is a personal offense against the parents.  Pearl also has nauseating quotes and anecdotes about how any time his kids expressed unhappiness or anger they were hit even harder and longer until they were cheerful.  How twisted is that?  These children are taught from babyhood to always be cheerful, or else they deserve a spanking.  As they grow older, it is not just the fear of a spanking that causes them to keep smiling.  It is the sincere belief that they are sinning with ingratitude, rebellion and more if they don’t present a happy face.

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Maternal Martyr, Michelle Duggar, Willing to Risk Life for Baby #20

by Vyckie Garrison

Mega-family parents, Jim Bob & Michelle Duggar of TLC’s “19 & Counting” fame announced on TODAY they are expecting baby #20 – due in April 2012.

Despite a difficult pregnancy and premature delivery of now-23-month-old, Josie, Michelle told TLC viewers she is willing to “lay down her life” for another baby.

“We do not take for granted the wonderful blessings of life that God has bestowed upon us!” writes Michelle on The Duggar Family website. “Many years ago, Jim Bob & I gave this area of our lives to God, allowing Him to grant life as He saw fit.”

The flip side of the Quiverfull ideal of “trusting the Lord with our family planning” which Jim Bob & Michelle embrace and promote through their TV Reality show, website, and numerous books, is that Michelle also accepts the possibility of her own or her baby’s deaths, should such tragedy occur, as God’s will.

In her book, The Way Home, Beyond Feminism and Back To Reality, Quiverfull proponent, Mary Pride explains that mothers who risk their lives for the sake of building the Kingdom of God are to be honored the same as missionaries:

“Routinely we send missionaries off to work in unsavory climates, knowing full well that they will probably come down with amoebic dysentery, be overheated (or frozen), receive inadequate medical care in second-rate hospitals, and on the average live ten years less than other people. But we don’t tell people not to be missionaries. Instead, we commend missionaries for their courage. 

“Missionaries go to foreign countries to beget new Christians; mothers get pregnant to be beget new Christians. Even if maternal missionary work has some hazards (and what missionary work doesn’t?), the noble way is to face them with courage. Likewise, we really ought to honor women with medical problems … diabetes, asthma, quadriplegia, arthritis, heart problems … who are willing to serve God with their bodies as mothers.  These are the unsung heroines of the modern church.  (p. 57 emphasis in original)”

To further understand Michelle’s willingness to risk her life, consider that Quiverfull leaders routinely downplay the health risks when questioned regarding the prudence of prolific motherhood.  Again, Mary Pride, citing page after page of examples of supposedly bogus health risks and throwing in as an added bonus, the “medical dangers of not having children,” encourages women to trust the Lord in the face of suffering:

“Devotees of evil will sacrifice all they have — money, health, reputation — to maintain their lifestyle.  If the actual threat of venereal disease or AIDS does not deter the wicked from their pursuits, why should the mostly phantom threat of “medical problems” deter us from ours?  God will stand by His daughters who are willing to serve Him.”

I explain this idealism which led me to repeatedly endure high-risk pregnancies and life-threatening deliveries in greater detail at No Longer Quivering: here and here.

Quiverfull moms are nothing if not consistent in their submission to the will of God – for better or worse.

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The Destiny of a Virtuous Daughter ~ Part 4: Have Mercy on Me, a Sinner

by Starfury

At 15, I was finally given the female role models I had longed for. My family converted to Eastern Orthodoxy, and I embraced it wholeheartedly. No longer did I have to pray only to God, but I had the Theotokos to turn to.. someone who could understand me as a girl. After our conversion, my prayer to God (whether the Father or the Son) diminished greatly, and I prayed often to both Mary and St. Katherine the Great-Martyr.

I was searching for unconditional love and acceptance, and it was hard to see it in the God who would stand judging you when you died. It was easier to find it in a woman who watched her son be crucified.

Regardless, I was determined to do things right. I still had to be the perfect daughter, only this time I had confession to help hold me accountable. I wasn’t content to just be Orthodox… I had to be the best I could. I made the effort to fast more… not just from meat, but from dairy as well, and during the Great Fasts, I abstained from fish on Wednesdays and Fridays.

I felt guilty going to confession, and I found myself spending more time alone in the woods in tears. I felt that I was doing the same things wrong, that I was struggling with the same sins over and over. I wondered if the priest kept count, if he thought I would never learn… I was trying to do my best, I really was. I followed daily prayer, I read my Bible, I said the Jesus prayer over and over on my prayer rope, I learned about the saints and their feast days, I attended every Liturgy and daily service I could.

There was still something that I was doing wrong, there had to be. I still struggled with my temper, I still wanted things that didn’t quite line up with wife and mother, and my mother and I still had a rocky relationship.

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To My Shame … I think I might understand Hillary Adam’s mother

Major trigger warning for all former QF moms who read here at NLQ:(

httpv://youtu.be/Wl9y3SIPt7o

by Vyckie

Okay – I told myself not to watch that Judge Adams video, cuz I knew it would be triggering – but I followed the link posted by an NLQ forum member to Pandagon, read the article – and then played the video. God help me.

All I could think was – what ever must Hillary’s mom have been thinking? And the horrible thing about it is that I could guess what must’ve been going through her mind when she actively participated in the beating of her daughter.

I can remember many occasions in which my ex-husbands’s abuse of the children was so intolerable – I would actually jump in and take over because I knew that at least I’d be easier on the kids and their dad would be satisfied that he was right and the kid was wrong and I was acknowledging his rightness and fulfilling my Christian duty by upholding his authority – and so he would finally calm down.

::hangs head::

Did anyone else notice that the mother only gave Hillary one swat with the belt – and then thanked her for finally cooperating – and seemed relieved as she left the room?

That’s how it worked in our family too – especially with my oldest – I “disciplined” her in order to spare her from her dad’s anger.

Eventually, I guess I figured out that this tactic worked so well – so then when I could see trouble brewing – saw my kids defying their father, or even simply standing their ground when he insisted it was one way even though they could plainly see it was another way – so in an effort to head off the escalation of my Ex’s anger, I’d jump in there first and yell at the offending child and give them a “good talking to” – in the hopes that the child would respond “reasonably” to my more mild chastisement and their dad would be satisfied – abusive spanking session averted.

So my younger kids did not get nearly the number of whippings because I’d learned to abuse them first (to a lesser degree) in order to spare them from their father’s spanking sessions which were extremely similar to Judge Adam’s – only often, far worse.

And now, I’m sick.

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