NLQ Question of the Week: What Does ‘True Modesty’ Mean?

NLQ Question of the Week: What Does ‘True Modesty’ Mean? April 6, 2017

QuestionoftheweekThis is a series we run every Thursday. The questions are things that people who may not know much about the Quiverfull movement or even Fundamentalist or Evangelical Christianity ask about the lifestyle. Examining some of the questions involving Quiverfull theology and life can only shine a light on the toxic nature of this lifestyle choice.

Earlier in the week The Transformed Wife author Lori Alexander kicked off what I have started to refer to as ‘Bikini Verklempting Season’ – that time of year when Quiverfull female cultural enforcers flood the blogosphere with demands to police the choice of garments worn and modest levels of everyone else. Remember the mother that called out all of bikini-wearing girls tempting her 15 year old son? How about all the stories in Lori’s book denigrating anyone wearing thong swimsuits?

Here’s the skirt that Lori posted a photo of herself wearing as ‘cute’ and ‘modest’ for summer.

modestyskirtThis is a skirt that would definitely have caused you to be hauled on the carpet at my old church as ‘immodest’ because of the length. Not acceptable. Defrauding of men by showing anything north of the knee. Michelle Duggar has stated many times that you must not expose leg above the knee since the Bible says that thighs are exposing your nakedness.

Disclaimer – the photo above is not Lori – it is a photo of the skirt from the retailer’s online catalog.

Here’s more what would be considered truly modest at the many Quiverfull churches we’ve seen here.

christian-womanBut how are either the long skirt on the left or the skirt Lori Alexander bought anymore modest than this?


or this…


…or any of the women in this photo ….


Which leads me to ask who decides what is modest and how do the Quiverfull ideas of modesty in dress actually line up with Biblical descriptions of modesty?

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  • AFo

    I have found that people who feel like they are losing control of their own lives are the ones most likely to try and control and micromanage those around them to the extent that Lori does. In reality, a woman wearing a bikini has nothing to do with her and only “tempts” men who have been raised to believe that they’re animals who immediately want to fuck any woman with exposed calves. I think QF women like to lash out especially because they have so little autonomy in their lives, so bitching about “secular” women and their slutty swimwear makes them feel temporarily powerful.

  • Delilah Hart

    Hell, if these people don’t want to be exposed to immodestly-dressed people, they need to buy their own swimming pools and leave the rest of us alone. Problem solved!

  • Nightshade

    ‘True modesty’ QF-style I think is eliminating all thought of sex from everyone’s mind, with the only allowed exception being in the bedroom between husband and wife, after the doors are closed, and no hint of sexuality anywhere or any-when else. There is no clear line that can be drawn within which there is no sexual attraction for anyone, it’s way too subjective for that, so I say screw ‘modesty,’ wear whatever you like!

  • Mel

    IMHO, the only enjoyable hobby left to members of CP/QF families is to bitch relentlessly about how everyone else is a piece of shit compared to themselves.

    It’s free, it doesn’t endanger human relationships when you’ve become massively isolated already, and it lets people release a tiny bit of the anger that is ever-present just below the surface in their lives.

  • pinkie

    It’s not just about covering up, it’s about covering up in a way that loudly proclaims how much better you are than everyone else.

  • Rachel

    I feel like part of the “no pants on women” rule was a veiled attempt to restrict women’s activities with the excuse “Well, you can’t do it in a skirt without risking accidentally exposing yourself, therefore God doesn’t want women doing it.”

  • Exactly. The truth is, in the fundy world, asexuality is the ideal. There is no sex education, except “don’t unless you’re married”, so most people have absolutely no idea what healthy sexuality is. THAT is why so many fundies say they struggle with sexual addiction, they just don’t know how to handle perfectly normal feelings.

  • Saraquill

    “Modesty” is a moving goalpost used to badmouth anyone up to and including the person using the word.

  • SAO

    I think for many, the whole reason to sign up for all the rules is so that they can be better than everyone else. Without putting others down, most people won’t notice. If you wear jeans and a baggy sweater and carry a bible in your backpack to read at quiet moments, most people won’t notice that you are any different from someone similarly dressed with Christopher Hitchens in their backpack.

    Thus, you need a skirt, not jeans, and you need to loudly proclaim your superiority by pointing out everyone else’s failings.

  • gimpi1

    In many cases, “modest” really means “archaic and uncomfortable.” A pair of loose jeans and a loose, long-sleeved t-shirt is just as concealing, but not old fashioned or restrictive enough. There’s an odd obsession with the past among some groups, a feeling that the past was always better. You see it in the weirdness of some apologists for the confederacy and in the use of old literature in home-schooling curriculum. Of course, it helps that it’s mostly women who are inconvenienced by these rules. Getting around, actually doing anything in a long skirt is difficult, but since the people making the rules don’t experience this inconvenience, they don’t really care about it.

  • Nightshade

    It doesn’t work because most people aren’t asexual. It’s fine if a person happens to be of course, to each his/her own, but applying rules to force everyone to live in (for most people) a totally unnatural way rarely ends well.

  • Rebecca

    I just don’t think it’s possible to define this for someone else. It’s a very subjective thing. What would be considered modest in one culture may not be for another. Appropriate apparel for the beach is different than say for the office. I feel that each person should be persuaded in her/his own mind. As Christians, we should not be about judging or dictating to others in this area, IMO.

  • ConcepcionImmaculadaPantalones

    Too expensive to buy your own pool when you have a gazillion kids (because no birth control allowed!), and only one income (women must be keepers at home!) to somehow get by on – especially hard if the income is lousy after homeschooling with the same education program the Duggars use.

  • ConcepcionImmaculadaPantalones

    Of course the past is better, they weren’t around to see it but they’ve been told that ladies had nice houses, went visiting and for tea at other ladies’ homes, husbands who had loads of money that they earned…somehow…totally amazing awesomeness in fancy dresses!

    Wait….what’s that you say? Only rich women from wealthy families? Pffft – obviously we’ll be rich women from wealthy families if we’re modest enough, and love god in just the right way through donations to our church!

  • ConcepcionImmaculadaPantalones

    *clears throat*
    The great thing about living in the U.S. is being free to wear what one wants. Lori, your husband likes looking at nice tushies in yoga pants – now, you can be the owner of a nice tush in yoga pants for him, or you can waste your time, getting all pissed off and complaining about what other people are 100% free to wear and will do so regardless of your angsty rants.

    Maybe also quit selling men short by claiming they’re all slobbering beasts who simply must rape any woman with a nice tush wearing yoga pants – or the unlikely thong bikini wearing (seriously – I’ve lived in SoCal my entire life, the land of celebrities and pushing the risque envelope, and yet I have NEVER seen anyone much less multitudes of women in thong bathing suits in public.)…Men who are told all their lives that they will rule over all they survey, that they can disrespect women and girls starting with those in their family, that it is expected they are unable to control their sexual desires and feelings so it is *women* who are to be responsible by modest behaviors and dressing as well as to blame if a male feels his “loins stirred” by a female not his wife – THIS IS HOW YOU CREATE RAPISTS. Even if they don’t call it rape, making a woman or forcing a woman into sexual acts is RAPE. Modesty moms need to let that sink in until they understand that they are fostering an environment that nurtures rapists.

  • Delilah Hart

    Well, then, they can just use sprinklers and water hoses to cool off.

  • gimpi1

    Yeah, few people living with indoor plumbing, electrical power, clean water systems and a car have any idea what life was like in the past… I remember one upper-middle class friend whining about “not being able to get good help” when looking for a part-time nanny/housekeeper. She kept complaining that “people don’t want to work like they did in the past, until her annoyed husband pointed out that, given their family situation, “In the past, we’d be the servants, we wouldn’t be hiring them.”

  • I move in historical costuming circles online. Sometimes, the two sort of overlap (and I suspect that’s how I once found myself immersed in similar ideas – thankfully only online – and why I therefore keep coming back here). And sometimes – and it’s not limited to these circles, but it’s that same rose-coloured way of looking at the past so I suspect some connections – I come across an expression along the lines of “I wish everyone dressed like that today!” as someone is drooling over an extant dress. And my mind goes, boy I’m glad we don’t have to.
    (An expanded version of that is, boy I’m glad I live in this time when I can look at pictures of extant dresses online and learn from them.)

  • ConcepcionImmaculadaPantalones

    I wear actual steel boned corsets (they’re great for my back and of course I like the shaping they provide my figure) every day for at least a few hours if not more. Most people think I’m crazy, but even sleeping in a corset is easier than trying to move around in 17864876 billion layers of petticoats and floor length skirts.

    The modesty clothing police can go swim back to shore from 2 miles out on the ocean in all those petticoats and a floor length skirt – preferably in great white shark infested waters.

  • I’m led to understand layers of petticoats are easier with a corset. 😀
    (I couldn’t tell, I focus on styles around 1800 myself. That’s different both on the number of petticoats and on the corset front.)