Written by Mary Todd Christian. Media by Jack Dawdy.
Summer is quickly approaching! Hot days and vacations, which means trips to the beach. It also means swimsuit season when many girls will be breaking out their bikinis. Before we know it, pictures from the beach will be blowing up our Facebook feeds with girls showing off their new swimwear. Even if this is not uncommon to see during the summer months, does it mean it’s okay for girls to be posting pictures of themselves in their bikinis on social media? Is it a freedom of expression and positive body image, or is it simply immodest? Unfortunately, I would have to say that it is the latter, even if it is not a young lady’s intention.
Before you come at me with torches and pitchforks, please understand that I don’t think there is anything wrong with owning a cute swimsuit. However, we live in a culture today that permits the revealing of excess skin. Culture deems the bikini as “cute,” “beautiful,” and “sexy.” When we start to define a cute swimsuit as one that resembles our undergarments, that’s when we begin to have an issue.
Jessica Rey, the creator of Rey Swimwear, has pointed out that our society has progressively become “okay” with women showing an excess amount of skin. In a recent talk, she explained that in the early 1900s, it was absolutely scandalous for women to be seen in a (very modest) swim garment, yet now it’s not uncommon to see women walking around in practically nothing. She also explained the results of a study done by Princeton University, when men were shown pictures of women in different types of clothing. When men viewed pictures of women in scantily clad clothing, the region of the brain that associates with tools (i.e. hammers and screwdrivers) lit up, as well as the region that associates with first person action verbs such as “I grab,” “I touch,” and “I handle.” When they were shown photos of women dressed modestly, the reaction was much different. The region of the brain that associates with third person action verbs such as “She grabs,” “She touches,” “She handles,” lit up instead.
I think Rey’s speech gives us a very clear understanding of the “power” women have when they are wearing bikinis and immodest clothing in general. It does not earn women the power of gaining respect, but instead the power to be viewed as objects rather than human beings. This is all the more reason why women need to hold a high standard of modesty. If we are called to holiness and to honor God with our bodies, should our dress not also reflect that? Furthermore, we don’t want to be a stumbling block to our fellow brothers in Christ. Well, you might say, he shouldn’t be looking anyway! That’s his fault! He should keep his eyes to himself! Yes, I 100% agree. Men need to stop making excuses and they need to learn to practice self-control when they are tempted. However, we as women are just as much at fault for fueling the fire of temptation.
Please know I’m certainly not asking you to be covered from head to toe the next time you go to the beach! I am only asking that you be discerning. You are ultimately the one to decide what is God honoring when it comes to what you wear. But I think that these are some important things to think about, and wrestle with, as we are beginning to enter into swimsuit season.