Friday, June 21, 2013

Is Selling Modesty Dangerous? Critiquing Jessica Rey's Swimsuit Evolution

The Evolution of a Swimsuit video is rocking Facebook feeds.  I gave in and watched it.  Boy oh boy was I appalled?  Is this what we are teaching our daughters? 

Haven't seen it?  Click this link.

 As a Queer Theorist I am trained to be critical so for all of you who need me to “overthink” and “overanalyze,” here you go.

My Argument:  Selling “modesty” is as dangerous as selling “sex.”


First, let’s start with selling.  Do not confuse yourself with this Jessica Rey’s intent in this video.  She is SELLING her swimsuits.  Of course she is using pseudo-science to do so (we’ll get to this next) but her intent here is not to guard women’s heart.  She is not educating. She is a SALESPERSON selling her wares.  Buyer Beware.

What is she selling?

She is selling modest swimsuits to women.  Now click this link and go to Rey Swimwear.  Look at the models.  She is selling swimsuits to thin, white women.  Racial Queer?  Plus size?  Based on this site, these modest suits are not for you. 

Now remember these suits were inspired by Audrey Hepburn, a classic icon of classiness.  Remember though, despite how lovely Audrey was, how modest her dress, and how humanitarian her efforts, she still struggled with self-image and food.  Modesty does not guard one from biting expectations of a society that demands women be beautiful and then punishes them for it.


The basis of Rey’s argument is the results of a study done at Princeton that has never been published in a scholarly, peer-reviewed journal.   The study examined 21 male undergraduates (hardly a sound representation of the male population in general and very likely the reason no research based journal would touch this biased study).  The findings jump to a lot of conclusions.  There might be a correlation between a part of the brain shutting down because of bikinis but correlation does not mean causation. 

Here’s an example.  Back in the day when Polio was more rampant, people assumed Polio was linked to soda because as soda drinking increased, so did Polio.  There was a correlation.  HOWEVER, there was no causation.  Soda does not cause Polio.  There was a link, though.  People tended to drink more soda when it was hot.  Hot weather made conditions ripe the spread of Polio.  Correlation is not causation.

While there might be a correlation, between brains shutting down and bikinis, it does not mean there is causation.

The whole basis of this Jessica Rey’s “science based talk” is nothing more than pseudo-science, a claim presented as research-based and scientific but that lacks academic and scientific rigor, reliability, validity, and has yet to be replicated to support the findings.

Believe what you want about how men think or the findings of this study but please do not refer to this as “science.”  This is no more scientific than the belief that people of African decent are less intelligent than white people based on bumps on the head (EGADS, people really did believe that.  It was “scientific.”  It was also “science” that the sun revolved around the earth).


One of the most disturbing portions of this video is this:  Rey says women wear bikinis to feel empowered BUT THEN questions what power women are getting because all bikinis do is make men (at least 21 of them) think of women as objects (which is the wrong kind of power, in her opinion).

Conclusion #1: Women’s power only comes from the esteem of men.  Without men’s approval, women have no power. 

The problem with this conclusion:  Rey says that as long as men think of women as objects, women cannot be powerful.  I say that as long as women need men’s approval, esteem, or permission to be powerful, we won’t be.  Also as some sweet irony, Rey is missing something.  If a woman looks so good that she makes a man’s brain shut down, that kind of super power is amazing.  Kinda  like Professor X but without the male chromosome.  Boom!

Conclusion #2: If women dress in a way that causes men to think of them as tools, women are at fault for objectifying themselves OR at least putting themselves in a position to be objectified.

The Problem with this conclusion: Victims of abuse and oppression are never to blame for their   objectification (repeat that until it sinks in.  It is NEVER the victim’s fault). Women in mini-skirts are not asking to be raped.  Little girls are not asking to be molested with their dimpled smiles.  A woman in heels is not asking for men to cat-call her.  Women are not to blame for the abuse aimed at them. Here's a good rule: If a woman doesn't actually ask for it, she isn't asking for it.

Conclusion #3: Women should only consider others and how they will perceive them when they get dressed.
The Problem with this conclusion: Women’s bodies are not public domain.  The public has no       right to choose what I can, should, or do wear.  Yes it is human nature to police the wearing of garments but that does make it right.  No woman should have to fear that the clothing she chooses to put on will make her the target of public debate.  Women should wear what makes them comfortable             and confident. End of story.


Jessica Rey wants women to be modest.  I actually have no problem with this.  Modesty is not a four-letter word at my house.  I’m all for nice blouses and pencil skirts. 

The problem is equating modesty with respect and esteem.

Is Rey seriously telling me that if I have an additional 10 inches of fabric between my breasts and my pelvic bone at a beach I have more dignity and deserve more respect? 

If that is what she is claiming, SHE IS RIDICULOUS!  The man who esteems, respects, and values me more than anyone else in the world has seem me with nothing on so clothing is not the only key. 

If my dignity and worthiness of respect are ever the result of a measly yard of fabric, I don’t want you to think me worthy or dignified.  You are also NOT the kind of person I want to respect me.

The root of this gender problem is not clothing and the answer is not modesty.

Some women, based on their religious convictions, are clothed head to toe.  For example the wearing of a Burka does not give these women equal rights or shield them from sexual, physical, verbal, or emotional abuse.

Photo From Here

Women in the 50’s (a time ripe with sexism, racism, and heterosexism—hardly the “good ol’ days” for those who didn’t have the “luxury” of being straight, white men) who dressed modestly did not enjoy gender equality and were targets for verbal, physical, emotional, and sexual abuse.

Photo from here.  Also, I love to cook.

Women in the Victorian Age, arguable modesty in the extreme, were denied the right to vote, the right to hold property, and were sexually, emotionally, physically, and verbally the target of abuse.

Photo from here

Clothing styles have changed.  Modesty has changed.  One thing has stayed the same (regardless of whether it is the midriff or ankles that are causing a stir): gender inequality.

If you want to dress modestly, more power to you.

If you want to wear a one-piece (although Jessica Rey is selling Tankinis too), more power to you.

The amount of clothing you have on your body does not and will not guarantee you equality, respect, or esteem from men looking at you. 

In fact, women are now out-graduating men and largely out-earning them.  Has this gained women respect?  No, in fact now people are claiming women in these positions are actually ruining men and family (I love this man's reply, Vagina's Need Not Apply.  Read it.).   If work and education don’t get women respect, please don’t delude yourself into believing a nice tankini will do the trick.


I actually believe that selling modesty is as dangerous as selling sex. Here's why,

  • Selling sex teaches women that they are objects of pleasure for men.
  • Selling modesty teaches women that they will be objects of pleasure for men unless they meet specific requirements.
Whether it is sex or modesty, both make women objects dependent on men and on society.  Both approaches make women public domain.

  • Selling sex tells women that they must look, act, or behave a certain way to get a man.
  • Selling modesty tells women they must look, act, or behave a certain way to get respect from a man.
Whether it is sex or modesty, both require women obey certain rules in order to get a man and his respect.

  • Selling Sex tells women that their bodies are public domain, open for the viewing a critique of others.
  • Selling Modesty tells women that their bodies are open for public access, viewing, and critique. Women do not belong to themselves; they belong to others (like all useful objects)
Whether it is sex or modesty, women are told their bodies are not their own but are open for the debate and critique by society.  Women are subject to the masses, not themselves.

  • Selling Sex objectifies women, making them objects to be used for sexual pleasure only.
  • Selling modesty objectifies women by blaming them if men perceive them as being used for sexual pleasure only.
Whether it is sex or modesty, the policing of women’s bodies makes them targets for objectification and then BLAMES them for their victimhood.


Of course there is a Christian religious side to this and like most things, what the Bible says about modesty is a matter of perspective. 

Women should not adorn themselves with braided hair or jewelry (1 Timothy 2:9) (I must ask Beth Moore and Joyce Meyers about this one.  They seem pretty darn adorned to me).

Women should honor their temple and glorify God (1 Cor. 6:19-20) (Is it possible a woman would dress in a way that demonstrates her acceptance and celebration of the temple God gave her?)

Beautiful women should have discretion (Prov. 11:22) (Which means they can choose without insight from men, right?)

We should not indulge the flesh but serve one another (Gal 5:13) (My hubby prefers me to serve him in a bikini … lighten up, I’m just joking.  But not about the bikini).

Yes, those scriptures are there.  But so are these ones (the rest of the story):

Do not judge by appearance (John 7:24)

Clothe yourself with humility toward one another (1 Peter 5:5-6) (read: it is more important to be humble to others than to judge them … Just keep reading that until you lose your need to be someone else's Holy Spirit.  Thanks. )

For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart (1 Samuel 16:7) (Judge all you want; keep the verdict to yourself).

However you use religion, if you use it at all, use it on yourself.  Let it guide YOUR decisions. 

Do not force people of the world to follow your read on the Bible. 

Let God look at their hearts and whatever you do, do it to glorify God (the God who loved prostitutes rather than condemned them).


Here’s the deal.  I hope my daughter dresses modestly.  More than that, I hope my daughter comes to love and accept who she is (especially in Christ) without feeling the need to be affirmed by men (or society or women who want to sell overpriced swimsuits that apparently garner the immediate respect and attention of men).

I am not warring against modesty.

I am at WAR against beliefs that women who are not modest are at fault for the way men may (or may not) view them as a slab of meat.

I am at WAR against the belief that women are the guardians of men’s minds and that women are responsible for protecting men from seeing too much skin.

I am at WAR with the belief that men are insipid animals incapable of thinking of women as equals—incapable of NOT raping a woman whose shirt is too low.

I am at WAR with the notion that a woman’s dress in an unequivocal yes.

So what am I teaching my kids?

My son will learn to look women in the eye.  He will learn that women are his equals, especially his sister.   He will learn that it is the content of character, not the presentation of breasts (or not), that gives people value. 

My daughter will learn that her body is her own.  She can cut her hair, choose her style, and primp (or not) to her preferences because her body is her own.  Period.  Men may choose to cat-call her.  They may choose to view her as an object.  She is not to BLAME for either of those situations. She is in control of herself.  End of story.  Period. Dot.

What I am not teaching my kids.

My kids are not learning:

  • That modesty will solve gender equality problems.
  • That men can’t help but to objectify women.
  • That powerful women are harmful to men or anti-Biblical.
  • That covering the belly button (or not having tattoos, or low-cut shirts or colored hair or make up or nail polish or high heels, or ...) makes one more pleasing to God.
Speak your peace in the comments but keep it intellectual.  The first one to call names loses and I reserve the right to remove comments that attack others.  This is my blog.  Get over it.  

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

What I Think About Re-Reading

I am an avid book re-reader.  This past summer marked the first summer since I was in 8th grade that I didn't read Pride and Prejudice.

There are many who would argue that there is no time to waste re-reading the same things.  That there are too many good books out there to re-read.  I agree, there are great books; however, some books are so great they warrant second or fifteenth reads.

We do not read books as they are, we read them as we are. 

As we change perspectives or circumstances or age, the way we interact with literature changes.  Think about it, did you read To Kill a Mockingbird in 9th grade and hate it only to re-read it as an adult and consider it one of the most profound works you've ever read?  Has one verse in the Bible meant something different to you during different seasons of life?

There's a reason for that.

Cognitive functions change.  Circumstances change. Times change.  You change.  The book stayed the same but you change and that changes everything about the book.

As a teenager, I read Pride and Prejudice as a love story.  When I got older I read it as a profound explanation on the bonds of sisterhood.  I've read it as a comedy, and as a tragedy.  I've read it as social commentary and as an exquisite example of language use.  I've read this book at least 15 different ways and each time was affected differently.  I re-read this book (and a few others) because I am not the same when I start--or end them.  

There are great books out there but if one book just sticks with you, do not feel ashamed to re-read it one, two, or thirty-two times.  Truly amazing literature works deserve rich exploration. 

While others might you think you are wasting time re-reading a book, the truth is, you are reading the same book differently--which is the same thing as reading a new book.

This is why I'm a re-reader.

What are you reading?

Monday, February 25, 2013

If You Can't Say Something Nice

I can write about this now.  Last week, I would have been far too emotional but now, I can talk about it.

On Sunday the 17th we went to Panera Bread for little Sunday family lunch.  We were munching away on the deliciousness when the boy stated he needed to potty.  Boy and hubs went to the bathroom.

When they came back, my hubs told me what happened.

Hubs were using side-by-side urinals (you're welcome for that visual) and chatting up a storm.  As they went to was their hands, some not-quite-40 year old remarked to my husband, "That was English, huh?"

My husband, who let's face it--is the grace in our relationship--gave the guy "the look," took our son's hand, and left the restroom.

When he recounted this story, my heart sank.

Does our 3 year old speak clearly?  No.  Is he having his speech tested?  Yes.  Is it anyone else's business?  No!!!

Here's the deal.  I'm sure that guy was trying to be funny but folks, parents are sensitive about their children and do NOT want anyone joking about perceived abilities or disabilities.  So when it comes to other people's kids, if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all.

Really--it's okay.  You don't need a funny quip about everything.  Not everyone needs to know your every last thought.  Just because you have an opinion does not mean you need to share it with everyone  around.  It is better to look a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.

I have spent over a week thinking about this guy and what I wish we could have said.  We could have said, "What do you mean by that?" or "Yes his speech is developing--apparently just like your social skills."

In the end, Matt took the higher road.  Though it would have been great to put that man in his place the truth is, no amount of rebuke causes a fool to change.  He would have taken anything we said and used it against us--like there was something wrong with us (and our three year old who doesn't talk like a college graduate) for telling him our son's abilities are none of his business.

The truth is sometimes you have to follow your own rules.  Matt, thank you for not saying anything when you wanted to say so much un-niceness.

Monday, February 11, 2013

My Real Age {Mostly The Truth}

Since I last blogged I might have had a birthday.  I'm not at the age where you throw a big party or anything but I will say this, as of next year, I officially have to round up.

Until then, I am comfortably in my {just about} mid thirties.

My birthday was nice.  I didn't get out of my PJs until noon which is some sort of record for me.  Let's face it, I get dressed to my jewelry and shoes even when I have the stomach flu.  But this year, I just hung out in PJs and played with the kids and ate cheesecake for lunch.  Yes.  You read that correctly.  Cheesecake for lunch.  Amen.  After that we got a couples massage and then went to a murder mystery dinner at a comedy club with one of our favorite couples.  The dinner was over-the-top cheesy in the best sort of way.  I loved it because I had never done that before and always wanted to.  My hubs knows me well.

Here is where I get to the point (or as close to one as you're gonna get).

Tonight I was looking in the mirror.  One of my New Year's Resolutions is to stop treating the mirror like my enemy or tool of torture.  Anyhoo, I just looked at my face and it dawned on me.  I am not 22 anymore--I'm not even in my 20s.  Next year I have to round up!

Look at those lines across my forehead.  Look at those crow's feet.  Oh but don't worry because I have a zit on my chin.  Winning.

Just like that my resolve to treat my mirror like a friend instead of my nemesis was done.  D.O.N.E.  Crow's feet.  Wrinkles.  Dark circles.  Bags. Zits. (BTW, zits and wrinkles should never be an option.  Are you kidding me?!?!).  Fried, dried hair ends.  Awkward length. Thin eyelashes.  Are those lip wrinkles?  Can lips get wrinkles because I might have them.  Gawwwwwkkkk!

Please keep in mind this was a time span of about 30 seconds but in that 30 seconds, I pretty much tore every physical facial feature I have to shreds (and I'm pretty sure a bit a confidence, too).

Then I remembered my resolution.  The mirror was my friend.  I made myself do what I promised I would do when I made the mirror my enemy.  I replaced the lies with a truth.

I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  Wonderful are His works.

I am beloved.

I am precious in God's sight.

Those who look to Him are radiant.

He has made everything beautiful in its time.

I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys.

There.  I said it.  The Truth as I believe it ... as it is written.  See, I can tear myself down by the lies I believe but I can also claim truth ... I was made by a God who only makes good stuff--that makes ME good stuff.

I stared at myself a minute more.  I am not 22.  I don't look my age {humor me if I just spoke out of line} but I don't look totally young either and you know what, I'm okay with that.

Those wrinkles are making me beautiful in my time.  Those crow's feet are radiant because of the laughter that accompanies them. Those lip wrinkles ... well, those are still a mystery but you get what I am saying.

The truth is my real age has nothing to do with my real identity.  Whether I am young or old, perfectly dressed or in PJs, I am beloved.

And that is something to smile about (even if smiling causes lip wrinkles).

Today, remind yourself of your value and worth; remember how you look is not where your identity lies.  Whose you are is your source of beauty and radiance!.  "Strength and dignity are my clothing; I laugh at the time to come "(Proverbs 32:35) (but maybe hold the wrinkles).

Monday, January 21, 2013

I Can't How

I love the cute stuff kids say.

Like M used to say "All my myself."  So cute!

Right now Pax keeps saying "I can't how" when he doesn't know how to do something.

Mom: Paxy can you put on your coat.

Pax: "I can't how zip!"

It is so delightful.  I am kind of dreading the day he stops saying it.

I can't how.  So cute!

What cute stuff do your kids say?

Monday, January 14, 2013

I Didn't Meet My Goal

So I'm a bit late on this whole New Year's Resolution stuff.

I mean, most people have already broken their resolutions and here I am committing to mine.

Better late than never, right?

First off, I didn't meet my reading goal last year.  I wanted to read 30 non-work/non-school related books.  I only read 22.  *Sigh*  Sometimes that happens.  If I counted my school and work books I'd be well over 40 but I'm not cheating.


Resolution #1 for 2013--Read 30 non-school, non-work related books.

Resolution #2 for 2013 will be my biggest challenge.  I'm a going to work on RESPONDING rather than REACTING.  I'm huge at off-the-cuff, mouth is faster than brain reaction.  It's a horrible, terrible, no good, very bad habit of mine and this year I intend to work on it.  HOW you say?  By journaling my thoughts and responding when I'm calm.

I'm also going to take up breathing.  Apparently that helps.

Resolution #3 for 2013--Drink 60 oz of water a day.  Last year I feel like I was sick the whole year AND I felt dehydrated and headachy a lot.  I also didn't drink much water.  I'm thinking there is a connection so this year, I am working at downing a 60 oz water bottle every day.  So far, so good!

Did you make--or break--a resolution this year?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Why Mike Huckabee is Wrong

In the immediate Sandy Hook aftermath, Mike Huckabee came out and told people this devastating crisis couldn't be blamed on God because we've removed God from society.

This was an immediate reaction and it demonstrates a HUGE lack of wisdom on his part.  Sickly, it showed his desire to push politics--calling the left "godless" for example--rather than demonstrate empathy and leadership.

First, let me say I actually DO NOT think Sandy Hook can be blamed on God.  

If people want to ask where God was or how He let it happened or just be angry in general, I understand.  And you know what, so does God.  He is big enough for all of our emotions and that includes the ones that are angry with injustice and confusion.

But I don't think God compelled that young man to commit this heinous act.   I believe the reasons behind it were complex and deep.

If we really want to put this in perspective, I think we should ask if God was possibly there?  If maybe He intervened?  If the prayers of teachers covering children were heard and as a result, fewer people lost their lives than might have?  Was God there in the first responders?  Was He a part of the comforting hands that held relatives?  Maybe, just maybe, God was there.

Here is where Huckabee got it all wrong.  He believes we've removed God from society.

To be sure, we teach evolution and scoff and creation and Christmas carols aren't widely sung at programs, and prayer isn't mandatory.  Broadway shows and cartoons are blasphemous.  More people than not are leaving the church.  God is becoming less important to people and society.


We can ignore Him.  We can disobey Him.  We can not remove Him.

Now, if you don't believe in God then the rest of this won't be persuasive and you can go to a new blog now.

But if you are a believer and you believe the Bible then please, read what the WORD has to say about where God is.

Matthew 1:23--They will call him Immanuel which means "GOD WITH US."

Deuteronomy 31:3--Be strong and courageous.  Don not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.

Romans 8:39--Neither height nor depth, not anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the Love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

1 John 4:10--This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

Listen dear friends, God is not surprised by the depravity of the world.  He was not surprised when people rejected His Son and murdered Him on a cross and He is not surprised or removed by rejection now.  No matter how deep we go, it is not so deep that God is not there still.  No matter how much we (or society) reject God, the offense is not so strong that He stops loving us.  

God's word is clear and true and we must fasten it to our hearts!  God is WITH us.  God is FOR us.  God LOVES us.  We CAN'T be separated from His Love.

Mike Huckabee was right--we can't blame God.  But he was wrong too because we can't remove God from us.  He is WITH us, indwelling WITHIN us, and THROUGH us He does good works.

This is a dark and scary world but do not let the darkness persuade you we can force light to flee.

A light shines in the darkness and darkness cannot remove it.

God with us.