|Yes, this basically counts as boobs for me. Image via|
A few weeks ago, at a theme park in Florida, I wore a tank top/bra combination that intentionally revealed a bit of my boobs. And you know what? The world didn’t end.
This probably doesn’t come as a surprise to you if you were raised outside the confines of purity culture. But if you’ve been there, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Every clothing choice had to be evaluated rigorously. We had to predict every possible negative or sexual response our clothing might evoke and do everything in our power to prevent it. Cleavage and midriff were explicitly prohibited. Skin below the collarbone was sketchy at best, and well-defined rump or boob shapes under your clothes were questionable.
But I’m learning and growing and recovering from my stint with the modesty police. I’ve read and written in-depth analyses of modesty issues, our bodies, and sexuality. And on that vacation, it was finally time to put my new beliefs into practice.
It was plenty appropriate for the situation. We were in Florida, where clothes are mostly optional in the first place. It was hot and sunny, and my outfit was in no way provocative (which is probably sensible around young kids). But it was something I never would have worn before. It was a risk I never would have taken, showing so much of my skin in public.
I had to resist the urge to pull the shirt up a few times. I was a little scandalized every time I looked down and saw them there, out in front of God and everybody. I was honestly a little shocked that I had visible cleavage at all, as I’m small-chested and didn’t even realize that I could do that with the right combination of clothing.
So why did this conservative-raised girl risk the dangers of exposed boobage, the potential to “cause boys to stumble” or receive inappropriate and uncomfortable attention?
Because my shape is a part of my humanity and doesn’t need to be hidden.
Because a woman’s skin and body are more than sex objects.
Because I need to be able to look down and see my own form and not fear it or feel shame over it.
Because I want my younger sisters to see a woman who chooses her clothes based on appropriateness and beauty and expression and joy instead of fear of what other people will think.
Because I want my little brother to see that people who have boobs are still people.
Because I am smart enough to determine what clothes are appropriate to a situation even if they don’t conform to the “rules” set by someone else.
Because language like “not revealing secret things” and “valuing hidden virtue” makes a woman valuable for NOT doing something and installs her virtue in her body parts.
Because wisdom brings life, but rules about inches and hemlines and collarbones bring suffocation and stifling.
Because even if sex is something valuable and private, our bodies are not the same thing as sex.