clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Modesty: For it or against it? Passionate responses to swimsuit debate

Jessica Rey, former "Power Rangers" actress and now modest swimsuit designer, seems to have stirred up a conversation that online commenters have been waiting to debate.

During Rey's Q Ideas speech, she expressed her belief that "modesty isn't about covering up our bodies because they're bad. Modesty isn't about hiding ourselves; it's about revealing our dignity."

Rey mentioned many other things in her nine-minute discussion, and since then several questions have been posed online regarding the "modesty issue." In response, many bloggers have shared their two cents.

What does wearing a bikini say about someone? How are one-pieces better than two-piece swimming suits? And who defines modesty or whether it's important?

This online discussion is hardly new, as many have given their personal advice far before Rey's viral video. Yet, the popularity of Rey's speech has only heated up the already passionate debate — exciting those who agree and causing an uproar among those who do not.

One blogger, whose response has also seen viral streaks, expressed her appreciation for the discussion yet had several concerns with some of Rey's explanations.

"Efforts to resist this cultural tide are necessary and laudable, and I applaud those parents who are raising their daughters to value themselves intrinsically," Amy Grigg wrote on her blog "To everyone that believeth."

"Though it is indeed objectifying to teach a woman that her value lies in wearing fewer clothes and showing off her body so as to turn on the boys around her, it is also objectifying to teach a woman that her value lies in wearing more clothes and covering up her body so as to keep the thoughts of the boys around her pure."

While Grigg agrees it is important to address the modesty issue, she believes a woman should not consider anyone but herself when making the wardrobe choice.

"The better message is this: wear what you want, like and feel comfortable in, not for its effect on other people, but so that you can be happy and free as you go about doing many good things in the world. And stop judging other people for what they wear as they go about living their lives because it’s none of your business and it’s not about you."

Grigg, who was particularly irritated with the thought that a woman should not wear a bikini simply to help a man control his thoughts, then decided to back up her opinion from a religious standpoint.

"It isn’t your responsibility to prevent others from sinning," Grigg wrote. "Jesus did not say, 'Whosoever lusteth after a woman … should tell her to put more clothes on, already, she’s causing him to have impure thoughts!' Jesus laid the blame at the feet of the man whose heart was filled with lust, not the women he dehumanized. And so should we. Because lust is a problem of the heart, not of the wardrobe."

Lexi and Lindsay Kite with Beauty Redefined also found themselves in the midst of the bikini conversation. In a post on their Facebook page, the Kite sisters detailed their opinion that women should do what they feel is right and refrain from judging others.

"If you're pro-modesty (by whatever definition that means to you), then live it and teach it as a means for empowerment and benefit to yourself, not as a protection for men. You are capable of much more than being looked at, and your swimwear decisions can reflect that. Simultaneously, let's make sure we're not shaming or blaming any girl or woman for what she chooses to wear to the pool or otherwise. We're in this fight together!"

In their post "Modest is hottest? The revealing truth," Lexi and Lindsay Kite also chimed in regarding being modest simply for the benefit of male onlookers.

"When we speak of modesty strictly in terms of covering our bodies from the sexual gaze of others, we are keeping the level of discourse at the shallow waters of women and girls as bodies alone," they wrote on their site. "An open discussion about modesty from the perspective of our research can get us somewhere much more powerful and valuable than the shallow 'modest is hottest' mentality so prevalent today."

Others decided to point fingers at Rey herself, criticizing her for only half-heartedly standing up for women in the fashion world.

"I also find it highly ironic that during her talk about redefining beauty standards for the benefit of women based on research, that she is wearing shoes that have been shown in multiple studies to do physical damage to women, and primarily exist due to their perceived sex appeal," Erin Rierson commented on the video.

"Not only is she trying to sell something, she essentially is saying, 'See, you can still bow to the unrealistic demands of fashion while doing this other thing that a segment of society is trying to force upon you!' "

Along with those who have an ax to grind with Rey, many other bloggers and women in general were exhilarated by Rey's stand for her definition of modesty.

"I certainly will be ordering (my swimsuit) soon," Allison Gober posted on the Rey Facebook page. "Thank you so much for your biblical stance on modesty and what a Godly woman should be! Very refreshing in our current society."

Ashley Elizabeth also commented, "Good for you guys! Glad to see a company like this succeed!"

Blogger Amelia Landes Murdock decided to post on the topic as well after viewing both Rey's and Grigg's viral opinions. Regarding Rey's video, Murdock wrote "Swimsuit modesty — Judgmental or just common sense?"

"It was interesting and had some good points, but what was most interesting was the popularity of it on my Facebook feed. People LOVED seeing support of modesty in swimsuits!"

Murdock continues to discuss Grigg's take in her post on the modesty issue.

"It also made some interesting points," Murdock wrote. "She thought that women should wear what they want and others shouldn't judge her for it. They shouldn't notice it and men should control their thoughts. That's a great idea in theory — but in our reality, I don't buy it."

"Society has certain norms, things that are acceptable and not acceptable," she continued. "There are some things we do or don't do because it draws attention to the body rather than our mind, or our ideas (both men and women). I mean, the reason it's socially unacceptable to never shower, pick your nose or crack your knuckles in public is because its so DARN DISTRACTING!"

Continuing on, Murdock combats the idea that people can be free to do whatever they please and should be able to without a second thought.

"Sure, if someone starts cracking their back, or their knuckles while talking to you, it's not harming you. They are doing what they want with their body," Murdock writes. "But it instantly takes your thoughts away from what they are saying to what they are doing with their bodies."

Murdock expressed that if everyone decided to do whatever made them comfortable, "society might be a little gross" and many would have a difficult time avoiding the physical distractions. Although other cultures and different time periods have changed these norms, Murdock stated that her opinions are pertaining to the here and now.

"Simply put, women should not believe their intrinsic value is based on their bodies," Murdock wrote. "Thus, any and all avenues to promote focus on what is of true, lasting value is the way we should go.

"Immodest dress isn't intrinsically bad, but if women want to be valued for their minds, their spirits and their unique personalities — stop using your scantily clad body as a distraction!"

Either way, the publicity has been good for Rey and her swimwear business, as just last week the swimsuit designer posted on her Facebook page that the entire stock of suits were on backorder due to the heavy demand.

"Though I went into the spring thinking we had produced more than enough swimsuits to last through the summer, I was caught off guard by the tremendous reaction to my talk," Rey posted. "I want to apologize for the current lack of inventory and thank you for your patience as we fulfill the back-orders and decide when it will be realistic to open up orders on the other swimsuits."

Several other modest swimsuit companies have also expressed their views on the importance of covering up. In an interview with the Huffington Post, Crystal Huyben, 27, discussed her own modest swimsuit company.

"Modesty has always been important to me, believing that our sexuality is an amazing gift from God," Huyben said. "(It's) something to be protected, not put on display for all eyes to see."

Huyben is a born-again Christian from Ontario who prefers to cover up from her knees to her collarbone when swimming. She began sewing her own swimsuits when she was young and has since began her own company, "Simply Modest." Several others from similar backgrounds have formed companies like "Cover up for Christ," "Wholesome Wear" and many others.

Others have also chosen modesty for reasons outside faith. For Tulin Reid, 38, she supports HydroChic, a modest active wear line founded by two modern Orthodox Jewish women.

"My faith is not an influence on my swimsuit choice," said Reid in an interview with Huffington Post. "I paddleboard and do water aerobics. It allows me to be athletic and active without worrying that something will pop out."