What I Would Teach My Young Girl About Modesty

The other weekend I attended a concert in Central Park. It was a pretty warm day, but it wasn't "Ay Dios mio!" hot. You know the kind of heat that makes you speak other languages and wish backpack A/Cs were a thing, but I digress.

Mostly, everyone was wearing some combination of a t-shirt or tank, with shorts. Leaving the park with my friend though, we noticed a young woman in front of us whose shorts were a bit more of the panty variety. They were cut off a few inches shy of what even looked comfortable. Yes, she was bringing cheeks back.

London, Duh.
I read all kinds of books, have traveled internationally, and have been living in NY for the past three years, but in certain situations, such as this one, my Southern upbringing will rear up in full force. A brash Southern woman will shout in my head "Girl everybody don't wanna see your cooch." (I should name this voice... next post.) Of course, I did not shout at the woman in front of me, my friend and I simply agreed that she was getting an intimate breeze and walked faster to pass. (You can't move too fast in clothes like that.)

Our brief conversation about her shorts mainly revolved around whether or not she actually sits on the subway wearing shorts like that, and if I'm showing my cheeks, be a good friend and tell me. Although to myself, I kept on thinking she was somebody's daughter, and if I had a daughter I wouldn't want her out in the middle of the day with her cheeks out.

Female modesty is a tricky subject. Everyday I might want to wear a skirt because it's warm out, and for my body type, they are most comfortable, I have to decide if I want to endure comments from "admirers." You know those special snaggle-toothed fellows who must shout "Hey sexy," or else their manhood be ripped from their bodies instantaneously. For women, just being a woman is somehow a showing of sexuality, so in reality, there is no such thing as being modest. I mean somewhere there is a guy getting hot about a woman in a nun outfit. My feminist self says, be free women! Wear whatever you want, and if a guy judges you or takes your outfit as personal invitation to the Pants Party, sock him in the face!

But then there is this unrelenting side-eye to women who do.

Photo from Tumblr.com
My Southern self says cover up your goodies, exposing yourself is not "decent," and a man will only want 1 THING if he sees you that way. I mostly adhere to my Southern self in manners of dress. Mainly for comfort, but partly because I don't want to be misjudged. Don't worry, White Jesus is still working on me.

So to my daughter that I am nowhere near close to having, I would say there is no such thing as modesty. Much like being Black like Mommy, people will see you how they want to see you. Embrace those who see you and not your clothes, or your color, or your Ben and Jerry's preference. I will tell you that how you treat yourself (ladies parts included), is most important. Be beautiful and be practical. Then I'll let her dad handle the rest, because he will be her first and most important relationship with a man.

Honestly, I'll probably just make sure we play the doctor/engineer game a lot so the only thing she will want to wear is a lab coat and make enough money to support Mommy in old age. Then again, this is also why I don't have children.

**Go on and tell me how glad you are that I'm keeping my uterus on ice in the comments below! :)


  1. Great article, Erin! My 'Southern lady' mentality also comes out in full force when I see women dressing in the manner you so descriptively wrote about. I don't usually give women too much of a hard time when it's night club attire time, but daytime dress is a whole other story! I always have to consider something I learned on my career grind to keep myself in check: ABE (Always Being Evaluated). It's an annoying reality but a reality all the same. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    1. Thank you so much for your comment! It is a difficult thing to navigate, but when you are out in the day running your errands it just makes more sense to be relatively covered (IMO of course).


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