Monday, July 2, 2012

Long thoughts on shorts

Summer time brings with it new amounts of sun, and therefore of heat and therefore of shorts.  Yes, shorts.  Those articles of clothing that these days do a very good job of living up to their name.  I want to be very honest and share that something that completely mystifies me is giving a talk to young ladies about modesty, wherein the young women are nodding their heads and saying things like, "Yes, my friends dress inappropriately all the time, and they just don't realize what kind of message their sending.  I'm different.  I want to dress in a way that communicates respect."

And I think, "Bravo!  So true!"

Until I notice the shorts.

The shorts that barely cover anything.  The shorts that inevitably become even shorter when sitting or bending or even moving.  

But somehow shorts are seen as exempt from a modesty policy.  (Maybe because they're shorts.)   But I think this is a problem.  

I've always heard the longest fingertip rule -- that shorts should be at least as long as the longest fingertip when one's arm is extended along the side of the body.  The fact of the matter is that longer shorts do exist -- even Bermuda shorts -- and it is not impossible to find a pair that don't flash a strobe light that says, "Look at my legs and only my legs."  

Is there something bigger at stake than just looking at one's legs though?  I think there is.  There is something dignified and lady-like about wearing a bit more cloth, whether it's a skirt that at least reaches the knee or a pair of shorts that extends to at least mid-thigh.  There's something that preserves a sense of mystery, a sense of, "I am not your property.  I am a daughter of God."  And there's something that declares where one's sense of dignity lies, and how one defines womanhood -- as a gift to be given or as a stare to be grasped at.  

So, why seek a longer hem in the midst of the summer sun?  Because who I am is a body and a soul; who I am is a person who deserves to be loved.  Because those around me deserve to see me as more than legs and a T-shirt or tank top.  Because the incredible mystery and depth of my person and my femininity can be expressed in a unique way by what I wear, and short shorts just don't do this task justice.  

Ladies, I realize that dressing modestly can come with a few challenges -- finding clothes, hearing the confusion of friends -- but I'd like to encourage you that these few challenges do not compare with the confidence, grace and beauty of reflecting your uniqueness, mystery and depth in a veiled way to the world.  It's worth the sacrifice.  And the new pair of shorts.


  1. bravo Emily! We certainly seem to think that shorts are necessary when it is hot, but it is surprising just how easy it is to wear longer shorts, pants or a skirt and to be perfectly comfortable in the heat!

    I just went hiking in jeans in 102 degrees last week and did just fine.

  2. I agree some shorts are immodest, but as I look to the right of your blog I see a cute lil picture of Our Pope John Paul 2 and I recall a cute picture of him in a field in Poland wearing shorts. They were not long shorts either, above the knee. My husband showed me some website that people were calling him immodest for wearing shorts while hiking. I could not believe the assertion, it was silly. However, I agree some shorts are so short they might as well be swimwear or uncomfortable undergarments and are definitely not modest. Sometimes I think to myself would I wear this if My Lord was standing next to me ?