The Unbroken Woman blog is hosting The Respect Dare. Starting July 10, participants will be using Nina Roesner’s The Respect Dare: 40 Days to a Deeper Connection with God and Your Husband as a guide, posting about their journey. And I will be doing it with you!
Years ago, I was teaching a college class that included an article that touched on issues of sexual attraction. As the class discussion proceeded, one young man volunteered this insight: “A guy can’t look at a female without wondering what it would be like to have sex with her. Any guy. Any female. He can’t help it.” (He wouldn’t look me in the eye for the rest of the class.) I’ve thought about that many times. Sometimes I’ve thought that young man was selling his gender short; other times, I’ve thought he might be brilliant.
As I’ve been learning more about marriage over the past few years, I’ve become more thoughtful about what I wear in regard to what my husband would like to see me in—but it never occurred to me that I might pose a visual sexual temptation to any man. I am about 70 pounds overweight. I’m pushing 50. I have never been pretty. I haven’t had a body that could be termed attractive since I was about 17. Honestly, it never occurred to me that anyone would look at me and think sexual thoughts. For years, I didn’t even believe my husband when he said he found me sexually attractive. Why would any other man think that?
My cleavage is one of my physical attributes that I actually like, so it never used to bother me if a little something showed. Until last year. I have a camp-style blouse that is a little low-cut. I usually wear a tank top underneath it, so its cut isn’t much of an issue. A year ago, I wore this shirt without a tank top one afternoon while I was running errands. I was in the grocery store and walked past a man and two women involved in a conversation about where they were going boating. I excused myself to walk by them—and the guy looked down my shirt and checked me out. As I walked away, I began to feel a thrill at having been checked out—but that was suddenly replaced by feeling dirty. I was ashamed that I had been happy to be found sexually attractive to a man other than my husband, even just for a split second. My former student’s words popped into my head. Was that guy thinking about having sex with me? What if one of those women was his wife? How would she feel? How would he feel, having checked out my bosom only to then back up and see the rest of me?
Since that day, I have been mindful of my clothing. As each season has come during the past year, I’ve gone through my clothing, getting rid of some things, noting tops that I need to wear with other layers, and placing some in a section of my closet for my husband only. As I’ve purchased new clothing, I have been thoughtful and modest in my selections. I’ve become mindful of the example I set for other women as much as the challenges to men who don’t need their eyes going to my cleavage.
I work with a lot of women in my job. Sadly, some of the young women I’ve encountered believe that their sexual attractiveness is their only positive attribute and the only thing they have worth highlighting. I have looked for opportunities to talk with them about how immodest clothing detracts from their many other wonderful qualities. One young woman had a tank top that was so low-cut that when she leaned over to pick something up from the floor, the girls practically fell out. I said, “You know, I have my own breasts and can look at them whenever I want—so when someone else’s breasts are a distraction to me, it’s pretty extreme. Out of respect for others if not for yourself, please keep the girls tucked away when you’re in our area.”
The camp blouse I wore to the grocery store is now an at-home-only item. Ironically, I am wearing it right now. I came home from work. My sons are gone, and only my husband, daughter, and I will be home this evening. It’s comfy, so I put it on—and then came and opened up The Respect Dare to find a Dare about modesty. God does have a sense of humor, doesn’t He?
Read these other bloggers to learn about their experiences with the Respect Dare:
The Respect Dare Blog (author Nina Roesner)