Erykah Badu is apparently a big-time African American female singer/songwriter who incorporates girl power into her messages of music and on her social media platform.
I’ll be real honest and let you know right upfront that I don’t think I have ever heard her music and even as she was trending on Facebook and Twitter I was mostly confused about how to pronounce her name.
But the internet smack she was getting thrown and the subject it involved, girls and modesty, more than piqued my interest. As you can imagine, with ten daughters, any time the subject of dress code comes up my fighting juices start boiling. And that’s exactly the hot bed Ms. Erykah had landed herself in.
I’ve been on every side of the “girls/dress code/modesty” fence and straddled the entire subject long enough to know there just isn’t an easy answer…as my girl-power friend Erykah realized even as she stumbled her way through the Twitter storm trying to make sense of her own arguments. I get it Erykah. I really do. It’s just not easy.
Let’s just take my three oldest daughters for example. One long and lean, another with more of an athletic build. And another daughter who has the curves of a 1950’s pin up.
I have bought them all the same dress. The dress was modest. Long enough. Conservative. Pretty. My dad used to say, “wear your clothes fitted enough that they know you’re a lady and loose enough that their imaginations are left wondering.” And on two out of three it is just an adorable, pretty-as-a-picture, sweet dress. But on the curvy one…it’s — well…it’s…curvy.
And I struggle. I struggle to be fair. Modest. Careful. And let me say for the record…so does she. But at the end of the day, I find myself thinking, “Is having boobs and a bum a such a crime?”
Is there something wrong with having curves? Is there something inherently sinful about a body shape? Is there something immediately assumed about this child more than my others simply because of the body God gave her?
A few months ago she wore one of my dresses…completely COMPLETELY modest. Completely appropriate. You’d be hard pressed to find a mom more concerned about the appearance and reputation of her daughters than me.
And yet the one day I’m not with her, someone pulled her aside to tell her that MY dress was inappropriate.
This would have never been said to my other, less curvy daughters.
Erykah defended a dress code and then realized that the responsibility for sexuality squarely lies on the shoulders of both sexes…and yet unfairly it has always been placed on the woman’s end to dress in a way that tries to keep men’s minds in check…and that is just as confusing as ever. Even over the last several thousand years.
Dress “codes” and standards are just as challenging in my home. It’s just as tough every day to balance femininity and modesty and body confidence and sexuality and just growing up learning to love the way the Good Lord made you.
Dress codes are my least favorite subject because in the course of raising my ten daughters I have learned that the minute I pull out a ruler or start measuring skirt lengths or V-neck depths is the minute I have missed the mark completely. Rules and codes can’t ever control the wild mind of a teenage boy or even a full grown man. No matter how conservative as a woman may dress, the fact is that the highest rape statistics are often in the most restrictive, legalistic, and conservative countries in the world.
It’s far less about a dress code and much more about raising conscientious women who take care to present themselves properly without constantly being body shamed into a burka and raising the kind of young men who can learn to look past the clothing and see the inner quality of a woman.
It’s not easy on either account but it’s a battle I’ve waged. And Erykah waived a white flag at the end of her twitter rant realizing we are no closer to an easy answer than we were before time began.
Have you had your struggles with a dress code? Have you found yourself arguing with your child over what to wear? What rules or standards have you settled on? Let’s talk about it today! Comment below!