I teach girls all over the nation at a purity conference how to be modest and stylish. A lot of people think it can’t be done, but it can. I talk about not showing cleavage and wearing tank tops underneath almost every shirt. I talk about not wearing short shorts, making sure they are a decent length. Then of course I teach them on the current styles for the season and how to pull them off modestly. I have such a great time teaching girls on this subject.
One part of my teaching is on swimsuits.
For all of my life I always wore a bikini. It’s what everyone does. From the time I was a baby and into my early 20s. I seriously never thought anything of it. Everyone in our culture wears one and it’s what they sell in all of the stores. Personally, I never wore one with the attitude “Hey boys, look at my body.” It was always because I wanted a good tan.
Last winter I was listening to Pandora Internet Radio. If you don’t use them, ads always pop up on the side of the player when you’re listening. I was listening to some worship music, praying, and studying. An underwear ad from a popular clothing line appeared: it was a picture of a girl in her bra and undies. I started getting really upset. I said, “How come I am just here listening to worship music and this ad comes on with this girl barely dressed?” I was so mad at marketing. This can just pop up for everyone to see.
Then the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart with so much clarity. He said, “Alyssa, what are you doing when you go to the pool in the summer wearing a bikini?”
It was like a loving dagger right to my heart. I thought about it and I was like “Wow, thank you Holy Spirit, you are so right!” There is truly no difference.
At first I was like, oh man, now my stomach isn’t going to be tan…but my husband thinks it’s no big deal whether or not my stomach is tan.
At The Pink Lid, when I teach on dressing guidelines, I have a PowerPoint slide with two pictures on it. One is a pic of a girl in a bikini, and the other is a pic of a girl in bra and underwear. Then I ask, “What’s the difference between the two pictures?” All the girls just sit there and I can see that their brains are working overtime on this. And they all come to the conclusion that the only difference is the name and maybe material. But as far as coverage goes, there is no difference.
I would never take my clothes off in front of a crowd of people and just be in my bra and underwear, so why do we think it is okay to wear a bikini in front of a crowd? It’s totally a culture thing. Plus girls in the summer are posting profile pictures of themselves on Facebook in bikinis. These girls would never post a picture of themselves in just their underwear on Facebook. So why do all these women think it’s okay to post a picture of themselves in their bikinis?
I am here to say that it is soft porn. Christians for some reason feel it’s okay to post that on Facebook when they are frankly not even aware what they are saying through that picture. And it’s not just teenagers and young adults…it’s parents too.
So when I got straight-up convicted, I told my husband about what the Lord talked to me about. And it blessed him so much that I wanted to wear a swimsuit that covered me. My body is his and not for everyone else to see. It’s for his eyes only. And that should be your focus too ladies, married or not, your body is for your husband.
Men are very visual and you are going to attract with what you are putting out there. If you want a man to respect you and your body then be respectful with the way you dress. You want a man to honor you and not use/abuse you. Dress for a respectable loving man, not the opposite.
Parents, make sure to lead by example with your swimsuit. Just because you are older is not an excuse to show more skin. I always say: less is more when baring skin. Protect your daughters as much as you can, and don’t allow them to wear less than is acceptable. I say this all with a heart of love, I want to see a generation of young women living in purity and finding their true beauty which is in the inside.
You are worth the wait.
Alyssa Shull and her husband Matt are the founders of Shull Ministries International, an organization dedicated to reaching out to the younger generation through media, youth services, and evangelistic outreaches. Alyssa and Matt are the hosts of Skunks TV, a fast-paced 30-minute show designed to entertain and educate youth. Alyssa graduated in 2008 with a degree in Multi-Media Productions from Oral Roberts University, and now she travels full-time with Matt speaking in churches in America, Latin America, and India. Alyssa is also the founder of The Pink Lid, a weekend event for young ladies to learn about purity and modesty.
I enjoyed the article and for the most part agree. I definitely agree with the idea of dressing for the kind of person you want to attract. It boggles my mind that I have some female friends that spend a lot of time hanging out in night clubs and bars, yet wonder why they aren’t having luck finding a mate.
I do want to say though, that there is a difference between an ad and a bikini at a pool or the beach. I believe that context goes a long way. It is far more appropriate to be in a bikini at the beach than it is in a mall or some other public setting. When listening to Pandora for example, your intent is to listen to music. If you wanted to look at half-naked people there’s a world of ways to do it. When a person goes to the beach, they typically know what they’re getting into and can be a bit more prepared for the distractions and tone of the setting. However, advertising through sexual or enticing imagery in the form of pop-ups or rotating ads on websites gives us no choice in the matter. For someone of weaker will battling porn addiction, or just someone less aware of their own human tendencies…those ads can lead them down a bad path.
I certainly respect your decision and strong will. I just happen to think that context, behavior and other boundaries go a long way in finding what’s appropriate in everything from fashion to speech for both males and females.
I beg to differ. Context really doesn’t matter when you’re walking around mostly naked. It causes people – primarily males – to look whether you’re at the mall or the beach. One is just more “accepted” in our culture than the other.
I agree Context has SOME bearing on this subject. If a man went to work in his office without a shirt it would be considered scandoulous yet ther are many contexts in which that would not even raise an eyebrow. Ther is also cultural and historical context. At one time it was cosdiered scandouls for a woman to bear an ankle. Having siad all that I do think that bikini’s in any context push the concept of morality. Not becuse they show belly but because they try to come as close to showing all of the breast, bottom and inner thighs as possible. This could also be said of many one piece suits. It’s not bikinis per se.
Good food for thought here.
Awesome lady. Keep up the good work. Kind of funny, the other day my boys had their friend over. I told them all I didn’t want them to go to the beach alone because sometimes there are very immodest women there that run around in bikinis, and God doesn’t like that. The boy asked me what a bikini was. I told him it was underwear in bright colors or with flowers on it … isn’t that silly people will run around in their underwear? He said, “oh ya, my sister wears those.” So hopefully I gave him some food for thought. My boys however, the same age, just know instinctively because I never dress like that and I hope I am strengthening them in their choices in life – both in a mate and modesty for themselves.
so what do you think about wearing pants?
Bikinis are immodest attire and though “acceptable” in our corrupted society, are not lady-like in any way, shape, or form. These “beach fashions” have been foisted upon us by the same industry that now sells trashy clothing for little girls. They hate modesty, they hate lady-like attire, and the are sure they can convince us to wear whatever they dictate by simply saturating the media with it.
Time for girls and women to choose to embrace that “lady” within us all. I wear a swimdress at the pool or beach because frankly, no one but my husband gets to see that much of my flesh.
I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (also known as the Mormons) and we have a booklet for the youth of the church, entitled For the Strength of Youth. In this booklet are guidelines for such issues as Language, Sexual Purity, Dating, and Dress and Appearance. Our young women are taught from a very young age that their body is a Temple of God and they need to treat it as such. This includes dressing modestly at all times – even when swimming. They are taught that through their dress and appearance they can show the Lord how precious their body is and how much they love Him. I really appreciated the message given in the article, “Straight Talk About Bikinis”. Thank you very much.
I’ve always though it was funny that women will expose as much of their breasts as legally allowed, and then get upset when they find men starring at them. What did you expect?
I appreciate your article so much. I have a 6 year old girl who I don’t allow to wear a bikini. She has been very upset lately, because usually she is the only little girl around in a one piece. She hasn’t understood any of the reasons I’ve given to her, mainly about her future husband and honoring God with our bodies. It makes so much sense when you actually consider that the coverage is the same as underwear and a bra. It will make much more sense to her too. Thank you so much
Thank you for this article, Alyssa. As a male, I can tell you honestly: bikini or underwear; flash-ad or beach; it makes no difference. When a male sees an under-dressed female, he will be attracted, and will most likely have inappropriate thoughts. Thankfully, my sisters and mom try very hard to dress modestly (and stylishly at the same time), and often take the input of my dad, brothers, and I. They have even taught some classes on modesty. I’m encouraged to know that we’re not the only ones out there. I really think you hit the spot with pointing out that males are visual, and showing the comparison between bikinis and underwear. Keep up the good work!
This is great and SO true…
What makes me sad though, is that your husband never said or did anything about your wearing bikinis all of these years….
As the head of your household, it’s your husbands job to notice these issues as much as yours, and even if Christ hadn’t convicted you yet, your husband would have wanted to help you to keep your body for him only.
It’s sad that so many husbands seem to not want to bring this issue up to their wives…men need to step up and say that it’s wrong and not allow inappropriate apparel into their homes just as much as women need to get their act together and not buy the stuff in the first place….
But again, super nicely written, and a wonderful point :)
Thank you for speaking up. We can read about the principle of modesty from the beginning of time. When God cast Adam and Eve out of the garden – after the fall- the first thing He did was make more modest clothing for them. I might add that women should even be careful about wearing “one-piece” swimsuits. Besides the stomach area, they don’t cover much more than a bikini. They show every curve and every bit of the legs that a bikini does.
I really hate to be that one person to voice disagreement with the conclusion of this article, but I think that another point of view is always helpful in thinking carefully through these topics :)…I invite dialoge and disagreement.
I VERY much appreciate your desire to dress appropriately and protect the sanctity of your relationship with your husband. More women need to think through and apply the overall concept your are seeking to teach here. I hesitated to even comment because I would rather more women think the way you do about these things than to just swallow whole the worlds philosophy of these issues.
However, there a few items here that I think are a bit overstated, and perhaps not thought through all the way. What really got me was when you said that wearing a bikini was “soft porn.” I understand what you are getting at, but you can’t honestly think that a young girl wanting to wear what everyone else wears to the beach can be compared to playboy or maxim do you?
Also you’re underlying statement for why bikinis are so bad is that they are like wearing your underclothes to the beach. I know why one would come to this conclusion, because the two items of clothing provide the same amount of coverage – but this is just simply not correct. Underclothes are specific designed to go UNDER the clothes. There are obvious design differences that mark that out. The reason it is embarrassing and/or sexually stimulating to see someone in them is because if you find you find a person in their underclothes, they have taken off their clothes or purposely left off certain normal clothing items normally for the PURPOSE of sexual attention (or shame if caught unknowingly in such a state). It is for the very same reason that I get embarrassed (or at least should get embarrassed) when my pants are sagging too much and show my boxer shorts. It is not because I am showing more skin, I’m not, and I have shorts that are a very similar pattern or color to my boxers – so there should be no shame right? Logic may tell me that I have no good reason to be ashamed, but there is shame nonetheless, because my boxers aren’t supposed to be seen. It’s culturally shameful – and for good reason – its bad taste – even though the skin ratio is not higher and there is nothing wrong or embarrassing about the color or pattern of my boxer shorts.
Let me ask you this, when you started wearing swim suits that provided more coverage, what did you wear? Was it a Tankini – well that could be compared wearing a shirt with underwear based on your parallel. Or was it boy shorts or hot pants? You talked about not wearing your shorts too sort, do you wear shorter shorts to the beach? You wouldn’t wear shorts so short if you were simply going to the mall would you? Or did your new suit standards include fullon board shorts and a wet suit shirt? Well, those could be considered “too tight.” Or if you go for too much coverage then you are just starting drawing a lot of attention to yourself – or reflecting, while perhaps not possessing, a lot of insecurity. The whole picture starts to become the opposite of the modesty Paul when you think about it – modesty is dressing in what is appropriate and not drawing too much attention to oneself. As you see most people, and perhaps even you still, “fudge” on normal the rules when the context is different – like swimming or athletics – that is because modesty and what is appropriate have so much to do with context.
Context, culture, decency and primarily heart motivation, I would say, are the keys to defining what is appropriate. A person who wears what everyone else wears to the beach is not engaging in “soft porn.” Yes, there are swim suits that you can tell are designed to play up the “sex” factor. And women should use good judgment in shopping for a suit, and make sure they “blend” not “show off there assets” when at the beach. And yes, as you said that people need to be “respectful” in the way they dress. I totally agree. And more people need to hear your overall message. Many women don’t respect themselves and it is obvious in the way they dress. I’m just contending that perhaps wearing a normal swimsuit, aka a two piece, is not DISrespectful. Some are, but culture and context help us to prayerfully determine this.
It is not wrong to be beautiful, it’s not wrong to blend, and I would say it’s not wrong to wear a normal swimsuit in the right context.
You said men are visual, and that’s true and I think it wise for women to be mindful of that and not try to attract sexual attention to themselves – as much of our styles purposefully these days do I admit – however, you can’t control what I guy thinks. You are an attractive person according to your picture. And you obviously work on your tan as you mentioned in your article and your picture affirms. You have nice long hair…and I’m not trying to flatter you…but there are guys out there really “into” all that. They may have bad thoughts about you just because you are nice looking and have a nice tan. It’s even possible that they would jump to the very wrong conclusion, that because you care about your looks and your tan, that your “that type of girl” that likes attention – the wrong kind. Of course that wouldn’t be true, but those are the kind of conclusions that shallow pigs come to – and until they see your spirit (what Paul talked about when he talked about modesty) shallow pigs think what shallow pigs think and you can’t control that.
I think this is a fairly good article. Women really need to remember that showing off too much is only going to cause trouble.
However, at the same time, I’m not quite sure that all bikinis are bad. First off, let me say I am a man. I also am a lifeguard at a local outdoor pool. Frankly, while some bikinis certainly are (as the first poster, Brian, said), designed to be sexual, many are not. And context and intent are the very things that shape our lives. Not to say too much, but as a man I can tell you that, under the right context, even certain grunting noises are enough to turn us on. Of course, that is extremely rare, but the point is that context plays a huge role not only in everyday communication, but also how men view women.
Back to what I was saying though. As a lifeguard, I see bikinis all the time. Everywhere. Many are, I’ll admit, not something I would ever want to see my fiance wearing in public. However, an almost equally large portion are rather modest. Very little cleavage, no cracks showing in the front or back, and not so flamboyant that they draw excessive attention. I do not see these as wrong for a young woman to wear.
In regards to your comparison of underwear and a bikini, I don’t think it is entirely correct. First off, as I said before, context is hugely important. And secondly, location and setting are as well! Anyone would agree that a man should not to go work, walk down the mall, or go out for a meal without a shirt on. But at a pool or beach, it would be silly to see a man with a shirt on! In fact, it would cause him to become even more focused on and looked at. As such, wearing a modest bikini (one that covers everything, does not increase cleavage, and is not flamboyant) is perfectly acceptable at a pool or beach. Yes, walking down the mall ISN’T appropriate, in either a bikini or underwear. But context, setting, and location all play major roles in what is appropriate to wear.
I think for young women especially, it is probably better to be safe than sorry. But to claim that the bikini is outright bad, or even soft core porn, is going a bit too far. To compare a woman in a bikini to a woman on the cover of playboy (actual soft core porn) is not only insulting and degrading to the woman in the bikini, but also implies that the person making the comparison views those very different groups in the same way, in which case the person comparing the two probably has their own sexual issues to sort out.
In conclusion, as I said before, I do really think it is better for women to be safe rather than sorry. But there does come a point when it gets over the top. As a male who spends much time around people in bikinis, I can tell you that a proper and modest bikini worn by a woman with a modest and non-sexual attitude makes the same impression on me as a pretty young woman greeting people at church might. It does not come across as sexual or inviting, nor does it create any time of desire.
any kind of desire* my apologies for the typo.
A one-piece swimsuit vs. a bikini is a difference of degree, not kind. Many men (and women) are attracted by the sight of long bare legs, smooth round shoulders, even an exposed back. Any women truly concerned about preserving the sight of their bodies for only their husbands should do the prudent thing when in public and wear burkhas.
Since 1983 I have only showed my bare face and hands and feet in public. I cover my hair with a cotton cap and hood and the rest with cotton. Even if I want to swim, I just wear my clothes and head covering. It is very easy. I have never been harrassed sexually. I feel comfortable when I go out. Think about the virgin Mary, and go out looking like her. I say this with no disrespect to her at all. I mean it.
I understand what people are saying about the cultural issues,in regard to what is considered acceptable. HOWEVER GODS WORD IS NOT
JUDGED BY OUR PITIFUL STANDARDS OF MODESTY AND CHASTITY. In Corinth,and at Epehesus, the temple prostitutes wore practically nothing ,as to tempt men to engage in immorality with them and some born again believers were actually doing just that,falling back into the hedonism of the culture. People often get their hackles raised up especially women these days, I think because there has been so much oppression done to women in the name of God, fanatics who put chastity belts on women thinking that would keep them pure, or as some “religions” do they cut women up and dress them as widows from the top of their heads to their feet. ITS OUR HEARTS AND MINDS THAT GOD IS CONCERNED WITH.
So ladies ask yourself honestly, is it my right to wear anything that I want? the answer would be in America your right is pretty much anything goes these days.
2. Is what I am wearing could it cause a brother to stumble ? or give an unbeliever the idea that I am on display for them to carnally view my flesh?
3. Ask any man who is honest and believe me I have asked a lot,because I used to dress provocatively and most men whether they want to admit it or not think differently of women who show off their body parts for all to see,and unfortunately the men in the church are struggling because they usually do not see modesty in the church antmore I even know of a brother who will not take his family to church ,because he sees that the women there are on display,either the older women are wearing too low cut,or the young women wear shorty shorts ,low cut or too low skin tight pants that show their back side when they sit down. What a disgrace we “Christian women of America have become to the rest of the worls,I have heard that in other countreis they think most American women are easy HMMMN
I wonder why are rights are more important to us than giving glory to God ,so that the word of God will not be blasphemed,and his people a laughingstock,scorned because we want to LOOK TALK AND ACT LIKE THE WORLD.
my conscience 15 years ago was pricked when as a new Christian ,My husband took me aside and lectured me on what men think of skintight gym attire,etc.. and he did not spare me any detail of the lust of the eyes,it grossed me out so bad that I COVER UP NOW
not because I think I am better but I am convicted about causing other men Christian or not to view me in such a way, for their own sick pleasure.I know that people may not agree with me and maybe if you wear a potato sack, which I am NOT endorsing perverse men will still view you as a sex object,BUT why give an opportunity for someone to stumble?