Swimsuit shopping. I shudder a little at the implications brought on by that short, heart wrenching, dessert guilt-inducing phrase. It is June, so if you are a female older than seven years old, you are probably feeling the pressure to pick out that suit that will have you looking your best as you lounge poolside or hit up the beach this summer. I know I have been there quite a few times in my life.
Years ago, I wrote my first blog on the topic of swimsuit shopping. At the end of that blog, I vowed to ditch my itsy-bitsy bikini days in order to help the men around me see me in a way that was not potentially damaging to their souls… and also to remind myself of my worth.
“Worth” is a vague word that I feel is thrown around a lot and most of the time without a clear definition attached to it. I want to explore the word “worth” in reference to the human person.
So what are you worth? Can a price be assigned to a person?
When St. Paul instructs the Corinthians in his first letter to them, he tells them to treat their bodies well and to flee from sexual immorality. Paul tells them “You were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”
What price can anyone possibly be bought at? And what were we bought from?
The price of buying the human race from the clutches of sin and death was nothing short of the death of God’s own Son, Jesus.
Each person in existence is worth the blood, agony, physical and mental pain, and ultimately death of Christ. Nothing short of that. When put in this light, I am better able to understand my own choice to wear more modest summertime clothing.
True modesty is not based on guilt or fear… it is based in knowledge of worth. If I’m being honest, wearing bikinis was something which I had hoped would make me desirable. I reduced my worth by basing it on how attractive or unattractive my body was to those around me. I did not see that by doing this I was selling myself short. I am so much more than just parts of a body to be put on display.
Some may (and do) argue that it is “my body. I can dress however I want.” … And since free will is a legit reality, that is partially true. But, I honestly don’t believe the phrase fully recognizes its own insufficiency to say anything very meaningful.
This phrase throws off any responsibility toward one’s fellow man and it blinds one from realizing the sacrifices that love requires. There is no real love without sacrifice.
In my case, the choices I made regarding clothing were not expressing love—nor were they welcoming it. I was receiving merely shallow attention and potentially drawing others into sin. This is what I needed to sacrifice in order to express and receive love in a more refined and honest way.
In order to rightly love myself and the people around me, I needed to stop objectifying myself and instead choosing to wear a modest (but totally cute and fashionable) swimsuit these past three years and I have felt more empowered, comfortable, beautiful, and downright appreciative of the body that God has given me than ever before.
This small choice has changed my heart about the way that I dress and has helped me to see very clearly the value of true, heartfelt, modesty.
When choosing a swimsuit this summer, don’t get sucked into the self-objectification which the world has normalized and praised. Do not let yourself be reduced to merely parts. This choice has changed my summertime experience in so many positive ways. I hope that you’ll join me as I continue to discover beauty in modesty this summer. You are worth so much more than this world is offering.
I’ll be praying for you as you go head to head with our sexualized society this summer.
God loves you so much and so do I
1 Corinthians 13
Rebekah Hardy lives in New Jersey and is a Junior at Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, Maryland where she majors in Theology and Education. She is the vice president of the SGA executive board for her university, is a retreat leader for Campus Ministry, and is a FOCUS student leader. She enjoys playing sports, praying the Rosary, and drinking all different kinds of coffee. Connect with her through her blogand Facebook or on Twitter at @bekahhardy7.