This dear woman shared something today that is dear to my heart. We currently attend a church that requires girls and ladies to wear dresses whenever they are doing business, teaching, etc. on behalf of the church. I have chosen to wear dresses in my personal life anyway, but for reasons not entirely like that of my pastor and his family. For me, it was largely because I began to realize that I felt more comfortable in dresses and was only wearing jeans because I felt like that was what was expected by the world. I also love to feel lady-like. growing up in a family with no Godly, womanly guidance, I had unknowingly began to form into a female misogynist. Coming nearer to God, having a loving husband, and learning the joys of family changed how I saw women, and how I saw myself. I love to embrace the fact that God made me a woman, and it wasn't an accident...and it is not just different anatomy. God created something special when he created woman, and by embracing all things lady-like, I feel like I am praising him and thanking him for his deliberate, precious creation. And yes...modesty does lay into it, but as you see, it is rather secondary for me.
I have seen skirts worn to church that are much less modest than the jeans another woman wears.
My husband confronted our Pastor on whether he is saying that the Bible says we have to wear dresses or not. We know the passages that are interpreted to mean this, but we don't believe that they are specifically saying "skirts and dresses only." The Pastor agreed. To him it is just a measure of modesty, and he feels that the best way to insure modesty among the congregations, especially when they are representing the church, is to require dresses. Because of my personal convictions, it has not been a big issue for me, but I appreciate where it has caused problems for others. We did differ, however, in how we felt that little girls should be dressed. My husband and I hadn't felt it necessary for our toddler daughter to always wear only dresses or nightgowns ( lieu of footed or legged pajamas).
We have taken a path much like that of The Modest Mom and her family. We don't believe that the Bible says we HAVE to wear dresses, but that we do have to dress modestly, and I want to dress in a way that revels in the fact that God made me a woman :) Yet, as she said, on a tiny girl, the figure isn't an issue. I have heard the excuse to start them on dresses young so that they know how to wear them, but I don't necessarily think it works out that way. That said, I did dress Miss Fi in lots of dresses----I was just so excited to have a girl....she had plenty of dress wearing practice ;)
However, she is tall and long-limbed ( much unlike her mother) and it was when she was 4.5 that we went to have photos done at the mall. I took her with her hair all done in a little button up top and a pair of pants, so that we could change into our pretty dress clothes there. It was when I realized that her figure from behind looked like the models on the boards in the malls...that I decided it was time to wear dresses. That should reveal the sickness of our society- two fold.Not only do we sexualize children, but the ideal female figure (from mall advertising perspective, at least) is that of a long-limbed child...just add breasts.
As a result of that experience, discussion, and prayer, she now wears dresses, often with leggings underneath. They look more little girlish, and it is what she wants to wear anyway. BumbleTot wears dresses (again with leggings or stretchy pants underneath)because she wants to do what big sister does, not because we feel that she must. She still wears her footie pajamas to bed too. If I ever have a little girl that does not like wearing dresses.....well, we will see how we handle that. The goal for us is preserving their girlhood and modesty...not dress-wearing in and of itself.
*I wanted to edit this to say that I credit Amy's writing at Raising Arrows for helping me to articulate my own dress-wearing convictions. She also happens to have a great piece on biblical beauty today !