I have always been modest in the way that I dress.
I traded shorts for mostly knee-length skirts when I was probably ten or eleven years old because I didn’t like the way my legs looked in shorts and wanted them to be covered. For most of middle and high school I opted primarily for skirts between my knees and my ankles or, most of the time, pants. I even wore pants throughout the summer, despite being hot. I also carefully selected higher neck lines in my shirts and dresses or wore layers to make sure there was little to no cleavage showing (which was not an easy feat because the amount of cleavage I had was substantial). And I never wore anything “slutty.”
There were times, of course, where I’d put on a slightly more revealing outfit at home and be pleased with what I saw in the mirror. But as soon as I walked outside to where people could actually see me, I’d immediately get overwhelmingly uncomfortable and start adjusting things to cover more or add layers or even just keep my hands in strategic locations until I got an opportunity to change my clothes. And when I say “more revealing” here, I mean something along the lines of a skirt just a few inches above my knees and a shirt that shows maybe half an inch of cleavage. So in other words, a totally normal outfit.
I knew my understanding of what was appropriate to wear was different from other girls’, but I never really thought much of it. I just said that I was “modest,” like that was a totally normal and healthy attitude. Now don’t get me wrong – modesty, when inspired by modesty, is certainly not a bad thing. But what I didn’t realize was that my modesty was not motivated by modesty; it was motivated by a very negative body image, and that is a problem.