Do you know what’s funny about dressing modestly? It is the hardest thing to start, yet then becomes impossible to stop.
My journey with modesty has happened in stages, prompted by questions that I continued to ask myself. These questions came from an internal battle between wanting to fit in and be seen as attractive on the outside, and wanting to find love and be seen as beautiful for who I am on the inside.
One key moment within this journey occurred while lying at a pool sun tanning in my new bikini. I began to simply observe the scene that I was immersed in. Women of all shapes and sizes were walking around or lying out like me in bikinis. I noticed some girls walk by with their arms draped across their stomachs—an insecurity that I immediately related with despite my athletic build. Other young women strutted confidently along the pool edge looking as if they had just stepped off of a runway. It was easy to track the eyes of the men around them as they walked by.
Whether the women walked confidently, or insecurely, or somewhere in between, one thing struck me about each of them. Not once in my observations that day had I asked myself “I wonder what is on her heart today” or “I wonder what her personality is like” or “I wonder what she dreams of doing some day.” Not once. All of my thoughts had been directed towards her swimsuit or her body. As a woman, that may just mean I am wondering where she got her suit or comparing my body to her body, but imagine what that is like for a man. It is hard to look at a woman barely wearing clothes and seek the beauty of her heart when it is the beauty of her body that she is broadcasting, and maybe even hiding behind.
So there I was, realizing all of this and yet laying there in a bikini myself. I knew that if I did catch the eye of a man, which I often thought I wanted, it would never be for any other reason then my body. I mean, how could it? He wouldn’t know me. Something about that left me with an empty feeling. Even just in relation to other women, I realized that a lack of clothing leaves us vulnerable to hurtful comparisons between each other in a world so focused on looks.
As I continued to glance around the pool my eyes stopped on a beautiful young woman in a one-piece. It was easily noticeable because of the rarity of it. She had a child with her and her husband sat and laughed beside her as they talked.
I was mesmerized. For whatever reason, it was in this little family that I discovered one fundamental truth about modesty that I had been missing:
You do not veil yourself because you believe you are ugly, you veil yourself because you know that you are beautiful.
For so long I believed that a one-piece or tankini showed the world that I thought my body was ugly and I needed to hide it. So I stayed away from them at all costs to avoid judgment.
However modesty is not about hiding faults, it is about veiling beauty. In veiling her beauty, this young mother allowed me to notice other things about her—her smile, her adorable family, her nurturing heart… and this was all from afar!
Modesty veils physical beauty in a world obsessed with it, in order to reveal the inner beauty that is often overlooked. It prevents lust, harmful comparisons, and insecurity and gives rise to confidence and a greater capacity to love yourself and others by recognizing your own worth without needing the affirmation of each person that sees you.
For me, bikinis were just the start. It is hard to turn back once you discover the freedom modesty brings.
Wherever you are at in this journey ask yourself this: What beauty am I revealing to the world, and is it leading me to the love my heart yearns for? But beware! You may be starting down a path of no return.
Kaylin Koslosky is finishing up her time at Colorado State University by student teaching at a high school near Denver, where she will be teaching Forensics and Biology. She loves hiking and being outdoors, and is currently working to publish her first book with her best friend Megan Finegan as a way of spreading a much-needed message of love to her female peers.