Ashlynn Angel, 25, is a teacher in Peoria, IL in an urban community public school. She shares her views on modesty and reflects on her experiences over the past two years as a teacher. She talks about what she has learned after observing behaviors while being an educator in the public school system.
Tell me some of your thoughts on modesty since becoming a teacher.
I have learned a lot about modesty over the past two years. In the 2014-2015 school year I taught at a public school in Peoria where uniforms were required. I loved the idea of uniforms because students were less concerned about expressing themselves through wardrobe. However, they were given reward days or special occasions where they could wear their own clothes. On THESE days it was very difficult to get kids to focus.
How was the behavior different when given the opportunity to dress themselves?
These days were very difficult to get students to focus on anything academic. Students were constantly distracted and girls were often jealous of other girls who received more attention from dressing immodestly. I tried to explain to the girls that the kind of girls who have to dress a certain way to get attention often have more complicated things going on emotionally and need the attention because they are lacking the right kind of attention from their home life. I had to explain the boys are ONLY seeing ONE thing. They are not interested in their personality, opinions, or views. It was strictly physical. I tried to make them understand, but the girls would compete with each other for attention. It caused a lot of drama-- all from their wardrobe.
Was there a correlation between those who dressed more immodestly and their academic progress?
The students who were more focused on getting attention through wardrobe had the hardest time being successful academically. They usually had more behavior issues also. I do know most of the time there were issues with their wardrobe there were also issues going on at home. It's unfortunate some kids do not have the guidance they need at home to learn how they dress represents themselves to others. I do my best to be an example that you can be fashionable and modest. You can be trendy and modest. You can be relevant and not boring. I tell them you don't have to show everything to get attention.
It is so important we take an active role modeling modesty in our homes and schools. We need to be involved in wardrobe choices, shopping trips, what they are wearing out of the house, etc. Do you let your child just pick out their outfit and leave them to themselves? Or do you ask, what do you plan on wearing? Or you could say, “Let's pick out your outfits for the week together!” Even if they don't act like it, they WANT you to be involved. They WANT discipline. They WANT your attention! If you don't give them YOUR attention, they will find someone else attention to get!
Check out our whole series on Modesty--
Modesty Diaries: Is Modesty Dying?
Modesty is More than a Neckline
Modesty Diaries: What are men really thinking?
Modesty Diaries: Starting a conversation
Is Modesty is dying in our culture? It's hard to compete with crop tops, mini-skirts, bikini's wore on stage by pop stars, and seductive Instagram pictures. The pressure to be relevant can be overwhelming to teenagers. No one wants to be boring, outdated, or irrelevant. However, modesty doesn't mean you have to be a wallflower, loner, or nerd.
Here are 3 myths you can help debunk about modesty:
These are great conversation starters for your teens. Your family--boys and girls, religious or not, boring or not, need to decide how your family values should shape your wardrobe. We need stress the importance of how you dress affects your image to others. Ask your teens about THEIR values and find out if how they are dressing reflects who they want be perceived as to their peers.
Modesty--it's more than the hemline being low enough and the neckline being high enough. It's more than steering away from provocative clothing aisle at the mall. It's more than clothes. Although clothing might be there first thing which comes to mind when you hear the word “modesty”-- it really means so much more.
We live a culture where there is Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat. We get to say what we are thinking to everyone--in real time. There is very little filter when it comes to our feelings, thoughts, opinions, or complaints. We like to post them, snap a pic, and share with the world. We are seeing a younger generation become more vocal and visual. However, we are also seeing less and less modesty in behavior. As the fashion trends become more provocative so does the conduct. It's important to discuss with your teens what your family's standard for modesty are in dress AND behavior.
Here are three conversation starters you can do at home to encourage modesty in your teen:
As parents, it is so important to keep the conversation about modesty alive in your home. If you have never had the conversation about behavior this is the perfect time to start. This conversation is for boys and girls. Modesty in young men is important and should be encouraged. Talk about it today! Don't let society shape their standards for behavior. Let it start with YOU and your family's values!
A Positive Approach to Teen Health (P.A.T.H) is a 501(c)3 organization that reaches seven counties throughout Northwest Indiana. Since 1993, A Positive Approach to Teen Health has been working to empower teens to make healthy choices regarding drugs, sex, alcohol, and violence.