The Bible says women are to be modest (1 Timothy 2:9). Does that exclude the beach? Is it okay to wear a typical one-piece or even a two-piece swimsuit if the context involves water? Let me phrase the question another way: When is it ever okay to let men other than our husbands have a peek at our breasts and bottoms?
If you wouldn’t feel comfortable going to the store in just your bra and panties, or even in a dress slip, why would you want to go around anywhere else in what covers essentially as little? Does the context really matter so much, or is that just what people say to make themselves feel better about their immodesty?
In my opinion, modesty is important no matter where we are; a man can struggle with his thoughts just as much when he sees a woman in a one-piece at the beach as when he sees a girl come out of the changing room half-naked. Breasts and crotches are not suddenly fit for public appearance because we’ve stepped out of the grocery aisle and onto the sand. No matter where we are, we as believers in Jesus must obey His command to be modest the best that we can while still being practical. It is possible to be both at once.
During a recent beach outing, I wore this husband-approved outfit:
It was short enough to not get wet when I leaned over to dangle my baby’s feet in the waves, and long enough to cover my upper legs, with shorts underneath. I wore a top under the dress so that my bust would not be revealed; as I look back at our beach photos I realize it wasn’t snug enough to keep it from gathering up under my dress. Next time I will either wear a different undershirt, or get a different dress.
Even though my beach outfit was not made of swimwear material, that wasn’t an issue for me since I didn’t plan on getting wet, anyway. In the future, I do think I would like to look into modest swim dresses made especially for the water.
My goals when choosing an outfit were pretty simple:
- The dress had to cover me at least to my knees.
- I needed a dress that wasn’t too tight (and that didn’t make me look fat).
- It had to be fairly easy to nurse in.
- It shouldn’t cost too much money.
All in all, I think I spent about $12 on the dress, maybe $10 on the shorts, and I already had the undershirt. So, $22 for a modest beach outfit isn’t too bad.
I realize that we have different standards of modesty; some people may not think my outfit conservative enough, while others may think I went too far. However, it seems obvious to me that whatever outfit we choose, it should at least cover our privates in such a way that they will not be readily visible to others. Tight material is almost just as bad as taking it all off and going stark naked, since you can see nearly as much. In fact, in might just be worse, since it gives a tantalizing peek at the forbidden while leaving just enough unseen to excite the imagination.
For more information, I strongly recommend the following book on how the swimwear industry influenced our society’s gradual decline into immodesty:
Christian Modesty and the Public Undressing of America, by Jeff Pollard
In addition, you might find these modest swimsuit sites helpful:
- Aqua Modesta
- Wholesome Wear *My favorite so far: I’m considering buying one of their suits soon.
- Dressing for His Glory
- Sea Secret
What principles do you think are important to keep in mind when going to the pool or the beach? Can you quote any helpful Bible verses? Have you found a great modest swim outfit that you just love? Please, do share!