My Life/Teen Life

Modesty on the Gram

I understand the temptation to post suggestive pictures. For me, it was rarely out of an effort to get the attention of the boys in my life – notice I use the word boys, not men – but rather out of a deep wound in my heart which led and still leads me to believe the lies of the evil one who whispers: “You are not enough.” I would post a picture out of my own insecurities, desperately awaiting those notifications or the shallow affirmation of my followers. I am here to tell you that these vain attempts at affirmation are not worth our time.

What’s more, I am here to tell you that you are worth so much more. You are worth more than the admiration of men or the envy of women. You are worth infinitely more than any number of likes or comments you could ever receive on an Instagram post — and we do not need to post pictures of ourselves in bikinis or the trendiest things to receive affirmation, attention, and love. In fact, posting pictures of ourselves scantily clad does exactly the opposite of what we hope. And yet our society has conditioned us as young women to believe that the more skin we show the more empowered we become. But this could not be further from the truth.

We are so numb to seeing nearly naked bodies every day… Walking around the beach, or the pool, or heck, even just the grocery store on any given summer day, you will undoubtedly encounter women dressed in just a few square inches of fabric. Just scrolling through any given girl’s Instagram feed, you’ll stumble across dozens of images featuring a young woman with her body on display. What these young women posing for a photo on the beach in a bikini don’t realize is that true beauty is hidden, that practicing modesty is one way to stay free in love, and that refraining from posting a revealing photo has nothing to do with a lack of self-confidence but rather a deep recognition that our body is so much more than pixels on a screen.

Summer is in full swing, my friends, and I encourage you to uphold your own dignity by dressing modestly when you hit the beach and practice modesty on Instagram. Keep on reading to see how!

Remember Your Worth

Do not allow yourself to be reduced to pixels. Your worth exists apart from your appearance or your follower count or the number of likes you received on your most recent post. Your body has been made in all its perfection as a direct reflection of the beauty of its Creator, and has been made to be a gift unveiled only by your future spouse. Allowing just anyone and everyone to see what should remain a secret does not honor your inherent dignity and beauty as a beloved Daughter of Christ. Remind yourself constantly of this truth by sitting with Jesus every day and staying rooted in prayer. Let him whisper to you words of true love, of true affirmation. Spend time with Beauty Himself in the Scriptures and allow Him to reveal to you the root of your insecurities and to purify your desire for affection, attention, and love. These desires are good. What’s more, do your part and remind your girl friends of their own dignity and worth by encouraging them to recognize in themselves their own beauty too!

Find the Right Suit

Whether you consciously recognize it or not when you dress yourself in the morning, it’s important to remember that what you wear communicates how much or how little you value your own body. What messages are you sending by the outfit you choose? Are you choosing to draw attention of men or the envy of women? Covering up isn’t about “protecting” boys who may be tempted to look at you lustfully – it’s more about communicating to the world that you recognize the gift your body is. I want you to know that class will always be the more empowering choice. When you’re shopping for a swimsuit, think about your intentions – and remember that there is nothing classy or beautiful about traipsing around in what might as well be your undies. Believe me it will be HARD to find a suit that meets the balance of practicality and style – but it will be so worth it when you find the perfect one for you.

Don’t Compare

It is a commonplace occurrence for us to scroll through social media and think: “ugh ugh ugh ugh UGH!” but about a year ago or so I was officially fed up and thought to myself: why do I allow myself to sit here on Instagram and stare at pictures all of these scantily clad women and envy their model poses, their “perfect” bodies, fabulous lifestyles and accomplishments? I decided in that moment to do a thorough cleansing of my feed and unfollowed every single account that was not positive, that did not inspire me, that incited jealousy, that encouraged the sexualization of women, or that fostered comparison. And WHAT FREEDOM is this!!! I challenge you to unfollow accounts that encourage their followers to dress or post immodestly and/or make you feel bad about yourself. By doing this, you are reminding yourself that you do not need to conform to the world’s false perception of beauty.

Think Twice Before Posting

Why do you post to Instagram? What do you post? If you would be uncomfortable letting your parents, your teacher, your youth minister, your grandpa or even your parish priest scroll through your profile, that is a clear sign that something is wrong. When you post, ask yourself why. Are you doing it to get attention or praise? Are you doing it to show off your body? If what you post isn’t going to remind your sisters and brothers of their own dignity and worth – if it isn’t good, healthy, beautiful, and reflective of the truth given to us in the Gospels – why even post it at all?

Pursuing a life of holiness by practicing modesty on Instagram and #IRL is the best way to show the world what true beauty looks like, and I promise you that in the end you will not regret choosing to be seen and valued as holy. If there’s one thing I want you to know by the end of reading this post it is that you are more than enough for the God who created you — for the God who will always be there to fill your need for love, for attention, for affirmation. No amount of social media popularity will ever fill your deepest desire to be cherished and known and loved – and that you are! Ask Jesus to give you the courage to be a vessel of love and true beauty in all things and even your social media feed can be a witness to the joy of the Gospel!

For more on social media, self-image, modesty, and embracing your true beauty, check out More than a Pretty Face, a book for young women by Christina Mead.

About the Author

Laurie Medina

I am a Saint-in-progress with a missionary heart and a passion for merging Catholic ministry with mental health care. I love going on outdoor adventures, making art, listening to Penny & Sparrow, and surrounding myself with people that are way holier than me. As you’re reading this, I’m probably curled up on the sofa with a blanket reading Joy of the Gospel…or rewatching Gilmore Girls. You can find me on Instagram @wrappedinhermantle.

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