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Hello! I'm Ashley.

I’m a Christian feminist, writer, speaker, TV producer, news pundit, ordained reverend, and abuse-victim advocate who educates churches and secular communities on abuse. I’m the founder of The Courage Conference, for survivors of abuse—and those who love them.

Clothed in Shame

Clothed in Shame

I was getting dressed to go to a moving party.  You know, the kind where someone is moving and they ask all of their friends to show up and help pack the U-Haul.  All I needed was something cool and comfortable to wear for moving boxes and dresser drawers.  I grabbed for my workout clothes, pulled my hair in a pony tail and then routinely glanced in the mirror.  I expected to see my own reflection but instead all I saw staring back at me was guilt and shame.  

Immediately a critical voice in my head began with a barrage of assaults:  

“Are you really going out like that?”  “What are the girls going to think about you?  And the guys?”  “You should be ashamed of yourself.  That’s what your husband is going to think any way.”   “Who cares if this fabric is cool and practical, people are going to think you’re trying to get attention.”  “EVERYONE is going to be looking at you... JUDGING you!”

I fretted about changing but didn’t see anything that looked as comfortable and easy to maneuver in that wouldn’t also be hot and sweaty if I happened to be stationed in the Summer sun.  After a long while I finally selected another top, one I knew would be uncomfortable, and kept it off to the side for a last minute change if need be.

When Will came home I asked him if I was dressed ok or if I should change into something better.  I realize that is a question someone might ask before a formal dinner party instead of a packing party but I felt such guilt and distrust in my own intuition that I had to ask.  

“Nope.  That’s great.  You’ve got to be comfortable in your own skin, Baby!”  He knows me too well.

We showed up to help move with me still worrying about what I was wearing, still feeling a sense of shame about my body.  Here’s the thing though, no one else seemed to give it a second thought.  Everyone else was dressed cool and comfortable too, another girl also wore a workout outfit and the guys didn’t seem at all distressed.  In fact, the whole time everyone’s focus seemed to be on, well... PACKING instead of clothing.

Over the last year or two I’ve been pondering my relationship with modesty.  Even with the knowledge that modesty, in context, wasn’t about hems or necklines but rather flaunting privilege, I still feel an urge to hide myself (1).  I still feel guilt and shame like there is something wrong or dangerous about my body that means it should be hidden, that looking “too good” is something to fear and that practical isn’t a priority.

I think I have given too much power to a pair of yoga pants when I assume lifeless spandex has the ability to control thoughts in other’s minds.

I think I project too much prominence on myself when I assume everyone will be sitting on the edge of their seat wondering what I will show up wearing.

And I am beginning to realize whether I flaunt myself for men or hide myself for men the emphasis is still on preforming for men instead of dressing according to my personal preference and conviction. 

Most of all, I think I am forgetting that I am a new creation.  The reason for my shame is washed away and I am now clothed in grace and good works.  

So, I’m placing this reminder next to my mirror:

“YOUR body is a delightful, unique creation full of dignity, honor and beauty.  Wear what makes YOU feel good and confident as an individual.  Wear what allows YOU to move freely as the hands and feet of Jesus.”

The intent of this post is not to suggest that clothes are not necessary but to encourage individual comfort, confidence, character and conviction rather than attempting the impossible - to accommodate all of the diverse, ever changing and culturally affected sexual preferences of others.  

-Ashley Easter

Notes and Sources:

(1) “...Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments, but rather by means of good works, as is proper for women making a claim to godliness.” -1 Timothy 2:9-10 {NASB}

The emphasis here is on clothing yourself with good works instead of flaunting wealth or prestige.  Some women in this particular church group had great wealth and could afford expensive, elaborate clothing and hair styles which, in their culture, would have been a bold statement about their social status.   Other women in this church were very poor and their dress would have shown that as well.  The wealthy women were using their appearance to pursue privilege in the church.

The ground is level at the foot of the cross.  There is no hierarchy among believers.  We are called to use our wealth or position to serve others instead of flaunting our blessings or attempting to use our worldly status to elevate us among believers.

Later on in Paul’s letter to Timothy we read:

“Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.”  -1 Timothy 6:17-19 {NASB}

***For additional thoughts on modesty I recommend this excellent post by Rachel Evans.  It was honestly a life changing article for me.  And there is this story of shame and hiding to freedom and grace.  For something a bit more scholarly and equally as valuable I recommend reading this by Margaret Mowczko.

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