By now, many of you have read the viral post by Oregon blogger Veronica Partridge entitled, “Why I Chose To No Longer Wear Leggings.” In case you haven’t read it (which you can here), Partridge has decided to abstain from wearing yoga pants or leggings in public.
I read it.
I admire her courage to take a stand.
I respect her resolve to follow her convictions.
...However, I think her reasoning completely missed the mark.
In her post, this blogger comes to the conclusion, “...if a man wants to look, they are going to look, but why entice them?”
I have to wonder why the weight of responsibility in the whole “lust” issue falls on the female. A woman shouldn’t have to live under the pressure to alter her appearance in order to manage someone else. While it seems to make sense in the case of leggings, what do you do if some guy finds sweaters to be sexually arousing? What about hipster glasses or tattoos? To say, “I’m not going to wear yoga pants because I might cause someone to lust,” is too small and really makes this out to be solely the woman’s problem.
God created us to enjoy beauty. Beauty constantly reminds us of how loving, powerful, and creative He is… just look at a sunset or a mountain range. Going even further, God created humans as the image bearers of His beauty.
So if God created beauty, I believe it is possible to appreciate it apart from deviant, lustful thoughts. Appreciating physical beauty is not lust. In our hyper-sexualized culture, the lines between acknowledging beauty and exploiting it can get grossly blurred. However, in its purest form, I believe beauty can be admired without the lurking shadow of sin.
If this is an ideal way of looking at beauty, I know we are far from it today. The solution is more complex than, “Just stop wearing yoga pants!” That is more of a resignation than a solution. This posture, on a small scale, is similar to the idea of a burqa. Because if you stop wearing yoga pants, you might as well stop wearing swimsuits and skinny jeans and tank tops...is this really healthy stewardship of beauty? Where do we draw the line?
I don’t have an “easy fix” like this blogger. I simply suggest that we increase the conversation. Let’s push back against this imprisioning, over sexualized culture we live in and push toward culture of beauty which appreciates the glory of God in each of us.
Men and women, stop looking at porn. Stop buying into the lazy excuses that, “Men have needs!” and, “Men are visual!” or, “This is just a stress reliever.” Studies are showing porn addiction is more damaging than drugs and harder to quit. It actually alters brain function. Stop viewing others as objects of your affection. View them with the respect and appreciation that they deserve as fellow humans.
Women, I am sorry our culture has devalued you. This is a global problem, even more extreme in other countries. Hiding, ignoring and dressing differently doesn’t change the problem. Modesty is valuable, but succumbing to pressure is dangerous. By the same token, succumbing to exploitation is equally harmful. The point is: men and women are in this together. It goes both ways. We need to see people as people....not objects. And this IS possible. Jesus did it. We can too!
The Good Book says, “To whom much is given, much is required.” If you’re a beautiful person (which you are), steward your beauty responsibly. If you’re admiring a beautiful person, steward your appreciation responsibly. Ecclesiastes says, “Whoever fears God will avoid all extremes.” Perhaps the most radical notion is balance.
Brett Mills is a graduate of Baylor University and the President of Bartimaeus Ministries, Inc. He is married to Emily Mills and together they founded and lead, Jesus Said Love, a ministry to women in the commercial sex industry. Brett & Emily have two daughters and a son and live in Waco, TX.