There are a couple of things that I’ve wished I could explain to girls, but you can’t just walk up to someone and say them. I’ll make sure my daughters know them, but here they are for public consumption:
1. You are more attractive than you think.
There’s this common notion that guys have this internal image of a perfect figure, and that they measure girls’ attractiveness based on how closely they approximate that image. But a more accurate explanation of how guys measure attractiveness is that they have a range of ideal values in each of several categories, like hair color, height, intelligence, nose shape, etc. Each guy places a different weight on different categories, and the categories a guy cares most about will probably have the narrowest range of attractiveness. We’ll call that range the “ideal” range. There is also another range in each category, which we will call the “attractive” range. This is broader than the “ideal” range. If a girl falls inside the “attractive” range on most categories, a guy will think she’s attractive. If she falls inside the “ideal” range in a few of the categories that he values most, he’ll consider her very attractive and probably won’t even notice if she falls outside the range on a few areas. In fact, once a guy decides he likes a girl, his “attractive” and “ideal” ranges will generally realign to accommodate that girl’s actual features. She becomes his ideal without having to change a thing.
So the implication here is that girls don’t need to worry if they have a few features that they think fall outside of guys’ ideal range. Because first of all, different guys care more or less about different things. And second, any guy who notices a girl’s strengths is very likely to ignore whatever it is that girl has been worrying about – or he may even find it attractive.
There are a couple of corollaries to this principle:
1a. Guys notice you a lot more often than you think.
I’d say that for every guy who says something to you, there are ten more who noticed you in a positive way. For every guy who compliments you, there are probably a hundred more who thought the same thing but didn’t express it.
1b. Attention from weird guys probably means normal guys like you too.
I’ve known some girls who felt ignored by the guys they find attractive, but they got a lot of attention from guys that are, for whatever reason, not the type of guy the girls are looking for. Like, really awkward flirting. These girls wondered what was wrong with them that made the weirdos like them and the normal guys ignore them.
I maintain that if you’re getting attention from guys you consider weird, it probably means that all guys are noticing you, but the normal ones that know you are too shy to say anything about it. Of course, knowing this is not necessarily useful, since you still aren’t getting attention (yet). But at least you know that the problem is not with you; it’s with them.
2. What you wear sends a message, and the only way to choose the message is by choosing what you wear.
Specifically, every bit of exposed skin says one thing, very loudly: “Look at me.” That doesn’t cause a problem for your face and hands, but you might not want other areas to send that message. Too bad. If you expose it, that’s what it’s yelling. And every guy who sees you will hear it: chaste or not, available or not.
Of course, guys can decide what to do about the message. In the case of face, arms, etc, it’s not really a big deal, because there’s no threat of hormonal impropriety. But if you wear immodest clothing, a guy’s options are actually pretty limited. Let’s consider them in turn.
First of all, a guy can choose to foster inappropriate thoughts. Such guys will be attracted to girls who dress immodestly, but they won’t respect them. And it’s no wonder, since the girls in question are offering something that’s supposed to be sacred in a very cheap way. They might not mean to do that, but like I said, girls don’t get to choose what message they send to guys; the only get to choose what to wear. But for the sake of this discussion, let’s ignore this type of guy on the assumption that girls don’t want attention from them.
A guy who cares about having clean thoughts is going to have two options when he sees a girl who is showing more skin than she should:
1. He can avoid looking. This is no problem if he’s just passing a girl on the street or seeing someone in a TV ad. It’s a little more problematic if it’s someone he’s talking to socially. It’s a big problem if he’s on a date. Presumably, girls don’t want to make their dates look away from them for the whole evening.
2. He can lower his standard to accept what she’s wearing. Wait, what? No self-respecting guy would do that, would they? Well imagine that guy A is friends with girl B, and she clearly cares about morality and integrity and all that good stuff. So A asks her out, and she opens the door and her shirt’s a little low in front. What is he going to do? Tell her she’s unclean and run away? Probably not. He could ask her to change, but then she’d feel awful and that might just destroy the date. He’d probably just go with it. And then does he really want to avert his eyes the whole time? And is he going to avoid asking her out again?
That’s a lot of rhetorical questioning, but the point is that you don’t really want to put a guy in that situation to begin with. Because again, the kind of guy you want to find isn’t going to lower his standards.
Now, I realize that it’s hard to find modest clothing these days. But if it’s something you care about, there are a few things that guys everywhere would like you to do:
1. Don’t just stand still and look in the mirror when you evaluate a clothing choice. Bend over. Sit down. Fix your hair. If clothing only covers you when you’re standing still, and you plan to do something else in it besides stand still, then the clothing isn’t modest. And guys will most definitely notice what your clothing is doing even when you are not standing still.
2. If you feel like you have to adjust things constantly, just pick something else. I remember this one time where a girl in church was pulling up on the front of her camisole every couple of minutes. Did she really think it was in place until just before she did that? She was probably modest for a couple of seconds every two minutes. And the thing is, she was obviously conscious of modesty. She just didn’t realize what message she was sending to the guys around her. And what message was that? That’s right, it was “checkmeoutcheckmeoutcheckmeoutcheckmeoutcheckmeout…….checkmeoutcheckmeoutcheckmeoutcheckmeoutcheckmeout…….checkmeoutcheckmeoutcheckmeoutcheckmeoutcheckmeout”. And that is just not attractive. Don’t do that to yourself. Or us. Thank you.