I am hoping that I will not earn myself some ‘evil looks’ and hisses for this article but so be it. Truth, my truth at least, must be told. I have been trying to figure out why so many of us women feel that the more flesh we have on display the better or more attractive we look. Do men really enjoy seeing all these displays of cleavage? And even if they did, must we women pander to their desires to our own detriment? I guess some women will tell me that they are leaving their bosoms on display to please themselves and not some man. I say that is even more perplexing to me.
Anyway, here is the thing: I learnt recently that sometimes we Christians need to judge. Not people but behaviours. So today, I am judging what I consider to be indecent behaviour especially when it happens in the church. First, let me share a personal story. Two Sundays ago, I was mortified when an usher had to move my husband aka mgm and me to the back of the church. Why? Apparently my long sleeve, high neck, knee length dress became a ‘no no’ the moment I sat down because my knees were now exposed! In fact, I was a bit confused at first as I was not sure what we had done but it all became clear when she asked me if I had a scarf and when I indicated that I did not – back of the church it was for us! In retrospect, I can laugh but then, were I an ‘oyinbo’ woman; I would have been bright pink with embarrassment! I was hoping people would think I had complained about the cold. *smiling*
But here is what I found funny. On the way out of church after service I can tell you that I counted at least ten ladies with shorter dresses than mine (standing up!), very low neck lines or with dresses that had very low backs. I was like, how did they miss those ones? Don’t get me wrong, this is not about me having ‘bad belle’* because they did not catch them. Not at all. I agree with the policy that seeks to get us women to dress decently to church so that nothing we wear serves as a ‘distraction’ to some poor soul. That is why I am writing this. I want the ushers to continue to do this but to do it in all cases not just when the ‘culprit’ is sitting in a spot where Pastor might walk by and see her. I think until we begin to see the church take serious action, we will not get it. No, don’t ask the women to leave as you cannot ask the sick to leave the hospital but we can subtly let them know that such display of flesh will not be tolerated by say, handing them a nice purple pashmina to cover the offending parts? What do you think? Remember, I am not judging the person. I am just saying that there is a way to dress in the House of God to show that we respect him and having your ‘assets’ all out on display is not it.
I have heard some women say to me that it is ‘the heart that matters’ and as long as they are right with God, he does not care about how they dress. Fair enough. So tell me, since you are so comfortable with your cleavage on display, should Jesus Christ walk into the Service, what would you do? If you will not cast even the slightest ‘shy’ look down at your chest to see if you can somehow cover up, then fire on! No issues for you. But if you know that you will wish the ground would open and swallow you up then dear sista-mine, deep down, you are not comfortable with that look.
Finally, I love to share this story I read about Mohammed Ali and his daughters. One day, two of them were dressed to go out and had on these skimpy little shorts or so. He called them and told them about how all the truly precious things in the world were buried deep in the earth and man had to go to great lengths and work very hard to access them. Think about it. Pearls are found deep at the bottom of the sea. To find gold, you need to dig deep into the earth. Same goes for diamonds and even black gold (oil). None of these do you ever find on careless display for any Musa, Obi or Kunle to access just like that! No! To ‘see’ these precious metals, you had to toil and sweat and after working hard you got to behold their beauty and your appreciation knew no bounds.
Now, tell me dear sista-mine, are you not more precious than these?
Bola Essien-Nelson (aka Salt) is a blogger/author based in Lagos, Nigeria. You can connect with her on Twitter @Saltmatters7 or via her blog – The Salt Chronicles where she is ‘seasoning’ the world around her one salt blog at a time.