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Monday, May 27, 2013

The Only Thing My Double D's Ever Got Me Was Kicked Out of Church.

I'm sitting in a new church last night, trying out their service for the first time. Seated in the second-to-last row, I'm trying to hide. From what, I'm not sure. I just know I want to close my eyes and sing in the dark. But I keep getting distracted, because every time I open my eyes to look at the words on the screen, I see someone watching me. There's a boy, about 15, sitting in the row in front of me. He keeps turning around, craning his body in his seat. At first I think the movement is what keeps catching my eye and snapping me out of the moment, but then I realize. He's not turning around to stare at the door behind me. He's turning every three or four minutes to stare at my chest.

I think I'm mistaken. I hope I'm mistaken. So I mostly close my eyes and peer out out at him. Sure enough, the second he thinks my eyes are closed, he's turned again, staring, mouth ajar, right at my size double-D boobs. You'd think I was standing there in pasties and nothing else, the way he was staring. You'd think he'd never seen a full-chested woman out in public before. I began to feel dirty, as though I was existing solely for the titillation of this adolescent boy, for whoever is unashamed enough to turn and stare every three minutes, like clockwork, for the entirety of the 90 minute service.

I can see you, I wanted to say. I was tempted to tap his father, sitting next to him, on the shoulder and ask, "Excuse me, sir, but your pubescent son is staring at my body in a way that's making me very uncomfortable, and I'd like it if I could just enjoy worship without him agog at the sight of some mammary glands." I briefly fantasized about whipping my top up and yelling "Have at it, sucker!" and then fleeing the church premises, never to return.

But I don't do any of those things. I just sit there, silent, avoiding eye contact, my body burning like a built-in brand of shame.

******

I wonder askance at women who get breast enhancements to build themselves up to my bra size. Do you have any idea what it's like? I want to ask them why they're doing it. Is it to make men love them more? Because let me tell you, it's never brought me love or happiness. All the size of my chest had ever got me has been hollering from men in cars, being grabbed at by strangers in the supermarket, strangers telling me they'll "f*cking kill" me if I don't respond to their sexual overtures. I used to wonder why this happened to me - afterall, I'm not skinny. I'm not petite. I'm not really even "curvy." I'm bigger all around, big from every angle. Shouldn't this only happen to skinny girls? Shouldn't the perk of my body being unattractive to every eligible man in my age group be that I can at least be ignored by the unsavory elderly and the perverted young male component? If I have to be fat, shouldn't the one bonus be that I'm not constantly assaulted with disturbing instances of the gaze of men defining my worth? You'd think the bonus of being plus-sized would be that I'd cease to be objectified in a sexual way.** Long ago, I made my lot with ugly, with unwanted, with unworthy of affection. But here I am, in a world that tells me my body is my shame. 
*******
"Becca? Listen, I'm going to go get my sweater from my car so you can wrap it around your waist. Your jeans are just too tight, it's inappropriate for boys to see you walking around the room like that." A female youth leader has grabbed my elbow as I cross the sanctuary. I'm 18, a volunteer junior high counselor. After some lengthy negotiations, I am allowed to wear my own sweater around my waist, with a promise secured that I won't remove it for the rest of the night.

She walks away, hips swaying in jeans just as tight as mine, with four-inch heels to boost them. I sit, chastised, wishing she'd asked because I could have told her. I would have told her it's not that I wanted to wear jeans this tight. It's just that I've been gaining weight recently, and I can't afford to buy jeans a size bigger. But it really wouldn't have mattered anyway. My weight, my jeans, my butt, my problem, leading denizens of good church boys down the lane of unrighteousness with just one glance.

******
It was four a.m a month ago, and I was awake, lying in bed, staring at the light from the streetlamp outside filtering through my slatted blinds.

I just kept thinking I am not beautiful. That no one would ever stop and stare in awe of my appearance. Fat, dumpy, ordinary. Worse than ordinary -- undesirable. 
Oh, I thought I was over this. I really did. I thought I had embraced my full-figured, lumpy-thighed, pot-bellied existence. I thought I was learning to appreciate my body and embrace it and like how I looked. And then something comes along and cripples me once more, and I'm back in the throes of self-loathing and shame, oh so much shame.

If I could only be better -- if I could only eat better -- if I could only work out every day for a year -- if I would only buy an expensive array of tools to tame my naturally wild textured hair and straighten it -- if  I had the right clothes, the time -- if I could only lose x amount of pounds -- if I whitened my teeth -- if I could just lose x amount of pounds --

It sucks me in. It's a vortex of despair. It hurts me.

I am in a cage, beating myself against the bars.

******
I am sixteen, at soundcheck for Sunday morning worship. I'm telling the soundguy "Up a little in my monitor, please. Yeah, I need to hear a little more guitar too, thanks," when a pastor's wife walks up the stairs in my direction. 

"Hey, honey, I'm going to need you to get down off the stage right now," she leans in and murmurs in my ear. Confused, I mute my mic and turn to her.

"What?" That's the only thing I can think of to say. "Why?"

"Your outfit is really just not appropriate to be wearing in church, but especially on stage. If you want to sing today, you need to go home and change and come back."

I look at her in shock. "But...if I miss rehearsal, I can't sing for the service." She nods. She knows this. It's her rule, one she made up and implemented herself. She puts her hand on my shoulder.

"Well, maybe next time you'll think about it while you're getting dressed to come to church, mmm?" She smiles. "We just don't want anyone to be caused to stumble by you. People can see up your skirt, you know, if they look hard enough. Your whole leg is bare, too. And that top's just far too snug on your breasts. You understand, right?"

I nod, dazed, and climb down the platform steps, ignoring the call from the male piano player as I go. I look down to assess my clothing. Loose skirt, falling below the knee. Modesty shorts underneath that extend to mid-thigh. V-neck tee, but with two tank tops underneath it - one for length, one for cleavage coverage. My mother hands me the car keys so I can go home and change for the day. Sure enough, I'm not allowed to sing that Sunday.

All I can think of as I drive home is, Why would anyone be trying to look up my skirt? At church? 


******
I am nineteen, just out of an appointment with a doctor where everything that is wrong with my body has been explained to me. Poly cystic ovarian syndrome. Causes weight gain, inability to lose weight, acne, cancerendometriosisheartdiseasediabetes if left unchecked. I left the specialist's office and cried in the hot car, before coming home and announcing the diagnosis to my parents. 

"Oh, that's not why you're fat. You know why you're fat. It's because you don't eat right. If you ate correctly, you'd be fine." My dad floats on his back in our pool, the waterfalls creating a fuzz in my ears. They did rounds and rounds of blood tests, an ultrasound. I paid hundreds of dollars to hear the specialist deliver the news. But it's all wrong. I know why I'm fat. I know why. I know. I go inside and eat half a pint of Mint Chip and cry in the shower.

******
It's Wednesday night at youth group, my senior year of high school, I'm seventeen. I'm standing close to the low stage, hands raised and singing. A man taps me on the shoulder. "Hey, uh, Becca? Well, this guy over there, he was staring at your butt in those shorts, and, uh, doing things. We're going to need you to sit down." He looks just as embarrassed to be delivering this news as I am to be receiving it. 

I retreat to the back corner of the room and sit down on the floor, pressing myself against the wall. These are my favorite pink shorts. They pass the hands-at-your-sides test. They're lose enough that I can slip them off without unbuttoning them. I am horrified at what my favorite pink shorts just caused a sixteen-year-old boy to do in the middle of a church rec room. Is it because of my butt? Are my legs shaped a certain way? Was it the color of my shorts?


******
It's really no surprise that I have come to believe that my body is a shameful thing, meant to be hidden, covered up, backed into corners. It's no shocker that my conditioned response to men, young and old, openly ogling my body, is to internalize that shame, blame myself, and remain silent. It's not a surprise to me, either, that thousands of women brought up in the paradox of strict evangelical modesty/purity culture and the hyper-sexualization of American culture have developed such an unhealthy relationship with their bodies. Whenever I hear of someone else admitting that they've struggled with an eating disorder or self-harm, I don't think How awful! I think how normal. 

It's not just girls with more curves. It's my size-double-zero friends, too. We range all over the spectrum of the scale, and we all hate our bodies. We bear them each day, our particular brand of shame. We're trapped inside flesh and bone, thinking the problem lies within our genetic makeup. I won't wear sleeveless tops because I hate my arms. My best friend won't wear shorts because she dislikes her legs. I have friends who haven't left the house without makeup since they were twelve years old. 

Isn't it sad? Isn't it shocking? The main thing that taught me to hate and fear my body was the Church. I struggled with eating disorders and self-harm for most of my teenage years. Isn't it sad? Isn't it shocking?

No. Today, in the church culture I grew up in, it's not. It's normal. 





**I don't want to imply that I believe "plus-sized" or "fat" equates to "not sexy" or "undesirable." I wrote that paragraph in that way because that's often how I have personally felt, but I firmly believe that beauty comes in all shapes, sizes, colors, and places. And that includes "fat."

Edit 5.30.13: I appreciate the discussion and response this piece has received. Thank you for the kind, encouraging words. My hope is that this is a good starting point for individuals to rethink their approach to modesty doctrine, as well as a healing read for those who have suffered similar experiences as me. However, I would like to ask that comments please refrain from discussing my appearance in my headshots and photos. Even if the comment is positive and affirming. while I appreciate the heart behind that, it's unnerving to see my body being dissected and commented on, as that is very triggering for me. Thank you.

Edit 6.7.13: To address the concerned emails and comments I've been getting: I am not in an abusive church anymore. I am not in an abusive home anymore. I haven't been for the last two years. Coincidentally, the last time I self-injured was about two years ago. I've been working with medical professionals for the last two years to combat my PCOS. Frankly, I shouldn't have to talk about this, but I also would like to point out that using one example of how an abusive situation drove me to binge eat does not equate to me currently being a binge-eater. I really would rather not have to include these disclaimers, but the volume of responses I've been receiving trying to advise me on all points adressed here is completely overwhelming. I appreciate concern, I'm sure it's well-meant, but please understand that I'm an adult and I've got a handle on things. Thank you.

180 comments:

  1. As an 8th grade girl youth group leader, it was hard to read this. First, because I know some of my girls feel this way, and second, because there are occasions when I feel the stress of it myself. This is a common topic that I feel the church fails at addressing. It's heartbreaking because in a place where there should be nothing but grace and love for one another, there is often judgement, gossip, blame and misunderstanding. It's incredibly sad, but I'm hopeful for change.

    As your sister in Christ, please know that you are loved even when you are in circumstances that make you feel otherwise. Even when you despise yourself, you are still a loved being and you are not alone in this. There are often days when I stand for hours, blankly staring at my closet wondering what the hell I am going to wear to church that won't cause people to talk about me or look at me like there's something wrong. There was an instance where I was asked to leave a room because the color blue was causing a young man to stumble. REALLY? Shouldn't there be more focus on the fact that they can't handle themselves around colors or other things moreso than immediately blaming the female?

    We shouldn't have to worry about how people perceive us when we are worshiping the Lord, and Christians need to learn to put their attention elsewhere...like, I don't know...God?!

    I've been reading your posts for a little while now, and every post I empathize. I'm in your corner, cheering you on, and I will pray for you on this in hopes that it gets better for you. I hope you find a place that will not judge you for how you look but instead love you for who you are and what you are doing in your faith.

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    1. Thaaaaank you. Your kind words are so encouraging to me.

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    2. I remember having things said to me too, similar to your experience at the church I grew up in. There was a lady who took me aside to tell me I needed to cover my nipples with bandaids because of the changes in temperature and I might cause others to sin if they saw me without the bandaids. I was wearing extremely modest clothing and always did. We just had a bunch of pervs who didn't submit to God for overcoming their sins and struggles.

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    3. Someone please tell me why, if a youth leader notices a boy staring at a girl, that they don't just go to the boy and tell HIM to STOP OGLING GIRLS!?

      This is just insane, that girls are shamed and held responsible for the SIN of MEN.

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    4. Shadowspring, I agree with you. If the young men are "stumbling" then that leader should take them aside and deal with it. This always makes me think of Afghanistan and how they fixed their problem by making all women wear burkas. If a man can't handle the sight of a woman dressed in normal clothes, then they have a problem, not the women.

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    5. Sure, like a RELIGION is actually going to admit that it's the men who are at fault and that the women are blameless.

      I'm not going to hold my breath.

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    6. With all due respect Jeanne, just because women in the Middle East wear burkas, it does not mean that they are free from harassment, ogling, groping, sexual abuse/assault, and rape. The idea of the burka is so that women are respected and valued for their minds and beliefs, yet unfortunately modest clothing does not save someone from being harassed, just as Becca's article pointed out. And you are certainly right that it is a man's problem if he feels he is entitled to stare at a young woman's breasts and see her as a sexual object. It is sad to say that harassment, assault, and rape are universal problems that every part of the world deals with. No matter if a woman wears a dress, jeans, sweats, or a burka, these clothes can not block or protect women in a patriarchal society that sees them as inferior, sexual objects for men's pleasure. Just thought I would shed some light.

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    7. It is all about shaming us and holding us responsible for men. I wonder what would happen if, the next time some boy boob stares and looks away repeatedly, one of us said something to the effect 1) how wonderful it is that is is struggling with his own feelings of sin and lust and that I see him trying not to stare at my boobs or 2) offer to stare at their weener but first I have to get out a magnification glass and how does it feel to be objectified or 3) ask for donations money for a new more modest wardrobe which you cannot yet afford or 4)any other sarcastic remark you can think of. As you can see, I use humor to avoid my first response, which is to scream.

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    8. Liz, my husband who is quite conservative told me that if its such a big deal that people can see your nipples they need to turn the heating up.

      The real reality is that once most men get married they don't want other women because they have a wife at home, an appropriate place for that part of them to be expressed. Which is good and something you both enjoy. There is a good reason God said it is not good for man to be alone.

      I have had a little bit of experience with a few males been weird, I just take it as a compliment (after all they find something about my body appealing) and just let them know in a kind tone of voice that that is not what I interested in and they are usually very apologetic. Also I let them know that I am not offended and to not think about it. Otherwise I ignore it.

      When it comes to my body I am sensitive about how I look. I want to feel beautiful on the outside as well as on the inside and I want people to appreciate that in an appropriate way. And believe me it is a work in progress.

      Just wait till you guys have babies and have to feed them in public. Yup even in church will i feed my son. I put my feet on the chair in front, get comfortable. Use a blanket so it is somewhat covered and ignore it if people don't like it. Just ignore silly people they are everywhere. And everyone does something wrong at least once in their lives.

      If you have been abused I am not trying to say that it is ok or that it is ok for men to pinch, grab, stare,or any of the more abuse behaviours that do happen. That is a falling on their side and needs to be sorted out. Sometimes a guy/boy/man will look and be surprised by what he sees.

      Sometimes its not a bad thing to take a look in the mirror though to see how people perceive us. There was a girl who used to sing up on stage at church. And she was well endowed, which i have no problem with been similar myself. But she would sort of dance/jig on stage a little bit to the music. Nothing rude or inappropriate really except her boobs jiggled a lot. And the boys did notice and would say stuff. I felt terrible for her and would tell the boys to shut up. She was a really nice bubbly person and I wish one of her close friends had told her to ease up on the moving around on stage. I was not close friends and would not tell her myself because I in no why want to make her feel bad, so i did what i could on the other end. But sometimes it is good to see how people look at us. Becca I am in no way saying what you did was deserved by the way.

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    9. Teagan12 on June 10 wrote:
      " The idea of the burka is so that women are respected and valued for their minds and beliefs, ... "

      Not true. It is to conceal their "charms" from other men so that those other men will not be tempted.

      "And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof; that they should draw their khimār over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husband, their fathers, their husband's fathers, ..." and a huge list of other people. (Quran 24:31)

      Jay Stevens
      Saudi expat for 15 years

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  2. Oh, I am with you on every single bit of this. You have captured the shame and the embarrassment and the confusion of those moments perfectly.

    PS. I also read your life list, and I really wish that we lived in the same city so that I could super casually ask you to grab coffee with the secret hope of becoming your best friend.

    PPS. If you love Powell's, you should check out the original Tattered Cover in Denver sometime. It's pretty magical.

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    1. Hah! I totally accept best friend requests via email. (No, seriously, I do.)

      & when I'm next in Denver I'll look out for Tattered Cover!

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    2. Tattered Cover in Denver is something like a magical experience.

      And on the topic of your post, I've had similar situations and love everything you shared. Very eloquent, precise, and articulate. It's taken me a few years of positive affirmation from my husband to finally get over much of what you wrote. I'm blessed to have a godly husband.

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    3. Yes, the original Tattered Cover makes non-book readers want to read, just to be in the building.

      Becca, you captured the essence of what so many women experience. I'll be reading this to my teen and college sons and their friends for their education. Very well conveyed!

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  3. Dear Becca, I'm very saddened to read this and learn that this is a normal thing, and not shocking or sad, it upsets me. I've never experienced anything of the like, and I just can't relate or understand, but it makes me angry and sad that people have behaved this way towards you.

    I don't understand how it is okay for people to tell you what to do, as to not upset other boys rather than giving the boys a lecture or setting them in place? I don't understand, you are not to blame, but they are! It makes me furious!

    When I first entered your blog, the first thing I thought of your pictures was that you looked lovely and charming and had a very beautiful smile.

    Take care and all the best, God bless you.

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    1. Wow. Thank you. I understand, now, that it's not my responsibility what boys do in response to my pink shorts. I just wish I had understood it then.

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  4. Becca, this story could be my wife Brandee's story. She was kicked off the stage pre-service by a pastor, same deal, same size breasts. Apparently if one can identify you are woman by the way your body is shaped, you are dressed to seductively to lead worship. Pretty sad.

    Thanks for stepping out and telling this story. So refreshing to hear.

    Keep rocking the free world.

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    1. Hey Travis,

      Thanks for the encouragement. That's too often how it feels - existing in a woman's body is apparently inherently a sin!

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    2. I heard this was the plight of Jessica Simpson. She desired a Christian recording contract, but they refused because she was "too curvy." This attitude is so messed up. I am actually a little creeped out about the people who feel they have to tell you such things. Yuck. I am now apologizing for the entire Christian culture.

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    3. Well, we don't all act that way or believe this sort of thing. I was raises Episcopalian, and everyone at the altar wore the same shapeless vestments and choir robes. That solves that problem! :-)

      But it's still hard to shake, because it's often wrapped up in the best of intentions.

      Even non-fundamentalist congregations that profess to be more open-minded can't get out from under this--it's really, really, hard for the older generations to talk to young men and women, especially the women, about valuing their bodies without having a great heaving tide of cultural implications wash all over them. Some of them are related to religion, but a lot of them aren't. Dress codes for girls, for example. Sexting. Having sex. I used to believe a lot of the touted benefits of a dress code (not so much with the sex stuff--somehow I never got the memo that it wasn't a totally awesome thing for consenting adult to do!), until I read this:

      http://www.slate.com/articles/life/dear_prudence/2011/06/a_view_to_a_thrill.html

      If you don't feel like clicking over, it's an advice column and the first letter is from a parent with two teenage daughters who sunbathe and hang out in their yard--not naked, but in bikinis and shorts and halters. Their next-door neighbors are Christian fundamentalists with several teenage sons, and the boys' father asked the girls' parent to get the girls to cover up more (like a LOT more), or keep them out of their yard while the boys are doing chores, as it's "distracting". The advice columnist's response, is, basically, "Tell the boys' father he should be teaching them not to stare at women or neglect their chores".

      BOOM. That was the "aha" moment for me. Men aren't savage beasts incapable of rational thought when presented with the female form. We all (ok, mostly) manage to keep from shoplifting candy bars and cheating on our taxes--why shouldn't we expect men to behave themselves around women?

      Seriously, though, this "causing men to stumble" garbage has GOT to stop. When someone stumbles on a rock in their path, they don't blame the rock for being in their way. Usually they remind themselves to look where they're going.

      Big hugs to you, if you're ok with hugs, and lots of good thoughts your way as you fight this good fight!

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    4. Ev... I love what you said there! I have a friend that has 4 boys who were all lifeguards in their teen years (the youngest is in college now and is still a lifeguard). The one thing their mom (and dad) instilled in them was that when speaking to girls at the pool, they needed to remove their sunglasses and look them in the eye. Removing their sunglasses was to help the girls see that they were, indeed, looking at their faces and not elsewhere. They instilled good values in their boys that was noticed and appreciated by the girls at the pool. It is the job of parents of boys to teach them how to respect girls and treat them the way they would want others to treat their sisters! It is a sad and terrible thing to shame young ladies the way mentioned here and I am so sorry for all who have had to go through this!

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    5. I am told that Katy Perry's initial career in CCM ended for the same reason.

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  5. Becca,

    I just found your blog, another blogger I love, Joy from Joy in this Journey. She shared your post on Facebook. I loved your post, your honesty, and willingness to talk about your experience. You are right. It is sad and it is shocking. It shouldn't be this way. Hopefully by sharing your stories, others will he helped and find some comfort. I am a new fan of yours and look forward to reading more of your writing.

    Stevie

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    1. Stevie,

      Thanks for letting me know Joy posted it! I love her blog, so that's a total awesome moment for me. That's exactly my hope, and part of why I'm so brutally honest on the internet about such a sensitive subject - if someone else can feel just a little less alone in this, that'd be worth it.

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  6. Wow, thank you for this eloquent, shocking piece. As a man who has probably hurt many girls/women with legalistic and patriarchal approaches to modesty, I am sorry. My battle against legalism has not been without casualties. Thank you for sharing this.

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    1. Your apologetic heart is really beautiful. I've struggled coming out of fundamentalism, so I understand that battle.

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    2. It is so encouraging to hear these comments, especially from men who have struggled with fundamentalism. It keeps me believing things can get better.

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  7. It's hard for me to even form words after reading this. I'm heartbroken that you had to go through this, especially at the hands of people who are supposed to be a representation of the love of God. All I can say is thank you for your courage and your honesty. I don't know if you even realize what an amazing thing it is that you are willing to be so transparent in an online world where criticism is so easily found. I have a feeling this is going to touch so many women out there. Thank you for sharing. And thank you for your multitude of humorous and witty tweets which I so enjoy. I too would love to take you out for a cup of coffee where we would discuss life and God and books and how to rid the world of the evil scourge that is the moth. You truly are a beautiful person. Don't allow anyone--even yourself--to convince you otherwise.

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    1. Is it shallow for me to say I'm very elated that you find my Twitter feed entertaining? Hah! Email me - let's settle for a virtual cup of coffe ;) Also, SO GLAD you understand how I feel about moths!

      Seriously, thank you for the kindness in this response. I'm so used to being vulnerable and getting the worst backlash for it, this is a wonderful change for me. It's my heart and prayer that my story can and will help women, so thank you for saying that, too :)

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    2. Um, no, you're not shallow. Bask in your Twitter greatness! Take my compliment without shame, dammit! :) And I'm totally taking you up on that virtual coffee.

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  8. With the others, I am saddened by what happened to you (and many others). As people of God through Christ, we love, not based on sight. But so often it turns that way. My heart aches for you and others. As a pastor I am sending this to our congregation so that everyone can understand the hurts of many in our midst. And even more that we might love one another even as Christ loved us. Wholly, unconditionally, faithfully. Thank you for your honesty and openness.

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    1. Whoa - I am SO honored and humbled that you'd send this to your congregation!

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    2. The shame belongs to those who would try to shame you. How sad we live in a culture that focusses on the wrong person! That a girl/woman is shamed because of ANYthing about her. I am 66 (double D), but what was done to me is a wound that can never heal. Voted out of 31 year church membership with my name up on a big screen followed by the words, "Conduct Unbecoming a Child of God." On my birthday......put on the screen 3 times.....called to a meeting of deacons (16 "men") not allowed to have a woman with me and asked: "Are you still having SEX with your ex?" Their problem was that I allowed the x to live in my house after the divorce.

      Something positive came from the "ashes" www.churchabusepoetrytherapy.com with over 21,000 hits. Spiritual abuse is rampant.

      After a childhood of physical, verbal abuse, molestation and poverty (no phone car, refrigerator, tub or shower, snow came in thru a crack in the wall) a neighbor who held my hand over an open fire, etc., etc.....no father around......the church abuse is the one that cannot heal. I took my life story and won a scholarship because of it and am a sophomore at 66---trying to make a difference and get on national tv, to speak about (my purpose and passion) in life.....verbal abuse....1 in 3 women are physically assaulted in their lifetime and it all begins with the verbal.

      Sorry I went off-topic....everyone is responsible for their own behavior......if someone stares at you (for whatever reason) that is THEIR stuff.......I agree with anonymous.....Never let ANYone make you feel ashamed of yourself. There is a world of people who will do that.....refuse to do it to yourself ; you are beautiful the way you are.

      "Your opinion of me, does not define my reality."

      Alice, Dancer, Singer, author, poetess, Veteran (Women's Army Corps) and student at 66!

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    3. As a man...I can never really understand the shame of being judged on my appearance. On the other hand...having worked in secular radio at several classic rock stations in the past...I was approached at a fundamentalist church I got out of at this time by a former Chicago jazz musician who told me I was sending people to hell for playing rock music. When I regained my exposure...I looked him in the eye and asked for the number of people he had sent to hell because of his lifestyle. Wouldn't get an answer...but I never went back to that church after that. To this day...I believe He put that bigot in my life at that time to guide me away from the slavery of fundamentalism.

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    4. Headless Unicorn GuyJune 4, 2013 at 3:02 PM

      This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  9. God Bless you Becca, Thank you for sharing this. It is so important that others know that they are not the only ones who face this sort of harassment. I have faced this my whole life. Please keep sharing and fighting the good fight. I am proud of you. Thanks again, Suzy

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  10. I am just over 40 years old and I STILL have not come to terms with my natural breast size, which is funny because I developed quite a few years later than most of my classmates (due to chronic illness). Once I did start to develop, my boobs seemed to take on a life of its own. It's crazy because I've never really had hips or a butt, so I look really top-heavy. I am also barely over 5 feet tall, so you can imagine how out of proportion I am!

    Growing up, I HATED my body. I hated wearing bras, because they felt so constrictive. I hated the boys in school who would snap the back of my bra strap. I hated my siblings for calling me "Dolly" (as in Dolly Parton). I hated gym class or dance class that caused my chest to bounce (this was before sports bras were popular). I, too, would starve myself, because I learned in Biology that breasts are mostly "fat" tissue and thought I could diet my way down to a smaller size.

    I hate wearing bras now because I have to use ones with an underwire, and I sweat easily. I hate that men stare at my chest no matter what I am wearing. I hate that some people think I should wear a tent to "cover up." I hate that I can't find a comfortable bathing suit, partly because most come in the form of a halter (tying the knot on the back of my neck causes neck strain), and because I can't avoid cleavage unless I wear one of those high-neck racing suits (which again, are uncomfortable because I sweat easily).

    I don't think I have ever liked my body. I have spent endless hours trying on clothes that don't make me look slutty, nor that makes me look like I am wearing a potato sack. I have spent the cumulative of weeks or months throughout my life crying bat what I see in the mirror.

    I've spent hundreds on bras because the bigger you are, the more they cost. The "minimizing" bras make me feel like I'm an old lady. Thankfully, I've found the bra that is most comfortable for me (well, "no bra" would be much more comfortable) at Victoria's Secret, and they carry my size online. One good thing is that they last.

    Buying clothing is really difficult, because if it fits on top, it's too big everywhere else, and if it fits everywhere else, it's too tight on top. Dresses are the most difficult items to try on. I have found great success with shift-style dresses that usually have the darting seams on them.

    Yeah, I hate my chest. I guess some things never change.

    - K

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    1. K,

      Your story is heartbreaking. I'm so sorry you haven't reached a level of acceptance with your size. I understand how difficult that can be - my hope is that your heart is healed of those horrible, horrible wounds.

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  11. At a LL cup size (!!), I've had plenty clothing issues of my own. Recommend you take a look at bravissimo.com. It may just revolutionise your life!

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  12. Girl... it's their issue, not yours. I know that's not easy to believe because you've been shaped by it from early on, but the truth is, the older you get the more you will realise that it's THEIR issue and NOT yours. You are a great writer, by the way... really powerful in the way you express yourself. What a gift.

    I'm a church leader (female), I've had my fair share of wondering what to do in the situations you describe, but I'll tell you this... I've never put the guy's sin on the girl's situation and I don't intend to do it ever. Guys need to work out their issues, girls need to work on theirs... but it's wrong for women to be held to account over some guy not being able to work out his own problem.s

    Don't back off... you are GREAT!

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  13. Thank you for writing this. You've said things I thought so many times (much more eloquently than I ever could).

    You are beautiful both in body but also in soul. Thank you.

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  14. The shame belongs to those who would try to shame you. How sad we live in a culture that focusses on the wrong person! That a girl/woman is shamed because of ANYthing about her. I am 66 (double D), but what was done to me is a wound that can never heal. Voted out of 31 year church membership with my name up on a big screen followed by the words, "Conduct Unbecoming a Child of God." On my birthday......put on the screen 3 times.....called to a meeting of deacons (16 "men") not allowed to have a woman with me and asked: "Are you still having SEX with your ex?" Their problem was that I allowed the x to live in my house after the divorce.

    Something positive came from the "ashes" www.churchabusepoetrytherapy.com with over 21,000 hits. Spiritual abuse is rampant.

    After a childhood of physical, verbal abuse, molestation and poverty (no phone car, refrigerator, tub or shower, snow came in thru a crack in the wall) a neighbor who held my hand over an open fire, etc., etc.....no father around......the church abuse is the one that cannot heal. I took my life story and won a scholarship because of it and am a sophomore at 66---trying to make a difference and get on national tv, to speak about (my purpose and passion) in life.....verbal abuse....1 in 3 women are physically assaulted in their lifetime and it all begins with the verbal.

    Sorry I went off-topic....everyone is responsible for their own behavior......if someone stares at you (for whatever reason) that is THEIR stuff.......I agree with anonymous.....Never let ANYone make you feel ashamed of yourself. There is a world of people who will do that.....refuse to do it to yourself ; you are beautiful the way you are.

    "Your opinion of me, does not define my reality."

    Alice, Dancer, Singer, author, poetess, Veteran (Women's Army Corps) and student at 66!

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  15. As a Christian male, I feel obliged to apologize on their behalf. I hope someones told you that in the case of the masturbating teenager, the shame is all on him. And clearly, the male who told you to sit down knew this--hence the embarressment. I hope they told him to leave--indeed, I can't see why they wouldn't Men may not be able to help being tempted, just as women can't help being beautiful, but they're still responsible for how they respond to that temptation.

    I can't speak to the minister's wife and the tight-jeans youth leader. I suppose the bright side to take away from these incidents is that, whatever you might think and our culture might tell you, you are clearly a desirable person, and not just to perverts. The perverts are just the ones who are the most noticeable. Also clearly, your church leaders knew this--they wouldn't have bothered to warn you otherwise. For whatever reason, they just never thought to affirm your beauty. I guess they assumed you knew it.

    So sorry. Not sure if that helps.

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    1. Well, I've come to that understanding now on my own. These are not isolated incidents - I have ten years of similar stories that I could have shared. It's not just those three people who've contributed to the trauma, it's an institutionalized attitude that results in those kinds of actions. And I don't think the church culture I grew up in was at all interested in affirming my looks - I think it was just the opposite. Being beautiful, or curvy, is a threat to that attitude, and so I think it's less benevolent negligence and more purposeful oppression.

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    2. Masturbation isn't shameful. Doing it in public is inappropriate, and one might want to look into why a boy that age doesn't know that, but it's. Not. Shameful.

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    3. Headless Unicorn GuyJune 2, 2013 at 10:33 PM

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  16. I could have written this word for word. I also have PCOS. I'm so sorry you're dealing with this. (((hugs))) from another "blessed" sister (and honestly, I would SO rather have your DD's than my M's!)

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  17. Such a sad and familiar story. I grew up in the extremely conservative homeschool environment and was constantly hearing how lucky I was to be homeschooled rather than tossed into what sounded like the shark tank of "the world," where everything is about sex all the time. Supposedly I was lucky because in the church people would value me for more than my looks, they would also value me for my character, etc. I was incredibly surprised when I started working and began to realize just how much more relaxed "worldly people" were about sexuality compared to the church people I grew up around. Over time I've met more and more wonderful, well-rounded people who care about me as a whole person, including quite a few men, and it's been very healing.

    When I met the man I eventually fell in love with there was a lot of angst because I simultaneously did not believe he *could* find me attractive, as a fat girl, while ALSO thinking that he only wanted me for my body; neither of which turned out to be true. As a "worldly" guy, he shows me far, far more true caring than I ever got from church guys - I used to read romance stories about guys who cared about the girl's dreams and hopes and what was best for her, heroes who worked hard for her heart and valued it, heroes who also could not keep their hands off the romantic leads, and I thought I was too fat, too serious and ambitious, too weird, that nothing like that would ever be possible for me. Those of you who, like me, feel like there's some gorgeous prize just out of your reach that everyone else is finding, you can be OK. You're not perfect but you don't need to be perfect.

    I do feel bad for the church guys I grew up around also, because they are in their own cages, told to feel guilty over any sort of attraction, not do anything that might arouse lust (thus leading to the dreaded masturbation), and to basically think constantly about the necessity for not thinking about sex. Of course it leads to perversion and abnormal relationship styles.

    I hope you continue to find healing and happiness, Becca (and all the other commenters!).

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    1. Oh, your story's familiar to me too. I grew up homeschooled being told those same exact things! Thanks for including the happy ending - gives me hope :)

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    2. Holy cow!!!
      I could have written your exact story, anonymous. I had to look through it twice. I found a guy who fell madly in love with my oversized self and its still difficult to allow him to love on me. I feel like I shouldnt deserve it and he should find someone skinny and beautiful!
      Thanks for sharing. I know how it feels. I still struggle with finding my security in the level of attraction shown me.
      DoaHF

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    3. Becca - it is fun to be able to have my story to tell people now! He's like my own Flynn Rider (Tangled) in a lot of ways, not the least of which is the way he has consistently pushed me to *not* fall into my submissive habits. I've had to grow a lot as a person and realize just how much power I have as a person and in the relationship, which has not been easy at all... but he really values it when I can be assertive, even to telling him he's needs to work on an issue, which still surprises me every time.

      DoaHF - Hey there! I think we've actually interacted before a few times online, so it's nice to hear your happy story! I know what you mean, it's like waiting for the other shoe to drop, and I still struggle with that at times, no matter how irrational it is. I still pinch myself, because it was such a LONG and painful journey and I thought it would never happen for me.

      Fellow awkward homeschool grads, don't lose hope!

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    4. Headless Unicorn GuyJune 2, 2013 at 10:35 PM

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  18. I haven't had all the experiences you've had, but I do have PCOS, a HUGE weight problem, and a father who failed to accept the connection. I saw a lot of myself in this post and I thank you for it. I'm 37 and trying to get my weight under control. For a PCOS woman it feel as if it's hopeless and no one understands they just want to criticize. Thank you for this post.

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    1. The hardest part of PCOS, for me, has been that it's such a little-understood condition, and people tend to judge you for being "fat" and not listen to the fact that it's entirely your body's fault and not your own.

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    2. Personally, I think a lot of overweight people are there because of links to imbalances and illnesses in the body caused by our environment, diet, medications, and even dieting and diet foods. It's hard to see in ourselves because, yeah, we may eat ice cream, chips, and fast food from time to time, but I think rarely is it actually JUST a matter of "self control" and I bristle when I see people blame it on themselves like that.

      You might be interested in reading the blog, "Naturally Knocked Up" she and many people she's helped have reversed PCOS.

      Thank you for sharing so vulnerably. It really helped open my eyes.

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  19. I don't go to church but I have a gym membership and this sort of thing is an issue there. If someone is making you uncomfortable by staring at you, I suggest you maintain eye contact with that person (maybe even give him the evil eye), walk directly towards him and tell him "Stop staring at me! You're making me uncomfortable." I guarantee you 9 out of 10 guys will heed the warning. Some of them might actually think about things from your perspective and apologize to you. I know girls are conditioned to be nice, to be cooperative, to think about others' feelings, but sometimes you have to step up and take charge of the situation. For the 1 out of 10 guys who refuse to play by your rules (and yes, these are unwritten social rules that not everyone knows about or abides by), you need to find someone in charge of the area and tell them what's bothering you. Eventually you'll find someone who has the power to stop this and is willing to help you. That someone may be the perpetrator himself, it may be the perp's father, it may be a church leader, whomever.

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    1. That's really good advice, and I'm sure it would work. But as someone who's been violently threatened on the street by strangers, I just try to avoid antagonizing in any way because I've had it backfire in really scary ways before.

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  20. Ironically, sometimes Church is certainly not the best place to be accepted for who you are. Most 'sins' are cultural...having been to churches in nearly 40 different countries, preaching, and studying theology and church history in Bible College, that's how I've come to see it.

    Regarding the issue of what is appropriate, in the Early Church, baptisms were done in the nude. Men, women and children. They even had something they called the 'Holy Kiss'-this was a practice where all the congregants would kiss each other on the lips (specifically without using the tongue as that was regarded as profane by the early church). The purpose of this kiss was that they really believed they shared the Holy Spirit (spirit means breath) by kissing on the lips, and it was not a sign of love or attraction but an actual partaking of the Spirit of God.

    If you tried to do this now, you'd be hounded out of town!

    In 1 Samuel 19, it says that the Holy Spirit came upon Saul, and he started prophesying naked in front of Samuel all night and all day. Isaiah 20 God tells the prophet Isaiah to strip, and he goes around naked and barefoot for 3 years.

    If the Holy Spirit came upon you today and did the same thing, Christians nowadays would think you were overtaken by Satan. But it just shows us how much modern Christians limit what they think God can and cannot do.

    So now, even though God is a Mystery, even the trinity is regarded as two thirds male - Father and Son. Obviously God is genderless, but a huge majority of Christians imagine a 30-ish year old muscular man with a beard when they start singing praise and worship songs. (I although i wouldn't say it, an onlooker could say that Jesus is the only male in the world that Churches regard as acceptable for other males to have a romantic relationship with. If you really went through with human logic, Jesus is the only one in the world to have a polygamous relationship with both males and females who are all his Bride.)

    Anyway, the point is, humans limit what they think is acceptable for God. Nudity? Tight clothes? I tell you the truth, there are some churches in the world, where everyone is topless, because breasts are seen as something for babies. There are some Christian tribes where everyone is nude and even missionaries have to strip.

    Perhaps you just need to find out where God wants you to be, rather than suffering one particular culture's interpretation of God?

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    1. Good point on cultural appropriation of various "sins." & yes, my goal is to find a church where I can feel accepted, where people are more concerned with what's in my heart than with what's on top of it. But I'm not just sitting silent in one oppressive environment - I have encountered this problem in so many places that I've lost count.

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  21. Hey, Becca,
    I just want to tell you that you shouldn't be so hard on yourself. I'm almost 17 and am under weight because I have a high metabolism. Many people say I should consider myself lucky because I'm skinny. But what is lucky about having my ribs and hip bones popping out of my skin? I feel gross and "undesirable", as you felt, but in a different way. I don't like wearing bathing suits for the fact that I feel like all anyone will think as soon as they see me is "Wow, she looks like a skeleton. How nasty." I have tried to gain weight but nothing ever happens. I know that you might be thinking that I'm complaining and that I shouldn't be because everyone wants to be skinny. But whether you're 100 pounds or 300 pounds, you will have insecurities but try to let go cause God loves you(whether you feel like he does or not).
    My feelings could not be more different then yours for I'm almost 17 and have never had a boyfriend, never even been kissed and I used to think something was wrong with me. "What's wrong with me that boys don't find me attractive?" I'd think. So I started using my skinniness to my advantage and wearing the tightest clothes I could find to show off my figure(but without showing my bones of course!) and they still never even glanced at me. I found that if I let go and just be myself then things will eventually come my way. You are beautiful just the way you are because God thinks you're beautiful and everything happens for a reason.

    P.S. I wear whatever I want in my church and no one says anything because they love me for who I am, not what I wear or what my shape is, or even who's staring. Maybe you should join a different church that won't judge you, but love you.

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    1. Thank you for sharing. It's so true - no matter what the size, we all have self-image issues that we project onto ourselves! & don't worry, I've left the church where many of these incidents occurred and I never went back.

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  22. Hiya, Becca,
    I'm a little under weight and for that I have nooo figure at all. No boobs, no butt, no curves. Even though I'm sixteen and have hit puberty already. Guys at my church and elsewhere still stare at me. I don't really understand why, cause it's like "What are you even starting AT???" haha but that is just a guy. It's not us, it's them. The male species, that is. (unless you wear inappropriate clothes to provoke them, then it's definitely you haha) Men and boys, not all but most, are pigs. Plain and simple. But it's not really their fault that all they think about is sex. It's just how they are built. And yes, those adults should have talked to them, not you. Because no matter what you wear, they are going to stare. And it's not like you can just stop being a woman! Being a woman is hard no matter how you look. So stay positive and remember that God loves ya and be confident that you are a beautiful young lady :)

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    1. You're right, it's not us, it's their responsibility to police their own actions. But I find it sad that you believe almost the entirety of the male gender to be "pigs." I can understand how life experiences can give you that feeling, but I wish you could know the hearts of the good men I have known because you'd realize that men are not evil, they're not built or preprogrammed to only think about sex, and that men are really quite capable of being wonderful human beings. Just as it's harmful to constrain women to being only sex objects, it's harmful to assume that all men are only sex machines. I hope that's not the impression I gave out in my writing. It's not my intention to slam the male gender. Also, I'd like to just note that no matter what I'm wearing, it doesn't matter - it's still their responsibility to control their own thoughts, eyes, and actions. Lots of times an outfit that on a slim woman would be considered "modest" is automatically considered "slutty" on a woman of my size (the clothing having proper adjusted sizing). Too often, "provoking" clothing is really just code for possessing a "provoking" figure.

      Thank you for sharing your story, and for the compliments. I appreciate the encouragement.

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  23. I had the same experience. :(

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  24. I think the "I thought I was done with this? I thought I had accepted my lumpy body and started to appreciate it" line is somethinf we all go through ans keep going through its part of the never happy with anything attitude. ..I try and give up on diets and exercise several times a month...its just what we do...I hate it

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    1. That cycle is so exhausting, right?

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  25. Oh my god. Thank you. You've perfectly summed up my experience - the same experience people told me was all in my head. Thank you, a million times, thank you.

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  26. Thank you for sharing your story. I hope churches will wake up and stop asking women to take responsibility for mens' actions.

    I wrote about similar issues here:
    http://marciglass.com/2013/05/08/cry-of-tamar/

    Blessings to you.
    Marci Glass
    www.marciglass.com

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  27. Becca, it most certainly was NOT your fault that boys "stumbled" in your presence, but neither was it theirs. You have a beautiful, feminine body, and the boys were subject to the hormones God makes so active in them at that age. The fault, the source of the injury to you both, is in the attitude that there is something wrong with that hormone surge, and that the female must always bear the blame. No, the young men cannot help what they feel when they see you, but they should be taught that it's normal, it will embarrass them a bit, but that they are only to do the best they can to control themselves. What they feel is perfectly normal, but so is the need to go to the bathroom. Both feelings are normal and healthy, but not every place is appropriate for dealing with those feelings.
    You have nothing to do with it. You are not the only young woman who will inspire that feeling in them, and they're going to have to learn to deal with it in situations where the young-woman-of-the-moment cannot be told to go home and change. That anyone would blame you for those perfectly normal male feelings as though there WERE something you could do about it is as inexcusable as it is absurd. Understand that the people who said those things to you are absolutely, and morally, wrong in every respect. It's not easy to dismiss what's been pounded into you for so many years, but I hope and pray you find a church with members who have sense and understanding who will help you to do so. You're in my prayers.

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  28. Guys stare at you because you're beautiful! And how is it your fault that they are "stumbling" for heavens sakes...that doesn't even make sense. I'm sorry you had these experiences...try Paganism sometime ;P

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  30. Just wanted to say that I came across this after writing a related post on my own experiences with the Modesty Doctrine (growing up in a fundamentalist subculture). Thanks for sharing your thoughts - I and so many others understand so very much. <3

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  31. I reposted a friend's posting of this blog on my FB page because my experience with my body and the cultural and social shame that comes with being a girl with large breasts was never so prevalent nor painful as when it was in church or at a Christian university.

    I've written similar things in response to flyers that went up in a boys' dorm while I was living on campus that was calling 'men' to 'take responsibility' for the way their girlfriends dressed, and saying that if the girlfriends in question did not comply with their demands they dress more modestly, well, did they REALLY want to be dating 'girls like that'? It's disgusting.

    On a related note, that may or may not pique your interest, if you are not familiar with it, I suggest very very vehemently that you check out roller derby and the sub-culture that goes along with it. On the surface, it may not appeal to many in the faith community (especially with its emphasis on the athletes being sexy, and it's total acceptance of alternative sexualities / lifestyles), but I can tell you that I have never been part of a community so accepting, or a group of women that were more body positive than the women I skate with and the women I watch skating. Women of every shape and size are judged on their merits as athletes, regardless of whether they're 'conventionally' athletic, and they're all treated with respect and seen as beautiful, even when they fall far outside what the world might tell them is beautiful.


    **Edited and reposted to remove typos**

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    1. I whole-heartedly agree with your roller derby suggestion! I work as a youth minister at a church right now and I'm also a part of a roller derby team (I'm an official, not a skater). I have never been a part of such an uplifting, accepting, awesome group of women. I've always been self-conscious about my weight and my skin and my crazy hair, but these girls are constantly reminding me that I'm beautiful and worthy. I don't know what I would do without my team.

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    2. I did love the movie Whip It..haha. I'd love to watch a roller derby event sometime, but I have zero athletic coordination whatsoever.

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  32. I've been a double d since I was twelve and understand your frustration. May I encourage you with my testimony? You are not alone, but do not feel ashamed. God created you and loves you no matter what you look like. We are all a work in progress, but progress comes in many different views. There is no "one-size fits all" - not in the culture we live in; not in many churches we attend. God created us and believes we are the best thing since peanut butter.

    Psalm 139 and Psalm 16 have helped me understand how much He really does love me. When I began accepting His love, as a Father and as a Saviour, then I was able to discern against lies and evil thoughts that accused me, and my body. Satan comes to kill, steal, and destroy - and he knows that if he can destroy our confidence in ourselves (as children of God, as victors, as conquerors, as heirs) then he can throw us into a prison of self-doubt, self-hatred, torment, self-accusation. This is Satan's "love" - to devalue us, to say that we are unworthy of God's love, to accuse us for being built the way we are. You can tell those thoughts to beat it - if they have something to say against you, tell them to go talk to Your Father instead. Defeating these thoughts, defeating these "Feelings" begins with the choice. I decided enough was enough. No more torment, no more pain, no more "guilting feelings about making boys stumble" - I am God's child, I am His daughter. He knows my heart is not to make them stumble, they will have to just "get over it" because I'm not trying to please men - I'm doing my best to please God by loving myself the way He loves me. I no longer live in fear of making men fall; I have curves, I have a "dream" body - thank God! I'll praise Him for it and love myself in the midst of change.

    To all those ladies struggling with loving themselves, you are worthy of being loved. When Jesus died on the cross, do you know he did it for you? So you might break free from such awful bondage of self-hate. Can you believe that God loves you? Can you believe in yourself? Are you ready to take the first steps towards freedom (freedom from fear, freedom from doubts, freedom from accusation)? If you are, love yourself as Father GOD loves you.

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  33. Wow, thank you so much for sharing this. Very beautiful and touching and quite relatable.

    Also, I LOVE Eisley and am available for cuddles just thought you should know =)

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    1. I mean the stories were horrifying but relatable, but the way you shared and the obvious way that you've come out of that to help others and share your story is beautiful. Thank you.

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    2. Hah, I didn't think you were saying it in a bad way. & Eisley fans are the BEST!

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    3. I just wanted to articulate better, because words on the internet are hard sometimes!
      But yeah Eisley has some really crazy fans, in the best possible sense.

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  34. Becca, this article is needed. I have replied mainly on FB on the SCCL post about my thoughts on the matter, but just know that I think you're awesome.

    I'm no longer part of the church and this is one of the very many reasons I have for not being involved in it. What concerns me the most is that the Church is quite happy to reprimand women for what they wear because it causes a man to stumble, than asking the man to sort himself the fuck out and control himself. This way of thinking is exactly in line with society that says it's the woman's fault for getting raped because she wore inappropriate clothes, rather than, ummm hello....men, don't rape.

    Here's a little song to sum up my whole opinion on the matter: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mq86e4Fhja0

    xx

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  35. I grew up in the very same atmosphere with the very same shame and dispare that came along with being a curvy woman. I was very small with B cups. I wore giant shirts and floor length skirts. I was taught at a young age that if a man looked at me I was causing him to stumble and it was some how MY fault. I was a girly girl and wanted so desperately to look pretty, wear make up, and dress in a way that said "im a girl" not "I hate what I am and am trying to hide it". My mother and father put these rules on me and when I got married and began to dress differently, pants, t shirts, and the likes, they tried to cut me off completely. God has worked in both of us and we now speak, but for a long time the only thing my mom would say to me was that I was sinning and they wouldn't allow me back to visit unless I was wearing a skirt. God has recently been cleaning my heart of the shame and pain of those years!

    On another note that I identify with is the size issue. After my 2 children and expecting a third I have gained so much weight (turns out I have a metabolism problem)and I frequently get sucked into the same vortex of despair and self loathing. Your words spoke right to my heart and I appreciate your openness and willingness to share on that topic. Thank you SO much! <3

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  36. I love that I can (and do) go to church in things that show my curvy shape, sometimes cleavage and skinny jeans and people stare and stare...

    AT MY FACE.

    With a smile. And a hug. And usually "I just love reading your Facebook statuses, you are so funny!" or "Thank you for the Children's Choir songs today, it was such a blessing and so joyful!"

    I have found the right kind of church.

    I am so sorry you've had this experience, but thank you for sharing it. I hope you can find the right kind of community. This is sickening and horrifying and I really, really hope my daughters never have to experience something like this. Freedom in Christ, my patootie.

    (BTW, I'm ELCA Lutheran, cradle. But this congregation in particular is just the most wonderful community I've ever known, it is truly special.)

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  37. I've heard stories like this a lot over the years. Not just in church situations, but in all sorts of situations. All of them leave me with one thought: I really wish I had understood this when I was younger. I'm a 34 year old man and while I know I was never the worst offender, I can't help but wonder how often I made others feel this way in complete ignorance.

    I think if I knew then what I know now, a lot of things would be different. Thank you for speaking out. I am glad to see this trend is strengthening. Education is the cure to ignorance. If a problem isn't brought to light, it can't be solved. Please keep the faith, both in God and in the fact that things will get better if we make them so. If you want things to be different, make them different. Things like this are an amazing first step. You have my admiration and my thanks.

    -Tug

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  38. Becca, As a dad with a 20 year old daughter, I'm heartbroken at what you've gone through and right now all I want to do is find the people who put you through this and throw up all over their shoes. Thank you for opening yourself up this way and letting us all into your pain and confusion. It is for freedom that Christ has set us free, and you are free in him to be the person he has created you to be.

    Cheers and blessings,
    Tim

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  39. As many have said before me, this is very familiar to me. I'm the same cup size as you, and I also have PCOS (which, for people who seem to never understand, is not CAUSED by weight gain but CONTRIBUTES TO weight gain). Being female in fundamentalist or evangelical circles is hard. So hard. Our bodies are even more public property than most women, and it's disheartening. Thank you for adding your voice to how damaging the body policing of women in the church is. I so deeply appreciate it.

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  40. Listen. If you find yourself in a church where, having dressed appropriately as you would for an office job or any formal daytime occasion, you are pulled aside and told to cover up, or blamed for causing members of the opposite sex to "stumble" (eyeroll), get up, walk out, and never come back. There is something very, very wrong with those people and that church, and you should not expose yourself to anything so toxic. Those people have lost their way. Their behavior says nothing whatsoever about you or your body, but it speaks volumes about what is going on in their pitiable, twisted brains and shrunken, malformed souls.

    I'm a little old-fashioned when it comes to dressing for church, in the sense that I am sorry not to see younger women and girls wearing pretty dresses instead of slouchy tops and baggy jeans. But your post makes me wonder if this is because they are so self-conscious about their bodies that they, like you, want nothing more than to fade into the woodwork. That makes me incredibly sad, because you, like the young women your age I see in our congregation (liberal Episcopalian), are beautiful, and you have the right to be beautiful in public.

    You may wish to consider finding a non-evangelical church. Misogyny (as practiced by both men and women) and sexual objectification are not totally absent from liberal Protestant denominations like the UCC, the ELCA, the Episcopal Church, or the PCUSA, but you are far less likely to encounter it there than in an evangelical or fundamentalist church.

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  41. The next time someone turns and stares at you in church, politely tell them to "turn around or leave." I've done this and the offender is usually so shocked that I said something that they turn around. The best way is to call them on their behavior immediately. I have had all manner of inappropriate comments made to me after services, to which on occasion, i sweetly and quietly tell the individual to %%$% off, or I've had to take my baseball bat out of my car (when person tried to block me in parking lot to "talk " to him. Maybe its just because I'm from New Jersey, we tend to be a little more direct. Amazingly, after that, the comments turn quite quickly to , how fat, big nose etc. when just ten minites before I was someone they wanted to get to know soul wise. Yeah. OK. Right. not all guys are like this and unfortunately, misogyny loves religion.

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  42. Becca,

    Your post has me in tears right now. I relate to this so much. Growing up in the church, I've dealt with a lot of the same garbage (the inappropriate glances, comments about my wardrobe, and even the pcos). I totally know where you're coming from. It's been a long hard road learning to accept my body as God created it. Even when I'm fully covered I still feel subconscious sometimes--it's not that easy hiding curves like mine! As a youth leader now, I've tried hard to have an open dialogue about this kind of stuff with my youth. Sadly, I think our culture still has a long way to go.

    Thank you for sharing your story. It's so nice to know that someone out there understands.

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  43. Becca, you are beautiful! I pray the Lord's blessing on you!

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    1. I also want to say, thank you for speaking out! You are an inspiration... :)

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  44. Wow...this post was exactly my life. I grew up a pastor's daughter and I have always hated how my parents - especially my dad - made me feel about my body. On the one hand I was "too fat to ever be loved", but on the other everything I wore or even how I stood would likely make men think I was a prostitute and act accordingly. No matter what I wore or how I did my makeup, if I got any enjoyment out of it, my dad would find some way to make me feel like complete crap about my body. Fast forward a decade or so, struggles with bulimia and self harm, I still find buying new clothes triggering and avoid churches where that kind of extreme modesty is required like the plague.

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    1. I'm so sorry that this is your story, too. I wish that it wasn't so familiar to so many people.

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  45. As a man who tries to think through issues, I appreciated you sharing your experience and thoughts. One of the problems with the general issue is that is complex. Most people wish for simple answers, though, and preferably ones that blame someone else. Men are responsible for how they respond to temptation. On the other hand, I believe that women have some responsibility to avoid provocative clothing (and by that I mean clothing that is designed or worn with the intent to attract sexual attention). Each group is responsible for their own actions and not the actions of the other.
    One thing we need to realize is that our culture sends us messages that are very unhelpful in this area. Watch the body language (of the woman and nearby men) and listen to the music when an attractive woman is shown on a movie screen and you will see that sensual appeal is promoted. This encourages thinking that is harmful to men and women. Men get the message that this stuff is important and should occupy their thoughts. Women get the message that their sensuality is a major part of their worth as a human being. Also, there is a common idea that you should be able to get away with more if you match certain standards of attractiveness. These prevalent messages work against us.
    I think the main problem here is that people were not treating you as valuable. If I believe you are a valuable person, it shows in ways that go well beyond "don't stare" types of responses. God found you valuable enough to send His son to die for you, so people in the church should show that you are of great worth. Church should be a place where you are encouraged because you are obviously loved. While there may be times of confrontation, there should also be times of praise for the things you do well (like your willingness to volunteer in so many ways). If you are obviously loved, then you are more likely to feel like you can share your difficulties rather than just feel abused when someone says there is a problem.

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    1. "Men are responsible for how they respond to temptation. On the other hand, I believe that women have some responsibility to avoid provocative clothing (and by that I mean clothing that is designed or worn with the intent to attract sexual attention). Each group is responsible for their own actions and not the actions of the other."

      This. The problem is not the fact that we have ideas of modesty, but that they are misapplied and often used to absolve the responsibility on the male side. And vice versa...men can dress provocatively, and women can struggle with lust. All humans are capable of either of those. Not choosing clothing with the intent to attract sexual attention where modesty comes into play. Nothing you've described says you were at any point choosing immodest clothing. Not emphasizing your breasts is not the same as only wearing items that make them unnoticeable.

      The fact that you were asked to sit down because a teenage boy was staring at you and doing something inappropriate in church? That's insane and downright angering. There is nothing in scripture that justifies that. If you were buck naked, he still should not be doing that in church. He should still control his thoughts and actions. The difference is that in that case both of you would be doing something inappropriate, whereas in that situation only he was doing something inappropriate. They should have had plenty of words to say to him and not a single word to say to you.

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    2. Saying that women have a "responsibility" to avoid clothing that is of provocative intent is still modesty doctrine. Perhaps you'd never take it as far as the extreme examples I've used here, but that's the thinking that is at the heart of modesty doctrine. The problem is, what you think of as being inherently designed to illicit sexual attention may not be universal. It probably isn't, in fact. Trying to apply that principle to everyone doesn't work because there's a difference between what one man might see as inherently trying to draw sexual attention (say, a tank top with spaghetti straps) and what someone else might think is the same intent (wearing a bikini to the beach). That's still modesty doctrine, and it's still harmful to women. Women have a responsibility only to themselves when dressing.

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    4. Unfortunately for YOUR argument, Hannah, this is my blog, and I choose to delete any comments in defense of rape culture. FYI, it doesn't really work to say that women have to dress modestly because our bodies are like alcohol to an alcoholic, & then follow up with "but don't worry, I'm sooooo not into rape culture!" Because guess what? That first statement IS rape culture.

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    6. Anon, go read this and educate yourself.: "Evangelical Christian culture centers its modesty doctrines around two key passages: the one where Jesus says that a man who lusts after a woman has committed adultery with her in his heart, and the one where Paul admonishes believers not to cause a fellow believer to stumble. In this context, women are taught that they are responsible for “helping” their brothers in Christ to not think lustfully about them, mainly by dressing in a way that doesn’t cause the men who see them to have lustful or sexual thoughts about them. Men, after all, are visual creatures, says Christian culture; they have little control over the fact that seeing a woman wearing revealing clothes makes them feel lust, and a woman who does so is essentially making a man sin. So it’s up to the woman to cover her body appropriately, or risk causing the men around her to stumble."
      http://adiposerex.wordpress.com/2013/06/03/women-arent-cake-part-1-some-definitions-and-101-ing/

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    7. Or go read this: http://www.prodigalmagazine.com/my-responsibility/

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    8. To address the "women's bodies are like alcohol to an alcoholic" analogy, go read this: http://www.emilyisspeakingup.com/blog/2013/2/12/modesty

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  46. I just read your article (referred from Rage Against the Minivan) without the header at the top (not sure what happened), so I had no idea what you look like. When I went to your homepage, I was stunned by your photos. You are beautiful! Adorable! Holy megawatt smile! :D I just wanted to tell you that. You are a very lovely woman, and it sure sounds to me as though God is making you to be even lovelier inside.

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  47. Hi Becca, In my 59 years on this earth, I have never heard of such things going on in church. I was brought up in church and I'm still going to church. I think that church should be a more loving and caring atmosphere. I'm so sorry that you or anyone has to go through such a degrading experience. :-( I think those people who did this to you need some serious counseling.

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  48. As a pre-teen I used to get noticed by boys of all ages for my hourglass figure and larger boobs (although not not terribly large) so because of that I've struggled with my own body image and I have been blessed to not have any type of a weight problem. It has also caused me to strive to be very modest in my dressing because I felt so dirty getting looked up and down and having comments made to me. I always felt like i was doing something wrong.

    On the flip side, has anyone noticed boys clothes getting tighter and tighter??? I lived in Paris, France for a few years where I went to a very international church so people from all over with different styles, so maybe that has something to do with it. But there is a culture of guys wearing "girls jeans" and low cut v neck shirts (that I like to refer to as man cleavage shirts) and maybe they think that there is no shame in doing that for whatever reason, they don't have "boobs", or us women are not looking at them the same way men tend to look at women but I disagree. I don't usually have a problem with guys dressing this way, especially after living in a place where that is more so the cultural norm (and the typical guy has a very slender body frame as opposed to the typical american who is football player built) but I feel like that is hypocritical to be making comments about the way women are to be dressed at church but not have the expectation for the men.

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  49. Did your mom talk to you after the incidence in church when you were made to go home and change? If so, what did she say and did it help or hurt? (This may be too personal, and if so, just ignore this comment. As a new mom, I think about these things.)

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    1. She agreed with church policy, for the most part.

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  50. Becca,

    First, let me say - you are beautiful.
    Second, I applaud you for not giving up on God and the church entirely.

    Third, I'm sure you know that churches are not full of saints, they are full of sinners...sinners do stupid things...
    But as a couple of posters acknowledged, the problem is on both sides. Boys need to be taught how to behave (in all situations) and how to deal, in a healthy way, with their Very normal reactions to women, particularly during puberty when those hormones are raging.
    Girls also need to be taught how to dress and comport themselves in a God-honoring manner. What you described happening to you is Not the way that should be done, nor do your descriptions of dress seem like they even needed correcting.

    Now my confession...I am the mother of three boys and one girl (3 of whom are teenagers). We are teaching our boys to respect women, to treat them with care, to talk to Us about their urges and questions. We taught them not to "ogle" before they had that urge. We are teaching our teen daughter to respect herself, to pay attention to how she is dressed, not really because she might cause some random boy to stumble, tho I do think there is Some responsibility there. The responsibility is to dress and behave with modesty and decorum. Girls should understand that they should not throw gas on the fire that is a pubescent boy's mind. But throwing gas is wearing deliberately eye-catching, provocative clothing...

    A little off subject...my confession...
    When my oldest boy went thru puberty, I struggled with him. I talked to him and felt his pains trying to deal with the SEA of flesh he was confronted with in our large Pentecostal church. I admit it riled the momma bear in me. I never said anything, because I didn't know all their moms or dads and I believed that would be the proper place to start. But to my shame, I did fume and fuss to friends...not about any one in particular, but that isn't an excuse.

    I have calmed down somewhat. And although some of the clothing I see is deliberate (you don't wear too tight jeans with sparkly"juicy" written on them because you have no choice), I do recognize that we have both a lack of grace-covered education in our church (and many others) and probably many "financial" causes as well.

    My heart broke reading about your pain and I honestly hope that sometime soon, I can be part of a cure, at least in my Pentecostal church (fairly fundamental, but possibly less than one might assume - we wear pants and everything)

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    1. Ps....as my daddy would say, your dad needed a 2 x 4 attitude adjustment upside the head for what he said to you...

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  51. As a 41year old mother of 6 and 7 year old girls i want to smack everyone of them for you. We are teaching our girls to dress properly to have respect for their own body. I did not make their bodies for all the world to seee. However, boys/men need to be responsible for themselves and be taught respect for girls/women. I work w/high school girls who refuse to eat at school or around boys because the boys make fun of them for eating and getting fat. These girls are ballet dancers who are stick thin and need to eat. I often wonder how the boys' parents would react if they knew their boys behaved this way. It takes a village to raise a child. Maybe we should be speaking up more and saying, "no i will not leave. You need to quit staring"

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  52. I distinctly remember being at church camp and told to change. I was wearing long sports shorts that went almost to my knees and a loose tank top that didn't show any cleavage. It was appropriate clothing for the summer in Oklahoma. And the person who told me this was a male youth minister in front of every girl in the camp rather than having a female come to discuss it with me privately. I understand the importance of modesty and while i admit I've sometimes intentionally dressed provocatively (not to church), generally I've extremely modest. The truth is it doesn't matter what you wear; if a guy wants to find some object for his lust, he will. Boys generally get "the porn talk" but parents and youth leaders should talk to them about how to treat real girls with respect and realize that our bodies aren't there for their enjoyment.

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  53. I'm plus size too, all butt and boobs with no waist to hip definition but it's toned and I have about 19% body fat. I just recently started wearing shorts that were shorter than the bottom of my knee. I still wear shirts two sizes too large. It doesn't help that I grew up in the homeschooling Patriarchal/Quiverfull movement either and was shamed for having breasts. I also have PCOS.

    We can dress as modestly as we possibly can and some male minds are going to undress us in their heads. That's just the way it is. It's not our problem, it's theirs.

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  54. I found this post when a facebook friend posted it on Facebook. It was a little frustrating for me to read because I have experienced this kind of "advice" from people in my life before. (Though definately not at the extreme you did, and not from my church).
    I am all for helping our brothers in Christ live lives of purity. However, sometimes that HELP needs to come in the form of telling them to grow up, learn some self control, and have some respect. They live in a culture where women flaunt what they've got, and if they can't learn to control themselves when they are faced with it, they are in big trouble.

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    1. I don't think I'm for "helping" men in their search for purity if it means I have to think for even one nanosecond about camouflaging my body to "help" them.

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  55. I kind of feel like you just wrote my story. We're better than this. Screw 'em. God didn't make you the way he made you just so you could feel ashamed of it. It's not easy to believe that, but if you tell yourself that every day, sometimes it feels pretty real. God made you wonderful, and if other people are going to hurt you for it, it's because they don't really know God.

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  56. Thank you so much for writing this. I grew up in a modesty culture and definitely still struggle with aspects of it. I dread having kids and trying to balance all of this. God has given you a real talent for writing, and you are using it so well! Thank you again!

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  57. Your words. Just wow at how uncomfortable I felt reading them, and how desperately they need to be said. Thank you.
    I have two boys and I believe with all my heart the greatest responsibility is on us to raise these boys into men who respect women from the deep down place of God's heart and love for women. The world is discipling boys into women haters and disrespectful, self-centered objectifiers. The songs on the radio make me cringe and I find myself having to explain why the things they say are not ok. Trendy slang and things their friends say on social media have to be run through the filter of respect and held up to the light of truth. So often what their friends (or mine) say is meant to be "funny", but I cannot allow them to derive humor in any of the ways that turn a women into an object of a man's disrespect. Words matter, attitudes matter, who God says we are matters most, and it goes right down to these small things as much as the big ones.
    I am a single mom who sometimes fears that without a strong, Godly father in their lives they will somehow miss out on what all this is supposed to look like. But then I am reminded that there is no better Father to them than God and He is graciously giving them what they need despite the ways I may fail.
    My boys will know how to respect women however they are dressed, however they look and however they behave. Period.

    I'm sure you've seen this article, but just in case you haven't, this is beautiful and the best thing I've read lately on the subject. I printed it out and each of my boys will have it put in our journals we write in to each other.
    http://www.aholyexperience.com/2013/03/after-steubenville-what-our-sons-needs-to-know-about-manhood/
    you are loved, girl.

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  58. I just wanted to let you know I've been diagnosed with PCOS too, and it sucks. I completely understand when you talk about how hard it is to lose any weight. However!! There are medications now that can treat this and if you're still struggling I strongly suggest you inquire about them to your gynecologist. I know the one I'm on only works in like 80% of women, but if it does work for you it makes it so much easier. Since I've started taking it (and eating really well and working out a lot mind you) I've actually lost like twenty pounds. So there is hope! And it is absolutely not your fault that you gain and retain weight so easily. Since the age of five I've been playing premier league soccer (meaning two/three HARD practices a week and two games every weekend) and all my life I've been a little over weight. So without correcting the problems PCOS causes, no amount of calorie restriction or heavy workouts is very likely to help.

    I know how hard and utterly frustrating it is to deal with this problem, but stay strong and eventually you will learn to understand it and accept it as a part of yourself.

    Also keep up the writing quest! You're really very good (and I'm a writer myself who doesn't give out compliments freely). Good luck with all your dreams and just keep working!

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  59. Your courage astounds me.

    As a plus-size woman with DDDs I can relate to when you talked about...shouldn't a benefit of being plus-size be that you don't get creepy attention. I don't feel like I get much of the good kind of appreciative-but-not-creepy attraction (though I've had a few men tell me they thought I was attractive, and I'm shocked as I had not picked up on it AT all...so either I suck at reading the signs or the (non-creepy, of course) men are quite good at hiding it, lol). Anyway sometimes I wonder if that's only because, in addition to having the DDDs, I am also "fat." (I hate that word by the way. I know many people have reclaimed it...badge of honor, blah blah blah, but to me it will always be the least favorite word of my late fiance...whose obesity killed him. You can guess why it was his least favorite.)

    Also I grew up fundamentalist, so modesty/purity culture was definitely a part of that. I don't feel like it was the WORST part in my case, as I got more of a "you're just plain not worthy (unless you live up to our/God's standard of perfection)" message. But since I started learning about the true nature of modesty/purity culture, I can look back at certain incidents of this nature and realize how messed up they were and how differently I'd have responded if I knew then what I know now.

    So yeah...BRAVO.

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  60. I'm continually astounded at the irony of church people who scream for the poor to show some personal responsibility and yet they cannot take responsibility for their own desires. Really? Come on guys. I'm so glad I left that culture.

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  61. I appreciate your sharp honesty. It's accounts like these that could change the way a leader handles modesty. I struggled with this topic, as a teen, especially with my father. He thought being able to see I have a chest under my shirt was not modest. Oh if people only knew the real struggle.

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  62. wow this just broke me - story after story after incident and all 'in the name of the church' [imagine when we get it right to start doing things in the name of Jesus?] - i pretty much grew up i the church - pastor dad, youth leader and youth/student pastor myself and yeah it can be tricky sometime when youth girls dress in ways that aren't uber helpful but yeah we really tried to just address things and speak them out altho i can't remember us doing much in this area unfortunately. but wow just broken and sorry [on behalf of all messed up church guys everywhere and more importantly church leaders] and just hope that you won't give up on church [as in the people who follow Christ earnestly] over these horrendous encounters with some of them. thank you for sharing... love b...

    [p.s. i run a series on my blog called Taboo Topics where we address through stories issues seldom spoken about in church like losing a child and singleness and infertility and this feels like something that could really fit in there so if you're up for sharing there sometime let me know - brettfish@hotmail.com - http://brettfish.wordpress.com/taboo-topics-contents-page]

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  63. Wow, it seems like you've really struck a chord with people here!
    I just have so say that it's so sad to read replies from people who are bitter against God because of so-called Christians treating them wrong. Church should be a place where we support, love, and respect each other. Jesus himself was harshest on the Pharisees, who knew "all the rules" but had no true love for others. Rest assured, God will deal justly with those people.
    Secondly, thank you for opening our eyes to the intense struggle so many women share. I've never really had much trouble in that area, although I'm big chested, I never really noticed much "extra attention" from guys. I had a friend who was about the same size as me, and whenever she complained about guys leering at her, I would just roll my eyes because I thought that she was exaggerating things for attention. (Although, I gotta add here -- I think in her case, there were a lot of reeeally low-cut tops, etc. - so much so that I felt like I did not want her around my husband! Not that I was worried about her "contaminating him", but just for the simple fact that if "they" are there, you're gonna see them, and it's gonna be hard to look away! And I wanted to be able to have my friend over without my husband having to have to walk around with his eyes glued to the ceiling or floor!)
    So, anyway, I guess my point in mentioning that is that I appreciate women who take the time to attempt to dress modestly, whatever their size - believe me, I KNOW how hard it is. But sometimes no matter what WE do, other people around us are going to do and say stupid and sinful things. It's our responsibility to be "kind and compassionate, tenderhearted, forgiving one another," and to ask God to remove any seeds of bitterness in our lives.
    Thanks again for sharing.

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  64. Wow, this was amazing and so raw. I never thought about how Christian leaders can bring shame by not meaning to. And that boy being inappropriate in service, both shoulda been whipped! Good grief you can't wear a berka!!!

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  65. Thank you for writing this. I felt myself tearing up while reading it. I'm also a 'DD' and nodded sadly at many of your stories. In my case it was reinforced at home by a much smaller mother who said things like "do you have to put those in everyone's face" and once told me I looked like a whore (I was wearing an Ann Taylor cocktail dress). I'm not a singer, but I do preach and there was so much controversy about the attire of 'lady preachers' that my friend and I even had a blog about it at one point. It seems the only acceptable female attire is that of a nun.

    I hope your post raises awareness of the issue. It clearly has helped so many of us who have lived through similar issues. Being a woman isn't a sin.

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  66. I've heard stories of people who speak to other human beings in such a manner and yet still believe that they have Love Himself in their hearts.

    Your piece was honestly very shocking. Thank you for sharing, you are the kind of genuine, authentic person this world needs.

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  67. I really needed to read this tonight. I have been trying to find a cute, modest, and young dress to wear to a wedding and once again I find myself facing products that size small or won't sell my size at all. Thus leading me to examine myself in the mirror thinking many of those thoughts that you wrote about. Funny thing is, I am mostly happy about myself now, finally .... after many years of hating my body, something clicked at about age 26 and even though I am much bigger than my 18 year old self...I feel more confident in who I am. But I still have those nights and your post helped jolt me out of it again. Thanks.

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  68. I am 28 years old. I've had size 40DD since I was 15. I've also struggled with my weight since that age. This year, for the very first time in my life, I successfully dropped one size 'the right way' as the result of hormone tests, secret food allergy tests, yoga, and methodical eating habits. My breasts are still ginormous.
    I have back pain every afternoon. And like. you, nothing buttons around me. In fact, until recently (and sometimes still) stores just didnt sell anything in my size. Regular sized stores carried up to size ten, and plus size stores began at 14, sometimes 16. Did America just stop making size 12? Last I checked that's the average size of women in this country. And there in lies the krux of the issue: America deliberately extinguished the average size of clothing. How could we not have body issues?

    I still hate my breasts. But my recent progress has boosted my opinion of my body. I'll never be a bikini babe, but so what?

    Good luck to you and your body.

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    1. oh and i have a blog too- http://MayMcDonoughAndCompany.com

      thanks for the piece.

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  69. Thank you for sharing this. I found this on a friend of mine's facebook page and stopped to read it. I am sure this was not an easy post for you to make. But I wanted you to know that I respect and appreciate you for it. I have seen many females, in my life, struggle with size, color, hair, and beauty in general. I saddens me to know that sometimes the comments that hurts the most are from those one should not feel objectified by. It is really heart breaking. Thank you for making this post public. I hope that others read it and can learn from it. I also hope that more parents will teach boys how to respect women and not expect society to teach them.

    I have started following your blog after reading this. Thank you again.

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  70. This is a good post. It's very brave of you to so honestly express your feelings and struggles. I personally believe that both men and women have a responsibility to refrain from doing things to cause the other one to be tempted. However, I also believe that to any one person, a number of things can be tempting. Does that mean that we have to tailor ourselves to protect every person out there? No. I believe that we need to evaluate ourselves and see if what we're doing/how we're dressing is for the right reasons. If someone believes you should wear shorts to the knees, then not wearing shorts to the knees wouldn't be good for them to do, because it would go deliberately against their belief. That same person, upon seeing someone else wearing shorts that are above the knees, doesn't need to take it upon themselves to attack or embarrass the person wearing the shorts. We need to extend love and grace to everyone. Even the people that aren't dressing or acting the way we would. Anyway, that's just what I think.

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  71. Well fuck them all! They should not get to tell you what to do.

    And walking away is just fine too. And never coming back to church.

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  73. Although others have said this, I will echo it-while modesty is a good thing, this is taking it to ridiculous and quite literally ungodly levels. No woman should feel ashamed of her body simply because it is female. I've even had my share of this issue-when I first started developing breasts, I had a male relative point out to my mom how my "headlights were shining". I was so embarrassed I've worn padded bras ever since. I've had people point out the size of my butt (which is going to show no matter what size jeans or skirt I wear), and my recent visit back home had my mom expressing her disapproval at the type of shirts I wear. (And I am 26 and married!) Those boys-and church leaders-were absolutely wrong for what they did to you. You're a lovely, talented girl and shouldn't be forced to hide yourself away because teenagers weren't taught to deal with their impulses in a godly manner. I hope you can find a church where the leadership is encouraging and godly.

    (Also, as someone else mentioned how temptation can be different, one issue of a Christian magazine had a close-up picture of a woman's clavicle. Someone wrote in complaining that it was too provocative. The next issue ran a large picture of the woman in her flattering but modest wedding dress, and cheerfully mocked the complainer. It was a rather silly affair overall.)

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  74. Wow. I just wept reading your post from many parts of it - hurting because you hurt from your experiences (I'm so sorry!), as someone with severe PCOS suffering from every symptom that can be associated with it, as a survivor of adolescence in a legalistic church, as a former worship leader in a good church who had to endure a very misguided group of people discussing how my breasts looked on stage even though they were completely covered and I dressed with every degree of modesty (so thankful for a godly pastor and boss who handled it), and as a youth leader who has had to talk with young boys and their families who are struggling with lust and young girls and their families about dressing appropriately for their size and activities.

    BALANCE!!! I don't think it's achievable without the Holy Spirit; it certainly can't be found with human intent and reasoning only. It's been a tough journey but I'm so thankful that we can truly find our identity in Jesus Christ (It's not just something people say and sing about!). It's certainly a process to learn and discover and relearn and rediscover that over and over again.

    God adores you, made you with a person, and wants to walk with you. Thank you for sharing so intimately with others. Your vulnerability is beautiful and fruitful.

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  75. I wish every male youth pastor who has forced me to be "dress code" enforcer as the "female youth worker on staff" would read this. I hate being forced to enforce dress code. It seems wrong on so many levels.Especially when it's dumb things like spaghetti straps. Like seeing too much shoulder is scandalous. Thanks for sharing!!!! A church in town promotes "God Loves YOU" but I always add under my breath "As long as I can't see your bra straps, and your skirt isn't too short." It seems more often as if we are really saying God Love You...as long as you ___________ (by the way we act at church).

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    1. Agreed. To be honest the extreme modesty culture promotes an unloving God to me.

      Not to mention a very confusing God that I can't wrap my head around. We sing songs about how he loves us. We hear about how unconditionalyl he loves us, creating us in his image. But on the flipside we preach all of these factors that can make you fall out of his grace, factors that dont seem to have anything to do with God, but rather with cultural norms.

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  76. You made me write my own blog on this, Becca. I hope it continues to say some of the things you've said so well. And--I think it sounds like you would get along marvelously with my tripleD daughter. http://jill-theimperfectjourney.blogspot.com/2013/06/baggy-sweats-burqas-and-beyonce.html

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  77. Dear Becca,

    I have 3 teenage daughters, and have to say, I found your story hitting a nerve with me. I would have really had a hard time going back to the church you were serving at, with the worship group. It's completely offensive that you were judged as you were. Such hypocritical Christians, really should be ashamed of THEMSELVES. Whatever happened to a soft tongue and guidance? The pastor's wife should really be ashamed of herself, typical double-standards, I say it figures. keep up the great writing, it helps other's to know they are not alone. ~mom

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  78. Thank you for making yourself vulnerable enough to share this. I grew up in the same culture. I'll never forget my sister telling me I looked "too good" in a pair of white pants I wore to a wedding and that I was making her husband stumble. It's hard to know what to say in those moments. Until then, I felt really good in my outfit and she shamed me for wearing clothes that were flattering for my figure.

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  79. Wow, I am so touched by this. Just finished a discussion with someone about how they don't see what harm just being more modest can do. And obviously -- it CAN harm people to overemphasize modesty to this degree!

    I was thinking that this had never happened to me. I'm thin and I've also always been kind of embarrassed about my body so I tend to wear tentlike clothing. My friends always give me a hard time about wearing my husband's clothes, and say I should wear what fits, but ... I just feel kind of naked in my "own size."

    But then I remembered way back, when I was about 12. As a kid I used to dance a lot, just for fun. My dad would turn on music in the evenings, everyone would sit around and talk, and I would dance my heart out. Totally didn't care what people thought or if my parents had company. It wasn't for them.

    Well, one day I was dancing when my parents had a male friend over, and after our friend had left, my parents called me to talk to them. They told me that I was beginning to grow into a woman, and they had noticed I wasn't wearing (awkward cough from my dad) the right undergarments, and with this guy over, and me dancing, it was so inappropriate ....

    I just felt like my dancing had been changed from something beautiful and fun into a strip-tease. And I wondered if our friend had been staring at me. I just felt gutted. I never dressed like that, or danced in front of people, again. My husband knows I love dancing and would love to see me do it, but I can't, even for him.

    Ugh, the scars you get. I don't know, as a parent myself now, what I would have done in that situation. I just hope my kids grow up with a bit more confidence about their bodies than that. (Considering that, with a 3 and a 1 year old, we have a pretty much "clothes optional" home, their odds are pretty good I guess.)

    Sending you lots of love and hoping you find a church community that not only respects you, but demands that all the members respect you too.

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  80. Thank you for writing this. I feel as though you are verbalizing the struggle that so many of us think we have gone through alone. I was curvy from an early age and by middle school was harassed and had boys attempt to strip me on the bus. This lead me to start wearing baggy clothes. The change in dress caused my mother to start calling me the bag lady and when school shopping for 8th grade, she refused to buy me anything the didn't 'fit' to her liking. My answer was to gain weight on purpose so she would have to buy me bigger clothes. This started a life-long eating disorder and very unhealthy relationship with food. I started to feel much better about myself, I have a husband that loves me for who I am and not what I look like. My recent challenge is that I now have a teenage son and I have found, in recent months, that I am starting to feel really self conscious again now that his friends are in an out of the house and I am aware of their eyes.

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  81. I so appreciated this post. The message this kind of "modesty enforcement" sends to women is that they are only valuable and only entitled to attention for their bodies, and that their bodies are made only for sex. So damaging. I experienced a moderate amount of this treatment growing up and it has had such a severe impact on my body image and self confidence.

    Just want to add my voice to the chorus of support for your message. Men and women, let's treat each other gently, reasonably and thoughtfully.

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  82. Makes you want to buy a T-shirt that says "I'm up here, Stupid" across the boobs. Some coworkers and I threatened to do that because of a guy we worked with that tended to talk at our boobs.

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  83. Here are a couple things to focus on that will help (as Phil. 4:8 says, "Think on THESE things") :

    1) You're a great writer (and I am professionally qualified to say so).
    2) You are an excellent musician (they don't just ask anyone to play guitar or lead worship).
    3) You are a God-chaser (as are only those that focus on Him with their hands raised).
    4) The Lord CHERISHES you and desires to enjoy the beauty of your spirit and the beauty of fellowship with you even more than you desire Him.
    5) God is going to use your music-- and especially your speaking and writing abilities-- MIGHTILY! Keep those talents honed and ready.
    6) Continue to focus on what HE thinks of you: not what others-- even some misguided church members-- think.

    I want to give you a little more encouragement as an older girl who's been through her share of the ugly stages and depression: You are going to OUTGROW all of it. Life is going to get better, the acne will gradually dissolve and get manageable (tinted Clearasil w/benzoyl peroxide is the bomb, btw), and you and the beauty of your confidence and talent will actually become the envy of others. You will be healed of the ovarian stuff (I agree with you in faith, by the healing power and authority of Jesus), and the health issues will clear up and be manageable. I'm gonna be straight with you about the eating right, though, because I care: it will make 100% difference in how effective even your very real diagnoses are resolved.

    Love you girlfriend! And curls ROCK (from one African-American 'sister' to another)! Save your money from all the damaging hair-straightening nonsense! :)
    Upholding you in prayer, my dear. Do the same for ALL of us sister-women. We gotta stick together!

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  84. I'm 46 years old and I didn't realize how much hurt I carried down deep from situations and interactions JUST like this growing up. It is a struggle and hurt that has shaped my thoughts about myself. I have 3 girls and have struggled in how to approach modesty without making them feel they are doing something wrong. It is so difficult to buy tasteful clothes today for girls that don't parade and make them feel like objects. I remember getting angry many times at grown men, fathers of my friends whose eyes never met mine. I remember the embarrassment, shame and hurt. I cried as I read this because I just shelved it, never really sorting it out.

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  85. OMG Becca - were we separated at birth? So much of your story is my story. Now in my 40s & a mom of 3, plus having a hubby who's incredibly supportive, I am healing. The roots of shame go deep and are not easy to yank out. Thank you for sharing your story. Your voice is needed in and outside the church. Blessings ~ teresa

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  86. This story is heartbreaking, but as someone who grew up in the church, I can back you up on many points that have faced young women (and men alike). Friends and family have both confided stories much like this to me, and it is infuriating.

    I today, am an atheist. Having spent almost my entire young life as a christian I felt the need to state that. I stated it because I understand where you're coming from even though I have abandoned my old beliefs.

    Sexual repression, condoned body shaming, inadequate psychological understanding, and so on is to blame here. Everyone from what I remember (in church) was so afraid of being perceived as "sinful" or feeling dirty in the eyes of god, that NO ONE and I mean no one, saw the obvious issues plaguing their congregation. NO ONE reached out without hesitation or prayer as to what they should do... sometimes you just need to do what's human and what is right.

    Girls (in most churches) are marginalized and treated as a temptation rather than an independent entity to be respected. Boys are taught to repress natural urges which turn healthy sexual appetites into a fetish of sorts.

    Religion has done plenty good, but understanding the human being as a sexual creature,is not one of them. Neither is identifying obvious sexism in how people are treated.

    What was done to you is criminal. It makes me more than angry. I am furious. I am furious that such a beautiful human being, obviously intelligent and kind, was consistently objectified by her church for being who she was born as. far beyond discomfort, this was torture.

    This was a crime of stupidity perpetrated against you. It was a crime of malice and a crime of frigid uncaring. If I could hug you and tell you everything was going to be alright I would. I'm sorry this slow torture plagued you and left a mark.

    Hopefully your brave words will end the suffering of someone else.

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  87. Thank you for writing this. I have struggled with this as well and the illustrative story about worship practice, I have lived, almost to the exact detail (little frightening to me to read actually). I teach high school and see the shaming and bias against larger girls there as well in the administrative dress code. The one seemingly overlooked until convenient. So from both sides of this fence, I truly appreciate this honest perspective. Honesty is expensive, so thank you for paying so dearly to shed light on this subject, I am blessed personally and professionally here.

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  88. Thank you for such a great blog - I'm so sorry so many have to go thru this, probably even worse now than when I was that age (it's been a while). I found myself wondering at how we teach church leaders the appropriate response - it was easy as I read to say out loud what my response would be (today, a much more seasoned, secure adult)..."then ask the pedophile / 16-year-old with self control issues to leave the sanctuary, not me - I have every right to be here too." Then I put myself in my old 15-25 year-old shoes before I had the brass to stand up for myself and say such a thing.
    Know that you have a whole group of women behind you to lend you strength!!!

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  89. Thank you for your deep honesty and sharing! I have just discovered your blog since a friend shared this post.

    I too have struggled with body image and my body for most of my life. One of the most important lessons I learned is that I wanted my daughter to see me as beautiful - something in some ways my own mother denied me with all her shame around her weight. I have worked hard over the last 13 years to not make negative comments about my body or looks to her (I have not been perfect but intentionally not speaking negatively about my body has helped my own image as well). I have not been able to shelter her from the world's beliefs that women should be judged and shamed because of looks but I love the fact that she tells me I am beautiful all the time. It is so important that we as women stop the generational shaming and passing on the shame to our children.

    Also men need to take responsibility for themselves. It is not a women's duty to control men's gaze - that is men's work.

    Again thank you for your blog!

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  90. Very interesting blog and that you feel intimidated and caged by male attention. I, on the other hand, love it. Being a Christian is about being free and not shackled by the values in society and anyone who tells anyone how to dress or what to do is not following in Christ's footsteps who accepted people for who they were as they came to Him. What is wrong in all of the instances you write about is that YOU are viewed as at fault when actually no one is at fault, except the person telling you off! It is normal for people to notice beautiful things, and whether we ladies like it, those 2 humps are infinitely appealing to men and women for many reasons. Everything we possess is a gift from God and is awe-inspiring and I believe we should celebrate that. I am not saying 'let's go to church in our bondage gear' but if your assets, author of this wonderful blog, attract attention, be proud. We spend far too long interpreting God's word for our own ends, being a very crucial part of the negative experiences that people have at church, and what we should be doing is accepting people for where they are at. I want all the mums who attend my Sunday school to come exactly as they are. Apart from anything else because I as Sunday school leader frequently break all the rules, so on the God Scale they are already 'better' Christians. But they aren't because God loves us all as we are and for every imperfection. He doesn't care about what we wear because we won't be taking that with us when we go to meet him in Heaven. Thanks for this wonderful blog and I hope that with time, you will love ALL your gifts from God absolutely and totally unconditionally

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  91. Oh hon. I want to hug you. Thank you for telling the truth, brave one.

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  92. This was very helpful for me to read. It made me angry to hear what happened to you. As a married man and a pastor, I try my best to avoid looking places I shouldn't. I sometimes get resentful when women dress in a way that causes me to notice their bodies at church. But it really makes me sick to hear how you were treated and it helps to hear how there are all kinds of reasons why clothing can be tight or revealing that isn't because the woman is trying to be seductive. I was thinking about this today because it's been in a lot of conversations in the blogosphere. I think God wanted me to hear your story.

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    1. The root problem here is being reactive Christians rather than responsive. Loving those in our churches should be our first priority.

      We are charged to love and accept, not judge and condemn. Especially our Pastors. Jesus sat with prostitutes and spoke with them, but he never blamed them or judged them. He loved everyone as they were and inspired them to be better. Love creates more change in a person then a reaction ever will.

      Would any of these churches be able to help a prostitute or a rape victim? If not, they need to assess what their values are and whether they are Reactive or Responsive.

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  93. Hi Friend,

    I am a Christian man, and I think that I owe you an apology. Not just you, but many Christian women. I have been that boy, that young man, who just couldn't stop looking. I have had older men speak to young women about their "modesty" because of my uncontrolled lust. I am ashamed to look back at that young man, and I wonder why no one told him to just control his eyes.

    We put entirely too much responsibility on women - in general, but in the church specifically - when it comes to male lust. It is long past time for men who follow Jesus to look our sisters in the eyes as fellow disciples - and determine to not look at anything else.

    I love your heart. I am sorry that we put you through this.

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  94. It just makes me wish that Christian boys knew how to be Christian men. I hope you find worth in your identity as Christ's daughter. He was the truest of men and he loves you unconditionally.

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  95. I just wanted to tell you that I am brand new to thinking about all the implications and the hurtful ways the church has used the modesty doctrine. Thank you so much for your stories and perspective. I too have been deeply ashamed. It is so freeing to start to realize that it is not my fault. I pray blessings and good things in your life.

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  96. There is another implication of the Christian Modesty doctrine that has not been touched; how the men and boys are to guard their hearts and minds.

    It is a double-edged sword, and a dangerous one. Rape victims often feel and hear many of the same things, even to the extent of people (and themselves) blaming the clothes they chose to wear. Women are beautiful and were made to be beautiful, to feel beautiful. Not to attract attention, but because that is how we are made.

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  97. I grew up in a church like this.

    I'm very lucky to be in a church now where women as celebrated as equals, for their gifts and beauty. The women who sing on stage wear the latest fashions, but they are never revealing and they are also not matronly. They are young, and they are beautiful. I have never heard of anyone speaking to someone about their dress but I have also seen anyone dressing past a line that would deserve it; other than guests and visitors. The men are given equal responsibility to guard themselves and to treat women, not as objects, but as friends and partners.

    This is a huge change from the church I grew up in. It is more natural to dress in what I like. And because of my new church, it is also more natural. There is no stress or pain related to choosing what I wear, we are all dressed modestly and there is no contest.

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  98. The root problem here is being reactive Christians rather than responsive. Loving those in our churches should be our first priority.

    We are charged to love and accept, not judge and condemn. Especially our Pastors. Jesus sat with prostitutes and spoke with them, but he never blamed them or judged them. He loved everyone as they were and inspired them to be better. Love creates more change in a person then a reaction ever will.

    Would any of these churches be able to help a prostitute or a rape victim? If not, they need to assess what their values are and whether they are Reactive or Responsive.

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  99. Becca Rose,

    I cannot fully explain to you what I felt when reading this. But I will try.
    I understand. I do. I am a extremely curvy young woman, but I am also a pastor's daughter. For years I have struggled with what the heck to wear to church. I want to look nice, but not too revealing. But apparently EVERYTHING I WEAR is revealing. Because I have curves. Bah. And I can't ever wear anything even remotely "sexy" because then my dad might have problems at his job with people coming in to talk to him about me and how I am dressing. Even now when I have graduated from college, I still have to worry because I moved back home for a few months! And this culture we are in that teaches us that we are the sinful evil women scurrying around in the dark just waiting to make men fall into our deep pits of lust just makes me sick. I watch it destroy my friends. I watch it destroy my mom as she, as a full-chested pastor's wife, makes herself sick every Sunday morning trying to decide what is "appropriate" to wear. I watch it try to destroy me. It's sick.
    There is just so much awful that you talk about in this post that I empathize with. Damn, girl. You have been through some awful stuff.
    I am so incredibly proud of you. I don't know you at all, but writing out these experiences and then publishing them? That takes so much bravery. And I have no doubt that this article is helping young women like me continue to realize that we are not alone and that this kind of treatment is not okay. And it certainly isn't very Christian. Please keep going. Keep writing. Keep loving others. Please keep trying to love yourself. I think you have a beautiful spirit and your writing is simply gorgeous.

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  100. Well for starters, this made me cry.
    Thank you for writing this. I'm a really petite girl who is just over 5 feet tall. I'm 20 years old. The only thing not petite about me is my breast size which comes in at an E/F. However because I'm so thin everywhere else, its insane trying to find clothes which aren't revealing on top.
    For the longest time I was ashamed of my top half. Because I was small I had to wear kids clothes because the adult section was just too revealing. I had to pass on clothes I knew would fit and look at lot better on my than on my friends. The size shirt I got was always a bigger size than I wanted. I felt weird. People would comment on my size because they didn't expect it. They would be impressed and I would be uncomfortable. I felt slutty every time I put on clothes which would remotely bring out the curves I had.
    For the longest time the whole modest is hottest thing meant baggy jeans and a hoodie.
    People only called me pretty when my breast size was distinguishable. So was that what made or broke being beautiful?
    I'm still learning.
    So thank you for this.

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  101. Personally, I don't have a religious tie to any particular community, but I do consider myself spiritual. While it shocks me that this is happening in an environment where we are all "God's children," this happens everywhere in every environment. You show me one woman who is truly happy with the way she looks and I will show you her plastic surgery bill. The society we live in is very black and white when it comes to matters of appearance. I am currently involved with online dating and there is a section that you can indicate things you "can't stand" in another person like discrimination or substance abuse, specifically excessive overweight. I often don't respond to those people because how do I know that I am not too fat for them. I struggled for several years with binge eating, which induced other symptoms like headaches, dizziness, and stomach pain. But all in all I thought it was worth it and those pains were just my excessive fat melting away. I still feel this way most of the time. I have many, many beautiful friends and sometimes I just feel like the reason they are married and I am not is because I don't look at beautiful as they do.
    I understand your constant struggle, disclaimers excluded. What many women, you and I included, have gone through is normal, but I hope one day for the sake of our future daughters it won't be.
    Stay strong, girl power.

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  102. Thank you for sharing your heartfelt story. How painful, but I am thankful that God led you to share. Many of us women can relate and you are blessing to take the time to put these thoughts out for us all to process!

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  103. I read this and let me just say I am so glad that I have found someone else that has felt this way. I feel like I can't wear what every other girl wears because I just so happen to have D sized boobs. I will wear a really cute shirt but get disapproving looks because it shows a little bit of cleavage, it's something I can't help. Sometimes I wish I had smaller boobs just so I could wear certain outfits and not be frowned upon by people.
    This summer I went to Disney World with my Mom's side and everywhere I went men gawked at me, I'm talking grown men. Now, I'm 19 years old so that already freaked me out, but when I would hang out with my Uncle and cousins and walk around and when they would see all of the looks I got they would assume that I must be doing something to garner that attention. Thus, them assuming I'm somewhat skanky.
    When my mom yells at me for wearing a shirt where you can kind of see my boobs she gets upset and tells me to cover up, and I always tell her how I can't help it I just want to be able to wear cute things without being thought of as seductive. I feel your pain girl.. Big boobs and an ass aren't that easy to live with.

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  104. I grew up in a Fundamental, conservative church, but there was no such shaming in our church or school. We had a dress code, but the ladies in charge let us know how beautiful we were and they, along with our youth pastor, encouraged us to save our bodies for our future husband's eyes. Everybody but me dressed stylishly (I wasn't interested, I was really into calicoes), and my mom and youth pastor's wife often encouraged me to dress more stylishly to try to draw me out of my "hiding" shell. I came out of my shell in college, much as a result of their building me up and me finally getting some good medication to clear up my severe acne. I just want you to know that not ALL Fundamental, conservative churches are cruel. I was really shocked by your treatment.

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  105. I have linked to your post in a number of online discussions, and in every case it's had a profound impact. Be comforted: God is not just with you in solidarity in your suffering, but is also using your words to work change in others.

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  106. Becca, I feel your pain! This could be my story. I did not have DD's in high school/junior high (I do now) but I was "shapely" from 5th grade on.

    I was constantly made to feel dirty and shameful for dressing in t-shirts and jeans, because even if I wore a turtle neck, my chest was still obviously large. I wore awful tankinis with boy shorts for years, which were frumpy and uncomfortable, while my peers could wear bikinis and not be "scandalous" because they were flat-chested.

    Older women in church would approach my father/mother and tell them that I was inappropriate for wearing a scoop neck tee, while other girls could wear spaghetti straps and strapless dresses to church without anyone blinking an eye.

    When the comments first started (even from my own mother!), I was too young to understand, and I was horrible confused and embarrassed for potentially attracting the gaze of older men when I did not even think about them before! My mother would angrily tell me that men were staring at my chest in public, as if it was MY FAULT that they found a 13 yr-old wearing a moderately fitted stretch tee shirt sexy.

    I love my body now, my only frustrations come from trying to find clothes that actually fit (I'm short, everything needs alterations). As a future teacher, I am conscious of covering the "girls" and dressing professionally, but on my own time I DO NOT CARE what other people think. If a man can't help staring, that is HIS problem.

    Good men show ALL women respect, no matter how they are dressed, because women are not objects, "stumbling blocks", or temptresses unless a man already sees them that way.

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  107. This blog is very well written. I've been in similar situations at church, not those exactly. But I emphasize with you completely. God sees into your soul, beyond the poor fitting clothes and to your inner beauty. These people do not represent Him.

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  108. I am very average in body, I have curves but am skinny, a nice healthy size 10 in my opinion. I am also a Mormon, I go to church in figure hugging dresses and skirts and blouses, heels ect. Nothing is ever said about the way I dress as members of my ward evidently have higher personal moral standards than the men that were at yours. I do believe in dressing modest (high neck line and knee length) but im not dead I have a good figure, so why should I dress like an 80 year old?
    Im sorry this happened to you, never feel ashamed of the way you look just remember not all men can be tarred with the same brush xxxx

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  109. I've bookmarked this so I can show my 14 year old daughter, she was having to wear adult sized clothing by the age of 12 due to weight gain and obvious development as she hit puberty and while I tell her every day she is beautiful she hates the way she looks. While we don't have the church issue (I was raised in a methodist family but in the UK they are not so fundamentalist, I left when I was a teenager and I now consider myself pagan) I know both my daughters will face these issues in the years to come and I will show them your post so they know they are not alone, that strength can be found and just as importantly there are a great many more people who will love them for the person they are not what dress size or style they wear. My daughter is having trouble losing weight so the mention of PCOS was also helpful as it gives me another direction to look into and maybe help her with so thank you for your honesty and generosity of spirit.

    PS I also have two sons and i must have done something right as they both respect women as people not objects and always take responsibility for their own actions, I think I can allow myself a proud mama moment.

    The very brightest of blessings to you

    Hayley

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  110. I too have PCOS and find it heartening to hear of others who struggle with it as well. When I was younger I was actually very fit and healthy, so when I gained almost 40 lbs almost in such a short time, I struggled with it greatly. I cried when my clothes no longer fit and I am still being stubborn about getting rid of the smaller clothes as I do hope I can fit into them again one day. I have a loving husband now who supports me and never puts me down for my weight. Perhaps knowing what used to be is what is making me so stubborn about losing the weight. Losing weight has been possibly the hardest thing I have every done for myself, but I am slowly making progress and that is comforting. I guess the important thing is loving who you are and how your body feels (for me I want to feel more healthy as you know this can help with the other symptoms of PCOS). So I have started a blog about my struggle with PCOS and how I am finding small ways to lose the weight and get better. You can go to imaginekat.blogspot.com to see it. Since you are another woman like me who actually has PCOS, I would love to know if you agree with any of my tips or if they don't work for you...(I apologize if that is exactly what you don't want to hear as I saw your note about not wanting more advice, I just thought it might be nice to hear from another who has PCOS)

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    1. Hey Katrina,
      thanks for sharing! I'll definitely check out your blog :)

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  111. Thank you for sharing!! This made me sad and angry. We need to teach girls and boys (and adults!!!) to respect one another. This brought back memories of my junior year in HS. My new cheer uniform had arrived and was a bit too tight and the company refused to exchange. I was a 32 D. I wore it into the gym for a basketball game with a little sweater to cover up. I was told to take it off because the sweater was not a part of the uniform. I knew it was tight and I was embarrassed. Just as I anticipated a crowd of boys had all eyes on me. I was not the cutest girl or popular but they really wanted to watch my boobs bounce. A few of them followed me out into the parking lot after the game and made obscene comments to me. I don't know why but it still upsets me to this day. It was so unfair. God gave me my body. I didn't deserve the sexual comments because I had boobs. Boys and adults need to learn that young ladies with a curvy figure are not sluts.

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  112. My ex-boy dumped me 4 months ago after I accused him of seeing another woman and insulting him.I want him back in my life but he refused to have any contact with me. he changed his line and email address. I was so confuse and don't know what to do. So I reach to the internet for help and I saw a testimonies of how this powerful spell caster help them to get their ex back. So I contact the spell caster whose name is Dr Ekpiku and explain my problem to him and he cast a spell for me and assure me of 2days that my ex will return to me, and to my greatest surprise the Second day my ex came knocking at my door and i immediately pleaded and ask him to forgive me. I am so happy that my love is back again and not only that,i was awarded a contract of 5 Million Pounds for 4 years. Once again thank you Dr Ekpiku,you are truly talented and gifted. Email: {Ekpikuspelltemple@live.com}. He is the only answer. He can be of great help and I will not stop publishing his good work because people are still talking about him on the Internet and Radio Stations

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  113. Am Cannon shelly from Usa, i am sharing about my experience and testimony online in search of a spell caster that will restore my marriage and make me live a happy life. I was introduced to a spell caster by my neighbor and i contact him. to my greatest surprise i never though that there was going to be a real spell caster for me but i was amazed when i met a real one in the person of His Majesty,HIGH PRIEST OZIGIDIDON who helped in in bring back my man and making me have a happy marriage and home and also help in restoring back my job and life and sincerely it is to numerous for me to mention, i just can't thank him more that enough for all he has done but i want to sincerely thank him for restoring my hope that there are still real spell casters out there. Indeed he is so real and true to his job. i am glad i met him and i will hold him in high esteem till i leave this earth. Your HIGHNESS i will never let you go you are my foundation.High priest can be gotten on highpriestozigididon@gmail.com. i know when you contact him and he worked for you, you will definitely come back to thank me. high priest is so great and powerful.. i have lost the adjective to classify him.

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