What Nail Polish Taught Me About Modesty

What Nail Polish Taught Me About Modesty

My three year old daughter was playing happily in the living room with a box of old Barbie dolls I had recently discovered from my childhood.  The last time we had these Barbies out, I had taken special care to make sure they were all properly dressed, so imagine my shock when I walked into a room full of naked plastic dolls.  I casually sat down and began to redress everyone only to have my preschooler undress them all again.  Apparently these frilly dresses were getting in the way of “ballet practice”.

I tried to let it go, but the sight of those dolls without clothes was making me very uncomfortable.  So, I decided to try a little experiment.  Why not give the dolls bathing suits?  Behold, I give you “Nail Polish Swimsuit Barbie”!

Modest Barbie

Once the nail polish dried, I felt much better about these toys being strewn all over the living room floor.  Of course, the Barbies didn’t care either way.   As I continued painting on little swimsuits, I got to thinking about modesty and what it’s all about.  Naturally, we’ve always tried to teach the girls at church the importance of modesty (check out one lesson here), but perhaps I have been teaching from the wrong angle.  I’ve always taken the self-respect angle.  The “do the right thing” angle.

But modesty isn’t really about you.   It’s really about how the people around you feel.  I wanted those Barbies covered up because I was uncomfortable. And thankfully, Barbie respected me enough to put on that nail polish bathing suit.


We teach the girls around us that modesty is a reflection of their character, and that IS true, but modesty is more than that.  It’s like manners.  Having good manners IS a reflection of your character, but manners are really about making other people feel respected.   Being modest says, “I care enough about the people around me to not make them uncomfortable or cause them to sin because of how I’m dressed.”

I remember my days at Geneva College, when the days would get warmer, the skirts would get shorter, and every year, someone would start an argument in the Geneva Cabinet newspaper about modesty.  Women would insist it was their right to dress however they wanted and the men would beg the women to cover up.   I always sided with the “Be More Modest” camp, mainly because I thought dressing immodestly kind of made you look like a tramp.  Though this may be true, there’s a bigger issue at work here.   At its heart, I think the modesty issue is about putting others first .   It’s about looking out for the interest of others (Philippians 2:4) and not being so self-focused that you insist on dressing how you want no matter who it affects or how it affects them.

Nail Polish Barbie

What do you think?

What is modesty REALLY about?

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  1. Awesome post, Lindsey, and a very practical idea to cover those Barbies up! 🙂
    Kathie Phillips recently posted..Athens VBS: How One Family Was Impacted

  2. Thanks for stopping by, Kathie. I sure am glad it the nail polish idea worked!

  3. I think you’re right, that modesty is about caring for others’ interests above our own. But we don’t care about others that way if we’re not first interested in pleasing God and therefore doing what’s right. We don’t really have to present modesty as an either/or issue. It’s really both. Good insight in your post, though.
    Rachelle Dawson recently posted..5 Tips for Finishing What You Start

  4. Hey Rachelle,

    Thanks for stopping by! I agree, I think it is a combination motivation. Thanks for your comment!

  5. I’ve done the same thing! Nail polish comes in very handy. I’ve also used sharpee markers for quick and permanent cover ups. The modesty issue seems to be a hot topic lately, and I appreciate the way you shared your thoughts. Thank you!
    hsmominmo recently posted..{belong} – Five Minute Friday

  6. Great post. I m always dressing my daughter s barbies and then they always seem to be undressed again! I never thought of it this way.
    Angela @ Time with A & N
    Angela Glenn recently posted..Pink Zebra: An opportunity for your home to smell awesome and for extra income!

  7. Thanks for stopping in! Sharpie is a great idea — you could make some fun designs and everything. I’ve noticed a lot more talk about modesty as well. Have a great weekend!

  8. Hey Angela,

    Thanks for stopping in! I hope your Barbies like their new nail polish swim suits as well!

  9. I stumbled over your post from a recent link up. I LOVED it! Modesty is about so much more than just how “you” feel & look. Thanks for painting the other side & the bathing suits!
    Tracie B. recently posted..A New Discovery

  10. Thanks so much for stopping by, Tracie. I’m glad that you really connected with the post!

  11. I love this post. Thank you so much for sharing your ideas. I agree that modesty is not just about our character it is also about thinking of others. Scripture says that any man who looks at a woman lustfully has already sinned in his heart. I feel that as a lady, it is my duty to help prevent my brothers in Christ from committing adultery in their hearts.
    Lexie Robinson recently posted..Weaker Partner

  12. Thanks so much for stopping in, Lexie!! I agree that it’s always good to look out for our brothers in Christ. No reason to put temptation out there if it’s not needed.

  13. Hey, that was really clever, lol! I actually thought they were wearing swimsuits until I ready your post!

    I would cover up the nek-ked barbies too, my friend! Thanks so much for linking up to Making Your Home Sing Monday! By the way, the new linky party is live and ready for your posts! 🙂

  14. I do agree with you about modesty and caring about people around us. Your idea of covering the dolls is great, but I believe Barbie is an example of immodesty, sensuallity and luxury. So I do not allow my three-year-old daughter to have one. Three months ago, she got one as a gift from someone else and it got straight to the garbage. She already knows that it’s not good to play with that kind of doll. I can’t talk with her about sensuality and luxury yet! I believe Barbie broadcasts these values to our children.

  15. Hey Ana,

    Thanks so much for stopping by! I hear what you’re saying about Barbies — I haven’t quite decided how I feel about them yet. As a child, I don’t remember feeling affected by Barbie because of her perfection, but I know others have felt this way. As for Barbie being a symbol of luxury, I certainly had never thought about that, but can see your point. Thanks for those thoughts!


  16. This is an excellent post! I completely agree with you. Modesty is an issue of the heart, and when we are immodest in our dress or our behavior we make others uncomfortable. True women of God loves others by putting their needs above our own and not exercising our Christian liberty in away that causes others to sin.

    Thanks for linking up this week at Babies and Beyond. I’m definitely sharing this post!
    Katherine recently posted..Two Little {Pink} Lines

  17. Thanks so much for stopping by, Katherine. I couldn’t agree more! Heading over to check out your latest post!!


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