Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Modesty and the Olympics

Boy has this modesty subject really turned my life around!!! I was happy and content wearing snug-fitting blue jeans and t-shirts. My shirts aren't incredibly low-cut, but they are low enough to need caution when bending down. However, I have always taken pride in how modest I dress comparatively. Now my notions seem to be tumbling down around me! My mother and I (along with my two children) visited the zoo the other day and I was shocked at what I was seeing. Women with no bras, insane amounts of skin revealed, outfits that are specifically designed to show off the female figure. I am sure that my mom was tired of me commenting on the immodesty of the people at the zoo that day, but she wisely held her tongue until we were in the car later that day. My mom has been the most vocal about my changes but I expected that. Actually, I am very impressed with how well my mom is staying silent about my choices but I get the feeling that she is just waiting for it to all blow over, as many of my ideas and commitments have in the past. Lately, our conversation has centered around the Olympics, which brings a welcome "easy topic" to the subject list....or does it?

I am feeling a little bit like a hypocrite on this subject matter. I don't think that all swimsuits are immodest. I think that a well-cut Speedo type suit is perfectly modest, though many would say that it isn't modest at all and I would agree with them too. I love watching gymnastics; it is my favorite sport in the world. As I watched the events this year, I kept seeing these young women's rear ends hanging out of the side of the leotard. Not only was this unattractive but the camera had a way of focusing (probably because of the angles due to the elevated platforms) on all these spots! Then comes the question, okay, so it's immodest. Now what? Do you prevent any activity in that sport because the uniform is immodest? Gymnastics is one of the oldest sports around, though I suppose that it hasn't always been the women in the events. 

After thinking it all through I am prepared to be on the conservative side of "mainstream" and just specify that the modesty within a particular sport but evaluated from within the sport. This makes sense to me because a bathing suit (even a modest Speedo) is not appropriate to go to Wal-Mart in. However,  modest suit at the swimming pool does not attract attention and I think that is the key. I would say that it would be extremely appropriate to attempt to train with same-sex training partners and coaches and I would specify that an immediate cover-up is also appropriate when in mixed company. However, I wouldn't go so far as to completely avoid ALL sports that compromise our normal standards of feminine dress and modesty. There are plenty of subtle ways to be feminine and modest even when participating in sports that necessitate an immodest uniform.

There is another reason for all these thoughts, in addition to the Olympics....though it's a long one. I truly want to get pregnant again, but for my health and the baby's health, my husband and I have agreed to wait until I lose a significant amount of weight. Mostly we are waiting more on the establishment of a healthy lifestyle and habits rather than the arbitrary numbers on the scale but I have long been feeling like I needed to set a specific goal. That is wear triathlon comes in. While gymnastics is my favorite sport, I have absolutely no hopes of ever performing more than a cartwheel. I really enjoy tennis, but it is difficult to "work out" for tennis without a partner. I really do enjoy swimming however, and biking, and running (or at least I did when I could actually run). Combining those three seemed to be a good combination of everything that I needed: a physically active goal, an independent sport, and inherent variety. So, now I am going to be attempting to train for a triathlon on top of everything else. The GREAT news is that as I am just a beginner, I can wear my modest workout pants while running or biking, and a suit and shorts for swimming. 

So, now I turn my thoughts to anyone else's. What do you consider to be appropriate exercise for a woman attempting to stay modest? Important to note is that I am not trying to lose 10 pounds, I am trying to lose 50+. So, am I being hypocritical by wearing dresses to Wal-Mart and a Speedo in the pool? (Luckily the head covering isn't as large as issue because it is essential to wear a swimming cap in the pool, a helmet on the bike, and okay to wear a hat during the run...however, those things might cover the head, but that doesn't make them headcovers, does it? Suggestions?


light and good order said...

I like walking. Fast. Up hills.

I don't swim at all, really, but I do have a Muslim bathing suit that I've used once so far.

light and good order said...

Triathalon? Yikes! Good for you!

If I were doing it, I'd look to the Muslim Olympians for sports dressing tips...

Kristi said...

I actually found a good website for modest swimwear. It is and they sell ready-made, custom-made, and patterns for swimming outfits. The nice part is that because they are so modest, I can pretty easily wear it for all three events in the triathlon! The downside is that they don't offer a pattern in my size, so I would need to order a custom-made suit, which is quite costly!!! I need a suit and I only need one. It might be worth the cost.

As for the YIKES! factor, I am not planning on running the Ironman! The sprint distance triathlon is a 1/2 mile swim, 13 mile bike, and a 3 mile run. That is pretty accomplishable (is that a word???) at least for goal-setting and weight loss. I have a good book that details a 12 week training plan though I have complete confidence in it taking longer than that. I will probably not run a triathlon for another year but it is a fun goal to keep in mind as I work on those should try it!!! (but of course, I would say that...)