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Burlesque Dancer Kicked Off Flight For Her Outfit

Credit: Maria Guerrero

Burlesque dancer Maggie McMuffin was told she had to change if she wanted to fly. Last month, a JetBlue flight crew stopped McMuffin from boarding her flight due to her black-and-white-striped volleyball-styled shorts, thigh-high socks, and her gray tiger sweater. If she didn't find something different to wear, she would have to find a different flight. Recounting the story to a local TV affiliate, Maggie said she found a store in the airport terminal and bought some floral pajama bottoms.

The incident has passed, but the outrage continues. Though she had only "four or five" inches of skin showing, many are showing their support for Maggie and expressing their outrage at JetBlue. They believe this incident is but another example of unfair policing of women in public. They are using the hashtags #BootySolidarity and #BootyShortSupport to convey their disgust at the perceived double standard.

Some women want to be free to wear as little as they want; others want to be free to wear whatever they want— or don't want, for that matter.

If fashion is a statement, in a free speech society, should it also be an option? If we are free to say whatever we want, should we be free to wear whatever we want?

Clothes both cover and communicate. They provide covering for various weather conditions as well as communicate a particular message. Children wear jackets when their mothers are cold. Adults traditionally wear black when they attend a funeral. And no one is supposed to be wear white after Labor Day.

But fashion, as it has always done, changes.

There was a time when the mere sight of a woman's neck could whip a man up into an emotional whirlwind. There were other times when a woman could expose her wrist to declare her intentions to her suitor. And in biblical times, uncovering the top of the head was seen as an affront to God.

But today, fashion is different. The sight of the neck is commonplace, the wrist is exposed so that a FitBit can tell you how many steps you have taken, and hats are optional in houses of worship but welcomed at horse races. Fashion is different because our society is different.

In a free speech society, we are free to say whatever we want. But true freedom is not doing whatever you want. If you did whatever you wanted, you would be enslaved to the harshest taskmaster in this world—yourself. Rather, true freedom is having the opportunity to do whatever you want but choosing to exercise self-control. This is where modesty comes into play.

Modesty literally comes from the idea of keeping within measure. These measures are not determined by the loud few, but by the whole of the society. For the Christian, the measures are dictated by the Scriptures (Psalm 119:105). Modesty is not intended to silence your fashion voice, but to respect you and show you that fashion is not your only voice.

You are more than the clothes you wear and the body you have.

If fashion is a statement, being immodest is yelling and forcing others to listen. Modesty refuses to yell to grab your attention forcefully, but rather captivates its audience by saying I have something worth listening to.

Where immodesty says I have something to say, modesty signifies I have something you want to hear.

Contrary to the popular phrase, modest is not hottest. Rather, godliness is hottest (Proverbs 31:30), but modesty is a component of godliness. Modesty is more than the clothes you wear. That we have relegated the concept of modesty to merely clothes partially encourages a white-washed tomb behavior, where everything appears well on the outside but inside is a different story.

You can be immodest by donning a rain poncho at a water park.

Modesty is a posture in life that assumes a moderate estimation of one's abilities. More than clothes, a person who is modest humbly recognizes that greater is He who is in me than he who is in the world. Modest people understand their strengths and use them for God's glory and the world's good. A modest person knows his or her weaknesses but boasts in Christ's grace.

Billy Cunningham found fashion to be the armor to survive the reality of everyday life. Sophia Loren agreed, saying that a woman's dress should be like a barbed-wire fence, serving the purpose without obstructing the view. Fashion may be a statement, but it takes a number of statements to convey a message. So if anything, we should be putting on more clothes, not less.

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