Your appearance matters. It should not define you, but it will determine how others treat you and what they think of you, whether you like it or not. Please look up the hundreds of YouTube videos comparing how individuals are treated based on their dress—as a businessman, football fanatic or homeless person. As their dress diminishes, so does the way they are treated, even to the point of being kicked and spat upon while in homeless attire. It’s disturbing to watch, but a stark reminder that how we appear does matter. I would argue that this is even truer for women.
Just like you, I’ve been judged incorrectly many times. As a kid, I was a serious tomboy, shopping in the boys section and playing soccer and football at recess with the guys. I remember once being mistaken for a boy (which was devastating!) and liking boys at school, even though they didn’t see me as feminine. In the intervening years, I accepted that I was a girl, lost my dislike of dresses, and embraced my femininity more.
In high school and college, I continued athletics, including track. During track practice, most of my teammates chose to run in just sports bras and small shorts. They all knew that the guys on the track team and adjacent practicing football team were watching. I did not dress like them. As a result, I had many guy friends on both teams who were likely interested in me, but knew that I had boundaries and respected myself. Because of that, they respected me too.
If you want a guy, or anyone else to respect you, you have to respect yourself first. You can show respect for yourself through your dress, your speech, and your actions. Initially, if you show more skin, act more flirtatious, and maybe even use some shocking language, you will get more attention, but in the long run, it will backfire. Most women want friends who spend less time competing and more time supporting. Most men want a girlfriend or a wife they can be proud of, who they can trust, who will honor them.
As a young adult, I’ve watched the lives of many acquaintances who chose attention over self-respect fall apart or swirl into a mess. I’ve comforted friends who were date raped, listened to others deal with a boyfriend who would never commit, have had children out of wedlock with a deadbeat dad, and some even lost their jobs, all because they wanted the initial physical attention, versus the long-term reward of getting married and honoring the body that God gave them.
In the environment of God’s Church, it’s even more important that you exercise modesty, as a sign of respect for God and your Christian brothers. It might be flattering that some guy can’t stop staring at your low cut top at camp, but later on, that same guy might just end up marrying your friend (how embarrassing!), who was more modest. In the meantime, you’re making it easier for the guy to have lustful thoughts and therefore to sin, and to look at you as an object, rather than a person. It’s not respecting him or loving him as your brother in Christ, and most importantly, it doesn’t honor God. And yes, it is also true and very important that guys accept their responsibility in controlling their own thoughts, no matter what they see around them. It is the responsibility of both genders to do their part in respecting each other.
Honoring God is the goal of everything we do. I’m sure you’re all familiar with the scripture where God calls our bodies a temple, a temple where God’s Spirit can abide. Notice this in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 1 Corinthians 6:19-20  What? know you not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which you have of God, and you are not your own?
 For you are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.
American King James Version×(NIV): “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who [which] is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.”
In the Old Testament, God spends chapter after chapter describing every inch of Solomon’s Temple, from the type of wood to the color of the fabric to the ornate floors of gold. And just like the physical temples described in 1 Kings 5-8., God has poured time, energy and planning into you—creating someone beautiful, unique, and full of potential. We should display our temples with the same love and care that God did, with modesty, with consideration for the interpretation of our dress by others, and with heartfelt worship of our Creator. So that the sincerity of our faith does not come into question and we use the Holy Spirit in us in a way more pleasing to God.
The foundation of modesty isn’t about your parents asking you to change a skirt that’s too short, or the momentary attention of a guy passing by, it’s about respecting yourself, loving your brother (and possible future husband), and ultimately worshipping your Creator with the temple He so carefully and wonderfully made.