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Having Courage When the Bathing Suit is Way Too Small

By: Bethany Beal

My eyes grew twice the size as I watched my swim coach pull my new bathing suit from the box.

“Ummm are you sure that’s her bathing suit? It looks a little small.” My mom asked with a questioning voice.

My swim coach chuckled a little and then replied, “I’m positive this is her bathing suit. We order them extra small so that they will fit tight. We don’t want anything slowing her down when she’s in the water.”

With hesitation my mom paid for the swimsuit and then handed it to me. I was only ten years old when this bathing suit fiasco went down, but I remember that conversation like it was yesterday.

I remember thinking in my little girl brain, “This bathing suit is way too small. It’s going to be tighter than skin tight.”

Small Bathing Suits Were Only the Beginning

When the next swim season rolled around my parents decided to focus my attention in a new direction. They decided that the modesty standards they were holding for our family and the competitive swim world didn’t go hand-in-hand.

They willingly sacrificed swim team so they could remain consistent in the their personal convictions.

Little did they know that that small decision to give up swim team was a milestone in my Christian life.

I learned a valuable lesson through that experience. I learned that being a Christian takes courage and sacrifice.

It takes courage to stand up for what you believe is right, and it takes sacrifice to give up activities, sports, parties, events etc. that don’t align with personal convictions.

Courage and Sacrifice Even When it’s Hard

Now that I’m in my late twenties I’ve realized that being a Christian woman in the 21st century takes serious courage and sacrifice.

There have been countless times in my life where I’ve had to courageously stand up for what I believe and willingly sacrifice something fun in order to hold to my personal convictions and standards.

I remember a time when I had to sacrifice hanging with my friends at the movie theater because the movie didn’t line up with my convictions.

I remember a time when I left the rodeo early because the concert afterward had a singer that I knew was going to have some sketchy songs.

I remember a time when I sacrificed a relationship with a guy because the wise people around me counseled against it.

Those are just some examples of the types of things I’ve sacrificed in order to hold on to my convictions and do my best to honor God with my life.

Being a Christian Girl isn’t Easy

Many of your girls have emailed us or commented on posts asking about specific circumstances in your life. You want to know if you should give things up that don’t line up with your personal understanding of God’s Word.

One of the biggest questions we’ve received is this, “should I give up this sport (swimming, gymnastics, dancing, volleyball etc) if it doesn’t line up with my modesty standards?”

I’ve somewhat avoided this topic because it’s a hard one. The answer isn’t popular and, to many, it may seem extreme.

I personally believe that we as Christian girls should courageously sacrifice anything that doesn’t line up with our convictions and doesn’t help us honor God with our lives.

For me that meant avoiding sports that required a uniform that went against my modesty convictions. I chose to instead pursue sports that allowed me to play competitively while not compromising.

I guess that’s one reason I ended up in basketball. Being tall helped, but the modest uniforms were a big draw as well.

Courage in Every Area of your Life

I’m sure many of you have experienced or understand exactly what I’m talking about. It’s probably something different for each one of you.

Some of you may be struggling with a certain sport because of the uniform. Some of you may be struggling with a group of friends because of their activity choices. Some of you may be struggling with a relationship. Some of you may be struggling with a work situation.

Whatever the situation is I want you to ask yourself these two questions:

  1. Am I willing to be courageous and stand up for what I believe?
  2. Am I willing to sacrifice “it” (whatever “it” is) in order to honor God with my life?

Let’s Wrap it Up

Is there something in your life that God may be asking you to give up in order to honor Him?

Have you ever had to give something up in the past? If so, what was it?

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Having Courage When the Bathing Suit is Way too Small

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37 Responses to Having Courage When the Bathing Suit is Way Too Small

  1. Rachel says:

    I totally get what you mean about hanging out with a group of friends. I ate lunch with three other girls on a regular basis. They didn’t agree with everything I did, but it wasn’t so extreme that I had to stop eating with them. Later in the year, there were more things that we disagreed on, and then there were other things. They had parties and invited each other, but not me. I knew they listened to music I didn’t approve of. Eventually, I started eating with people a year younger, but who loved God like I did, and liked the music I did (although I’m a huge fan of Patch the Pirate…). It was hard to separate from my friends, but I got a lot of good ones in exchange.

    • GirlDefined says:

      Rachel, That’s soooo hard to do! I’m proud of you for being willing to sacrifice your friends in order to honor God. Isn’t it amazing how He provided new friends who are more like-minded! I love it 🙂 -Bethany

  2. Omle Uche says:

    Hello 🙂 I ordered for a copy of the Project Modesty ebook, but I’m yet to receive it. How should I expect it? Will it be in an email?

  3. Elisabeth Grace says:

    Thanks for the post as always it was terrific !!Your so right we aught to be Willing to do Anythig for God.Just last night He challenged me to not buy something I was going to buy and buy something different because the Modesty standerds didn’t add up.Ps..This is Elisabeth’s new account although I may go back to the old one sometime.

  4. Mella TJ says:

    Again, Beautifully written 🙂

  5. Andreia Figueiredo says:

    Hi Bethany! I totally get what you are talking about! I remember being about 8 or 9 years old, when my swimming coach approached my parents about extra practices on Sunday mornings so I could start competing in a few months. My parents explained to him that, in our family, Sunday mornings were reserved to go to church, but he did not care much about it, since he had other kids’s parents saying the same thing and then changing their mind after they saw their kids getting medals. Well, that was not the case with my parents. On that day, my parents thought me that your commitment with God is more important than swimming, school, friends… it is all about prioritizing your relationship with God and honoring Him with your time.
    I love your blog, and I often send post to other girl friends. Girl Defined is such a blessing in my life!

  6. Jesusfreak17 says:

    One thing that I think girls could do in a sports situation before they decide to give it up is ask of they can modify the outfit. Probably wouldn’t work too well with swimming, but if the shorts are too short you could ask if you could wear leggings under it or something. Just a thought. 🙂

    • Mel says:

      That was my thought as well. As a larger woman, my coaches were more than willing to let me wear looser, larger shorts so that I could run comfortably without losing all the skin on my legs.

      My other concern is that I hope their parents followed up with the coach about the tightness of the suits. In my experience, coaches want to give athletes the best option, but are usually quite accepting if athletes want to forgo an advantage for psychological or religious reasons. If they are not – especially for a 10 year old – I would approach the coach’s league because that is a strange and disturbing sign of how the coach works.

  7. Anonymous says:

    So you are always talking about dressing modestly. I heard that the only place where you guys talk about where you can find decent clothes is in your 10 dollar ebook. For that much money I could buy some nice clothes!!!!

    • Rebecca Brown says:

      Hmm… so do you WANT to know where to find decent clothes? Cuz I know some great places 🙂

    • GirlDefined says:

      Hey, I’ve shared several times (outside of my e-book) where I shop for clothes. If you’re interested, I’m more than happy to share my top favorite stores with you 🙂 -Bethany

  8. Edie Moore McGee says:

    This is just nuts. I don’t even know where to begin to tell you what’s wrong here.

    • Rachel says:

      There is nothing wrong here. Bethany’s post completely aligns with the Bible. Think about Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abendego. They refused to eat the king’s meat and wine, because it was unholy, because it had been sacrificed to idols. Later, Daniel’s friends almost sacrificed their lives, because they would only bow to their King and God, not another earthly king or false god. That took courage!
      Remember Joseph also? As a slave, he wouldn’t sacrifice his standards of purity. When Potiphar’s wife tempted him, he ran away. Look where it got him- in jail. But he didn’t sacrifice his standards, had courage, and wouldn’t give in to temptation. Sacrifice takes courage, and we have many examples in the Bible where it would have been easy to slip into the cultur, and no one would have said anything. But they decided to be different, which took courage, and they gave up an easy life. BUT GOD WAS PLEASED WITH THEM, and that is what really matters.
      Hope this gives you something to think about. Have a blessed day!

      • Edie Moore McGee says:

        Um, no. I understand completely, actually. The author used the term “my modesty standards.” So is that synonymous with God’s modesty standards? How do you know that? I certainly don’t. What I do know is that Gothardite claptrap says that girls are wholly responsible for what goes on in a boy’s brain. And that’s not scriptural.
        I’m a lot older than the authors and swam competitively back in the 1970s when Lycra competition suits were first introduced. I also grew up in Evangelical Christianity. My mother strictly enforced hemlines and top coverage. When it came to my competition suits, though, she called them “athletic uniforms,” and I personally watched her take down some Nosy Nellies and Nathans from church over whether those swimsuits were appropriate for me (a teenage girl) to wear. Mama said, “It’s not her job to police what’s in his head!” Mama, a member of the Greatest Generation, denied being a feminist. She just said she had a lot of common sense. Mama was right.
        I’m grateful now as an adult for all those years of hard workouts in the pool. I’ve undergone a couple of all-day surgeries in the past few years, as I’ve had cancer. I have a strong heart, circulatory system and pair of lungs because of those hours spent in the pool. I’m glad the God saw fit to put me there lo those many years ago.

        • Rachel says:

          I agree that girls are not wholly responsible for what goes into a guy’s head, but we do have some responsibility. But if all you got out of this post was that Bethany has different standards than you do, and that you are so much healthier now that you have swum competitively, then you missed the point.
          It’s possible to be healthy and be modest too. But that also is not the point (and I’m not saying your bathing suit was immodest).
          The point is that sacrifice takes courage. Whether it’s giving up a sport because you don’t agree with the modesty of the athletic uniforms, or giving up a group of friends because their music standards don’t align with God’s Word, being Christlike takes courage. When you come down to it, that’s what this is about. Being Christlike. That’s what this life is about. We are saved to glorify God and we do that by being Christlike.
          Bethany is not trying to condemn anyone because of their modesty standards. But she does want us to glorify God by the choices we make.

          • Rebecca Brown says:

            I fully agree with you, Rachel. Sacrifice DOES take courage. If you, Edie, didn’t feel that your bath suit was immodest, then that’s fine. But the point of this article was to stand up for your beliefs… I hope you see that God is displeased with Christians who give into the world… NOT necessarily with our modesty standards.

        • Rebecca Brown says:

          I agree that it was a good thing for your body to work out, but I don’t think that is the main point that the author was trying to make here. God doesn’t condemn wearing a bathing suit, but He DOES condemn doing something that your personal convictions go against. And while God’s word doesn’t say, Thou shalt be responsible for men’s minds, we, as women ARE responsible for our appearance. God has blessed many of us physically, and if we know that wearing a certain shirt in front of a man will direct his mind toward impure thoughts, then we ARE in the wrong. Please, understand that this is not about a bathing suit and exercise… this is about personal convictions and not giving in just because the world wants us too.

        • Jason Garrick Shirtz says:


          Ummmm What passage is that?

          The one where God says that you shouldn’t do something that goes against your personal convictions?

          Could you give me a citation on that?

          Because off the top of my head, I can’t think of one.

          not to mention, it’s a very consistent theme on this blog that “we should follow God’s word, regardless of what our personal feelings on the matter are.”

          Not much of a difference between “personal convictions” and “personal feelings” in my book, as the operational word in both phrases is “personal”.

          Which leaves us with the question. “Is there a clear biblical standard for modesty?”

          The answer to that is NO.

          The next question is “does the bible clearly state that women have the responsibility to protect the men in their lives from lust, by their manner of dress?”

          The answer to that is ALSO NO.

          It states they should wear hats (don’t see many Christians do that.)

          It also states that “whoever looks at a women with lust, has committed adultery with her in his heart”

          Which puts the responsibility on purity of thought ON MEN.

          For example, in the case of David and Bathseba, it was David who was guilty of the sin of peeping on her when she was bathing (pervert)

          It was also David who was guilty of adultery with her. (She had little power to refuse the king, because as we see a few verses later he “Solves” the problem of her getting pregnant by MURDERING HER HUSBAND)

          • MarquettePatterson says:

            The Bible does talk about “not putting a stumbling block” before your brothers and sisters (Romans 14:13-23). Dressing inappropriately, whether we like it or not, is a way to make a brother stumble in the way of their thoughts. Yeah, they should be controlling that, to a degree, but we also need to ensure that we’re not causing the men around us to stumble. I play volleyball in a Christian league, and our dress code doesn’t allow spandex short-shorts like most club teams. One of my best friends, a 15yr old boy, went to his cousin’s volleyball game. She plays in a normal club. I was sitting at the table with his sister right before homecoming, talking with her about appropriate dancing and all that, when he walks in. The first thing he says about his cousin’s game? “Those girls wore such short-shorts!” Can we blame him for noticing that?! I don’t believe we can. At least 12 girls, all standing/squatting/sliding around in the middle of a court which he was looking down at? Not his fault for noticing. We are commanded to protect him, and all other men and boys.

  9. Nicole says:

    This was one of the reasons I did not participate in the girl football game during high school.
    And I’ve been there, giving up a guy who doesn’t match up with our personal convictions. Want to know that I have found? God has given me an overabundance of joy and happiness for always choosing Him.
    Thank you for your courage. I find every blog challenging and in line with the word of God.
    May God bless you!

    • GirlDefined says:

      Nicole, I’m so glad you were encouraged/challenged by this article. How cool that you were willing to give things up in order to honor God with your life. Keep focusing on Him. -Bethany

  10. hannah Mwilambwe says:

    I loved super models as i was growing up and I thought of trying it out. the moment I shared my idea with my parents, they were against it and as I grew up I realized their dressing wasn’t ideal for a christian girl so I gave it up. I’ve also given up about 3 relationships with guys that I felt would compromise my stand with God. we as christian girls have a lot of things to let go if they do not allow us honor God. In the end, he always gives us what is best for us but still help us remain in him faithfully..I love this article Bethany, I can totally relate.

    • GirlDefined says:

      @Annamawi:disqus Thanks for commenting girl! 🙂 I totally agree with what you said, “in the end, he always gives us what is best for us but still help us remain in him faithfully.” God is soooo good. -Bethany

  11. Mary says:

    Awesome post!!! Don’t listen to the haters…haters gonna HATE!!! People feel they need to justify themselves on their view. However you have the courage to SACRIFICE for your convictions and not just give in with the flow of the world! Stay strong ladies!!

  12. Mary Mae says:

    I totally agree with you Bethany!!

    On a different topic, I had a question. What are some good ways to introduce yourself/get to know better a non-Chrstian teen girl about your own age? Also, what are some good ways/questions to ask as you get to know someone to see if they are a Christian or not?I have troubles. Getting to know people on a deeper level is hard for me already. so I would appreciate any tips you have. Also if any other readers have any ideas, feel free to mention them!

    Thank you! Keep up the good work!
    God bless,

    • Becky says:

      Finding a common ground is a great starting place (maybe you both have an interest in a certain hobby, etc). Good questions to see if they are Christian or not would be to ask them if they have a spiritual background. All people believe something so asking a question like this can really open up the conversation. Also, if they profess to be a Christian you could ask them what their testimony is or how they came to know Christ. Pray that God would give you boldness, and remember that bad company corrupts good morals (1 Corinthians 15:33) so although it is great to have some people that you are trying to share the gospel with, you will want to your closest friends to be with godly girls and also find a godly woman you admire perhaps in your church (in addition to your mom or older sister if they are Christians) and ask to spend time with her- learn what it means to be a godly woman! Hope that helps : )

  13. Michaela Rose says:

    I had a whole week of having to be especially couragoues (and by the grace of God was allowed to be a witness for him) for a week. I go to a public school (in Germany) and we were on a classtrip far from home. There was a lot of drinking going on and we went swimming quite often. Lets just say I was one of the very few who has never had alcohol and my modesty standards don’t line up with those in my class (or their lack of modesty standards). Anyway, I made it through and had some good conversations with some friends about the Bible and Jesus. I believe he used it all for His glory even though I hate classtrips. Thank you for the encouragement! PS: I had just finished reading your new book and was very encouraged by it as well!) PPS: Please excuse my spelling, I’m terrible I know ;D

  14. hannah Mwilambwe says:

    I love all you courageous girls..lets keep it Jesus..

  15. Marie says:

    That’s good advice! Lately I have been giving up little things that weaken my relationship with God. I have never had to give up a sport before. I am so thankful for my Christian cross country coach who has strict modesty rules. Most of the other teams, even the other Christian school teams, still wear short shorts, and the public school girls tend to wear very short skin tight shorts. I think our team really sticks out – in a good way. And like you basketball is also great because the usual uniform is very long shorts. Loved the post!

  16. afollower says:

    God bless you sister ~ ty for your testimony for the Word of God and for purity of the heart, thought, word, and deed. ~ May God continue to grow you in hunger and thirst for His Word, humbly walking in His ways, and boldness in sharing His Word and calling others to follow it – to all who will listen. ~ Praying for you and your family ~ a growing servant/life-slave of Jesus, SH

  17. Leah Good says:

    I swam competitively for three years, and it was a major learning and growing experience for me. I always wore a boys suit over my girls suit for modesty purposes. One day a girl asked me if the extra suit was for drag, and when I told her I wore it for modesty purposes, she honestly didn’t know what the word modesty meant. After swimming several laps in which my stunned brain scrambled for a definition, I was able to share a Bible verse with her. By the end of the practice, our entire lane of seven kids was discussing the meaning of modesty! Those three years taught me the value of being confident about being a “peculiar people.”

  18. MammaJay says:

    I came here with high hopes because you were recommended at tw16. My hopes were mostly dashed when in one of your highly visible videos it was labeled something like ‘modest fasion’ and all of the women in it were wearing those legging like pants that seem to be the only pants available for women today. I can see every definition of your legs and if you turned around I wouldn’t have to imagine the flip side. My daughter is really struggling with this very issue because literally everyone she knows wears these too. Including her Christian grandmother. So my question is: Why (?) are you wearing those? I know that all men find it hard not to ogle those (even when the girl is far to young to look at because it’s all out there and still shocking to them). Even I think gross thoughts when I see those on girls, and women. *Thoughts like: terific, now I have no question what they look like naked. fan-tas-tic! Ugh!* And believe you me, I’m very used to rapid fire looking away now. Because Ewww!!

    -When I was 8 I was in a Christmas concert with my classmates, we had to wear tights with a cotton tail- even way back then, before conversion- I felt completely exposed. That kind of outfit is on 99% of pant wearing women today. I’m still mortified though it’s been going on for probably more than 15 years.-

    A tight bathing suit is one thing, but daily wearing those pants that believe me, might not feel tight but are leaving very little to the imagination…what is up with that? Seriously, help me here. I would love to see believers taking a stand a real stand against immodesty, not a partial halfway there stand. I know women personally who do and look beautiful and fashionable. But they aren’t blogging about it (maybe because it’s not in the forefront of their minds, they’re practiced at it so it’s second nature to them). I’d love to share a blog like that with my impressionable daughter. Please consider taking a stand against form fitting pants or at least wearing cute tunics to cover your behinds.

    Remember please: I didn’t come here to heckle, I came here hopeful. May God bless and keep you.

  19. MammaJay says:

    PS The video I mentioned was called “Project Modesty” it’s on your homepage.

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