Arguably, it was one of my most embarrassing moments in all of my seventeen years. Thankfully, I was 3000 miles from home and my dad would keep it secret. The whole trip to Florida was his idea. We’d be traveling up and down the coast, but the ultimate treat was ending up at Disney World!
Our day at the Magic Kingdom started early. After we parked our rental car, I was so excited that I ran ahead of my dad. He was laughing at my exuberance and waved me on. I was barely inside the huge gates, when two uniformed guards came up on either side of me.
The female guard asked if I’d come alone. No, I explained my father was coming just behind me. The guards waited for him to walk up to us. The problem was my cut-off shorts. The shorts themselves weren’t too short, but the 2” cuts on the sides exposed too much of my legs.
The male guard, who looked as old as my grandpa, said that at my age I needed to set an example. Did I realize how often younger girls would look at me and then wonder if they should dress as indecently as I was. He shook his head in disgust and then pointed to hundreds of kids, and said Disney World had high standards, and so should I. Humiliated, tears slid down my cheeks. After my scolding, they gave me some safety pins to close my “provocative” slits.
I tried to enjoy the rides, but I kept replaying the scene at the front gate. My embarrassment burned even more than the Florida sun. I hadn’t ever thought about my clothing affecting others and I hadn’t really cared either, until now.
Much has changed since that day in 1975. My indecent exposure isn’t so indecent anymore; it was mild by today’s standards. But what hasn’t changed is how our clothes affect those around us. Just a few weeks ago in church, I noticed a man’s eyes tracking a young woman wearing short-shorts. Yes, she was wearing short-shorts in church—and seemed oblivious to the effect her outfit had on the men around her.
I miss the modesty of my childhood—it must be another sign of my advancing age. I can still hear the old Disney World guard telling me I was dressed indecently. While those words stung, he was right about my needing to set a better example. Sadly, in today’s world, we may have gotten so used to indecent exposure that it no longer seems indecent.