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They Told Me To Be A Flower.

Updated on May 17, 2016

I went to a Christian college.

I went to a Christian college for a year before I transferred schools. In some ways it was great. The school was tiny enough that I knew all of my professors and tight-knit enough that I never ate alone, but between nonalcoholic parties; campus ministry meetings; and group study sessions, I started to realize that I didn't agree with the things that I was being taught; I didn't recognize the person I was becoming.I didn't fit in with the other students. I tried to compensate by becoming more and more Christian. I read my bible every night. I started trying to be a good Christian girl I but I still didn't fit in. I started having panic attacks; I spent more time alone. I felt like an animal trapped in a cage, but I couldn't figure out why.

I remember sitting in a conference for young women. We walked into the Student Union. It was decorated with streamers, flowers, balloons and ribbons. It looked as if a toddler's birthday party had vomited. We sat around a table eating finger foods and chatting. We all felt special since the guys were not included. As we got comfortable, a lady wearing ten pounds of Mary-Kay makeup and pink lipstick walked onto the small stage.

"Girls," she said with sincerity "I remember being your age. I remember wanting the boys to like me. I wanted to make them look. " She looked down at the stage. "I remember wearing hotpants to make my ex-boyfriend jealous." her voice resonated with shame. We all felt uncomfortable. Even though we didn't know exactly what Hot Pants were, we got the message loud and clear. "Showing off my body to get attention was wrong." She surveyed the audience pausing for effect. "A woman is like a flower, and a flower should be fragrant Today I'm going to teach you how to be fragrant "

"If we had sex before marriage we were cheating on our future husbands."

She handed us some flower shapes made from construction paper. One each petal we wrote the qualities of a fragrant woman.

  • Modesty
  • Faith
  • Humbleness
  • Kindness

As we wrote each quality, she explained why they were important. She predictably placed the most emphasis on modesty. This was the first time that I heard the infamous slogan "Modest is hottest" She informed us that we should be modest so that we could save ourselves for our future husbands. She told us that we were cherished by the Lord and that our bodies were for our eyes and for the eyes of our future husbands, whom we should already be praying for. she also told us that if we had sex before marriage we were cheating on our future husbands, and we would have to ask forgiveness from him and from the lord.

I didn't want to be a flower

Sitting in that room with fifty other girls, I realized that I didn't want to be a flower. I didn't believe I could cheat on a husband that I had not met. I didn't believe that by being modest I would be a better wife. I wasn't even sure I wanted to be a wife. It's not that I minded being kind or humble or modest, it wasn't that I didn't believe in God, it was just that I couldn't see doing all of these things for a husband I might never meet. I wanted to be valued for more than my status as a potential wife. Soon I started to question not only my faith but also my ideas about gender roles, spirituality, marriage, and monogamy


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