Christian singer Matthew West’s latest song, “Modest is Hottest” is getting heated alright…in the online comments section, that is. Released on June 18, the song (which is satirical) begins with West and his two daughters as he decides he needs to “have a talk” with them about what they’re wearing.
“The boys are coming round ’cause you’re beautiful. And it’s all your mother’s fault,” he sings as his wife, Emily, pops up in the background.
“Modest is hottest, the latest fashion trend is a little more Amish, a little less Kardashian. What the boys really love is a turtleneck and a sensible pair of slacks. Honey, modest is hottest, sincerely, your dad.”
In the music video that accompanies the song, West dresses his family in black turtlenecks and khaki pants. In the song, West also shares his derision for TikTok, a very popular platform for teens.
“If I catching you doing dances on the TikTok, in a crop top, so help me God, you’ll be grounded ’til the world stops,” he sings.
On Instagram, West said the song is a “lighthearted take on an age-old struggle” and said he wrote the song to remind his daughters that their “appearance doesn’t define them.”
Though, as many parents and commenters have pointed out, if appearances aren’t as important as what’s on the inside, then controlling and critiquing girls’ clothing doesn’t exactly back that up.
Some commenters called the song hypocritical, while others shed light on the problematic and misogynistic nature of purity culture:
“Yeah, no. Good intentions here but the end result is always shaming girls. They are not responsible for ‘protecting’ boys.”
“This song is very problematic . God help us. Show your daughters their value by talking about something other than their bodies please. “
“Just make sure you’re teaching the boys that just cause it’s not modest doesn’t mean the girl wearing it is less. Cause I don’t see anyone doing light-hearted songs about that.”
“Phew. So glad my child won’t be growing up with this messaging like I did.”
“I’m confused. Is this supposed to be satire? As in, everything he’s saying here is a joke? If so then I think he needs to clarify that these are not his actual beliefs so people won’t try to pressure their daughters to cover every inch of their bodies so the “helpless” boys won’t lust after them.”
“I realize this song was meant as a joke. I do. But joking about something that has hurt SO many people for decades isn’t funny. And doing it while tearing down other women for their appearance (the Kardashians and Cardi B) doesn’t exactly give a good witness, does it? This song and video are beyond tone-deaf.”
It’s understandably difficult finding ways to navigate young adulthood when you’re a parent. And while this dad claims his video was satire, he also admitted it’s based on his very real feelings. All feelings are valid feelings, it’s true, but it’s our job as parents to find constructive, productive ways to channel those feelings about our kids growing up without resorting to projection or asserting control where we shouldn’t.
Educating ourselves about bodily autonomy and responsibility for all genders, not just girls, is a great place to start.