|Waiting for the Rough Bus after a night on the Toon.|
Six years ago, I would have fired back, "Don't be silly, you 20-something whippersnapper. For good biological reasons, most of the young men around want to drag you off to their caves, and would if they could get away with it, or didn't fear God, etc., etc." However, internet porn apparently messes with male brains so much that the men cease to function normally as sexual subjects. The poor things actually stop being interested in the girls their grandfathers would have done their best to chat up and instead become psychologically fixated on ginormous fake boobs, etc. Sad, really.
So I have to concede my reader has a point there. Meanwhile, she was given a counter-argument by a priest who said that she should dress modestly not just to preserve the purity of men (which she quite cogently argues they are throwing away with both hands their very own selves) but for herself. She does not know what he means by this, but being over 40, I bet I do.
There is such a thing as dignity, and whereas a slim 24 year old girl can look like a nice girl in a micro-mini and black tights, 40+ Seraphic cannot. My town is crammed full of older women on the prowl, and I find them a little embarrassing, especially when they are drunk. It's not that they don't look good--they often look quite surprisingly good--it's the lack of dignity. Whatever age you are, you should dress with dignity.
Interestingly, guides on how to dress so that men will ask you do dance do not mention modesty at all and yet they are all about appropriate shoes, only one layer on top, covered backs and small jewellery. The swing guide even advises dressing vintage, which means wearing clothes, hairstyles and make-up of earlier (and more modest, incidentally) decades. All this is to show men who like to dance that you are serious about dancing and will be fun to dance with.
What looking like a stripper tells men is.... Well, I am not sure, but I am not sure it is good. And looking like a stripper is a a lot different from wearing the spaghetti strap top some modesty mavens get anxious about. Wearing a spaghetti strap top when you take a 32 B bra is quite a different thing from wearing a spaghetti strap top when you take a 40 DD, isn't it?
I suppose, if you are a Searching Single, social life may sometimes feel like a constant audition for a show called "Wife Material". Saint Augustine thought this a tremendously sad situation, and I must say I agree with him. It might be more helpful to think of it as a show called "Girl Next Door" because all the married women I know, aged 24 to 65, whether they were pretty or striking or merely belle-laides when they married, were all Girl Next Door types. (Hold the phone, one was an Exotic Sultry Temptress from Abroad with the Soul of a Girl Next Door. You know who you are!)
The bigger problem, of course, is that not as many men wish to be in the "Wife Material" show, for increasing numbers of men are utterly terrified of marriage. All the more reason, I think, to dress like the Girl Next Door because the Girl Next Door is [more likely to be] a loyal soul who would never have an affair with her salsa instructor and divorce her grieving husband after taking him to the cleaners and poisoning the minds of his children against him.
And now all my male readers have fainted, for I have typed out their worst fears in black and white. Oh, the humiliation of such a fate! In my mind's eye I can see them all shudder. Yes, women can be very wicked, very wicked indeed. We should strive not to be, and meanwhile we should stop going to modesty talks, unless to meet boys.
But is this wise? Ironically, there are fewer things more sexually arousing in Catholic circles than modesty talks. All that earnest discussion about uncovered female flesh when the boys are seated right next to soft-skinned, sweet-smelling, glowing young women with anxious questions. "Can I wear my skirt to here...? How about here...? And my neckline? Here....? How about here...?" (Male readers faint again.)
In short, I think it is outrageous that ordinary young Catholic women are made to feel terrible for wearing ordinary summer clothes when the real problem in society, which is having a devastating effect on the souls of men and on their families, is pr*n and pr*n-related businesses. If anything, ordinary young Catholic women should be warned against frumpiness instead. Let's dress like the heavenly-home heroines we aspire to be and give the hussies a run for their money.
Also check out the "Longer Lengths" section of modcloth.com.ReplyDelete
This was hilarious! Can I also point out the near impossibility for some women of hiding their cleavage/boobs, and they would look like sacks if they tried? Also the unfair double standards whereby some busty, constantly flirting women are given a pass on flirtatiousness and mildly hot clothing, whereas other busty women (same general size and shape) get glares if they wear party clothes because they are normally so prim and proper. Like, "Hey, Maryann, stop acting like Ginger. O HAI, Ginger, how are you today, hahaha." Typecasting. It's annoying.
Very annoying. And there are helpful books by Trinny and Suzannah about dressing well for your body type in every British charity shop. If not in the UK, see the following http://trinnyandsusannah.com/.ReplyDelete
Sorry about their language, by the way. Trinny and Suzannah are a bit earthy by North American standards. You should hear what British people say on TV after 9 PM.Delete
We know, we watch "Mrs Brown's Boys."Delete
How many cheers can I give this post?!! Especially the last paragraph. I run in some circles where I see lots of frumpiness. I am heartily sympathetic to all manner of budget constraints, as well as the body image struggles of pregnant/new moms, both of which can make clothes shopping extra difficult. But my heart ached for the 14 year old daughter of a woman my age, who was protesting the uber-strict modesty requirements of her parents (hemlines below the knee, necklines to the collarbone...). When she told her mother those clothes were ugly, her mother basically said, "But they are modest, and that's what's important." Goodness knows what she will buy when she's independent and making her own choices.ReplyDelete
Well, indeed. I am not a huge fan of "below the knee" myself. Hopefully the 14 year old's rebellion will be to wear her hemline right smack to her knee. ("Take that, Mom!") Sadly, a little creativity with the shopping would turn up LOVELY clothes. Frankly I think most of the clothes on the high street (main street with clothing stores) are ugly, the immodest being just as ugly as the modest, and the answer is either to frequent the higher end shops or to search the internet.ReplyDelete
...or make your own.Delete
Reply to Aged P: Or get your mother to make it! ;-DDelete
I agree with you about the dignity issue. It isn't a matter of how good one's figure and face may be, for one's age or for any age. It's that, by a certain age - say 40ish, one ought to have outgrown the need to show off one's assets, which always carries a connotation of begging for approval. Those who have arrived at a degree of confidence should have no need to beg for it, in words or gestures.ReplyDelete
Just as verbal boasting by the young (especially children), is amusing and even charming, but becomes much less so in adults in their prime, so does boasting involved in flaunting one's body or even in wearing the kind of clothes that scream "look at me!" no matter how well they cover one. (In other words, fellow-females, it's probably best to avoid the purple leather Versace jacket, alas.) I would apply this to men, too; a 60-year-old man looks silly driving a flashy sports car or wearing motorcycle leathers. I would make two exceptions to this: a very formal event like a ball permits women a certain leeway when it comes to cleavage and bare arms. Even so, we should always use this permission with a certain caution, showing no more than one asset at a time. The other exception is of course a very informal setting like the beach or one's own backyard.
Ab Fab! I love that show!ReplyDelete
My father told me that ARMS can be distracting to men. He didn't say that women have to wear sleeves at church (I wear sleeves all the time anyway), but he said that it could be a distraction. That would never have occurred to me.
However, my father was born in 1953, far before the advent of porn-on-tap, so maybe men of his generation are different than those born post-1970.
What a hoot! You have discussions with your dad about what men find distracting? Personally I would never ever ask my dad such a thing. He was born during the war, so I am thinking men born when he was born are still distracted by ankles. Hee hee! (Just kidding, Aged P.)Delete
Gah. Modesty (TM); Chastity (TM); Theology of the Body (TM). They're pretty much brands now, and I'm OVAH it. Good and true ideas and all that, but could we have something different for once? And I personally think that the importance of Modesty (TM) is waaaaaay overblown. It's important, but it's not the most important thing. I saw an attractive and scantily clad woman get on the train the other day and walk past a group of teenage boys. Not a single head turned. This Modesty (TM) thing seems like a massive take.ReplyDelete
The ante on modesty has been truly upped (or downed). Nowadays modesty does not mean "Oh gosh, can I wear spaghetti straps?" It means not having breast implants. Someone should inform the chastity speakers.Delete
Lol! Somebody really should!!Delete
I love this article!! I know people who (not kidding at all!) won't let their DAUGHTERS watch the new Cinderella movie because of the lowish-cut dresses. Never mind the fact that it's probably one of the loveliest movies to come out from Hollywood in years, or that we are talking historically accurate costume . . . GAH.
Sheesh... I always got frustrated by the people who were like, "but vintage clothes were so much more modest!! Blah, blah, blah..." Seriously, has no one ever looked at pictures of girls from then? Or seen historical paintings?? Low necklines, short sleeves, well tailored clothes abound!! Puritan culture in America has affected a lot of where the modesty talks come from... The only thing that was off limits was legs it seems...Delete
I KNOW, RIGHT? Check out the sixteenth century.Delete
To be fair, though, nobody is talking about the sixteenth century when they are talking about "vintage." The vintage in vintage shops always means from the 1920s to 1990. Of course, the skirts in the late 1960s, early 1970s were way shorter than the average skirt in 1980.Delete
Currently we're very down on showing too much cleavage, but we're okay on showing a lot of leg, as long as the legs look nice. Still, I think fashion magazines rule that if you show cleavage, you have to cover up your legs, and if you show leg, you have to cover up your cleavage. If you show off both cleavage and leg, then even the fashion magazines are cross with you. Meanwhile, this whole wearing trousers and showing your legs stuff would have scandalized the living daylights out of all Europeans from the beginning of history until 1920.
1990? Cool! I was born that year. I am therefore vintage :)Delete
I wonder if the author of this question is catholic: "Why, therefore, do I have to worry about being "modest"?...ReplyDelete
If she is Catholic, the answer is simple: GOD.
Modesty is a virtue. It´s not about "in my opinion"... "I think", etc...
St Thomas explains what modesty is about (IIª-IIae, q. 169 a. 2)
The problem with "modesty clothes" is phariseism... You "look" modest, but you´re not...
That´s why we need to pray to Our Lady to be modest, just as we need to pray to be pure... just as we need to pray...
But why is this anonymous?Delete
We like vigorous debate on this blog, not anonymous scolding. Your reference to Thomas and to pray are helpful, but your holier-than-thou remarks are not.
Meanwhile my reader is certainly a Catholic. She is a Catholic woman who very rightly wonders why chastity speakers are worried about women's clothing turning men's heads, when men don't even seem to see real-life women in public anymore, let alone turn their heads.
I do wonder what 'harlots' wore in Thomas's day. Thomas is great fun. It would seem from 169.2 that as long as you do not dress with the intention of inciting men to lust, as a hooker does, you're okay. Meanwhile, wives are encourage to dress in sexy stuff for their husbands, lest the husbands "fall into adultery." To transpose our beloved Thomas into the 21st century, I recommend we have a quick look at the girls having a cigarette break behind their place of stripping employment and not dress like that. Also, that we do not employ such mean arts as breast implants, lip implants, fake tan, fake eyelashes and ridiculously high, high heeled shoes--also the provenance of strippers.
169.2 is a challenge for most of us, for Thomas is most definitely against "feigning beauty" with make-up but okay with "covering disfigurement." Thus, if you are pale with illness or scarred, it is okay to wear a little foundation, but normally not.
I believe it was a lot easier to incite men to lust in the 13th century than it is now, thanks to/depending on 21st men's viewing habits. At any rate, if you put on clothes to "look nice" and not to "incite lust" you're okay. I do not think Thomas would have the slightest problem with anyone inciting men to ask them to dance, so if at a dance where what good dancers wear, i.e. the appropriate shoes and attire for the dance form. And don't get drunk and slop around squeaking "I'm so drunk!"
Thomas, interestingly enough, says that the same goes for men. Men are not supposed to dress to incite others to lust. I cannot imagine what men could wear to incite women to lust (unless they work out like crazy and then wander around shirtless), but naturally a lot of them might be inciting other men to lust. So there's something chastity speakers might mention once they have finished making the girls feel rotten.
Well, if we're thinking Thomas' time, we're also in the time of codpieces and long-toed shoes (yes they were trying to be obvious).Delete
PPS, is that you?Delete
Julia, in so far as I can be definite about anonymous comments, that was definitely not PPS.Delete
Yes, I do agree that the reason to dress modestly is not only for the sake of others but also for our own dignity, thank you Seraphic!ReplyDelete
I think people tend to worry but 'modest' can also be used to mean 'neither too much, or too little' eg: "She served a modest amount of dessert." Maybe the food analogy is not a perfect one, but to dress modestly perhaps we should be thinking 'Neither too tight, nor too loose and baggy'. Perhaps knee length does not have to mean below-the-knee and perhaps shoulders covered does not mean long sleeves at all times. Regardless of length, I think modest should imply that your clothes are washed, ironed if necessary, fit you, and suit you.
I think modest also encompasses wearing the right clothes for the right situation, bathers at the beach but not bikinis, pajamas in hospital but not to school, work boots at work but not at Mass etc. Lately we have been getting homilies on the fact that everyone should dress up for Mass - wouldn't that be nice! I love seeing guys in suits.
Nicely said, Clare...great point about the definition of the word "modest."Delete