St Francis Q&A

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

One's choice of clothing

I would have preferred to post about chastity first, but it’s probably good to answer the recent questions on modest dress now (modesty is part of the life of the chaste person). I’ve included comments from two Catholic experts below to help answer the questions. Regarding the question someone asked about dress codes for attending Mass, my answer is, 'wear your Sunday best!' In the least, men should wear dress pants (not shorts), a dress shirt, and dress shoes; in the least, women should wear a dress that covers the shoulders or a blouse with skirt (past the knees), and dress shoes.

Jason Evert, a young, Catholic chastity speaker and author, writes about modest dress (click on the title of this post for the link to his site):
“I've read tens of thousands of pages of theology and sex ed, but I never learned how to treat a woman until I dated one who dressed modestly. It was captivating, and I realized for the first time that immodest dress gets in the way of seeing a woman for whom she is. Immodest outfits might attract a man to a girl's body, but it distracts him from seeing her as a person. As one man said, ‘If you want a man to respect you, and perhaps eventually fall in love with you, then you must show him that you respect yourself and that you recognize your dignity before God.’

A woman who dresses modestly inspires a guy in a way that I'm not ashamed to admit I cannot explain. I suppose it is safe to say that it conveys your worth to us. When a woman dresses modestly, I can take her seriously as a woman because she isn't preoccupied with clamoring for attention. Such humility is radiant. Unfortunately, many women are so preoccupied with turning men's heads that they overlook their power to turn our hearts”.

Rev. Thomas Morrow has written “A Modesty Proposal”, a leaflet which can be read in its entirety at www.cfalive.org/leaflets. Here are some excerpts:
“I think we would have to be deliberately naive in this age of psychological sophistication to ignore the fact that certain visual stimuli are objectively and normally provocative to the sex drive of the ordinary male. We might close our eyes to this, but the merchants don't. And the fortunes they make by putting their theories into practice prove they know what they are doing... Whether the women and girls of our culture know or do not know what is going on, they lose by it all the same...

A good Christian woman has so much going for her, that even if short skirts and other ‘in’ fashions were a benefit–which they aren't–they would be of minimal importance. A woman living in the state of grace has a bit of an aura which far exceeds any fashion statement. Christian women sometimes underestimate their inner beauty, perhaps because the fashion designers have such a strong influence, placing so much stress on the exterior.”

And, the Catholic Catechism teaches (# 2521, 2522): “Modesty protects the intimate center of the person. It means refusing to unveil what should remain hidden…Modesty protects the mystery of persons and their love… Modesty is decency. It inspires one’s choice of clothing...”

4 Comments:

  • There is no way to underestimate how powerful advertising/clothing/marketing/peer pressure. The message in Fr. G's post (and it is awesome) is rarely heard by most teen girls (if at all). I have a chance to spend a lot of time with young teen girls and we discuss this topic A LOT. They LOVE to hear opinions on modesty and what immodesty attracts. As a matter of fact, I would say they are STARVING to hear another message other than the culture's!!!! Most of their parents will "fight" over their clothing but with no explanation! That's a lost battle. Girls need to TAUGHT that they are not objects but a child of Christ' with innate beauty, talents, personalities and so on! They will never hear it from the CULTURE. Presenting modesty as a positive thing is some thing that they WANT to hear! I am grateful that my daughters' and their friends and I are able to talk about clothing/modesty. I haven't "won," the war with my own daughters, but we are always working on it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    By Anonymous Kelly H., at 1:50 PM  

  • I strongly agree with this blog. Its rare to find a teen such as myself agreeing to this. In my group, we're known for dressing proactivley and it gives us a name, the names usually aren't good or respectful because its true dressing like that we are only disrespecting ourselves. The boys are attracted to our physical appearence. Girls often mistake that attraction as the boy liking her that is why alot of girls dress like that. Girls often think dressing more appropriate will turn them off. It might turn the sex craved boys off, but atleast you'll have their respect. And besides its not the sex craved boys you want. Girls are so brainwashed into dressing like that to impress, but it only leads to dirty names and disrespect from your peers and the boys might call you 'sexy' or 'hott', but they'll also say hurtful things out of disprect. Boys see you disrespecting yourself, they'll do the same and take advantage of you. If you want a guy to take you seriously you have to take yourself seriously. I know I have dressed in ways I shouldn't untill I looked at what I got out of it and I wasn't happy. Dressing like that only gives you disrespect, names and guys wanting to use you. Teens really need to realize this. Thank you.

    By Anonymous Allie H., at 9:36 PM  

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