Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Modesty and Friendship

Some interesting reflections from Jennifer Fulwiler.
For women to embrace modesty is to declare a truce with one another. They can still aim to look nice, but mutual agreement on of reasonable standards of dress draws the boundary lines so that it doesn’t break out into a distracting competition. (Read entire article.)


Mercury said...

Sadly, this whole issue, and reading all the articles and blogs, etc., has led me to see "immodesty" everywhere, even when women are not being immodest. Even in that article, those cute girls at the top would be considered shamelessly immodest in some Catholic circles, not to mention Orthodox Jewish and Muslim (both of which I have seen Catholics praise from time to time). Listening to some people, you'd think the Blessed Mother was warning that God hates anything that is not modest by the standards of 1917 Portugal.

I've seen it suggested that women sin by wearing sports clothing FOR SPORTS ACTIVITIES (my sister plays volleyball and runs track), that women sin by wearing even one-piece bathing suits, any sleeveless shirt or dress, and of course, everyone's favorite, pants.

What's even more disheartening is that when one reads the Church Fathers, they DID expect women to dress as modern Muslims do (Chrysostom said "if you cover your head in Church, you should everywhere - Tertullian praised he burka! Though he did die a rigorist heretic), and there's bishops from the tun of the century who wrote in disparaging terms about necklines that revealed the clavicle (quel horreur!).

So now that I have seen how just about anything a woman wears CAN be "immodest" because a man CAN look at it sexually, I find myself wondering about the clothing of just about every woman, wondering if I would sin by going to the beach with my family, etc. And I HATE it. It was easier to spot modesty and immodesty when I was unchaste and living like a pagan!

But Ms. Fulwiler's article is very nice, and talks about a side of it that I've never thought of - civility between women. Unfortunately, I hate to say it but it's often women who fight tooth and nail over the issue in comboxes.

Of course, common sense and charity go a long way here, as in all other areas, don't they? Then again, I hate even having the thought: "what would St. Jerome think about such and such an outfit (bathing suit, exposed knees, you name it)?" It's useless.

elena maria vidal said...

Yes, I understand. The whole issue seems to touch a raw nerve in many people.

Lorraine said...

Very interesting article....we live in a debased society that generally has no concept of decorum...

Julygirl said...

As my son said when we were driving through a tourist area during the summer...."There should be a law against some people wearing shorts, and that includes men as well." He also said, "Sweats should never be worn outside the home."

I am only quoting him as an example of men having standards of modesty too.

Mercury said...

I agree that sweats shouldn't be worn in public - shops, restaurants, etc. It's not so much an issue of modesty as decorum. (What on earth could be immodest about sweatpants?) But I don't see why wearing them for their purpose - exercise, at the gym or to go running, or to do work where one's going to get dirty - I don't see why that should be a problem.

And again, it's not shorts per se that are immodest or not, it's how and who wears them and why and how and where they wear them. Didn't Pope John Paul II wear shorts to play sports and go hiking?

Enbrethiliel said...


How true! I first read a version of this same thought on a secular blog on dating. The blogger was pointing out that it is difficult to attract a man using the qualities that truly matter (i.e., femininity, good character, kindness, an ordered approach to personal appearance) when other women's immodest dress make them unfair competition.