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I have begun and erased about three versions of this post and I cannot narrow down why it is to hard to write.
1. Modesty of dress is not something I feel qualified to quantify with inches, measurements, and levels of cloth tightness.
2. Modesty depends on the venue and purpose of one’s outfit.
3. Men and women play roles in the perception of modesty.
Men are more visually tempted; that is not anti-feminist and I’m not giving men an excuse. It’s a biologically significant difference between men and women.
Women’s Achilles Heel(s) is their romance-craving ears. Romance novels sell like wildfire, burning up women’s sensitivity to modesty. The seduction in those books appeal to the female attraction to “ideal” romance.
The simple fact about modesty is summed up in the Catechism:
2522. Modesty protects the mystery of persons and their love. It encourages patience and moderation in loving relationships; it requires that the conditions for the definitive giving and commitment of man and woman to one another be fulfilled. Modesty is decency. It inspires ones choice of clothing. It keeps silence or reserve where there is evident risk of unhealthy curiosity. It is discreet.
Duggars and naked people
The Duggars are a non-contraception, non-natural-family-planning family who became the first modest dual-baseball-team-sized group to hit television.
The girls won’t wear pants (except when volunteer fire-fighting) and opt for loose skirts that fall below the knee and modest t-shirts. All of the women have long, simple hair and fresh faces without make up.
The men and boys won’t wear shorts because, as the Old Testament reads, “the thigh is nakedness.” They certainly don’t go to the pool without their elbow-to-knee swimsuits.
Mrs. Duggar explained that the girls wear swim dresses, like the ones pictured at right, because men “have a hard enough time keeping their minds in the right place.” Essentially, they want to keep everyone focused on what is most important: the inner beauty and appreciating your brothers and sisters in Christ for who they are and not how attractive they can be.
The Duggars are an extreme. They hold to extremely modest qualifications extremely tightly (unlike their clothing, har har har). Their actions stand at the exact opposite of nudists who, paradoxically, have similar reasons for what they do: achieving equality and returning to nature.
The Duggars aim to prevent one sex from influencing the other by way of their sexual desires, so they wear modest clothing. Nudists try to achieve equality by allowing everyone to strip down to their “least inhibited” state: their birthday suit. Though they are on opposite sides of the spectrum, these two camps use their dress (or non-dress) as a statement to point to their inner person.
I won’t recommend going to the Duggar extreme and I certainly won’t recommend going to a nudist extreme…
This is a topic of contention among modern Catholics, but I do think that women have a responsibility to dress modestly for the sake of men. Men have the responsibility of acting modestly and not flirt with every woman they meet, seducing them the same way a revealing outfit visually seduces men.
Women: Before you get dressed (especially for somewhere like Mass), ask yourself why you’re choosing the outfit. If the answer leans toward wanting to attract someone with your body in a way that may harbor their ability to be attracted to your person, consider a costume change.
Modesty doesn’t have to be synonymous with avoiding looking good. Really attractive women can still be attractive, thus inciting lust in some people, when they dress modestly. Thus, it’s to your discretion where you draw the line.
Men: Before you engage your flirty-touchy routine with every woman you meet, consider how easily our ears are seduced. If you’re going to flirt, flirt with intention. With one of us.
If the goal is to make the greatest impact on our world, the way we fit into the message today is essential. Why cut corners?