Hemlines & Necklines

My realization of the importance of modesty came at the beginning of college. With God’s grace I was able to fall into a great group of friends at school, the majority of whom were involved with Catholic Campus Ministries. With their encouragement I became even more involved in learning about and living out my faith.

One day a group of girls were all discussing sexual ethics and the topic of modesty came up. I looked around at the junior and senior girls in the group and I suddenly noticed the care that they put into how they dressed. The hemlines, the necklines, the tightness of the clothing— I had never noticed it before, they had just looked normal and cute to me, but their outfits were all carefully selected to cover what needed to be covered. They didn’t look unfashionable or strange in any way, like many people seem to think modest girls must look and the way some do. I realized then that I had to make a change in how I viewed fashion and the way I dressed.

Change is never instantaneous and I still had a lot more to learn. My friend gave me a book which discussed how men were more visual than women and that what we wear can be seriously distracting to them— things that are not unknown to the general population but that can be often overlooked by women who are not as visually affected, and don’t have as many opportunities to see men scantily clad either. But what really clinched it for me was a frank conversation with one of my guy friends. When asking him about modesty he mentioned things that we don’t think about when getting dressed or when shopping, like that tight leggings or a midriff is distracting or that as a tall guy he often can see down girls’ shirts, whether he wants to or not. He and many other men take seriously Jesus’ command to not lust after a woman in your heart, but that’s especially difficult to do when the more intimate parts of our body are exposed. He never judged women or acted like it was all their fault—he fully acknowledged that men are responsible for their thoughts and actions. But he also expressed that women can help them with that responsibility.

Modesty isn’t always easy or fun. It’s hard to explain why I’m wearing a one-piece suit when hardly anyone my age wears them, or some of the other fashion choices I make that are not exactly common. But I still am able to wear cute, trendy things and shopping is still just as fun. Perhaps it’s even more fun because now there’s a new challenge—I know I can look attractive in a lot of outfits, but what can be flattering and modest too? Since the switch I’ve never regretted not buying a low-cut or short dress; I feel way more comfortable knowing I can bend over or lean forward without worrying about my skirt riding up or my bra showing—modesty is freeing. When I’m at home I have no problem hanging out in a cami and yoga pants- but when I leave the house, like it or not, I’m dressing for other people. What do I want my clothes to say about me? Furthermore, what can I change in the world just by changing the way I dress? That’s the secret power of modesty.

submitted from Virginia