Modesty: Living in Balance
It isn't easy for a father – or mother
– to try encouraging modest clothing and behavior. The culture we live
in seems to reward immodesty. And, it is not easy to remember that
modesty is not staying covered up: it is a matter of living in a
A few years ago, young men were wearing
trousers that looked like they were about to fall around their ankles.
Occasionally, they did.
Recently, young women have been wearing
pants that start a few inches below their navels, and tops that don't go
quite that far down.
And it looks like styles may have
finally hit bottom. On January 25, a fashion model waltzed down a runway
with about half her rump hanging out the back of her pants. This
happened in Brazil, in Cavalera's 2005 Fall/Winter collection show at
the Sao Paulo Fashion Week.
Lack of modesty has a few benefits.
Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction" at the 2004 Super Bowl ensured
that she would get more exposure than just the song-and-dance number she
had been booked for.
That bare-butt fashion model in Sao
Paulo, Brazil, put Cavalera's 2005 Fall/Winter collection show and the
Sao Paulo Fashion Week in the faces of people around the world.
The problem with immodesty is that it
makes people into less of a 'who. and more of a 'what.. Immodest
clothing focuses attention on a person's appearance in a way calculated
to turn on sexual passion at the wrong time and in the wrong way.
Today's low-cut, skin-tight,
see-through styles give us an eyeful of what immodesty is.
Saying what modesty is may take a
First, modesty is not prudery. Modesty
in dress, speech, or behavior, St. Thomas Aquinas says, means
moderation: doing something in a thoughtful, balanced way that avoids
extremes. Prudery or shameful inhibitions and shamelessness are both
"immodest." Both extremes are out of balance.
Modesty, according to the tradition of
the Catholic Church, is one of the 12 fruits of the Holy Spirit, along
with charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity,
gentleness, faithfulness, self-control, and chastity.
Modesty is a part of temperance. It
"protects the intimate center of the person. It means refusing to unveil
what should remain hidden…. It guides how one looks at others and
behaves toward them in conformity with the dignity of persons and their
"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 one's choice of clothing. It keeps silence or
reserve where there is evident risk of unhealthy curiosity. It is
discrete." (Catechism, 2521-2522)
A teacher at the Franciscan University
at Steubenville, Benjamin D. Wiker, suggests avoiding clingy clothing
and having a knee-to-neck rule for people at Mass. His guidelines would
guard us from distractions like miniskirts and bicycle shorts at Mass,
and sound like a good idea for most occasions.
Giving good advice about modest
behavior and clothing wouldn't be worth much if there were no way to
find decent clothes. Happily, enough folks have been looking for an
alternative to tube tops and hot pants for at least two stores
specialize in modest women's wear:
Modest Apparel USA
166 Westfield Ave
Ansonia CT 06401
Toll free 1-866-269-0907
A family owned home-based business
offering women an alternative to today's
Modest by Design
252 East 6400 South
Murray, UT 84107
Toll free 1-888-756-0944
A clothing company specializing in a
variety of fashionable modest clothing
at reasonable prices
Quotes are from Catechism of the Catholic Church, English translation,
Ligouri Publications, 1994.
Brian H. Gill, Editor,
Sauk Centre K of C Bulletin