Note: My thoughts on the subject of modesty are constantly in flux. This, and all my other posts about modesty, are subject to change. If what I say in this post, or in any of my posts, upsets or offends you, than I am sorry. It is not my intent to upset or offend. Let me know by commenting, and we can talk about it. Thank you.
August 31st, 2015: I have a problem with modesty.
Specifically, I have a problem with the Catholic education I received about modesty when I was in high school.
This post is not me knocking my Catholic education about modesty. I am thankful for it every day, and like my Catholic faith itself it is a guiding light in my life.
However, when I left home to go to college, I realized that the issue of modesty was a lot, for lack of a better word, bigger than my Catholic education about the subject made me think. As far as I can remember, my Catholic education about modesty can be boiled down to this: Modesty = Clothes. In other words: When it comes to modesty, as long as you’re wearing a one-piece instead of a bikini, you’re doing it right.
The problem I have with my Catholic education about modesty is this: Modesty isn’t just about clothes.
The problem I have can be illustrated by this blog post Here.
I don’t know how to proceed now, so I’m just going to point out a gripe I have with the blog post, and a gripe I have with modesty education — not a gripe I have specifically with my Catholic education about modesty, just a gripe I have with modesty education in general — and explain why.
#1. This statement in the blog post: “You do not veil yourself because you believe you are ugly, you veil yourself because you know that you are beautiful.”
This statement, along with the rest of the blog post, to me, implies that Modesty = Clothes.
This statement, to me, implies that a woman can’t be modest if she’s wearing a bikini. Because, after all, a bikini veils less skin than a one-piece.
There are clothes that do call attention to parts of a person’s body. Clothes like that should be avoided, because such clothes implicitly say that the greatest aspect of a person is those body parts. For example:
Clothes do play a role in modesty. But they are not the be-all and end-all. A naked woman can be more modest than a woman covered from head to toe. How is that possible? Here’s how: If you look at being modest as not what you wear, but how you act.
As long as a man or a woman isn’t trying to arouse others, and their clothes aren’t drawing attention to parts of their body, I say wear, or don’t wear, whatever you want, provided the environment is appropriate.* The reason I say this is because I want people to be valued for who they are, not for their bodies. And I think that starts with giving people the freedom to wear, or not wear, what they want.
#2. Modesty education places the burden of being modest on women, and lets men off free.
In high school, I never came across anything about modesty that told men to watch the way they dress or act.
Though I can say I never came across these two sentences while receiving my modesty education, looking back, I wouldn’t be surprised if I had: “Modesty is for women only. A woman should practice modesty so that she won’t cause men to sin.”
Now that I’m out of high school, and have had more of an opportunity to explore outlooks on life that differ from mine, I know those two sentences are only half-true.
Yes, women should be modest in the way they dress and act. But so should men, too.
Why are women the only ones told to be modest?
Why are women, and not men, seen as tempters?
News flash: There was a serpent in the Garden, and it wasn’t Eve.
*Sigh* I don’t mean to come across like I’m ranting. I’m just frustrated because women are treating unjustly because of their bodies. Whether it’s through Puritan-esque dress codes or pornography, this mindset of “The most important aspect of a woman is her body” has got to stop.
Our bodies are created by God. Our bodies are complex, mysterious, and beautiful. But there is more to a man and a woman than their body.
UPDATE: September 1st, 2015: When it comes to modesty education, I think there is too much of a focus on clothes. But, backtracking on what I said at the top of the post, I don’t know if calling that a “problem” is the right way to describe it. Does that make sense?
*After all, you wouldn’t wear an Armani suit to your job as a lifeguard, would you?