Saturday, May 6, 2006


I decided to reflect a bit on modesty. To begin, here is the dictionary definition as it pertains to this reflection:

1. Having or proceeding from a disinclination to call attention to oneself; retiring or diffident. See Synonyms at shy.
2. Observing conventional proprieties in speech, behavior, or dress.
3. Free from showiness or ostentation; unpretentious. See Synonyms at plain.

Now, while I suppose it would apply I am not speaking of neon pants or red polka dots on a yellow shirt. So I am going to focus on definition 2 and with regards to dress - observing conventional proprieties, what is considered appropriate or proper, in dress.

I have gone to the theater and I've seen women from 20 to 70 years of age wearing plunging necklines. In a restaurant I've seen men with their shirts half unbuttoned. I've seen young men and boys seemingly quite confused about the purpose of pants to cover their underwear. And then there is my favorite young woman or girl wearing shorts that reveal the bottom of her buns or bearing a top that is sleevless so as to sometimes reveal her bra-covered chest.

What has become more scary is that, as young girls so admire the elders of their sex and seek to copy them, I am seeing girls younger and younger dressing like those who are 10, 15 or 20 years older than them. Yesterday I went to the Cheesecake Factory to pick up a To Go order (it is easier in case I have to hold or walk Cecilia while I am eating) and while I was waiting there were two separate families waiting to be seated. Each had a little girl about 7 years old. Each little girl was dressed in white shoes, a white wreath or tiara and veil, and a white ornate First Holy Communion gown. One little girl was wearing red lipstick and the other's dress was sleeveless. A seven year old wearing lipstick! Now some might argue that allowing girls so young to dress as such humors them in their anticipation to grow up. But do we really want them growing up so fast? God has us grow up slowly for a reason. If we jumped from 5 to 15 years old we would not be able to handle it. And so neither can these young girls. And because they jump 10 years in clothing and makeup and nail polish and piercings, they think they should act 15 or 20 and so they try to act as they see 15 or 20 year olds act on tv or in music videos. And in the end you wind up with a young woman who missed her entire childhood spending it trying to be an adult. We should not be encouraging little girls to grow up so fast. They deserve to have every opportunity to be little girls. I am already amazed at how fast my little girl has grown since she was born and she is 3 months old! Young girls are being robbed of their childhood by modern clothing stores and parents who think it will make their daughters happy to dress 10 years older than they are.

Some might also say that sleeveless is not immodest. I disagree. I can't tell you how many boys in high school loved when the cheerleaders wore their uniforms all day on pep rally days. Their uniforms were sleeveless and sitting only a few feet away in class, it was quite easy for them to steal glances through the sleeve holes. For those who would say a girl of 7 has nothing to see, I say first of all that she is young and impressionable and should be taught correctly from the beginning and second there are enough perverts and pedophiles out there that she should not be exposed in such a manner.

These two girls were dressed to receive communion. Whether Catholic or not, as a solemn religious event, it was hardly an occassion to be dressed inappropriately. But what about casual events? Shouldn't a girl or woman be dressed modestly then as well? Shouldn't she preserve her integrity? Why sell it for the cheap price of a boy or man's peeking eyes? Is a woman so worthless as to be selling her body for attention? For that is what she is doing when she wears skirts so short her underwear is revealed or shorts that reveal her bottom. Is that the price women and girls today place on themselves? All I can say is that it is time we taught our daughters better.

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