Every girl wants to look pretty. We wouldn’t be feminine if we didn’t have a longing deep inside of us to be admired by others, to be told we are beautiful, and to know it is true. But what is beauty? I do not mean just prettiness or attractiveness, but something deeper.
The word “beautiful”, as defined in the Webster’s New World Dictionary as being used to describe something which gives “The highest degree of pleasure” to someone who sees that which is beautiful. So, if a girl tries to be beautiful, she is obviously doing it in order to please someone. So who are we trying to please? As Catholics, we should be aiming to please God first.
The way you dress reflects who you are. The Blessed Virgin was the most modest in every aspect, which reflected her soul, which was pure in everything. What better way to please God than imitate His mother, who is not only most modest, but also the most beautiful example? Since modesty in dress is such a symbol of our souls, shouldn’t we try our best to imitate the most beautiful soul God ever created?
“Wait a minute”, you might say, “Modesty? Isn’t that an old fashioned and outdated practice? It’s just not part of our culture anymore.” Sorry, but that’s just not true. Modesty is an ageless virtue the Church has always instructed Her children to practice, as She continues to do today. In recent years it has been sadly neglected by women and girls who have been deceived by feminism, the fashion industry, and peer pressure to wear clothes which are not becoming to a woman of God. But while “everyone else” may not encourage or practice modesty, God didn’t command us to fit in. Actually, God has given us many counter-cultural commands. In the culture we live in, immodesty has become the norm, unfortunately even among some Catholics. It is time to stand up against our culture of; “do whatever feels good”; and instead do whatever God wills.
So why would God command us to practice modesty in dress? He is protecting us. Many garments worn by girls today do not respect the sacredness of our bodies. Tight fitting jeans, low necked shirts, and short skirts attract unwanted attention to ourselves, which can be an occasion of sin not only for ourselves, but especially for those around us. By choosing modesty, we cooperate with God in protecting ourselves and others from grievous sin. God, who made our bodies, and wills that we use them for His work in this world, never wants us to use them in a way which could cause us or others to sin.
That brings us to what may be your next question: “What is modesty, and how does it apply to what I wear?” Put simply, modesty in dress is wearing clothes which properly cover your body. By covering your body, I do not mean wearing baggy, oversized outfits meant to swallow you up so no one can see you. Modesty isn’t hiding our bodies because they are bad, it is veiling ourselves because God made our bodies and wants us to keep them pure. Why do we keep things we treasure hidden? So that no one can steal or destroy them! Are we not worth more than gold or jewels? Of course we are! That is what you tell the world by dressing modestly: I am a treasure to be respected, not used. God loves to see His daughters dress like the royalty He created them to be.
It’s not that hard! If you want to dress modestly, but are not sure how, here’s a good start:
- As often as you can, wear skirts. They are just as easy to wear as pants and are no impediment to movement in all cases except for serious labor, despite what may be heard. Besides, you are God’s princess, why not dress like one every day?
- Whether you wear skirts or pants, make sure they extend to below the knee when you are standing and sitting. Yep. That means no mini-skirts or short-shorts.
- When choosing tops, be wary of the dip of the neckline. Aren’t sure how low is too low? Try this: Take your index and middle fingers and place them side-by-side at the pit of your throat. If the neckline of the shirt extends lower than those two fingers, you shouldn’t wear that shirt.
- Sleeves should at least cover the shoulders. Tank tops, “cold shoulders”, and shirts with wide necklines which uncover the shoulders are examples of what not to wear.
- Here’s one that not many of us think about until it’s too late: Shirt length. If your shirt extends above the waistband of your skirt/pants when you raise your arms to the top of your head, you should wear it with an undershirt or tank top underneath, or not wear it at all.
- As a final but important note, choose fabrics wisely! Anything clingy, form fitting, or see through should be avoided. Some more see through fabrics can be solved by wearing a slip, which is worn under a skirt to keep light from travelling through the fabric when you stand in the sun, and also helps to decrease cling in some fabrics.
Don’t be daunted. If you read these guides and realized your whole closet needs a modesty makeover, it’s okay. Nobody expects you to change right away. Just try your best (and I really mean try) to dress to glorify God.
Believe me, once you begin dressing modestly, there is nothing like the freedom you will experience. With modesty in dress, you will free yourself and those around you from near occasions of sin and selfish desires. You will be truly beautiful and pleasing to God, just like His Blessed Mother. Modesty will give you the freedom to be beautiful, just the way God made you!
St. Philomena, pray for us!