Modesty starts in the heart

IMG_9639While modesty can be solely synonymous with dress, the real idea of modesty goes much deeper than just what you wear on your body. In being “modest” one is not trying to avoid something (indecency), but trying to achieve something (modesty).

The definition of modesty speaks for itself: “the quality or state of being unassuming or moderate in the estimation of one’s abilities.”

That may sound silly at first. I mean, where does that definition anywhere mention clothes and how we should dress ourselves? But, if we acknowledge the fact that God gave us the gift of our bodies to spread his love and truth, the idea of “being modest” becomes more simple.

We have been entrusted with our bodies as the tabernacle of our souls. If you think back to how the tabernacle was adorned and revered in the time of Moses and David, you will see how much value you have. The tabernacle of the Old Testament carried the Law of God inside of it. Today, you and I are the tabernacles of the very life of God in our souls, the Holy Spirit.

How more precious of a gift is that? And as such, we must adorn ourselves in a way that will reflect the Holy Spirit in us.

Now, I am not saying that you should dress all in gold, put two cherubim on your shoulders, and wear a box. I am simply saying, as the tabernacle was revered and treasured in the Old Covenant, so should your body be treated here in the New Covenant as temples of the Holy Spirit.

Keep on keepin’ on!

My Problem with Modesty

FullSizeRender (1)I was introduced to the idea of modesty being a virtue that I should embrace as a young girl. For a long time there was pressure from certain circles of friends who said women could only be modest was by wearing boy’s baggy shirts and skirts that reach the ankles in order to hide their bodies.

I was a member of those groups where dressing frumpy was defined as modesty, and all those other people are being impure. I soon discovered that these girls were going about enacting the virtue of modesty in the wrong way.

While it seemed as if these women were trying to be holy and modest, they did not fully grasp the true understanding of the virtue of modesty.

An important thing to remember is that our bodies are not a hindrance to Heaven as some people hold to be true. Our bodies were made beautiful and perfect by God, marred by sin but made new again through baptism and Christ becoming flesh.

Modesty can sometimes promulgate that same mindset of: “our bodies are evil” (also known as the heresy of Gnosticism). As Catholics, we know this to be false. Yes, our bodies are temporal things and we sin through our bodies at times, but our bodies are not evil. We do not have to walk around in a brown, boxy paper bag to prove our holiness and modesty. We must be careful about what we wear so as not to lead others to sin, but our bodies are not sinful in and of themselves.

We do not have to dress in baggy, frumpy clothes in order to be modest. God created us different from men and deemed us to be beautiful that way. And yes, he did give us extra curves and such, but that doesn’t make our bodies evil. While you shouldn’t flaunt your body to get attention, you should not hide who you are.

Denying the way God made you by being ashamed of your body is just as sad as the women who think they have to hang out of their clothes and show more skin to get attention. Yes, it is hard to be a woman. It is not easy to be modest. There is a fine line we have to walk between being immodest and dressing like our grandpas (no offence Grandpa).

By completely neglecting our appearance and dressing like we are ashamed of our bodies, we are bringing a bad reputation to our faith.

Christ said that when we are fasting we are not to look as if we are fasting. We should not be dressing in a way that gives us that much attention: whether that is dressing super-“modest” or showing every inch of skin legally possible. We should not call attention to ourselves and our “holiness” by dressing like we are from the 1800’s.

Nothing on earth can quite equate to a woman’s beauty. The first woman, Eve, was the final and most beautiful creation of God in the book of Genesis.

With the entrance of sin into the world, some of the world has lost its inherent beauty and the other beauty can be twisted and misused for evil. Our bodies can be used as a way to grow closer to God, or to fall farther away from him. They should not be seen as an evil that we must hide from God and something of which to be ashamed. Christ became flesh to redeem the world. Our bodies can be used to direct others to the Father as well…we just have to present and carry ourselves as followers of Christ.

To the world, we should not be seen as those crazy Christians who don’t know the difference between men and women’s clothing or that stylish “vintage” really doesn’t refer Victorian or puritanical style dresses.

You must dress and live for Christ in a way that radiates beauty.

*This was originally written for the Chastity Project’s Blog, check it out here.*

The Stumbling Block

FullSizeRenderThere is one thing that I believe every person should remember when they are determining what is and what is not modest.

Modesty is not about just hiding yourself. It isn’t just about wrapping yourself in a frumpy dress five times to big to avoid getting attention. In my opinion, that is just as bad as showing everything you’ve got.

God made your body precious, and you should not think of yourself as a stumbling block. If he made you the way that you are, it isn’t an evil thing. Our bodies, in and of themselves, are not the trials keeping us from Heaven. God gave us our souls and our bodies together in one being in order to work our way to Heaven. The Son of God took on human flesh in order to redeem the entire world. While evil things can be done with our hands, feet, etc. … it is not our bodies that are bad.

On the other hand, you also should not make yourself to be someone else’s stumbling block. “An image paints a thousand words.” Sometimes your outside appearance is all a person will ever see of you! Make sure that the one glimpse that person has exemplifies who you are as the beautiful person that you are.

Be beautiful, and keep on keepin’ on! (:

“Either we must speak as we dress, or dress as we speak. Why do we profess one thing and display another?”

– Saint Jerome

The Modesty Litmus Test

image1I think it can be tricky to define a standard of what is appropriate to wear out in public. I think it necessary to set a standard for what is appropriate to wear to class, church or just out in public. Obviously, when you are at home with your sisters or your gal pals doing homework, your clothing choices and modesty standard is going to be a bit different. But generally, I believe the following litmus test to be quite useful:

1) Would you wear this to go on a date with your boyfriend?

Think about it: when you are going out on the town with your best friend, you want him to look at your face and see you for you, not just a sum of your parts. You want to be looking out for his purity and holiness, so you should be aware of how it affects him when you dress. This doesn’t mean you can’t dress up…dress up and be attractive! Being modest does not mean being frumpy!

2) Would your father approve of your outfit?

When ever you are conflicted about an outfit…just think: “what would my daddy think about what I am wearing?” If there is any doubt about his reaction, you have a pretty good answer. Now, this test can be fallible as well, depending on whether or not your dad has a sense of what girls wear. But usually, most dads have the instinct of protecting their daughters, which includes their purity.

3) Would you wear this outfit to church, or more on point: would you want to meet Jesus in what you are wearing?

This last point is usually the one that seals the deal. If you were walking down the street and bumped into Jesus…would you be uncomfortable in his presence because of the clothes you are wearing? Where ever you are, he is there with you…so dress for the occasion! Each person you meet is made in the image of him, and have the innate dignity of being the child of God. With this in mind, treat them with the respect and dignity they deserve by dressing yourself well and with your own dignity in mind.

While some of these points can be a little subjective, I think they can be a very useful foundation for testing the modesty of your wardrobe.

Keep on keepin’ on!

The Double-Standard for Women

girlThere is a prominent double standard for women that has pervaded our society. It is the idea that if you act and dress conservatively, you are a prude, but if you dress immodestly, you are a slut. There is a fine line you have to walk in between the two extremes.

But what standard to you hold yourself to?

The world judges you by the sum of your parts and your external persona. If image is everything, then there is a very short period of our lives where we are going to be physically attractive enough to meet that status quo. These standards of youthfulness, skill, wealth and status can only get you so far, but that is the basket that the world tells you to throw all of your eggs in.

The world may judge by the external, but God judges the heart. He made us in his own image, and later he sends his Holy Spirit to live in us…we are temples of his own being. How more beautiful can you get?

You should hold yourself to God’s standard of beauty. His standard of beauty will lead you to modesty and love of yourself and others. Your worth is incalculable in human terms. God sent his very own Son to die for you…that is how much you are worth in his eyes.

So with this in mind, dress for him. He made every inch of you beautiful, but that doesn’t mean that he made it for the entire world to see. Be careful of how you dress. You are God’s child…he wants the best for you and wants others to treat you with the respect you deserve. I know I have said this before, but you are representing Christ to the world. Keep that in mind when you are picking out your outfit for the day.

This double standard that the world has created for us is irrelevant when you know how God measures your value as his child. Dress with taste, grace, and remember that the world doesn’t define who you are inside or out.

Keep on keepin’ on!

Defining modesty.

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Modesty. There are so many different definitions of modesty floating around. There is one in particular that rises above the rest…and it is so very important for young girls and this generation.

Modesty is not just about “how much skin do I have to cover?!” It is a lifestyle that starts inside and penetrates every inch of you.

With this in mind, the question should not be, “how much skin can I show without getting into trouble?”, rather, it should be, “by wearing this, what am I trying to achieve or convey?” or “while I may be completely comfortable wearing this, will it lead other minds to wander and sin?”

While it is not a female’s sole responsibility to make sure men do not have impure thoughts, we certainly have the duty to make sure we do not lead others to sin by our wardrobe choices.

If you are wearing an inappropriate item of clothing to get attention, I would consider that a bad intention.

Now, what girl doesn’t want attention? Yet, what many young women do not realize is this: by flaunting your body, you won’t be happy with the kind of attention you receive.

I cannot tell you how many times I have heard a girl complaining about how the boys treat her and how they don’t respect her.  What most of these girls don’t understand is that by the way they dress they are lowering the standards for “those boys”.

Believe it or not, many of the good guys that girls really want to attract are more impressed by your attempt at modesty rather than bearing as much skin that is allowed in a public place. If people are so distracted with the amount of skin you are showing, how hard will it be for them to learn to love you as a person?

Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that we as girls need to start wearing floor-length dresses and turtle-necks during the summer.

Just be sure your cute fashion sense isn’t making others uncomfortable. Instead, you should be leading others to Christ, not only by word, but through example.

Modesty is not limited to clothing. Modesty applies to you as a whole person. Whether it is the way you carry yourself, the way you speak, or the way you interact with others.

Remember this: You are not only representing yourself to the world: you are representing Christ.

Modesty…it isn’t easy.

modestyblog1Modesty. It is a simple enough word. The meaning behind the word has more depth to it, but the word itself is simple.

Modesty as a virtue or an action? Now that is difficult.

It is hard to live and dress in a modest way. When the world around you screams to conform to those around you, it is tough to say no. Even just walking through the doors of the mall, it is hard to find cute clothes without compromising. Especially when the weather gets warm!

In the summer not only do you have to sacrifice the “cuter” styles, but you also wear more clothes than others…and it is HOT. And by hot I mean sweat-dripping-down-your-face kind of hot. While you can find some attractive things to piece together, they almost always have to be layered with one, two, or five things in order to go out in public.

After saying all of this, I am here to say: dressing with your eyes fixed on purity is absolutely worth it for a number of reasons:

1) You don’t want someone to be distracted by how little you are wearing, you want people to know you for YOU.

2) Not only will you be demanding more respect from those around you, you will be showing more respect to everyone that you see.

3) You will be accentuating your dignity as a human being, not you just for your skin.

4) Nothing can quite come close to the beauty of a women, and modesty proves that you don’t have to flaunt yourself in order to get attention.

5) Our bodies can be used to direct others to the God the Father…as long as we present and carry ourselves as followers of Christ.

There are many other ways modesty is worth the hard road, reasons that I hope to highlight in future blog posts.

Until next time…keep on keepin’ on!