The Catechism of the Catholic Church is very much quoted when it comes to the “Modesty Crusaders” to prove that Modesty is one thing or another. The only problem is that they it is constantly promoted that “Modesty isn’t just what we wear,” which is true! But the thing is, Modesty also IS about what we wear! And being women, we need DETAILS man – what exactly is modest? But I’m getting ahead of myself, let me restart.
Catholic Chastity speakers are doing an awesome job, promoting Purity and Chastity and occasionally, Modesty. But Modesty as being something other than what we wear is promoted more so than how called we are to being modest in our dress. Yes, it is mentioned, but it is not explained. For example, the Bikini is one article of clothing than is officially “called out” by Chastity speakers as a no-no. (Jason Evert) (Lifeteen’s Jackie Francois) (Jessica Rey) (Leah Darrow “Bikini’s emphasize nakedness while one pieces emphasize shape.”) It is mentioned after to look for a more modest approach to swimwear that conforms to the dignity we have as God’s creations. But the alternative that is given is the Tankini! After giving an excellent talk on the Bikini and the evolution of the Bathing Suit, Jessica Rey then offers her Bathing Suit Line as an alternative to Bikinis, as the “Modest Approach“. Leah Darrow also offers the Tankini as an alternative in this Q&A on EWTN, “Bathing suits: A one piece or tankini are great alternatives to the bikini. Bikini’s emphasize nakedness while one pieces emphasize shape.”
Together, Leah and Jessica have a book now out on Modesty, promoting Jessica’s swimsuits, the book is titled, “Decent Exposure“. Which has tons of quotes on loving yourself and finding beauty in yourself, complete with quotes from Bruno Mars… (?) It is more focused on connecting to the world on a certain level than quoting Saints on temperance, and Our Lady on Penance and pray for our souls and the souls of all Sinners.
For one example, here is an article that Jessica Rey is praising the fact that Celebrities are now wearing the one piece more often than the Bikini. Sure, it’s a step up, but is it truly a good idea to roll down a path of trying to connect to the world like this?
What happened to the “World, the FLesh & The Devil” being something so great an enemy that only our supplication to God would save us from falling into temptation, sin and possible damnation?
The Council of Trent sixth session, degree on justification:
Nevertheless, let those who think themselves to stand, take heed lest they fall, and, with fear and trembling work out their salvation, in labours, in watchings, in almsdeeds, in prayers and oblations, in fastings and chastity: for, knowing that they are born again unto a hope of glory, but not as yet unto glory, they ought to fear for the combat which yet remains with the flesh, with the world, with the devil, wherein they cannot be victorious, unless they be with God’s grace, obedient to the Apostle, who says; We are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh; for if you live according to the flesh, you shall die; but if by the spirit you mortify the deeds of the flesh, you shall live.
Saint Thomas Aquinas in “Theology of Paradise” writes, “11 – Three are the battles incumbent upon every man, against the flesh, the world, and the devil. Three are the privileged victories to be won….”
A tankini from Jessica Rey’s “Modest” Bathing suit clothing line is pictured below.
This doesn’t add up. And I will give you a few reasons why it doesn’t.
1. Jessica Rey speaks of the bikini as comparative to walking around in your underwear for everyone to see. How then, are her bathing suits that much different, when they cover the stomach and nothing more, in comparison to the bikini? Aside from the BRA, the bottoms of her two piece, and one piece bathing suits are exactly the same as underwear. It doesn’t cover anything – it leave nothing to the imagination, especially when wet – these things give you wedgies, I should know. How embarrassing!
2. Leah Darrow gave the Tankini (pictured above) as a modest approach to Bathing Suits, because they emphasize shape rather than nakedness. But in her “Modesty” guidelines that she gives in this Q&A on EWTN, she mentions, “Dresses: When trying on dresses, be sure to sit down in the dressing room to see how far the dress comes up on your leg. Some dresses look fine while you are standing but as you go to sit, you realize that you’re showing more leg than a CanCan dancer.” Like these bathing suits?? “Skinny Jeans/Leggings: These can be worn modestly as long as you have the right top that covers your backside and upper thigh.” Your backside and upper thigh, which are exposed in these bathing suits!?
She also gives this Christian website that talk about modesty and give their own guidelines as “more detailed on Modesty”. They cite, “Pants, Can be form-fitting but not too tight, especially in the seat or thigh area.”
(Wait… Unless you are wearing underwear, I mean, bathing suit bottoms; which are tight, especially when wet, and reveal all leg!? Right? )
They continue, for skirts, “Skirts are four slender fingers above the top of the kneecap.
Be attentive to see if a slip is necessary.”
Below, left, is what they define as a “modest” length of skirt, verses two bathing suits from Jessica Rey’s Bathing Suit Line: the same that they advocate as modest wear:
Pure Fashion continues for Dresses, “Dresses need sleeves or two-inch wide straps.”
Below is a “two-inch-strap top” versus the straps on the Jessica Rey swimsuits:
Then Pure Fashion continues to give Modesty guidelines for pants,
- “Can be form-fitting but not too tight, especially in the seat or thigh area.
- One should be able to pull pants away from the leg—and not just because the material is spandex (that doesn’t count).
- When the arms are straight down at the side, the bottom of the shorts is below the longest finger.
- Panty lines are not visible. If necessary, pantyhose or a “thigh shaper” can create a smooth appearance in the clothing.”
Ok… now this is really confusing! Below, is the “modest” skirt according to Pure Fashion, Along with the “modest” length of shorts, and the “modest” Tankini.
How can they all be “modest“? How do you define something as “modest” according to certain inches, but when it comes to bathing suits, tightness around the butt, showing thighs, inches above the knee, spaghetti straps, low-cut tops.. are acceptable?
Then, we have the whole “leggings” issue! Chastity speakers agree that just wearing them as pants is not considered modest, because it is skin-tight, and is like a second skin! Yet, its fine to wear them “as long as you have the right top that covers your backside and upper thigh.” (Leah Darrow) How, then, is considered modest to wear tankini’s where your bottom is uncovered, the clothing is very tight, and your thighs are being shown!?
Who decided how many inches it takes to be immodest anyway? Who decided how many inches it takes to be “a stumbling block” for a guy? All men are different, some have problems with mini-skirts while others have no problem with it! Custody of the Eyes is a real thing, and it is talked about by these same Chastity speakers. So, again, I ask, who decided that it wearing two-inch sleeveless shorts is modest? While at the same time; spaghetti strap swimsuit tops are fine? If it is based on how men feel about it, you will receive different answers as to what is modest and what isn’t. Modesty should be based on how GOD feels about it!
I can understand the aggravation that is displayed by feminists when the whole, “we must dress up to not incite lust in men” is brought up. Yes, that is a part of why we must dress modestly, but it CANNOT be used as a guideline – because as mentioned before, all men have different weak areas. What isn’t a temptation for one man IS a temptation for another. If we tried to dress to please all men we’d go insane (I would probably end up a very angry person.) We should be dressing to please GOD. When we pray, and truly want to do God’s will, He will never let us down.
It is as if we tried to follow what we believed the Catholic Church taught… without reading, and knowing the Catechism – which has explanations, the standards, and whatnot. Without truly knowing and understanding the Faith, we would be in a raging mess.
Instead of following a bunch of “guidelines” on inches and such according to what men and women think is fine or not, why not listen to what the actual Vicar of Christ had to say about it? As Catholics, we know that the Church is God’s Church – the Pope is the Head, inspired by the Holy Spirit. How, then, we can possibly take what women and un-ordained-men say as “modest“, rather than what the Pope promoted as the Modesty Standards?
Modesty is promoted as a state of mind first and foremost by most Chastity speakers – but why then did Our Lady of Fatima tell Blessed Jacinta Marto, ““the sins which bring most souls to hell are the sins of the flesh. Certain fashions are going to be introduced which will offend Our Lord very much… the Church has no fashions; Our Lord is always the same…”
Certain fashions introduced? What fashions were introduced in 1917-1919?
Most prominently, is the Flapper Era, when women went crazy and took World War I as an excuse to “free themselves” from corsets, long skirts, and the idea that women were supposed to be a certain way. This, I will explain in-depth in another post.
“Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are fornication, uncleanness, immodesty, luxury, Idolatry, witchcrafts, enmities, contentions, emulations, wraths, quarrels, dissensions, sects, Envies, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like. Of the which I foretell you, as I have foretold to you, that they who do such things shall not obtain the kingdom of God.” (Galations 5; 19-21)
Warnings from Scripture to men regarding concupiscence:
- “Gaze not upon a maiden, lest her beauty be a stumbling block to thee.” Eccles 9:5
- “For many have perished by the beauty of a woman, and hereby lust is enkindled as a fire.” Eccles 9:9
- “But I say to you, that whosoever shall look on a woman to lust after her, hath already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Matthew 5:28
If we dare believe that if we are “holy enough” we can attain a Pure Interior Gaze, and therefore, view each other as God sees, with no sin (ex, Adam & Eve, before the fall). That is twofold wrong. #1, We are of fallen nature. Which is why the Church constantly preached about concupiscence, dressing modestly, lust, impurity, whatnot. Why would it be mentioned in the bible (see above) ? #2, We cannot be so naive, as to think that every person will have a Pure Interior Gaze; what then? Shall we dare dress as if we are all in the Garden of Eden?
Pope Pius XII was very adamant when it came to the sin of Impurity, and spoke very often on modesty. His papacy went from 1939 till his death in 1958; and in that time, he mentioned Modesty many, many times.
He said in an allocution to young Catholic girls during World War II: (May 22, 1941):
“…Numbers of believing and pious women…in accepting to follow certain bold fashions, break down, by their example, the resistance of many other women to such fashions, which may become for them the cause of spiritual ruin. As long as these provocative styles remain identified with women of doubtful virtue, good women do not dare to follow them; but once these styles have been accepted by women of good reputation, decent women soon follow their example, and are carried along by the tide into possible disaster.”
Wow… did clothing really matter that much? If so, this is truly serious! What if the person was modest in word, thought, and deed? It seems to all tie together, as it says in the CCC,
“2520:…purity of vision, external and internal; by discipline of feelings and imagination; by refusing all complicity in impure thoughts that incline us to turn aside from the path of God’s commandments: “Appearance arouses yearning in fools”
2521 Purity requires modesty, an integral part of temperance. Modesty protects the intimate center of the person. It means refusing to unveil what should remain hidden. It is ordered to chastity to whose sensitivity it bears witness. It guides how one looks at others and behaves toward them in conformity with the dignity of persons and their solidarity.
2522 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 discreet.
Pope Pius XII even decreed an entire “Exhortation to those in authority” dedicated to Modesty in 1930!
Pope Benedict XV has taught very clearly about modesty in an encyclical letter (Sacra Propediem, 1921) “One can not sufficiently deplore the blindness of so many women of every age and station. Made foolish by a desire to please, they do not see to what degree the indecency of their clothing shocks every honest man and offends God. Most of them would formerly have blushed for such apparel as for a grave fault against Christian modesty.”
Again, back to Pope Pius XII, “The good of our soul is more important than that of our body; and we have to prefer the spiritual welfare of our neighbor to our bodily comforts. If a certain kind of dress constitutes a grave and proximate occasion of sin, and endangers the salvation of your soul and others, it is your duty to give it up. O Christian mothers, if you knew what a future of anxieties and perils, of ill-guarded shame you prepare for your sons and daughters, imprudently getting them accustomed to live scantily dressed and making them lose the sense of modesty, you would be ashamed of yourselves and you would dread the harm you are making of yourselves, the harm which you are causing these children, whom Heaven has entrusted to you to be brought up as Christians.”
Pius XII to Catholic Young Women’s Groups of Italy
“He who possesses the treasure of Christian modesty abominate’s every sin of impurity and instantly flees whenever he is tempted by its seductions” Encyclical on Consecrated Virginity by Pope Pius XII, 1954
“We lament, too, the destruction of purity among women and young girls as is evidenced by the increasing immodesty of their dress and conversation and by their participation in shameful dances, which sins are made the more heinous by the vaunting in the faces of people less fortunate than themselves their luxurious mode of life”
Encyclical On the Peace of Christ in the Kingdom of Christ by Pope Pius XI, 1922
“Moreover, among the faithful there is a greatly increasing carelessness of ecclesiastical discipline, and of those ancient institutions on which all Christian life rests, by which domestic society is governed, and the sanctity of marriage is safeguarded; the education of children is altogether neglected, or else it is depraved by too indulgent blandishments, and the Church is even robbed of the power of giving the young a Christian education; there is a sad forgetfulness of Christian modesty especially in the life and the dress of women” On Reparation to the Sacred Heart by Pope Pius XI, 1928
“From this source again are derived those immodest fashions of dress, which Christian women can never be at too great pains to abolish” Encyclical “On St. Augustine” by Pope Pius XI, 1930
“For those that claim today’s immodest dress is simply a new custom and is therefore of no concern: Pope Pius XII calls this application of an ancient principle to the virtue of modesty, “the most insidious of sophisms.” He calls attention to the fact that some people use this sophism “…in order to brand as ‘old fashioned’ the rebellion of honest people against fashions they consider too bold.”
What strong words from the VICARS OF CHRIST!
There will be further mention of what the Church has said about Modesty of Dress as an issue..
If we still, today, take into account the words of past Saints (St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Augustine) and Popes, as something of value and still worthy of listening to… why then, not these Pope’s when they speak of modesty?
Are we this lazy? Are we that stubborn when it comes to wanting to do what’s right? Are we that afraid of being made fun of? Well, then, if you aren’t going to give this a second thought, then you have no business promoting “Catholic Modesty”.
How confusing this day and age when it comes to the issue of modesty!
To conclude this first part of the Modesty Hypocrisy; let us take this to heart,
“Why must we decide for ourselves what is truly modest, when the Church, which has far exceedingly greater knowledge of sin, its weight and the issue of immodesty and impurity, has spoken many times on the seriousness of dressing modestly? And has done so with much more conviction with regard to the seriousness of the issue, than those, lay people, who have given modesty standards that are hypocritical, and statements on modesty that do not reach the fullness of its seriousness – neglecting what the Pope’s have said and done concerning the same issue?”
NOTE!!! Thanks to Gabriela Marie for her awesome article, “Modesty Paradoxes” which led me to start this series!
END OF PART ONE.
See part two, concerning
- The History/Timeline of the Church VS Fashions introduced.
- What Doctors of the Church, Saints, and Popes have said about the seriousness of Dressing Modestly.
- Untold story of how women began wearing pants.
- “What the Church really considers modest”
- Battle of Inches, Catholic Modesty is NOT.
- Catholic Modesty is not about rules.
- What the Pope had said about following the fashions of the era (hint: He said it was fine as long as..)
- Introduction to the “Pouty-Bloggers” and how true Christians should react.
- The “Pouty-Bloggers” idea of Catholic Modesty versus what it really is..
Until next time, God bless and stay Traditional!