by Randi Hom
When I was in high school, I guess I was fairly pretty. I had a couple of boyfriends. I had some friends. I had my faith and went to youth group. I won’t brag, but I look back now and think that I was gorgeous!
However, I was super self-conscious back then. I thought I was fat and that my chest was too big. To me, I wasn’t like the thin, neat little popular girls. I was kind of a tomboy too. I usually wore jeans and t-shirts, cargo pants, spaghetti strap tops, etc. It was 1998-2001 and I went to a public high school, so there weren’t rules on what to where like there is now. I was also a Christian and everyone at school knew, but I wasn’t into being too modest and I always let things slide. This got me all the wrong attention from boys.
After high school, I realized that if my body got me attention, then I should flaunt what I have. Seriously probably the worst thing I could have done for my self-worth. I started wearing low cut shirts a lot. Even when I went away to Franciscan University for college, I didn’t catch on to modesty physically or spiritually. At that time, I had heard the term “Theology of the Body” only once in a random discussion and I didn’t know what it meant. I used immodesty to get guys to notice me. I met some of the sketchiest men and it always turned sexual and I felt used. So many times I cried because things didn’t turn out the way they did in the movies. I was broken.
I met my husband the summer before my senior year at Franciscan. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t my holiness that initially caught his eye. I wore things that summer that were not appropriate for a woman of God to wear. However, he was enthralled by the fact I loved God too. When I went back to school, it was time to buckle down and get professional as I applied to jobs. I remember my roommate Mary dragging me around department stores looking for just the right thing for interviews and in the end I was forced to buy a pant suit, top, and heels. That year I started to be a little bit more grown-up in what I wore, but the rest of the time I was hiding in hoodies and jeans. Unless Ben came to visit. Then I wore things that were immodest.
After graduation and getting my first job as a youth minister (how ironic!), I started to be a little more modest. I was married now, but I still had major problems seeing the issues with what I wore. I remember one summer we had a pool party at the local pool to celebrate the end of a week of service. A mom came up to me and told me I looked inappropriate. While I had on a tankini (totally modest right?) my chest was just too out there. I put on my shirt and hid in the shaded area until the end of the afternoon. I was super embarrassed. Not what you want to happen when you’re the youth minister!
About a year later one of my friends told me I needed to dress more grown-up and stop wearing jeans and flip-flops. I also needed to be more modest she said. I finally started looking at how I dressed and began researching what was becoming of a true woman of God.
I discovered that modesty was an attitude of the heart as well as a manner of dress (1 Timothy 2:9). Modesty considers how we think about ourselves in relation to God, which is then reflected in the way we dress. When I was younger, my heart wanted love and attention. I thought the only way to get it was by dressing immodestly. My actions revealed that I was broken inside. When I shifted my focus to Christ and I realized that He could give me all the love I ever needed, I no longer sought out the attention of others by dressing immodestly. Now I know that my heart has been made whole.
As Catholics, we are representatives of Christ and His Church, so we need to be mindful of modesty. As a disciple of Christ, modesty realizes our relationship with Him, in that we do not need to gain attention through boastful or revealing clothing. This was something I was really struggling with myself, and it really hit home. Modesty considers the weaknesses of our other brothers and sisters in Christ, and helps us strive to not contribute to their spiritual downfall. This also means that modesty is not just for women, but also for men, as we need them to be accountable as well. I felt terrible for the way that I had dressed in the past due to this. I felt bad that I led other girls to model my example thinking that I was being a woman of God when I dressed immodestly and I knew that my actions had not gone unnoticed by the guys, even if it was to pray for my soul. I think a couple of priests came out of all of this, LOL!
So now when I think about what I’m wearing, I look at it from a different angle. When it comes to clothes (for girls and guys), these are some things I learned:
- Make sure the fit is just right, not tight. You also don’t want to wear it too big.
· Stay away from pants that:
Ø sag in all the wrong places. Guys, we don’t want to see your underwear!
Ø show off every curve and bump like too tight skinny jeans or leggings (which are not pants by the way!).
- Make sure your shirts/shorts/skirts/dresses fit comfortably and you aren’t always trying to tug at them. If you’re trying to tug them down, then they are usually too short or you can’t move in them like you need to. This just makes you look uncomfortable.
- Make sure that you’re not advertising what you don’t intend to.
Ø Remember that you don’t have to show off your arms, legs, abs, etc. to get attention. Most people just want to get to know the real you!
Ø Keep your necklines up.
Ø Don’t wear racy slogans on your shirts or behinds.
- When swimming, it’s always good to cover up. You don’t want to get skin cancer! (You can thank my sister for this safety alert!)
- Dressing modestly doesn’t mean dressing like a nun, a priest, or your grandparents (Not that they are bad styles! I seriously wish for a habit somedays!). You can have fun with what you wear by exploring different colors, patterns, fabrics, and styles. Be fashionable and modest while also being YOU!
So, in closing, make sure to always look presentable and modest. A little care can go a long way to making you a credible witness! Modesty is one way we can “Preach the Gospel at all times.”