The thoughts, ideas, findings, and fancies of a Catholic student at Our Lady's University.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Modesty Talk

The following is part of a talk I gave to a group of 8-11 year old girls last weekend. The title was "When I Was Your Age" (they came up with it, not me), and I chose to focus part of my talk on modesty. There was more to the entire talk than what is reprinted below, but in the interest of length, and due to the fact that I don't believe I have a lot of readers who are 8-11 year old girls, I am only printing some of it (incidentally, this was the second half, which is why it begins a little abruptly). The accompanying pictures are from a PowerPoint slideshow I put together to go with it. I had a bit of trouble with the formatting, but I think it's readable.

Another really important thing I want to talk to you about today is modest dressing.

First off: What does it mean to dress modestly? Dressing modestly means to dress in a way that shows respect for ourselves and for others. We have been given the beautiful gift of our female bodies. We are the only beings in the world that can give birth to other people made in the image of God. Our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit and we’re not meant to show them off to everyone.

Dressing modesty also shows respect for others. An immodestly dressed girl distracts everyone she meets from who she is as a person, and sends the message that her body is the most important part of her. It’s hard for people to learn more about what you think and feel if your clothes are screaming out “Don’t pay attention to what’s inside of me. Look at the outside!” For instance, I would rather be able to say, “This is my friend Mary. She volunteers at Church, and likes to play piano, and wants to be a doctor,” than to say, “This is Mary. She’s really…tan.”

So, now that you know why it’s so important to dress modestly, let’s talk about some guidelines for dressing modestly. First of all, let me say that these are only guidelines. An outfit that’s modest on one girl might be immodest on another girl, especially if she’s taller, shorter, or just has a different body type. Also, different families have different standards, so talk to your mom and come up with a list of standards to take along when you go shopping.

Having said that, here’s a few guidelines for making sure your clothes are modest:
§ The neckline of your shirts should be no lower than 4 finger widths below your collarbone
§ When you’re wearing skirts and shorts, you should be able to reach down as far as you can and not touch skin
§ A shirt is too tight if you can see the outline of your bra in the back
§ For bottoms, you should be able to pinch the fabric away from your skin
§ And the most thorough test you can do: While you’re in the fitting room, move around in the outfit. Raise your arms above your head. Sit down. Bend over (check the front and back). Sit Indian-style on the floor. Have your mom or someone else help you with this part and let you know if they can see “too much”

If you’re still not sure about an outfit you’ve bought, try it on for your Dad. He probably has a very good idea about how boys think about things and he wants you to make good choices, too.
So by now, you might be thinking, “Where on earth am I going to find clothes that pass all these tests but are still cute?” Well, it’s easier than you think! All you have to do is buy this!

Just kidding. Sure, that is modest, but you don’t have to bundle up quite that much.

These pictures are cute and modest outfits that I found at stores around here, including Old Navy, Gap, and J.C. Penney. Some tips for finding modest clothes:

-Instead of short shorts, look for Capri pants or Bermuda shorts, which are longer.

-Even if a shirt appears to be immodest, try layering it with something else, like a longer tank top or camisole, or put a sweater or jacket over it.

-When you go shopping, bring with your mom, dad, or someone you trust to come with you and give you their opinion on the outfits you pick out.

The really good news is that modest clothing is becoming more popular. Right now, it’s stylish to wear longer shorts and shirts. Plus, layering shirts is popular, so it’s easier to find shirts that cover your midriff. Or to cover a more fitted shirt like a camisole or a tank top with something looser like a blouse or jacket. Also, skirts are very “in” this summer, so that could be a good alternative to shorts.

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