Thursday, January 6, 2011

Modesty: it's not always about pants

Not much time to blog today, so I just wanted to share Deacon Greg Kandra's post about the horrific use of child models by Vogue in Paris. You really have to click the link; if you have a strong stomach you can go here to see the pictures which Deacon Kandra doesn't share, and which are worse than the ones he does share.

Others have commented, of course, but I wanted to pose the question seriously: isn't the time spent on worrying about women wearing slacks or other completely modest articles of clothing wasted, when it is clear that immodest clothing can indeed include dresses, and that it's not just the horrible fact that these tarty slut-sheaths are being placed on children that makes them immoral to wear?

I was sort of appalled not long ago when a Catholic blogger I won't name defended one-shoulder dresses as being perfectly fine and modest and feminine for Catholic women to wear, for instance. Now, I don't want to get into the whole "sleeveless dresses" debate here, but from a design perspective the point of a one-shoulder dress is to create the illusion that a woman is in the act of undressing, or is only partially dressed. I suppose there might be modest one-shoulder dresses in theory. In practice...I don't know; either, like the poor little girl in the red dress at that second link, the woman will not be endowed enough to hold up the sleeveless side without showing off her underwear, or else she will be endowed enough to hold up the sleeveless side, in which case it's probably going to reveal that endowment too much to be modest.

The point is that the wearing or non-wearing of slacks is not a guaranteed key to modesty; nor is copying all the feminine fashions of the recent past a sure guide to modesty. The key to modesty is to consider whether or not the clothing reveals what ought to be concealed. And if it makes a young girl look like a lady of the evening, that's probably a good indicator that it's not modest, either.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

If pants are inherently immodest, then no. But they're not.

romishgraffiti said...

isn't the time spent on worrying about women wearing slacks or other completely modest articles of clothing wasted, when it is clear that immodest clothing can indeed include dresses, and that it's not just the horrible fact that these tarty slut-sheaths are being placed on children that makes them immoral to wear?

I have no dog in the race about pants, but I think I ought to point out that this strikes me as an assumption of victory. That is, x subject is unimportant because I can point to y which is worse or more important. It wouldn't normally bother me except I've seen it too many times in things like: Isn't time spent fighting about torture wasted when abortion is clearly a much bigger issue? Isn't time spent complaining about liturgical dancers wasted when the most important thing, the Eucharist, is still valid?

JMB said...

I saw those pictures from the Anchoress blog. She pretty much summed up what I would say here about child porn and the parents who knowingly allow their children to participate in these things. It's a sad reflection of our celebrity culture, and parents making money off their children.

As for the pants vs. skirts debate, it is totally silly.

Bathilda said...

Fashion throughout the ages has existed to enhance the human physical form, mostly the female physical form. Tight clothing, especially the top half has be de rigeur for hundreds, perhaps thousands of years. even completely covered, think of the ladies covered wrist to ankle with the giant bustle wore their top half skin tight. Lots of ruffles, but TIGHT. So tight that they even wore corsets to make everything tighter as well as to further exaggerate their form. Were these clothes modest? Some would say yes because they conceal (especially those pants haters out there). I say that they are very revealing. Not even going to the place where you could argue that fashion in many cases serves to weaken women. (high heels anyone?) Plunging necklines were all the rage since almost always! Suits by day, off the shoulders by night. But I guess that's the old conundrum of the madonna and the whore. I would really like to know how women would dress if Men truly didn't care. I don't have the answer to that. I would probably be in workout clothes. (which really aren't that modest, as they are tighter than the clothes I would wear out of the house) I am rambling, but I want to put in my two cents that that spread in Vogue was DISGUSTING. If pictures like that were found in a molesters computer, they would probably be used as evidence! The parents of those girls need a big wake up call. I pray for those little girls. They don't stand a chance.

JMB said...

Bathilda,

I have a theory that women dress to impress each other, not men. Of course, I'll ask my husband if he likes what I'm wearing before we go out to a party (and of course, he'll say yes) but if one of my girl friends compliments my outfit then I'm really psyched. Women tend to copy each other with dress just as much as 7th grade girls do.

I too wear yoga clothes a lot!

Lady of the Ozarks said...

There are so, so many things to worry about in this world and you are worried about whether or not a dress had one sleeve or two? How petty!

Jennifer @ Conversion Diary said...

Isn't the time spent on worrying about women wearing slacks or other completely modest articles of clothing wasted, when it is clear that immodest clothing can indeed include dresses?

My vote is that no, it's not a waste of time. (Not talking about vitriolic ranting in comboxes, but a reasonable discussion of the issue that I've seen on some blogs.) Personally, I've found it enlightening.

As a convert, I had never heard the notion that it might be beneficial for women to choose skirts over pants sometimes. Not once. At first I thought it was an insane suggestion, but I've come to see that there are actually some points to be made in favor of skirts. Even though I still mostly wear pants (I have serious vein damage in one of my legs, all the way down to the ankle...not pretty) embracing the occasional skirt has put me in touch with certain aspects of femininity that I'd never known before. I've found the discussion to be very fruitful.

Also, to be fair, I don't think the blogger in question meant to make a big statement about one-shoulder dresses. I followed that comment thread, and in response to complaints she made a passing comment that she thought they were fine. I'm sure if an all-out "are off-the-shoulder dresses the very apex of of Catholic womanhood and modesty?" debate had broken out, I'd imagine we would have learned of the nuances of her view. :)

Red Cardigan said...

Jennifer, I don't dispute the idea that sometimes it might be beneficial to some women to wear skirts (though I'm a life-long wearer of both skirts and slacks, and have honestly never been spiritually improved by a little more draping fabric--but that's me). Nor do I argue with the idea that skirts reflect a traditional femininity (though, again, slacks designed for women are also capable of reflecting femininity). It's the idea that skirts are inherently more *modest* or that slacks are *immodest* on women that I think of as a time-waster (because I think, "Okay, demonstrably untrue, next?" and can't understand the other side at all).

Angela C. said...

Wow BeBe, you are certainly speaking the truth with clarity and charity there. Ugh.

As for nakedness being normal and natural for the peoples of primitive tribes, that has nothing to do with someone in France (an industrialized country) making this sort display. So if you DO understand cultural differences, why are you bringing up the example that you used?

Red Cardigan said...

Angela, I've deleted "BeBe's" comment for now. BeBe, this blog has a civility policy in re: comments. You can express your opinions without personal attacks, or you can be deleted--your choice.

Oh, and "my religion" is full of appreciation for naked art--I saw the Apollo Belvedere courtesy a Vatican Art show that traveled America, for example. Putting little girls in a pedophile's dream photo shoot isn't art.

Oh, and we Catholics accept evolution, too (we just don't believe the human soul evolved, something that science can't really opine about anyway). Catholics aren't the exact same thing as fundamentalist Christians, you know.

Hector said...

Re: Putting little girls in a pedophile's dream photo shoot isn't art.

Nope. It's evil.

I have no problem with off-the-shoulder dresses, or what have you, on grown women. They can sometimes even be pretty and tasteful (though not being a Catholic, I'm not going to presume to say what Catholic women should wear.) But it should be the most obvious thing that what's appropriate for a 22 year old to wear is not appropriate for a 12 year old. Anyone who doesn't understand that, should have a ball and chain around their ankle, and an unfriendly policeman watching their every move.

What a sick, sick country we are when this sort of sexualised display of children is considered perfectly OK and unexceptionable. And where the h*ll are the parents of these children?

Charlotte said...

JMB,
I agree with you - women mostly dress to impress other women and feel good about themselves. Yes, they do dress to get the man - but getting the man and impressing the man can be two different things. And usually, once they get the man, it's over. Then they continue to be fashionable for themselves and other women.

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