Thursday, May 15, 2014

Let them wear pants!

Have you all been reading the Modest-a-palooza blog posts, articles, and stories out there?

I'd link to them, but actually I'm having a bit of trouble with my browser.  Someone sent me one blog post by a Catholic blogger whose post I'd probably agree with, but I can't get the blogger's page to load at all. It's a small price to pay for not using Mozilla, though.

If you haven't seen the posts and articles and mainstream news stories that picked up on the posts and articles, essentially a young woman wore a short sparkly dress to a homeschool prom, and though it technically met the dress code's rules for length it was deemed to be too short when she actually moved (and there were accusations about her dancing provocatively, but she says she wasn't and another girl says she was), and there were questions relating to attitude, and the whole thing seems like a lot of teen drama considering that the main problem lies in these two words: homeschool prom. (Okay, don't get mad, but really--homeschool prom?  I thought part of the whole homeschooling joy was getting to skip stupid stressful expensive cliquish nonsense like prom.  Was I wrong?)

Anyway, I looked at the piece by the "wronged" girl (Note to the young lady: using the "F" word in the title of your post is not a great way to impress people with your maturity, respect for adult rules, and willingness to compromise), and I looked at the pictures of the dress.  It was indeed short.  I wouldn't want one of my girls to wear it, and they are not 5'9" (well, not without heels).  But it did cover the important areas, and it didn't appear to be provocatively revealing.  What it was, however, was both tacky and ill-fitting.

The "ill-fitting" part is easy to see.  The young lady's photos show her to be somewhat pear-shaped (as are many, many women).  In the first picture, which looks like a "try-on" photo, the dress lays flat across her small chest; only in the "prom" picture is there anything that seems like cleavage.  As I commented on another blog, this is a rookie mistake: attempting to create cleavage with a foundation garment or push-up bra does not make an ill-fitting dress fit better, but worse.

The bigger problem, however, is that the dress is clingy and tight at exactly the point where a pear-shaped woman does not want it to be.  The young woman is young enough to think it is attractive for a dress to end at the thickest part of her thighs, but she will learn.  Well, hopefully--I've seen pear-shaped women make this mistake even into middle age, especially with shorts.

I agree that "tacky" may be in the eye of the beholder, but for anybody over than age 5 who is not a Disney(tm) princess, a dress that is sparkly all over is a bit much.  It looks like, and is probably meant to be, a cocktail/nightclub dress.  Which, by definition, is not a prom dress and is also not an appropriate dress for a girl in her late teens.

Having said all that: the prom people were wrong to throw her and her group out, especially since they said they'd refund everybody's money but only refunded hers.  Why?  Because they were the stupid people whose dress code said that as long as the dress met the "fingertip rule" (e.g., the dress is as long as your fingertips when your arms are hanging down at your sides) it was fine.

You simply cannot complain that a dress that meets the fingertip rule when the girl is standing still rides up when she walks.  Of course it does!  Even if it has a full, swingy skirt, the full, swingy skirt will float up and down past the fingertip mark if that's as long as it is when the girl isn't moving.  This is why the fingertip rule is a stupid, stupid rule.  "No more than an inch above the knee," maybe, or "Knee-length--reaching to at least the top of the knee," or even "At or below the knee;" those are all rules that will ensure the dress is never shorter than the fingertip line.  But you can't tell girls they can wear a dress to the fingertip line and then throw them out for wearing exactly such a dress; that's making teen girls pay the price for adult stupidity.

Now: why was there such a rule in the first place?  As someone whose daughters are taller than I am, and whose daughters are also very uncomfortable in anything that isn't at least knee length (and even then usually not for dressy occasions), I'm going to go way out on a limb here and say that some mother or group of mothers fought for the fingertip rule because they think their daughters look awesome in short trendy "juniors dept." prom dresses.  I have met moms like this.  One minute they're all Super Awesome More Catholic Than Anybody moms, and the next minute they're fighting for their girls--and their boys, for that matter!--to wear what everybody else does so they won't look like Weird Prairie CatholicAmishWannabe Homeschoolers.

And I get that.  I do.  It's hard to be different.  It's hard to stick to your clothing principles when nobody else seems to care, or, worse, when everybody else seems to want to prove they're Not Weird Homeschoolers even if that means buying prom dresses that look like nightclub wear.

Of course, the solution is simple: let them wear pants!  Because when modesty debates reach this kind of level, it's pretty funny to think about the arguments that pants on women are inherently immodest.


Svar said...

This again? I don't see the point of arguing about what women wear when there are more important things to worry about. Immodesty is like porn: you can't define it but you know it when you see it.

As for pants, is the Catholic blogosphere still going on with the Pant Wars? I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of the commenters who say they're driven to lust by the sight of a woman in pants(as opposed to the short-shorts and short skirts young women do wear nowadays, pants are like leg-burkas) are just trolls trying to rile up the Catholic women.

I actually don't know any women, devout religious Christian or otherwise who doesn't wear pants. I guess I do know a nice Orthodox Jewish family who lives next door and the wife wears long skirts but the man wears the yarmulke as well though.

James Kabala said...

"Okay, don't get mad, but really--homeschool prom? I thought part of the whole homeschooling joy was getting to skip stupid stressful expensive cliquish nonsense like prom. Was I wrong?"

I feel the temptation too, but we have to resist the urge to treat Christianity and extreme introversion as synonymous. You can be a good person and still like to go out!

Deirdre Mundy said...

The fingertips are also really unfair to girls with long arms. When we taught school, one girl in particular had an awful time finding skirts that complied with the dress code. Her arms were just really long, and her choices were 'dumpy' or 'knee length but not up to code.'