Letters From a Young Catholic

My reflections as a Catholic young adult passionate about the Faith, seeking to grow in knowledge and understanding of God and discerning the will of the Lord in my life.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Shorts Like Underwear

Following my previous post on the unfortunate lack of clothing as the weather warms up I received an e-mail asking the following question:

"What should I say to 12 to 14 year old girls who sometimes wear shorts that look like underwear? You're a good person to ask this question to."

Oh boy. What a sad world we live in. Shorts that look like underwear?! Sadly, I can imagine what this person is referring to. As for being a good person to ask this question to, I don't know about that. I don't think I have a perfect answer.

It should be easy enough to deal with the above situation if it were your own friend, sister, or daughter wearing the aforementioned clothing item (or lack there of) but what about total strangers or people over whom you have no authority?

I think I'd personally take the approach of asking them questions in an attempt to enter into a dialogue and discussion on modesty. Sadly, for many young girls they haven't even heard the word 'modest' let alone understand what it means. I'd ask them "Do you really need to wear shorts that are that short? What kind of message do you think your sending by wearing that? First Impressions mean a lot - what do you think people's first impressions of you are going to be when they see what you're wearing?" Not to mention the other questions that often come to mind "Isn't it uncomfortable wearing that? How do you sit in that? How can you walk wearing that?" These may seem like silly questions but honestly, as a girl, sometimes I wonder about these things when I see what some people wear. The response you get might be hostile or defensive, but at least you're getting them to be conscious of what they're wearing and maybe they'll start thinking about it. I probably wouldn't have a problem asking these questions of teen girls (and I have in the past) but I don't know whether I'd have the courage to ask these questions directly of women much older than me.

As for immodest dress in areas where a dress code should be enforced, if the problem is on a larger scale than one person I'd bring it up with the people in charge. School principals, summer camp directors, and pastors should all recognize the importance of modest dress and be willing to enforce it. Even in public schools and programs there has to be somewhere where the line is drawn. Actually, I think the same goes for a lot of Catholic schoosl whose skirts are way way way too short in my opinion. If I were you I'd raise my concerns with the person in charge if there are problems with the way people are dressing at your school, camp or in your church.

Like I said, I don't really have a perfect answer though. Does anyone else have a solution to the question of what to say to extreme immodest dress? When do you need to say something and when is it best to keep your mouth shut? Maybe I open my mouth too much but it's something I really care about because these young girls and women are doing violence to themselves in the way that they dress. Whatever we say our words must always be grounded in charity. Charity doesn't mean avoiding the issue but speaking what we do say out of love for the person who is immodestly dressed and always recognizing their human dignity.