By Katie Bursa
At a Youth Conference when I was in high school, I saw a bunch of guys wearing these Modest is Hottest t-shirts. I felt instantly wooed by this Catholic pickup line. I want to be modest and hottest, I thought.
Now I can’t judge the hearts or intentions of these guys or anyone else who has stood behind this Modesty Banner. I think what they mean is that to be modest is more attractive than letting it all hang out. But what do we mean by hottest? What are we promoting as the greatest good by this expression? Hotness?
Now it may sound like I am just nit-picking word choice, but I think we are not getting to the root of the immodesty issue when we advertise modesty as a way to really be hottest. I actually have always cringed at the so called compliment, “You look hot!” It has never felt like a compliment. I would much rather be called beautiful.
Because when someone calls me hot, I feel like a piece of meat. Modesty is not about being a covered piece of meat (a nice breaded pork chop maybe?). The true message of modesty is that WE ARE NOT MEAT OR EYE-CANDY.
The Catechism defines modesty as “refusing to unveil that what should remain hidden[…] Modesty protects the intimate center of the person.” (CCC 2521). For women, modesty is a responsibility to protect our identity as Daughters of God. Then the question of Am I hottest AND modest? becomes Is this outfit protecting my identity as a Daughter of God?
When you put it that way, why wouldn’t I want to protect that? So what is the struggle here? Why do I fail to protect my identity as a Daughter of God? For me, the root of my sin is wanting to be noticed above all else. I want to be noticed and valued as special and I am afraid that if I don’t take things into my own hands, if I don’t put myself out there to be noticed, then I will be overlooked. The answer to our desire to be noticed and valued above all others, is to turn to Christ to love us. The only true answer to this struggle is to turn to the One who loves us completely, even in our imperfections. It takes patience and trust to resist the temptation to get immediate attention through flirting and immodest dress.
But this patience and trust is not that of Snow White in seclusion singing, “One Day my prince will come…”. Our prince has come. The patience and trust is to follow Him where He will lead us.
Resources for Teens on the Topic of Modesty:
- Michelle, one of our Youth Ministry Core members, gave a great talk on her personal journey with fashion and modesty. Check it out!
- Consecrate yourself to Mary: There is no better model for authentic womanhood. Try the consecration St. Louis de Montfort style. There is also a new compilation called 33 Days to Morning Glory.
- Interested in some of Theology of the Body’s perspective on this? You might like Theology of His/Her Body by Jason Evert.
- Leah Darrow was one of America’s Top Models, until she had a conversion experience. You can hear more about her story on her website.
- You can check out Dignitas Magazine for insights into Christian womanhood and fashion.