Saturday, July 18, 2009

on modesty

It's summertime, and time to discuss modesty at mass! This is a funny and on target article on the subject. I have nothing to add.

No, my current issue comes with the struggles to raise a modest daughter outside of mass. It's a battle, isn't it, to raise a modest young lady? Homeschooling makes this much easier, but it continues to amaze me how the culture creeps in.

Not too long ago we were shopping online for bras. Real ones. We have already moved past the training bra stage, heaven help us. Training bras. What a crazy term anyway? What exactly are you training them for? Anyway, I was unprepared, let me tell you, for the difficulties we would encounter. When we go to pick out bathing suits or some such thing I am prepared for intense debate and even gnashing of teeth, but silly me, I thought picking out bras would be fairly simple. I didn't take her to Victoria's Closet of hoochiness after all. No, this was just a standard department store website.

We started at the website that will remain unnamed so as to avoid the search engines, though the brand could give me away anyway. There, on the bra page (it makes me laugh just to type that) I found a link on the side-bar to a "juniors" section. Just what we need, right? Wrong-o!

There they have a brand of bra called "Flirtitude". Cause just the message you want to send to a teenager, right? Use your bra to flirt! And out of the 21 bras pictured, a full ELEVEN of them were push-up bras. Ok, now I realize that not everyone in the world shares our opinions on dress and modesty, but who on earth are all of these people who think that buying a push-up bra for your teenager is a good idea??? I mean, they have an awful lot of them, so they must be selling! They also carry several of what are labeled "plunge push-up bras". I can't really determine what the difference is between the regular push-up bra and the plunge-y one, but I guess I can hunt up some 13 year old to tell me. Here's some more quotes from the website-keep in mind that this is the JUNIORS section, ok? I mean, you can't even buy more than a B cup in most of these.

"Plunge neckline, bust-enhancing push-up. This playful bra begs to be showed off!"

"Heart breaker, rule maker: You call the shots with Flirtitude® curvy fit full-figure bra."

"Sweet and simple plunge bra to wear with your low-cut tops. Molded cups add uplift and beautiful shaping."

Oy. And also, on a completely unrelated tangent, who needs molding and uplifting at 14? Those things are still on automatic suspension at that age? Why is all of this even necessary?

Well, after all of the bra drama, I was begging for a headache and decided to check out the rest of the junior clothing later that night. Without Maria.
And here's what I found. In the JUNIOR section.

--I can buy my 12yo a thong to go with her flirty push up bra! Woohoo!
--Halter and tube tops are back. So who needs a bra anyway?
--A thong is really not a good idea with some of those skirts.
--But a "plunge" bra will be needed with some of the shirts. Unless your bra truly is begging to "be showed off".
--There was not a single, solitary dress or skirt in the entire junior section appropriate to wear to mass. Several could be sold with their own dancing pole, however.

So, a lot of this was not news. We have been searching, largely in vain, for appropriate clothing for a couple of years now. And I don't feel like we have some kind of Victorian standard here either. Here are a few of my clothing rules-

*Skirts should touch the top of the knee. Longer is even better, then you don't have to worry about how you sit.
*If a top is sleeveless, it should not show your bra straps, or the side of your bra under the arm. No bras begging to be shown off here. No sleeveless tops in mass. I honestly avoid sleeveless tops as Maria has small shoulders and it is hard to find any that fit well, but she has received some as gifts or hand me downs over the years.
*You should be able to bend over without the top of the shirt falling open. Amazingly, this is one of the most difficult issues we have in buying tops for Maria. I think its those small shoulders again.
*No short shorts. I don't have an exact measurement, but I would say no more than 3 inches above the knee would be about right. These are so hard to find that we generally buy capri pants far more often than shorts.
*No belly showing. We even have a test in the store. You have to be able to touch the top of your head and still have your belly covered.

Are we too strict? I don't think so at all. We have friends with far more strict standards. It is amazingly hard to find clothing that meets these criteria. I'm not sure why. Our public schools have similar dress codes, don't they? What are all of these kids wearing to school? Also, when I said above that none of the dresses and skirts were appropriate to wear to mass, I didn't just mean by my standards. My own personal "rules" for picking out clothing aren't meant to be read as a requirement for everyone in the world, but as far as the skirts and dresses for mass are concerned, I mean these are not appropriate by what should be *anyone's* standards. As in, I would be personally horrified to see anyone wearing any of the skirts or dresses on this website to mass. A possible exception could be made for the ball gown. Then you would just be weirdly overdressed.

For those in the trenches, I will give some encouragement. Maria loves clothes and has very strong opinions on what she likes and doesn't like. It has been a battle at times over the last few years to find clothing that satisfies both of us. She's too young to fully understand why modesty is so important and what the effect of immodest dress can have on the men around you. She just wants to wear what she likes. However, in the last year or so, things have, erm, *developed* quite a bit around here. As she develops more of a figure, I am seeing a natural modesty of her own develop. It is a lovely thing to see. And it's not born of shame or embarrassment but of an almost unconscious realization that she possesses something very precious and something increasingly rare even in preteen girls- innocence.


Wendy in VA said...

"Victoria's Closet of Hoochiness"!
ROFL! Great post! We've been navigating the river of, um, inappropriate clothing for a few years now with 15yodd. I shudder to think what things will be like when my 3yodd is older...

Sara said...

Great post! I once heard a Mormon mother respond to a question about modesty with this simple statement, "Immodesty says 'You don't have to get to know me, you can just look at my body.'" By encouraging your daughter to dress modestly you're telling her that she's worth getting to know. has pretty, young, fun, fashionable dresses that are also modest; they're not too expensive and the website has great sales. God bless you and all the other moms fighting the good fight!

entropy said...

Great post! Excellent rant.

Kelly said...

I hear ya Sister - believe me. I am constantly appalled at what is sold as clothing "appropriate" for young girls! [heck, even my 2yo could dress like a stripper if I wanted her to, there are plenty of 2T stripper clothes out there. *PUKE*].

Erin said...

This is a concern of mine for the future for sure. The clothing available for older girls - ick. Much of it is just trying to make them look like mini-20 year olds. For now, I will buy little girl clothes that are sleeveless (as long as they are cute sleeveless and not trashy sleeveless, if that makes sense), but I totally agree with the bra strap rule! I see too many grown women with bra straps showing already.

My problem with my own clothes and bras lately is that my super cheap-o Walmart nursing bras are so high cut that it is hard to fin shirts that cover them completely at the neckline. Add a toddler who pulls down on the neck of my shirts, and... problem!

J.C. said...

You're always such fun to read, Mel! We also have to make the training to regular bra transition--I'm not feeling too encouraged! :)

BevMomof4 said...

So - did you ever find appropriate bras? I am looking now for my DD and am running into the same problems...

mel said...

Oh, yes, we did back then, just by avoiding the "teen" bras and looking only in the womens bras for something sensible. Shopping online was much better than the stores, but you mght need to start in stores to get a good idea of what size she wears. This was five years ago, and my oldest is 18 now! So, our problems now are more in the direction of finding modest clothing that fits her,,,urm,,curves. :)