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One mom’s modesty manifesto
Barbara Curtis

Summer is here, which means shopping with daughters, which means tiptoeing around clothing landmines to avoid department store explosions.

“Yes, it looks cute on you, but … .”

Too much cleavage, too much midriff, too much thigh. Not appropriate. Too immodest. Sends the wrong message.

“Honey, I know your friends wear bikinis. Curtis girls don’t.”

Once upon a time it wasn’t this hard. My oldest daughter, Samantha — now mother of six — will soon be 42. My youngest daughter, Maddy, is 18. What this means — besides chronic exhaustion — is that I’ve really raised two generations of children.

And let me tell you, it’s a lot harder now than it was in the 80s. I’m reminded of the proverbial frog: When thrust into a pot of boiling water, he will jump out — but when his cold water is heated gradually he can be boiled to death.

In the past 25 years, along with the coarsening of our culture, there’s been a complete breakdown in natural feminine modesty. Yes, I said natural because, like Wendy Shalit, a young Jewish college student and author of the bestseller A Return to Modesty, I believe it is part of woman’s nature to be modest.

But today we live with the fallout from the Sexual Revolution, which preached through the media, movies and music that sexuality is one thing, morality another. And girls should be as aggressive and uninhibited as guys.

What a radical departure from how God designed us. I remember when Samantha was a teenager. She and her friends would wear their dads’ T-shirts over their relatively modest bathing suits. They were uncomfortable exposing so much flesh.

Today’s girls, bombarded by Victoria’s Secret, Abercrombie & Fitch, and more, have adapted to the hot water when they should have jumped out of the pot a long time ago. Unless they’ve been taught to seriously consider the message their clothing may be sending, they may be clueless about their own complicity in the sexualization of today’s teen culture.

My girls struggle with the desire to be hip and the desire to be pleasing to God. But in some ways they are fortunate. Sex is discussed frankly in our family. They’ve heard four big brothers explain how differently guys are affected by visual stimulation. They’ve been taught that they have a responsibility to be modest.

Parents have a responsibility too. Scripture tells us we are to be in the world, not of it. While it’s not pleasant to go through the fuss of making a daughter change clothes before school or church, it actually sends a message that you care.

What do you think when you see a man in a police uniform? A woman in scrubs? A man in a business suit? It should be no surprise that the way a girl dresses sends a message that she may not have intended at all.

Keep your girls safe and accountable. This isn’t just about saying no. It’s about saying yes to attracting only the best in terms of male attention.

I know in today’s culture — where I’ve seen moms dressed for back-to-school night in clothing their daughters would be sent home for — that calls for modesty may push some parents’ buttons.

But I’m talking to those who’ve never thought of the need to protect their daughters and their sons from being slaves to what the world tells them is okay.

Our heavenly Father wants so much more for us than that.

Curtis, who blogs at mommylife.net, is a mother of 12 and author from Bluemont.

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2 comments on this item

How far from modesty we are today few people realize. . . Thank God for Mrs. Rita Davidson, Colleen Hammond, and all the people who are at least making a small beginning today. . .

We are, far, far, from modesty. We need to follow the saints on modesty, and we need the Society of Jesus Crowned with Thorns of Fr. Emmanuel Andre today.

Modesty is a virtue.. it should be exercised to the utmost as a matter of joy in serving God.. It is in being covered.. not uncovered, and very different from the world...

'It might be said that society speaks through the clothing it wears. Through its clothing it reveals its secret aspirations and uses it, at least in part, to build or destroy its future."

Pope Pius XII

What does clothing say today? What does it say about the person who chose and wore it and why? Clothing is a covering, not for vanity.

What about these strapless wedding dresses where they hang out of them??? There are no straps. I got married in 98 and wouldn't dream of dressing like that --- ever. Besides that, they alllll look the same. there is no originality and disrespect for the Blessed Sacrament. How come they didn't write about that? Guess it was too much.

I don't think girls should be allowed to wear strapless dresses. If you all want to beef about real stuff, start there. Not everyone from Florida wears a bikini... sun exposure is an issue.

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