Monday, October 26, 2009

Modesty aside...

I've been thinking about modesty lately -- specifically, trying to think of another word that means almost the same thing. It seems that this word has become misunderstood, that if I talked to another girl about it and we happened to not be on the same page about things pertaining to love, relationships, character and virtues, she may react as if I had said "chastity belt" or something equally antiquated.

Thing is, though "modest" often refers to clothing styles and manner of dressing, it can go far beyond that to include speech, behavior, thought. I won't even go into that here, but I will share this piece that I stumbled on once again while roaming Modesty Zone, that site I used to go to when in search of delightfully counter-cultural ideas. Talk about non-conformity! Definitely stuff one wouldn't see in mainstream media.

Here's an excerpt from the piece titled "Confessions of a former hoochi mama":

I began to realize that in my "hoochi mama" days, instead of showing off my cool new figure, I was actually degrading it by making it so easily accessible to any viewer. Despite some of the protests of my friends, I began to realize that modesty is not about sexual shame or a negative attitude toward the body; instead it is very much pro-body and pro-woman. Who knew?

Another thing I learned was that the word modesty, in its origin, simply means "to moderate." When St. Thomas Aquinas deals with modesty in the Summa Theologiae he links it to the virtue of prudence. Between moderation and prudence, we can thus understand better how to deal with modesty in this day and age where there are so few guidelines concerning dress. To me, applying moderation to this concept means that on the sliding scale of today's fashions the modest girl will land somewhere in between the prude and the exhibitionist.


When women of the sixties and seventies were encouraged to take on a more male nature, they abandoned and, in some cases, suppressed the beauty of female nature. By nature I don't mean the body per se, but rather what is greatest about women: things like compassion, fidelity, warmth, and a capacity to nurture. But today we are to suppress all these virtues, and be feminine in body only.

Read the whole thing here


John Jansen said...

I had to chuckle as I read this, as it reminded me of a time when I used to teach at an all-girls Catholic high school.

Once, whilst reading the morning announcements that included news that there would be an upcoming out-of-uniform day, the administration advised the students that they still needed to dress "modestly".

To which one girl asked, "What does that mean?"

Another girl responded by saying, "It means, 'Don't dress like a hoochi mama.'"

sunnyday said...

It's funny that the girl asked what "modestly" meant! And the way the other girl answered is even funnier, haha!

But for some reason, I like the term "hoochi mama" -- maybe it's the interesting sound or something.

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