Sometimes it’s easy to get so focused on how leggings can’t replace pants and bikinis encourage lust that we forget why modesty matters. Following specific rules when getting dressed is great, but styles come and go, so I stick to principles that I can apply no matter what. I’d like to share some of those principles, beginning with (drum roll, please): Modesty is part of humility.
Conquering my desire to be desired is, for me, the most challenging aspect of practicing modesty and chastity. Wanting to be wanted is not bad: it helps us seek and find community, experience intimacy, and be drawn to the Lover of our souls, who desires us more than his own life. Only the divine can fulfill our desires. Everything else the world offers, even good things, leave us wanting more. Nothing finite satisfies us because we were created for eternal life. Therefore, all of our desires must be oriented towards holiness, or we’ll never actually be satisfied. Humility is seeing myself as God sees me; no more and no less.
Inextricably linked to confidence, humility flies in the face of “flaunt it if you’ve got it” as well as the lie that I am unworthy of love. A humble person knows that she is a wonderful reflection of Beauty himself and does not need to prove it by exposing her body. She knows that the gift of her sexuality is so precious, that the only person to receive her must first lay down his life before God and his Church, and she refuses to cheapen that gift or allow anyone else to preview it. She does not compete with others for attention because she is secure in who and whose she is. Want to be humble? Check out the Litany of Humility.
Challenge yourself. Ask why you want to wear that dress, tell that joke, discuss that topic, or buy those shorts. Is it to draw attention to your body? Turning heads is not bad—you’re beautiful!
But showing too much of your body can distract others from seeing the rest of what makes you wonderful: your smile, sense of humor, silly expressions, compassion, strength, etc. It is tempting to choose clothes that show off your body, but I urge you- overcome that temptation! Humility is dignifying, pleasing to God, and reveals your unique beauty in ways immodesty simply cannot.
“Charm is deceptive and beauty fleeting; the woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.” – Proverbs 31:30