Modest is Not Hottest

I’ll keep this short.

Every time a Christian says “modest is hottest,” a puppy jumps off a bridge, dies, and is run over by truck while second graders watch. (Which I really wouldn’t care about, except that it gives godawful evolutionary biologists an excuse to pretend that willful suicide is a beneficial evolutionary trait unspecific to the human race.) That a phrase rhymes does not make it a truism — I can “snooze” and not “lose,” “fake it” and never “make it” — and this is especially true of the overwhelmingly whack aggregation of words that comprise our current topic, words I double-damn as (a) not really rhyming unless you mispronounce “hottest” and (b) not being true.

The phrase is a reaction against a popular culture that says — by way of objectifying every ounce of the human person to sell light beer – that immodesty is hottest, and by hottest, it means sexually attractive, and by sexually attractive, it only ever means erection-inducing. Thus the unintended effect of the Christianism is to say “modesty is erection-inducing,” which is scary.

I understand what’s supposed to be meant by the puppy-killer, I really do, that modesty attracts a member of the opposite sex to the fullness of the person, but “attraction to the fullness of the person” is not at all what is meant by “hottest.” We say it as if we were attempting, through modesty, to be objects of sexual arousal, not because we’ve thought it through, but because it rhymes and we were told it by our middle-school Bible camp counselor. It’s the same thing when Christian girls — God bless and keep them — say they cover themselves “to leave room for the imagination,” as if the point of modesty was that surrounding men imagine you naked. In actual fact, modesty has much, much less to do with sexual arousal than it is given credit for, and much, much more with the subjectivity of the human person, which is (a) far more badass (b) a trillion times more interesting (c) a method by which we attain eternal existence in the present moment and (d) the topic of another post.

Actually, wait, I’m back with a knife to try and cut off a bad negation of my point. It will certainly be said, as it is often said when discussing the meaning and use of singular words, that all this is only true if you take a certain definition of “hot,” one defined by our so-silly culture. “When a true Christian says ‘hot,’” a simplification of this argument goes, “he mean the fullness of the person of the opposite sex he is attracted to.”

And the answer is very simple: No he doesn’t.

The euphemism “hot” never had a previously understood or currently unpopular meaning we could say Christians are referring back to, as when the Catholic says “chastity” and means “the integration of the sexuality within the whole person,” despite his surrounding culture meaning “not having sex until you’re married” or “not being a slut.”

No, be honest. What about the word “hot” could possibly indicate that it ever was or ever could be a metaphor for being attracted to the wholeness of the person? As if in “real Christian families” you could say, “I’ve decided to marry Jane. She’s hot.” No, it always refers to the sexually arousing, as being “in heat” refers to arousal, as human language for the past 2000 years, in good poetry and bad erotica, has referred to the burn of lust, being inflamed with desire, etc. I’m not saying this is a bad thing. Two thumbs up for all the erotic fires. I’m just saying it is not the aim of modesty, and pretending that there’s some other way we use the term “hot” seems self-evidently baloney flavored.

Now, the real discussion:

Things Modest Hasn’t a Damn Thing to Do With

Modesty is Honesty

Modesty Sets Fire

Millennial Misery
Why Religious People Are Ashamed of Porn
Objectifying Soccer Players Probably Won't Help Fight Sexism
Women Swiftly Running Out Of Things That Aren't Sexy
  • Michelle

    Thank you!

  • Paul Hughes

    Wrong on this one, down to the pronunciation (unless you’re pronouncing “modest” like Tchaikovsky’s brother). The eCard is obviously making fun of the idea — which unfortunately puts you on the same side, though perhaps for different reasons. The mistake, though, is to assume that “hottest” means what you say (sexual) when the word, in “modest is hottest” actually could easily mean, “hottest in the deepest and most complete sense, i.e., including all the stuff you say it doesn’t.” This in fact was Wendy Shalit’s exact point many years back. And there is no reason the phrase has to work as you suggest … especially since we probably shouldn’t get our definitions from the people at eCards.

    • Courtney

      I agree. Someone who is “hot” can mean any number of things, but to many is a word substituting for “attractive.” You can be attracted to someone based on different criterion, and to each person it’s subjective. Modesty being “hot” is attractive, is it not? It’s refreshing, speaks of confidence, self-worth. How is that not attractive?

      • John

        The problem is even the word attractive is torn between physically attractive and the attraction we feel fro someone who is smart or funny or shares our passions. And the problem is, In general, attractive is a term referring to physicality. Sure, you are right it can mean something else. However, such incredible cliches that are so widespread don’t really get made to be “subjective.” They are supposed to speak for themselves. This one does that poorly.

      • Emily Rolla

        Can you honestly imagine the most physically unappealing person in the whole world, and then honestly describe them as hot because it’s “based on different criterion,” ? If so, how do I get to the world you are living in?

        • tedseeber

          Yes. But I’m afraid to get to that world, you need to be born into a different culture- either that or have severe enough head trauma to become autistic.

        • GoodCatholicGirl

          Well, Princess Fiona thinks Shrek is hot and he thinks she is, too. But really, what the heck is wrong with being sexy?! It doesn’t make you less of a good person. It just means you’re hot and that’s not a bad thing!

        • Courtney

          Having seen what some women describe as “attractive” and “hot” in their men, which I find unattractive, then yes, we have different criteria for what we find attractive/hot. Some women prefer men with soft guts, for example. Some men prefer women who are chubby. Neither of those traits are considered traditionally “hot.” Men often describe a woman’s confidence as “hot.” Some women like men with glasses and describe them as “hot.” Some men like women with big hair and describe them as “hot.” I’d suggest that to get in the world I’m living in, you talk to people who don’t live in Hollywood.

  • John

    Paul, hottest never means “in the deepest and most complete sense.” No kids think that. Ever. You can ask them. In general, they reserve the word “beautiful” for the thought you are trying to convey. Hot almost exclusively is associated with attraction. It is less a comment on the person and more about your ability to attract another. Even if someone speaks something “hot” they mean “that is super arousing/attractive.” And ya know what, that’s not bad. Denying attraction is idiotic and does nothing to help people in their faith. That being said, the phrase still stands as saying modesty is best for attracting people, which isn’t really true. The phrase should be modesty is the best way to respect yourself and respect the men around you, and that phrase does primarily exist because of the fact it rhymes.

    • badcatholic

      Woah, we just wrote the same thing. (Check out my update)

    • NowakLaw

      Hot is almost exclusively associated with attraction. But attraction is not lust and not sinful.

  • Jennifer Hannah

    I’ve never heard a male refer to a female as “hot” and it not meant completely physically attractive in a completely sexual sense. I hate the term “hot” because all of the comments I’ve heard in my life of men/boys use that term to objectify a woman/girl.

    • CS

      yep, and I bet a quick survey of men and women will show that pretty much only men think the use of that term in this way is great and nearly all women under 50 DO NOT.

  • CS

    It also reinforces the idea that we must, always and everywhere and ESPECIALLY if we are women, be concerned with how attractive we are to other people.

    • NowakLaw

      I think the idea is that we must, always and everywhere and ESPECIALLY if we are Christian, be concerned with how UNATTRACTIVE we are to other people. An ankle-length jean skirt and a sweater in June doesn’t help us bring either ourselves or others to Jesus. It’s says: “I’m neither in the world nor of it. And I dress really strange.”

      • GoodCatholicGirl

        Hmm . . . don’t think my messages previous messages posted so forgive me if I’m being repetitive . . . dressing modestly should never be unattractive. You need to change your mindset – if you dress elegantly and with dignity, you will just naturally be dressed modesty. That goes for men, also.

        • NowakLaw

          Agreed. We must, always and everywhere, man or woman, be concerned with how attractive we appear to other people. Elegant and dignified is both modest and attractive.

          • GoodCatholicGirl

            Yes and no. You should always dress to please yourself (it’s called having style) just as women should wear makeup because they like the way it makes them look. On the other hand, you should always put your best foot forward.

          • NowakLaw

            putting your best foot forward sometimes means disregarding your style if there is nothing stylish about it! :P

          • GoodCatholicGirl

            If that’s the case, you need to work on your sense of style!

        • Gabriella Valente

          Good.. You must be young, I’m pushing 60 and I dress for comfort. You will too.

          • Veronica Jensen

            That explains why so many older women go around looking as if they’ve been pulled through a hedge backwards.

          • GoodCatholicGirl

            Many take the path of least resistance – being comfortable =
            not putting any effort into shopping/dressing.

          • GoodCatholicGirl

            I’m not young – I’m 57 years old. I’m always comfortable but always modest, too. Being older doesn’t mean you can’t be stylish; in fact, there is no reason not to be.

      • msmischief

        Kinda depends on what you want to attract.

      • Sarah

        Obviously, it’s okay in a formal/professional atmosphere to compromise
        how you present yourself to make those around you more comfortable.
        However, what many people fail to address is that on a day to day basis,
        when you’re walking down the street or you are in public, it is NOT
        your job as a human being to fit into someone else’s idea of what’s
        attractive. Not everyone’s idea of attractive is “elegant” and
        “dignified”. Anyone who actually has the audacity to judge you for
        having tattoos, wearing band t-shirts, or covering up more than the
        average person… that person is prejudiced, and is in the wrong.
        Dressing differently to appease someone you don’t know, have no
        connection with, to make their discriminating minds happy is oppressive,
        and it sends the message that it okay for strangers to judge you for
        being yourself. Just because your believe wearing an ankle length dress and a sweater is strange, just because it’s unattractive to you, does not make it unattractive everyone else. As for what it means to be Christian, you aren’t in the place to make up random rules about what God wants for the rest of humanity just because you think it sounds like a swell idea.

        • MarylandBill

          I agree it is not your job to fit yourself into anyone’s idea of what is attractive. That being said, what we wear and what how we present ourselves to strangers sends messages. Heck, even the church relies on it; that is why priests wear clericals and religious wear habits.

          Perhaps people read too much into what you wear and what other sorts of body ornamentation you choose, but by choosing them, whatever they are, you have made a statement about the way you want to be seen by the rest of the world.

          Lets remember standards of modesty are a reflection of time and place. What has passed as relatively modest clothing in the United States since 1950, would have been seen as incredibly immodest in 1850.

        • NowakLaw

          Our faith is a blend of individualism and community. It’s not only about what a person wants for herself. You’re right, you don’t always have to be elegant – I just said that’s attractive to me. You should always be dignified, though.

          Dressing unattractively doesn’t only turn people off from you, it may also turn people off from what you stand for. That judgment is not something I alone possess. The very idea of attractiveness is that someone looks at another and decides whether their appearance appeals to them or not. There is no person alive that doesn’t judge in someway or other, if for no other reason that some of it may occur on a physiological level.
          I wear jeans and a t-shirt a lot of the time. That may not be a sexual turn-on for most girls, but it’s doesn’t make them recoil or think I’m strange. It’s not because I fit within the random rules of any particular person, it’s because I fit within societal rules. If I was to wear those jeans and a t-shirt to wedding, I probably would be judged pretty harshly.
          You could always wear a long white prom dress as a guest at a wedding and see how many people have oppressive, discriminating, judgmental minds.

      • Rivka

        I think the idea is that “modest is hottest” is a stupid phrase.

  • Megan

    Yes! I have had this exact discussion re: the phrase “purity is sexy.” Ummm, no, it isn’t. That is the point.

  • B Vree

    I always thought they were hotter because it was 110 degrees out and modestly covered from head to toe. Maybe I was wrong. Still, gotta love those girls who can endure the torment of heat. She who can endure hardship for a greater good makes a great wife.

    • Rebecca Fuentes

      Yup. Read what some folks think I ought to wear in 100+ weather while pregnant and toting a toddler (and walking two dogs–I rock!), I would definitely be the hottest lady in town–about the time the heat stroke hit.

      My husband, parents, priest, and all the little old ladies at my parish are fine with what I wear around town and to church. I think that means I’m doing fine.

  • Ella

    Thank you for this! I am so disgusted with that “modest is hottest” garbage. I dress modestly because I believe it honors the Lord and greatly reduces the likelihood I will be objectified by some perv or shallow male person; I also like the freedom of not worrying about what is showing at any given time. I am under 50 and I don’t consider being called “hot” a compliment, I consider it an insult.

    • Margaret

      Exactly. I dress very modestly. When I was thinner, (which I no longer am), I looked awesome. Saying, “hot” is objectifying someone. My husband called me hot once. He will never do that again.

      • Lena S.

        Better lose some weight then.

        • Rebecca

          Wow, now THAT was uncalled for. Shame on you.

          • Lena S.

            What? I sure as hell want my husband to find me erection inducing, that’s why I limit my potato chip habit to one family sized bag per day.

          • Margaret

            Wow! First of all, my husband loves me no matter what I look like. We have a marriage built on love and it is Christ centered. Your crudness suggests that you are insecure. However, yes, I am trying to lose weight. I exercise & watch what I eat. That is my plan. Now tell me dear Lena, what is your plan to learn some manners?

          • GoodCatholicGirl

            Nothing wrong with having a few extra pounds but that doesn’t mean that you’re not still hot or that your marriage is somehow less loving or Christ-centered. It just means that you’re attractive and your husband is attracted to you, as he should be.

          • Margaret

            I also never said my husband wasn’t attracted to me. We have a beautiful marriage. Sure, we have our problems, who doesn’t? To me, the word hot is rude & disrespectful. I asked him not to do that again and he respects that. Sorry if I made it sound like I emasculated him. I would never do that.

          • alexandra cortes

            lol awesome honesty

          • Margaret

            Thank you, Rebecca. Poor Lena. She obviously was raised without manners. Sad really. This had nothing to do with my weight. She’s just a sad, angry, lonely person.

          • Lena S.

            The shaming and insults always come out when people feel bad because a comment was accurate.

          • Eliza

            Well, just going to throw this one out there.. This conversation is not going anywhere and you guys are both wrong. It is wrong to inflame someone’s anger by picking on their insecurities. Women are almost always insecure about their bodies, so saying something obvious about how they need to lose weight, unless you are a really close friend, is never a good idea. Assuming that someone is angry and sad because they lack tact is also not logical or kind. “They will know you by your love.”

          • Margaret

            Sad & immature. You don’t get it. I cannot have an adult discussion with a person with a mentality of a 12 yr old.

      • GoodCatholicGirl

        Sorry, but I’m not getting this. Why shouldn’t your husband think you’re hot and why would you intimidate him into never saying it again? Hot isn’t a bad thing!

        • Margaret

          I don’t see it that way. I NEVER intimidated him. I told him not to call me “Hot” because it is degrading. Any good Catholic girl would know that. We live in a soiciety where we we are so focused on sex, sex, sex. Hot is a derogatory remark and it objectifies a person. I don’t like the term. Please don’t put words into my mouth. Thanks.

          • GoodCatholicGirl

            I am a good Catholic girl but do not see anything degrading about a husband thinking his wife is hot or sexy or a wife thinking her husband is hot or sexy. It takes nothing away from the couple’s Catholic marriage.
            Sorry – I didn’t mean to put words in your mouth but you ended by saying that your husband never used the term again, which sounded as though you bit his head off for saying it. Perhaps you didn’t and I’m now assuming that you simply explained that you weren’t comfortable with the term but that last sentence just sounded a bit harsh.

          • alwr

            My husband thinks I’m hot. I’d be upset if he did not think so. And any good Catholic married person should know that we are allowed and encouraged to enjoy sexuality within marriage.

  • s_hartwick

    You’re right. That is a pretty ridiculous phrase and another example of people trying to make Christianity “cool” and failing. Women should dress modestly, first and foremost, out of respect for their dignity as human persons, not because it’s “hottest” or even more attractive.

  • Annalisa

    Doesn’t it seem that a natural attribute such as physical beauty and a supernatural Fruit of the Holy Spirit such as modesty should be spoken of differently? “Being hot” is ordered toward natural attraction whereas “being modest” is ordered toward an Imitation of Christ so that we might gain eternal life. Finding supernatural graces in a woman ought to be a cause for rejoicing/imitation/admiration), rather than a cause to exclaim, “that’s hot!”. Don’t you think?

    The word “hottest” leans more toward an intensity of some power (“he’s the hottest pro-baseball player this season”, “find the hottest girl in the room and I’ll get her to dance with me”, “that’s one hot car!”). Modesty is completely bound up in Christ’s example of living as God-man, and that is in fact why we ought to be modest, so that we (as person) might imitate Him (as person).

    “Modest is hottest” confuses the end of modesty by associating it with an earthly concern – physical attraction (and as he pointed out, a very distorted kind). I think Marc’s simple point is that the motive for modesty has nothing to do with the end of physical attraction, and everything to do with eternal life. To “sell” modesty outside of that context is missing the whole point.

    “The faithful of the present time, and indeed today more than ever, must use the means which have always been recommended by the Church for living a chaste life. These means are: discipline of the senses and the mind, watchfulness and prudence in avoiding occasions of sin, the observance of modesty, moderation in recreation, wholesome pursuits, assiduous prayer and frequent reception of the Sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist.” (CDF, Persona humana,
    December 29, 1975, XII)

  • Lisa Mladinich

    Thank you for making learning fun! ;) My daughter and I just howled laughing, reading this together. You are so right, Marc! Shared it around. Just had to spread the mirth as well as the insight.

  • Guest

    I think that saying “hot” only ever means “erection-inducing” is also a bit hyperbolic. Surely a man can determine that he is attracted to a woman without a resultant surge of blood-flow below his belt? Can a woman not extenuates her beauty while remaining modest? I’d call that hot.

    It is true that “human language for the past 2000 years … has referred to the burn of lust, being inflamed with desire, etc”. You omit that in Luke 24 two of Jesus’ disciples remark “Did not our hearts burn within us while He talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures? One of my favourite prayers even claims that St. Anthony of Padua had an ardent love of God! Are you scandalized?

    You know what society means by hot – the definition stated above. That definition is a reflection of hedonism. I see no harm in gentrifying the term. I’m attracted to a girl when she is modest and holy and still looks nice. I think it’s hot, even if you think it’s not.

    • s_hartwick

      The Bible actually uses a great deal of sexual language to describe the love affair between man and God (Song of Songs, anyone?), because sexual love is the closest human thing we have to God’s all-encompassing love. However, I don’t think this means we should be throwing around the word “hot” when speaking of just anybody in phrases like “modesty is hottest” because sexual love is exclusive. My husband is welcome to call me hot, but I would not take it as a compliment from anyone else.

  • delahaya

    This would be a great article if it was coherent and had a logical point.

    • Joseph

      But it does… The word hottest does not have the same meaning in our actual conversations that it does in this little slogan thing… and so it is false and useless slogan.

  • NowakLaw

    I think that saying “hot” only ever means “erection-inducing” is also a bit hyperbolic. Surely a man can determine that he is attracted to a woman without a resultant surge of blood-flow below his belt? Can a woman not extenuates her beauty while remaining modest? I’d call that hot.

    It is true that “human language for the past 2000 years … has referred to the burn of lust, being inflamed with desire, etc”. You omit that in Luke 24 two of Jesus’ disciples remark “Did not our hearts burn within us while He talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures? One of my favourite prayers even claims that St. Anthony of Padua had an ardent love of God! Are you scandalized?

    You know what society means by hot – the definition stated above. That definition is a reflection of hedonism. I see no harm in gentrifying the term. I’m attracted to a girl when she is modest and holy and still looks nice. I think it is hot, even if you think it’s not.

  • MK

    Trying to find modest clothing is extremely difficult. Thus, in order to dress modestly many girls choose to layer clothing to make an overall modest outfit. Layers= really warm. Especially in the summer. So on a literal level, modest is indeed hottest. ;)

    • NowakLaw

      LOL :)

    • GoodCatholicGirl

      As I mentioned above, dressing modestly should never mean dressing like a frump. You need to strive for elegance and dignity; together, they pretty much equal modesty. Elegance doesn’t meant dressed to the nines or looking like a Park Avenue dowager. either. You can look elegant and pulled together in jeans (even jeans that are a little tight) if you pay attention to how the outfit is put together. Anyone can look fashionable but it takes effort to be stylish. and to make that style your trademark look.

      • Gabriella Valente

        Good.. For a catholic, you spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about attractiveness. Sadly, ultimately attractiveness has nothing to do with dress or make-up, it’s a physical characteristic. You’re born beautiful or you’re not. A glaring example of this is some Muslim girls.. They don’t dress stylishly, most don’t wear make-up, but this only seems to highlight the beauty of those who are attractive. Just an insight from someone who is now neutral in the sex wars.

        • GoodCatholicGirl

          No, if I spend a lot of time thinking about it, it’s because I’m in the fashion business so it’s a part of my everyday working life but it has nothing to do with vanity or shallowness. Our pastor pointed out in one of his sermons that there is nothing wrong with being attentive to how you look and dress. Being what he called a “glamourpuss” doesn’t make you less of a good Catholic nor does being a “plain Jane” make you a better one. He said that everyone should always strive to look their best because in a way, it’s a tribute to God.

    • GoodCatholicGirl

      There is no reason to wrap yourself in layers in the summer in order to look modest. That has got to look really strange if not silly. Sounds as though you’re not trying very hard to look attractive as well as modest.

      • NowakLaw

        Sometimes I wear layers just because they look good. It is a sacrifice for fashion, if not modesty.

        • GoodCatholicGirl

          Not necessary to sacrifice style when you wear layers – you just have to layer stylishly!

        • Alice

          Most Christians I know who wear layers do it to look stylish and modest at the same time (For instance, wearing a cute low-cut top and a cami under it). If a woman cares about modesty, but not style, then she will probably just wear a t-shirt that is one or two sizes too big. There are blouses that are modest without looking frumpy, but they are pretty rare.

  • Pietra
  • Matt Roth

    Might be your most well-written, and most clear post ever. Great job Marc! And…no profanity! Win.

    • NowakLaw

      Cl;ear point – that hot has one definition – but it’s wrong. Words have meanings that must be read in a context with intent taken into consideration. We have Webster’s Dictionary and the Oxford dictionary, but no “God’s Dictionary” – unless “Hot” has been defined in a magisterial document somewhere and I missed it?

  • Patrick Thornton

    The phrase “Modest is Hottest” and all the other versions of rah-rah-abstinence slogans are indeed eye-roll inducing, childish, and probably not very effective with young people. But we all understand exactly what is meant by them. They are not intended to be profound philosophical explanations on the exact nature of human sexuality. They are just meant to convey “Yay, Abstinence/Modesty/Whatever!” Picking the phrase apart based on it’s literal meaning seems nit-picky to me (ironically maybe so is this comment) since the slogan does indeed communicate what it intends to communicate.

    Perhaps a better criticism would be to note that such phrases are a bad idea not so much because they are misleading, but because they are stupid.

    Happy Meat Friday!

  • filiusdextris

    If hot = “sexually attractive,” it is not a per se sin to say that a certain person is hot (or sexual attractive, or even erection inducing so long as it is natural and not the result of objectification). Some people have that particular gift of objective or subjective beauty, and they should be celebrated for it. It becomes sinful (personal opinion) when we reduce that person to that trait, ignoring their other aspects, primarily their status as a child of God. This is called objectification, reductionism, depersonalization, etc. Obviously there may be other valid reasons for not using the term “hot,” such as it being quite likely to offend, but we should not deny their gift, or even God’s gift to males of attraction (even if naturally erection-inducing), which leads to a discernment of whether to initiate further investigations into their whole personhood, and love and fruitfulness, generally (in the contemplated context of future Christian marriage).

  • Lena S.
  • Shapley Hunter

    Actually, this part is not true:

    “The euphemism ”hot” never had a previously understood or currently unpopular meaning we could say Christians are referring back to,..”

    The idea of “What’s hot and what’ not” refers to the idea that something that is popular is ‘hot’,which does not mean ‘erection-inducing’. The latest ‘hot single’ by the Beatles had nothing to do with “erection-inducing”, either.

    Thus, the argument the author attempts to head off with that sentence is based on a flawed premise. Certainly there have been ‘hot fads’ and ‘hot rods’ and ‘hot films’ and so forth that had nothing whatsoever to do with sexuality.

    I agree that, in the context of being a ‘hottie’ or being a ‘hot chick’, the term is centered around sexuality, but before the term ‘hottie’ began to appear on the fannies of girls’ jogging shorts, the term ‘hot’ was used to refer to anything that was popular or gathering rave reviews.

  • tedseeber

    Despite that, I’m not at all sure it isn’t true.

    See, I’m convinced that pornography, and thus most of modern sexual arousal, is LEARNED behavior. Learned at an early age, maybe not under conscious control of the individual, but still learned.

    I base this on my own life experience.

    And because of that, what you consider hot, IS going to be culture based. If you grew up, as I did, in a world where there were say, lots of Mennonite women and girls- maybe a skirt *is* hotter than pants.

  • Agnes

    “not having sex until your married” should be “not having sex until _you’re_ married”

  • Jeremy

    Aww man. I thought this post was going to be longer…

  • Tim

    One minor correction: the common pronunciation [mɒdɪst] does indeed rhyme with the other common pronunciation [hɒdɪst]. Unless you’re [brɪtɪʃ], and you like to pronounce all the “t”s. That’s alright too.

    -An amateur phonetician

  • odoxymod

    Ummm, actually it is… in summer. We attend the TLM with slightly stricter modesty rules, and I’m always really worried I’ll faint during Mass. I’ll admit to turning on the ceiling fans in my section without sacristan permission a few weeks ago.

    I blame corporate America for forcing us to wear winter clothes in summer in order to be modest.

    • GoodCatholicGirl

      Corporate America (or the fashion industry, of which I am a member) isn’t forcing anyone to dress immodestly unless you think it’s immodest to wear anything less than a nun’s habit (nothing against my dearly beloved nuns!). :If you aren’t comfortable in the current styles, perhaps you should adopt a vintage or 60s look – very cool and modest just by the very nature of the looks.
      What I’m not getting here is everyone’s assumption that modest means dowdy and covered from neck to ankles. I attended Catholic schools from kindergarten through high school but have never felt the need to swath myself in long layers of fabric. There is nothing wrong with a little skin showing. I hardly think a knee-length skirt or open collar is going to inflame anyone’s libido unless their thinking is so seriously disordered. In that case, an ankle-length potato sack would probably be a turn-on.

      • odoxymod

        My point obviously got lost, I apologize for my lack of clarity.

        I have no problem with knee-length skirts or open collars, but I find it extremely difficult to find these things. Layering is a matter of course, especially in summer.

        Perhaps it is because I am of above-average height, but I know of plenty of women who are taller than me, so we deserve to be catered to, at least to some extent.

        • GoodCatholicGirl

          Ah, then I can sympathize but my problem is the opposite – I am “petite” meaning short and thin. Perhaps you should look for tall sizes on internet sites since they aren’t common in mainstream stores. I can imagine how uncomfortable it must be to wear clothes that are don’t reach your waist as they should or are short enough to ruin the line. Then again, maybe you should take up sewing so you can customize your clothes!

  • Justin


  • grace

    I don’t know. Hot can also mean “cool” or just plain attractive, which is what I have always meant when I say it. It could (rightly so) mean sexy. I have never in a million years meant that being modest is erection inducing. But I think it IS sexy, in the sense that it does reveal more of the woman instead of just more of her body. And that is a good kind of sexy we can all celebrate in. A man with good intentions will be much more attracted to the modest woman, not necessarily in a visually stimulating way, but in a deeper sense.
    I really don’t see anything wrong with it. No one that I know of is talking about hot in a provocative sense, and we all know that.

    • GoodCatholicGirl

      Exactly. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being sexy but there are different ways to look sexy and they’re not all bad.

    • FWK

      My understanding is that people say something is hot if they like it. As in, “that’s great”, ït’s the best”, “how cool is that?!”. So maybe modesty is the best way to go is all they are saying. But, blogs need to be written….

  • Rachel

    I agree with you, but becuase of your relentless desire for the fullness of truth, I thought I would inform you that “modest” and ‘hottest” actually do rhyme. There is another type of ryhme called asonant (as opposed to consonant) rhyme. Take a look:

  • wlinden

    Also, that something alliterates does not make it logical. (“Jobs not jails!”)

  • Maggie

    I freaking hate that phrase. Thanks for eviscerating it.

  • IslandsAndSea

    Innocent of that phrase in England, where those words definitely do not rhyme ;)

  • KS Catholic

    Many times what we mean to say is not what we literally say. “It’s raining cats and dogs!” It means that it’s raining really hard. If we want to take it literally, it means that cats and dogs are falling from the sky. Idioms are idioms because they have different meanings than what they literally say. No one really believes or understands by the phrase “modest is hottest” that modesty causes greater arousal. It seems to me that this is much ado about nothing.

  • Zeke

    Somewhere in a Muslim country, this same conversation is being held regarding the burka, as if the creator of the universe cares what women wear.

  • Rosemary58

    I think the “leaves something/nothing to the imagination” is just an old tired phrase that everyone “gets”. It does not mean that we should be imagining things but that some people dress in a way that gives a certain impression. Some of that is intended by the provocatively dressed but I do think that some just don’t know how badly they dress. This goes for men as well as women. That’s why it’s important to look past it, get to know the person, and help them give to the world the true expression of how they see themselves.

    • GoodCatholicGirl

      Absolutely true – a very deal friend who could not be a more devout Catholic dresses in what can only be called sexy but to her, it’s just pretty. She doesn’t mean to look provocative but her looks and figure, combined with her style of dress make for a very “hot” look yet she’d be mortified to think that anyone sees her that way.

  • Ashley Joelle

    actually, modest is hottest… long pants and a turtle neck are much warmer than a mini skirt and cami :)

  • Tony

    I’m surprised so many people tend to raise an issue in the comments. Fact of the matter is that even the tiniest aspects of today’s world have a mountain of crapness behind it that has evolved from a complete lack of morals, standards, values and above all, integrity.

    The fact that Marc can wield a worded sword to it in such a manner is great. Top stuff.

  • bcarpe

    Incest is best!

  • Andrew

    thanks. hate the term “hot” and agree with your analysis.

  • Bonifacius

    All well and good Marc, but what if, because we have trained ourselves to find modesty beautiful, we are in fact more “turned on”, excited, sexually aroused, or whatever, by modesty? What if I find a woman who dresses modestly more sexually appealing than one who does not?

  • Gabriella Valente

    Lovely to read such clear and logical thinking. Thank you

  • alexandra cortes

    “Hot” doesn’t necessarily mean sexual. I say a girl is “hot” when she’s dressed with great fashion sense, or when she’s made a bold statement by her look/swagger/hair. But I’m a girl (hetero). When I think a guy is “hot” it’s not because I want to have sex with him, but because I appreciate something beautiful about him, but not necessarily his sexual potential (like body, smell, vibe) but his choice in things like clothing style or his taste for music or whatever… it all mixes together. I think a beautiful girl in a string bikini can be “hot” without being sexual, and I think a guy can think so too. It’s the Puritanical society that’s produced “modest is hottest” and besides, white people can’t possibly be as hot as other races, can we? I don’t mean to be racist, but most “Catholic girls” in America are white, and right now in America “hot” (in the objective way you mentioned) is waaay more about the curves and the dark skin and the exoticism (and why shouldn’t it be? if I were a guy I’d be most turned on by exotic, full-bodied women) than the typical white body (which tends to be thin, lanky or if it’s fullbodied it’s more disproportioned than not). Look, what I’m saying is that “hot” isn’t just about sex, it’s about style, and Catholic girls should stop being so modest if they want to be “hot” they (we) should express ourselves how we want and be healthy and fit and we will attract “hot” guys too and get married and have hot babies. The end. Haha!

  • Georgio

    Being sexually attractive is a major part of life, regardless if you’re a christian or not, simply because sex is a major part of life. In fact, in most species sex is the only thing of importance. Fortunately humans have other roles besides multiplying (possibly even the role of serving some Bog or God). So any ladies listening to the lies in this article remember these things. Sex is not only not bad, its good. Being sexually attractive is actually one of the most important things for both males and females. And you are beautiful. So get out there, be modest or immodest, love yourself and believe that you are The HOTTEST.

  • Em

    Okay, I’m a Christian, first of all. Second, I actually find this quite offensive. I can understand if you don’t believe in my religion (it does sound pretty crazy, I admit,) but I ask you to at least respect my view and not insult it. Third, the ‘modest is hottest’ is to say that we shouldn’t have men (or anyone, really) attracted to us for our body, that we should respect our bodies. Dressing immodestly, on the other hand, is also being concerned with our physical appearance just as much as dressing modestly, by the way.