I had a job interview today and as I was getting dressed I realized just how much I fear being immodest. First of all, I have gained about 50 or so pounds in the last 3 or 4 years. This is the biggest that I have ever been in my life without being pregnant. I have a closet full of clothes that remind me every day just how much bigger I have gotten. I don’t throw them away because they are my favorite clothes.
About a year ago I bought a pair of nice dress pants that fit me and I’m starting to outgrow them. When I put them on, they might as well be leggings. They are epic tight, even though they technically fit. Why don’t I buy more you ask? Because shopping for clothes at this size makes me want to hurl myself into traffic. I’m vain, I know. That knowledge does not change how I feel about myself when I look into a dressing room mirror when trying on pants. In fact, I hate pants at the moment.
So, this leaves me in a dilemma every single time that I have to get dressed in something other than stretchy pants and a baggy shirt. The only pair of pants that I own that fit me are jeans with jewels on the back pockets. It terrifies me to wear them in Catholic crowds because of the stuff that I have seen written on Facebook threads about how some people think they are the most immodest pants ever to wear. I used to work at Hooters, so it never occurred to me that wearing country-style jeans with jewels on the back pockets would be considered immodest.
I’ve also seen what women write about all kinds of thing that other women wear to Mass or some other parish event. And it has made me paralyzed to leave the house. It has probably also been a part of the reason I have made sure that there is no way that I look, feel or conduct myself like I’m “pretty”. I have no idea how to be pretty and not attract men.
I bring this up because I think it is finally time to explain to women who like to post “I was at Mass and saw this lady wearing X and couldn’t believe how stupid a person would have to be to NOT know that is immodest” or people who like the modest police signs to be put up outside the parish doors to understand what it is like to be that stupid woman.
I just lived most of my life not being valued for who I am. I was valued because I had a nice body, was half-naked and was a very good lay. That is what I considered to be my value. It was only by the Grace of God that I came into this Church full of crazy people who like to point out other people’s faults instead of working on their own that I learned I am a person who is valuable beyond what I look like or who I’m sleeping with.
When I first became Catholic and I started hearing all the chatter (thanks Facebook, you jerk!) about modesty, I started to think about it and my first instinct (as it is with all things) was to pretend that I knew alllll about modesty. I just blended in to the conversation. I began to go insane about what I was going to wear to Mass and how my kids looked because I didn’t want the so and so’s to see us and think we were not dressed “right”. It was not about Jesus, or God, but about what other people thought about me. I would see people make comments about how “my husband shouldn’t have to look at that kind of stuff (ie: immodest women)” and even though my first thought was “If your husband is looking at other women, you need to discuss the problem that your husband has with keeping his damn eyes to himself”, I wouldn’t say it. I had lost all my energy in fighting these good Catholic women during a debate about holding hands during the Our Father. I thought it was better if I just kept my mouth shut and nodded.
It also causes me to hide who I really am from the world. I get a bit neurotic too. My husband and kids start wondering if they need to call the mental hospital or something because I lose it man.
Those modesty signs are not a way to keep people from dressing immodestly, they are only a way for the devil to tell someone “see? You are not welcome here”. The same as if we had signs at the parish doors that said “If you have had an abortion, worked in an abortion clinic, are gay, gamble, are a drunk, lie, are prideful, are fat, or are a sinner of any kind you are not welcome here”, and that is NOT what our Church says. I used to sit in that pew daring someone to tell me to leave because of how I was dressed. I dressed like a hooker on purpose so that when they would do just that, I could give this Catholic Church the finger on my way out. It never happened. Instead a new pastor came and the sign went. Then a priest met me where I was and loved me along the way of my conversion.
Now, here I am, 50 pounds overweight with nothing to wear except a pair of jeans with the ass bedazzled or skin-tight pants, crying because I don’t want to be immodest. I don’t want to represent my Lord while drawing attention to my body. I’m not trying to get YOUR husband to look at me; I’m trying to just be modest. I have no effing idea how to do that when I’m constantly wondering if some lady is going to look at me crazy because of my jeans. Sparky still tries to convince me that I do not belong in this Church, and every single stupid comment about modesty and stupid women who have no idea how to dress “properly” just adds to my insecurity. It is the same as people valuing me because my boobs are hanging out of my shirt, only the opposite: people placing their value in me for dressing right according to their standard of “right”.
I am trying to do my best to make sure that no man in my parish is scandalized by the fact that I look like a woman and have curves and boobs, all I ask is that every woman stop pointing their finger at their sisters in Christ for what they wear and just think that maybe JUST MAYBE she is doing her best that day. If your husband is looking at her, tell him to keep his damn eyes to himself. Not for my sake, but for the sake of his own soul.