August 21, 2013

Earlier this summer, I watched the return of the annual Modesty Crusades with detached amusement. It seems simple to me: modesty is an interior virtue, and if you have it you’ll be attired modestly. Even if your attire is a two-piece sinsuit swimsuit.

Practically, this hasn’t been an issue for me in many a year. In Vegas, you can basically wear whatever you want and no one notices as long as you have a pole in your hand. I got pregnant about five seconds after we moved to Ave Maria, so my wardrobe was maternity chic until it became postpartum frump.

But then I spent the summer in Texas (where it’s not quite hot enough to make me want to defenestrate myself but it’s still pretty hot) and since I’ve spent the last 9 months since Lincoln was born working out a lot and eating a cookie instead of all the cookies, my legs are pretty okay and they don’t want to suffocate anymore. So my mom bought me all these shorts, because she’s the best ever.

Which presented me with a dilemma. It’s one thing in Texas — people are used to shorts cause they’re everywhere. But here in Ave, where there are rarely above-the-knee short sightings, what’s a postpartum-mom-of-four-who’s- sweating-like-a-mother to do? Suddenly I understood the drive behind the Modesty Crusades. It’s not a war on women who wear shorts, it’s women wanting to wear shorts but not having a fixed set of rules about how short is too short!

That, my friends, is a problem I can fix simply by crafting an alternate personality and spending 45 minutes in the bathroom taking a bunch of embarrassing selfies. So without further ado, I give you

Assuming, of course, that you’ve all made the general leap into the sin of wearing pants, I’m here to help you navigate the inverse relationship between inches lost and depravity gained. Let’s start with option 1, shall we?


These, I imagine, are the perfect capris to wear in the summer in Canada. Here in southwest Florida, however, they’re too hot to wear on Christmas Day. I know, because I wore them on Christmas Day and sweated my tushy off.

On the plus side, though, if you’ve already alienated the ankle-hating sola skirtura crowd, you’re not likely to cause any kind of scandal in these puppies.

Until you jump off a cliff just to feel the breeze on the way down.

Summer Style Factor:

Sin Factor:

Option #2: Above-the-Knee

The good news is that when you wear these short(er) jeans, your knees won’t be sweating. That’s basically the same thing as not feeling like the lower half of your body is encased in Dolly Parton’s denim legwarmers, right?

But mostly, with these shorts, you’ve chosen the worst of both worlds. Your knees are uncovered, which means you can’t enter a church in Europe so you’re pretty much going to hell. But only your knees are uncovered, which means you’re still sweating bollocks and feeling like you’re pretty much already in hell.

Congratulations. You’re almost as good at picking out shorts as I am at blogging.

Summer Style Factor:

Sin Factor:

Option #3: Fingertip Length


I realize that objectively speaking, showing the neighbors half of my thigh is probably not the most desirable thing to do. But when the water that was in the canal behind my house yesterday is literally oozing out of my pores today, sometimes the people around you just have to adjust to the fact that half a thigh is actually not a greater scandal than suicide-via-shoving-one’s-face-into-the-box-fan.

Also, call me crazy, but I just don’t see the stumbling block there. They’re legs. They’re not stilettoed-and-oiled-legs, they’re just normal, exceptionally short human legs that spend most of their time being scaled by one child or another. And the cool thing is, when I wear shorts this short, the scalers just slip right off since they can’t gain any traction, leaving me free to step over them and walk away.

Summer Style Factor:

Sin Factor:

Option #4: Hester Prynne

The #1 style rule to be aware of if you’re going to go this route is that you must have one of these three advantages in your nonexistent pockets:  >9% body fat, the cover of darkness, or beer goggles. Other than that, make sure you pair those cute paisley shorts with a striped top, like I was going to before the baby wiped his carrot-face on it, and you’ll be golden.

As far as the morality of these Satan shorts go, you will absolutely scandalize the neighbors and be a stumbling block of some sort, but you’re much more likely to be the kind of block that incites righteous indignation than the block that incites lust. Unless you’re wearing a tank top, in which case, you might as well just paint a red A on it and go ahead and climb on up that scaffold.

I’ll be right there with you after I finish this glass of wine.

Summer Style Factor:

Sin Factor:

There you have it, kids. All you ever needed to know about how to navigate the minefield of shorts and sin during the summertime. Just in time for fall.

You’re welcome.

Till next time,

*despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, the ASUS Fresh Paint app was not harmed in the making of this blog post

May 6, 2014

Yesterday I put up a video for Patheos’s birthday party, and included a link to my personal favorite post on Patheos. I chose that one because I couldn’t have written it if I weren’t here at Patheos, among the other bloggers on all the channels, but especially among the Patheosi at the Catholic Channel, who have taught me so much (sometimes too much, because ouch) about how virtue cannot be learned until I let go of my pride, bit by painful bit.

Today I’m putting up my top 4 posts in what I guess are the main areas I write. Or something. Four different types of blogging, maybe? Anyway, here.

Best Hot-Button Post


Sloppy Seconds Sex-Ed

No question here. This is far and away the most successful, most insanely polarizing post I’ve ever written. Sometimes when I wonder if I should just quit blogging altogether, since I seem to have forgotten how, I go back and re-read this post. It’s like looking in a mirror and doing a Stuart Smalley

but in reverse. “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people on both sides of the socio-political spectrum want to burn me alive.”

It’s such a comfort.

Best Series

Yes, my amazing friend Rigel created a movie poster to accompany this series

Nuking the Modesty War

Part 1: Control Yourself, Not Women

Part II: Stop Treating Men Like Pigs

Part III: Stop Thingifying People

Over the last year, I got into a nasty habit of writing blog posts in serial format, which was nice because I didn’t have to grapple with what to write about every day, but not nice because they tended to be long, drawn-out, beating-a-dead-horse affairs. This one, however, was solid. And funny. One of the nuns at the private school my daughter attends actually printed it out and handed it out to her high school class, which I thought was awesome.

Funniest Post

The Bathroom Selfie’s Sin and Style Guide

This one was kind of hard to choose. Humor is often a subjective thing, and some of the posts I think are hilarious fall flat on their faces. But this post got the best response, so up it goes. (I also spent a stupid long time on that FreshPaint picture and feel the need to reuse it as often as possible, so as to justify its existence.)

Best Mommy-Blog Post

Worth It

This one was the most difficult to choose, since this has been my primary blogging style, I guess. I’m not sure that this post is the best of the best, but it’s a pretty good example of my daily inner crises at the endless cycle of snot, pee, poop, and puke. And why I have to write about to see it as something transformative, or else I’d just be curled up in the corner, slightly nauseated.

Go click around the landing page to see my fellow Patheosi’s top Patheos posts!

photo credit: via photopin cc

December 5, 2013

I saw this post on Facebook last week and I’ve been mulling over a rejoinder ever since. There is so much wrong with it that at first I thought it was too much to even bother with*. Plus, I’ve been over and over the modesty wheel. I’ve written snarky, insightful, and downright hilarious posts about the modesty war. There’s not much more I have to say about it.

Except, dammit, there is. I’m fecking done dancing around this issue and trying to point things out gently. Enough is enough.

Dear Christian Men of the Internet: STOP TRYING TO CONTROL WHAT WOMEN WEAR.

The “modesty” battles have become poisoned through and through. They started (perhaps) with something good: a genuine concern about increasingly revealing fashion trends of the 21st century. Perhaps, long before the days of the internet, the men involved in them even had a valid complaint. I mean, here were these men in the early 60’s who grew up with women wearing stuff like this:

and then all of the sudden one day the female half of the country got out of bed and put these on:

What the…so many knees…with the thighs and the calves and the…where do even put my eyes? Too many legs! Legs everywhere!

I can totally imagine these poor men, utterly bewildered, stammering out requests for pants. I can totally imagine the way they must have felt their honor and virtue being shamelessly attacked every time they left their house. I can totally imagine that must have been super, super hard.

But that was fifty years ago. These 20-year-old men walking around with the albatross of YOGA PANTS around their necks must have forgotten that the world of their early toddlerhood was dominated by this:

I’ll see your black cotton yoga pants and raise you SPANDEX AND NEON!

Classes full of women dressed exactly like this were held in glass-front, ground-floor buildings on busy streets. Ask your dad how much time he spent battling against the pervasive, lust-inciting influence of Jazzercise. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

Oh, what’s that you say? None? None? But how could he possibly have kept himself from the daily, hourly temptation of lust if he didn’t do everything within his power to get those girls to cover up already, for the sake of his immortal soul?

The same way men have (and have not) for centuries: self-discipline.

But you don’t understand, I can hear you protest. Men in centuries past weren’t faced with such pervasive temptations everywhere they turn!

You’re right, they weren’t. And you’re right, I don’t understand. My husband can try to explain it until he’s blue in the face, but I still won’t really get the way men react to visual stimuli. That doesn’t mean I’m not sympathetic…I am. The thought of my husband being tempted several times a day by the skin-tight leggings of a co-ed who’s 10 years younger than me and 4 children more nubile makes me furious. Fast-forwarding a few years and imagining my son in my husband’s place breaks my heart. But I cannot change the world beyond our door.

They will be tempted. They will succumb. They will also overcome.

Trying to eliminate the threat of yoga pants one blog post at a time is a complete, utter, and ridiculous waste of my time. I can’t fight that battle for them, nor should I. My job is not to eliminate the threat. My job is to help them grow strong enough in virtue to face it on their own two feet.

It’s not a mark of virtue to admit to a woman that you can’t control your lust when she wears yoga pants. Asking her to change her attire because you either cannot or will not change your behavior does not signal strength of character. If my husband came home and confessed that he could no longer teach classes because all the girls in his classroom wore yoga pants, I’d tell him that he’d better close his eyes and think of England while giving the lecture, since our kids have this pesky need to eat.

If my son said to me what the men in the post said, this is how I would respond:

“If you can’t handle working out at the gym because all the girls wear yoga pants, stop working out at the gym. If you can’t handle the yoga pants on the barista at the coffee shop, buy a coffee maker and make your own. But at some point, you’re going to have to figure out how to handle it, because this is the world we live in. No matter how difficult or unfair it is, you still have to be virtuous. It may require heroic effort. Do it anyway.”

I’m not a glutton, that cookie and brownie sundae was just asking for it.

I know it sounds harsh. I have this crazy addiction to sugar. It’s impossible for me to resist. When I try to resist it, I can hear it in the pantry, see it on the shelves of the grocery store, imagine it in all its ice-cream-and-cookie-with-brownie-crumbles glory.

Sometimes I cry because I’m fat. The women of yesteryear, who had to work all day for their food, didn’t have Food, Inc refining sugar and carbs by the truckload to sell dirt cheap to housewives like me! It’s not fair. Sugar is just everywhere. And it tastes so good. My body is programmed to respond favorably to sweet things and to crave them. It’s literally a battle against my body to abstain!

Again, I hear you protest, that’s not the same thing!

You’re right, it’s not. Sugar isn’t a person with a soul. Sugar actually is evil, through and through. That makes it a lot different.

The girls in yoga pants that you can’t stop lusting after are people. They probably shouldn’t be wearing those pants, but you can’t force them to stop. I can just ban sugar from my house; you can’t ban women from your life. At some point, you will have to find some way to live at peace with women and our dubious clothing choices, or you will forever be a slave to lust. Women will truly become your enemy as you try with increasing desperation to control what we wear so you are not forced to grapple with controlling yourself. You will hate us in the end, but no more than you will hate yourself.

*Never fear, gentlemen, I’m not here to unfairly demonize you and give Jazzercise Girl a free pass. There really was too much to handle in a single post, so tomorrow I’ll be yelling at the women.


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