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Wednesday, 20 February, 2013 The Immodest Post

This article on the well-worn classic, Catholic modesty,* has made awildviolets cycle through my facebook feed. While I am rather surprised (based on some other comments from the author) by her highly reasonable take, I don’t think the author adds anything earth-shaking ** (or offensive) to the continual modesty-in-dress discussion in the Catho-sphere.

I read this here response to the original article, and I must say I’m not entirely clear how the responder manages to interpret “In terms of modesty, that might mean dressing in a way that is appropriate to one’s culture and circumstances, not drawing undue attention to oneself either in one’s dress or undress, remaining circumspect about one’s own choices, and not denouncing the reasonable choices of others” as “true modesty is following the crowd, because you can’t be modest if you stand out.”

It seems to me that the choice the responding blogger presents – that one can either choose to “stand out” in appearances (both of the person and of the home) or one can hang with the hoi polloi (who are made “uncomfortable” by your Church-art-y home and whatever it is you wear) – is a false one. And I wonder if what gives this endless debate about women’s clothes such pervasive life (kind of like the awful wild violets in my backyard; occasionally tolerable and definitely harmless-looking, but hugely insidious and practically impossible to remove) isn’t these sorts of false dichotomies. (This is certainly not the only false dichotomy or uncharitable premise I’ve come across in this debate.)

I get the sense (and this may partly be because I’m still trying to be all Carmelite-y with Fire Within***) that if one is truly following Christ, one will stand out whether one wants to or not. (Which is part of the reason I feel so unprepared for the coming persecution in this country; afraid I won’t be brave enough for the times.) One could try in every outward way to blend in with the world (even cover one’s wall with movie posters and take down all the crucifixes, I bet!), but one’s words, actions, and beliefs would shine out anyway.

It’s hard for me to accept that the “standing out” that comes of being a real follower of Christ, is something that hinges so much on clothing. Clothes are just clothes; everyone’s got to wear them. They shouldn’t be used to advertize one’s “bits,” but beyond that I really can’t see how they are relevant. (With the caveat that if wearing certain clothes matters to a person, then it matters to that person and they should act accordingly. I certainly don’t care. How someone else dresses is equally irrelevant.)

I really like Simcha Fisher’s wise application of “keep your eyes on your own work” to the spiritual life. That those who really follow Christ will be misfits in the world is probably the only point at which I can agree with the responding blogger. To truly follow Christ, I am sure, is harder than obtaining a PhD in neuroscience (insert hardest degree of choice here) or than qualifying for the Olympics. I’m certainly a remedial student in being a Christian and heaven knows my attention and effort waxes and wanes enough already – I am wary of expending extra thought or effort on what I consider to be silly externals****.


*Decoder ring for non-Catholics: on the Catholic internets “modesty” means “what kind of clothes women should wear” or, if a proud “Traditionalist” and/or a man who wants in on this fight, “what kind of clothes (right down to individual garments and fabrics) should women be allowed to wear/can they wear without risking HELL.”

**This is not meant as a criticism; merely an assessment.

*** Totally unrelated: apparently Fr. Dubay lived to the end of his life (he died just a few years ago) at the home run by the Little Sisters of the Poor which is quite close to me. I wish I had known at the time, but I am sure I would not have been brave enough to send a note.

****Responding blogger mentions visual arts and literature as well. I do not consider art or literature to be “silly externals.” (Clothing I do; fun, but silly.) I consider art and literature to be in a different category (in the Aristotelian sense.)


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Wednesday, 30 November, 2011 Clothesday

I was thinking about participating in “What I Wore Wednesday” this week, partly because I am uninspired in the clothing department lately and can feel myself slipping back into the habit of wearing the same 3 outfits day in and day out that pass my “warm enough” test for this time of year.  But I didn’t get my act together enough to take decent photos, so I’m not linking up.

Here’s the picture I did take.

Wednesday, Clothesday

Are high heels Colleen Hammond-approved, I wonder? Or would they be considered immodest by the sola-skirtura crowd?

Hard to tell from the picture, but I am wearing:

Sweater – Ban.ana Rep.ublic, hand-me-down from a friend

Skirt – ?? bought at a discount store

Shirt – non-descript knit in a tshirt shape Ol.d Na.vy with a cloth rose hair clip from H.&M dressing it up

I woke up with uncontrollable hair and unhappy skin, so I tried to de-frump with rather high heels (cheap patent leather, Pay.less)

(*Errrm that blue thing in the picture is new.  Not a smart phone, I am not that tech-y. That is a schmancy i.Po.d courtesy of the same camera-giving brother. I now feel like I am the idle rich.)

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Tuesday, 15 November, 2011 Head Cold and Yoga Pants

I guess it is just as true for “private” blogs as for more public websites, that in order to be successful it is best to have a “bank” of posts pre-assembled before you began.  That way, hiccups in process of “going live” or say, two weeks of viruses won’t put the site “behind.”

Oh, well.  Too late now.

I have this medium-duty head cold – heavy enough that all I want to do is sleep, but not so heavy that sleep is all I can do – and in one of my early am awake and sneezing bouts,  I had this (fabulous) idea for a post.

Ode to My Yoga Pants

Two disclaimers: 1) I don’t do yoga and have no opinion on it, except the one time I tried it (10 mins of free PM Yoga), my elbows hurt for a week. 2) I haven’t and wouldn’t wear them outside of the confines of a house. They are indoor clothing.

Yoga pants are great: not as sloppy-looking as sweat pants and way more comfortable. (Especially because they lack that annoying ankle band that sweat pants have that keep the lowest 10% of my legs from staying warm.) I wish someone had told me about them years ago.

They are the softest, happiest thing  to wear after making a sweaty spectacle of your out of shape self in your own neighborhood running: instant reward for exercising.

Throw a hip-length tunic or shirt over them, and they answer the problem of what to wear when you invited someone over and it’s too late to call it off, but now you’re feeling miserable and at least want your clothing not to add to your misery.  Viola, graceful semi-ethnic outfit, not “I am so miserable, I am slumping around in pajamas/sweats.”

Or, if you are crashing overnight at someone’s house after a business meeting, and you don’t have room in your bag for a ton of clothes, but you don’t want to sit around their house in your uncomfortable formal work clothes and you need something extra warm to sleep in because your friends keep their house extra icy in an attempt to stop (readacted) Gas & Electric from sucking away more than a month’s wages every month: then behold! You can sit around appearing at least semi-presentable in your yoga pants (not pajamas!) and then said yoga pants will keep you nice and warm all night. *

This post has been brought to you by viruses, fever, and the hour 2 (am.)


*What, you’ve never found yourself in any of these scenarios??