Last year I went to a coffee house on campus and I watched this beautiful woman get up with two men in a folky country band and sing with the most beautiful voice I’d heard in a while. She was literally the cutest thing ever, and of course, the friend crush developed immediately. This year came around and my best friend got to school before me and called me freaking out about this senior named Hannah who was the sweetest thing and she was becoming friends with her. Needless to say, we met, admitted that we both had a friend crush on each other last year, and a friendship was born.
But it wasn’t until 1am on Thursday (morning) when I was washing linens where Hannah was doing homework that we truly became friends. What sparked this passionate and bonding conversation at one in the morning? Modesty.
If any of you have read my ‘About Page‘ you would know that one of the driving factors in starting this blog was how angry women’s talks at retreats made me, especially chastity and modesty talks. I always got so annoyed with the way we addressed women and how for some reason every women’s talk somehow still involved men at the center and I thought Catholic women deserved better… And Hannah agreed – very passionately.
But it wasn’t always like that for Hannah… For a long time, she didn’t feel loved or known and it reflected in every aspect of her life, “I was so broken and I felt so worthless and undignified and so disrespected by myself and the people I surrounded myself with. I had engaged in the wrong relationships and the wrong behaviors and that was my rock bottom.” It wasn’t until a couple Dominican sisters took a chance on a loud and outspoken girl that she discovered there was another way she could be living. “When I transferred, the sisters brought me into a school that had a culture of class and elegance and dignity and ability and strength and virtue. Every woman that comes out of that school is remarkably different because they’ve been shown their grit. They’ve been shown their strength through compassion and their strength through service.”
There are truths about our femininity that aren’t being preached at women’s talks or lived out in our culture but it was revealed to Hannah by these women, “The female soul was created to love, and to nurture, and to give and to receive in very life-giving ways, physically and spiritually, and the sisters taught me that through tough love and compassion.” Could you imagine how radically our culture would change if all women left high school with this truth stamped on their hearts? Could you imagine if we all believed this and lived in this truth? It’d be the most beautiful thing in the world.
So how does this translate to why we dislike modesty talks today? “I can’t stand chastity and modesty talks because they belittle women! And they belittle our bodies and our nature and our hearts. I am not covering up my body. I am not hiding it or making it invisible or shaming myself. I am not covering it up or hiding it because that necessitates shame or that it’s ‘bad’ because it brings forth lust from my brothers in Christ. That is logically invalid.”
Before meeting Hannah I could never put down into words why the average modesty talk rubbed me the wrong way. Why are we speaking with negative language to our women instead of with positive language? Instead of saying what we can’t do and that our bodies are simply something to be lusted after why don’t we talk to women about how sacred they are? “Why do I have to cover up a body that is beautiful and truly life-giving, and arguably the pinnacle of all creation? Breasts are beautiful, hips are beautiful, legs are beautiful. The female form is stunning, other-worldly, and transcendently beautiful. The union between man and women and the connection that brings forth life is the closest thing to heaven and it wouldn’t be possible without the female form.” Could you imagine if we spoke about modesty like this? We aren’t dressing modestly to cover ourselves. We are dressing modestly to because our bodies are the pinnacle of creation!
We should speak about modesty in a way that expresses adorning our body, not covering it. “I am the daughter of THE King, THE Creator, Love Himself, Goodness Himself, Beauty Himself I am His daughter; which necessitates that I am therefore beautiful. That is why I dress myself beautifully” Ladies! This is a call to change the way we view ourselves and our bodies. Our bodies are not just something to be lusted after, but something that is good and true and life-giving and we should dress modestly for these reasons and these reasons alone.
This woman changed my life. God literally gifted her to me as a soul sister to guide me in all my passions and my inability to discern His will for me and I couldn’t be more grateful for her. She constantly reminds me of my beauty and my worth and that I am loved and I couldn’t be more grateful for her. (we are also going to Iceland together this spring break!!) Everyone needs a woman like Hannah in their life.
Her final words to the women reading this, “You have such power because of your vulnerability. You have such power because you can receive love and protection from those around you. And you must hold people to that higher standard. It’s all about treating yourself beautifully. You have to love yourself through the eyes of God to love others.”