It’s been a while since I’ve really talked about why we dress modestly and I think it’s time to talk about it again. In my fashion marketing class, we were talking about the start of clothing. There are about 4 leading theories as to why the earliest humans started to wear clothing and what I love about my school is that we also got to talk through the story of Adam and Eve and why they started to cover their bodies. When Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit it says in Genesis that they realized that they were naked and so they sewed fig leaves to cover themselves. But, prior to eating the fruit, they were both naked and unashamed.
I think this is so so so interesting because this means that it’s not nudity that is technically what’s bad. God made our bodies to be so beautiful and, before we fell, our bodies were seen as they truly are – in the image and likeness of God. So, what changed after the fall if it wasn’t the body itself? What were we ashamed of that made us cover our bodies. Simple explanation, it was the way Adam and Eve saw each other. Before the fall they saw each other as subjects, human beings, to be respected and loved perfectly and purely. But, after the fall lust, distrust, pride, and deceit entered the minds of men and women. Adam looked at his wife and was ashamed because he began to see her as an object to be used for pleasure and personal gain and the same went for Eve. They were ashamed that they couldn’t look at the other the way they did before and so, to protect each other, Adam and Eve covered themselves. Prior to this class, I knew a little of this from homilies and talks throughout the years but never to this degree. To think, Adam and Eve, two people who were literally made to love each other perfectly, couldn’t help but objectify the other. This may sound incredibly disheartening. If two people who knew God personally couldn’t respect each other how are we supposed to expect men to respect us? My sisters, Jesus came and redeemed humanity by being born and dying on the cross and with that sacrifice came our ability to strive towards perfection. With the grace of the Holy Spirit, the Eucharist, and a whole lot of confession we can begin to truly love each other as selflessly as we were intended to.
There are so many implications that come with this biblical interpretation. I think the biggest one is how important it is to fully love and trust the person who will see you naked for the first time. Do you want a man who has told you through a marital covenant that he will love and cherish you for eternity or a man who is using you for his own pleasure? Do you want a man who has made it his life goal to return you to your original state or a man who perpetuates the objectification that came with the fall? It’s our job on this earth to not only protect ourselves but also to strive every day to return to the original state. We may never obtain that perfection until heaven but we can sure as heck try with everything we have.This is where clothing comes in. While original nudity was good and beautiful, we don’t have that luxury anymore. We have to protect the hearts of ourselves and our male companions. (Mind you, prior to learning all of this, that statement would have infuriated me) We have to clothe ourselves in strength and dignity. While we may not be able to walk around naked glorifying God like we used to we are still made in His image and likeness, meaning that anything we wear should also reflect Him. Our clothing should be Beautiful like He is, reflect the Truth of our self-worth as daughters of Christ, and show our innate Goodness as those created by Him.
We are subjects, not objects– ends, not means – and we should do everything we can to make sure that we are treated as such. My beloved sisters, live into the dignity you were given from the moment you were conceived. Let’s call society to greatness and strive towards a new Eden.