No, I'm not talking about marriage or monogamy (although these are words scoffed by our society), but I am talking about another word that has lost all meaning and beauty - Modesty. I bet a first reaction to this word could be thoughts of Little House on the Prairie or flashbacks of hair buns and turtlenecks, which means that, once a virtue in the eyes of many, has become a negative form of how we should view ourselves.
Even in looking up modesty in Wikepedia (the first thing that popped up in google) this source talks about modesty as something that is not only controversial but can also lead to shame of oneself and one's own body. Well, I guess so when you look at it from a "glass half empty" point of view... In reality, modesty is not about being ashamed of ourselves! It is about respecting ourselves and our bodies so much that we desire to glorify God and not lead others into sin with it! Even Our Lady of Fatima in 1917 said, "Certain fashions will be introduced which will offend my Son (Jesus) very much."
As a woman, I have been in and out of society's definition of beauty - struggling between what it tells me I "should" be and what my heart is pulling me towards. Admittedly I have succumbed quite a few times to the standards that are placed on me from without - internalizing them to a point that I can see nothing else but myself and how I am viewed from the eyes of the world. My own eyes, in turn, become "tunnel visioned" and it takes an encounter with the Truth to pull me out. What does this have to do with modesty, you may ask? I, in turn, don't want to be someone who, through my dress or through my actions, pulls someone away from Jesus. We must be intentional with what we do!
We are a people, as my dad always says, where if something's "out of sight, it's out of mind." And I can bet that what's always in our sight - TV, Hollywood, false definitions of beauty, and our own concupiscence - leads us away from the Truth in ever subtle ways. It is only until we continually place this Truth in our sight that we can know who we truly are and who we truly are to be. Knowing this, there are ways that have helped me with knowing what it means to be a woman. I must work at them everyday, and I find them worth sharing. First of all, throw out the fashion magazines and tabloids. Airbrushing and gossip aren't good for the soul! Second, it helps to develop a critical mind when watching TV or movies - being able to discern true from false prophets, as Jesus says. And, finally, my biggest piece of advice is to surround yourself with people who will be true examples of Mary and Jesus - women and men that put God and family before themselves. Our reward, in turn, will be peaceful souls and a positive outlook on a life in Christ.
In closing, I would suggest reading Romans 12:1-13.
And I leave you with a few quotes...
“Teaching modesty to children and adolescents means awakening in them respect for the human person” CCC 2524
“It is often said, almost with passive resignation, that fashions reflect the customs of a people. But it would be more exact and much more useful to say that they express the decision and moral direction that a nation intends to take..." Pope Pius XIII
"Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but the woman who fears the Lord is to be praised." Proverbs 31:30