Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Revealing


Sexy vs. Desirable
Elizabeth at Startling the Day

The "Bright Maidens" were originally three from the oft-mentioned, widely-speculated upon demographic of young, twenty-something Catholic women. Now, we all take up the cross to dispel the myths and misconceptions. Welcome!




I own a dozen cardigans.

My fashion sense has remained unrefined throughout my life, but it has wiggled in and out of levels of modesty.

Let's face it, my mother dressed me for the first ten years. In fifth grade, I struck out for the sake of independence and wore a lot of vests. In high school, I wore a uniform during the day and a swimsuit in the afternoon at practice.

At the beginning of college, I wore a lot of t-shirts and exercise bottoms to class and to the movies with my sober friends. After I began partying, on "going out nights," I wore more revealing, tighter clothing.

"Don't show them everything you've got. Leave some for the imagination," my late grandmother would preach to her granddaughters.

There's some irony here. No, my belly button isn't pierced.
When my sisters, cousins, or I wore a shirt cut too low, my 5'2" grandmother would pace over to us, poke her finger down any cleavage, and chirp, "Woooop!" If this happens, she said, it was time to rethink the clothing choice.

My spunky, slightly inappropriate grandmother wanted others to see her granddaughters for who they are first, not for their packaging.

My woooop-worthy wardrobe progressed like this until I got tired of partying, stopped going out often, and started wearing "adult" clothing to class.

To me, this meant unnecessary layers of drooping fabric, no matter how unflattering. Vague cardigans became my staple.

They say when the economy starts to tank, it takes the skirts down with it. When the economy recovers, mini skirts are all the rage. My clothing choices mirrored my emotional economy directly.

I wanted to become entirely undesirable and unsexy so as not to accidentally use my body for attention.

Rather than placing my worth on my body by revealing more of it, I overcorrected and placed my worth on my body by excessively covering it up. It was a form of punishment for my past by lowering the confidence of my present self.

My earlier begging of "look at me" switched tracks to "look away from me."

As we explored with "The Dress" and "The Interior" posts, God didn't give women gifts unique to our femininity to be ashamed of them. We mustn't disparage the gifts God gave us as dirty and lust-inciting. We are women for a reason and those of us who are called to marriage were made with our husbands in mind.

There is always going to be someone who finds something desirable about you. There is always going to be a characteristic that someone is going to find sexy or desirable. It could be the way you wear your neckline down to your belly button, or it could be the way your glasses flatter your face.

Desirability and sexiness overlap; the distinction is respect for person.

The trick is to avoid letting what you put on your body distract others from your feminine genius. It is also important to avoid letting your clothing distract you from your own feminine genius.

When you're staring at your closet, err on the side of classy rather than sexy. Think refined instead of revealing. Flatter your feminine genius without thinking it resides in your body.

Wooop.

5 comments:

Julie Robison said...

GREAT post!

Cassi@FromaCatholicDaughter said...

Definitely worth the wait Elizabeth, loved reading this!

Jackie said...

Great post! I think desirability and sexiness do overlap. I think its funny when I see people saying stuff like "modest is hottest." Um, you are missing the point...it's not about being sexy as you can while still covering your skin. It's an attitude. You can be modest in a spaghetti strap sundress at a Sunday picnic and immodest in a turtleneck doing a lap dance. It's all relative.

Liesl said...

My dad will throw change at our backs sometimes... and when we ask what he's doing, he says, 'Butt change!" Apparently, sometimes our pants don't stay up properly when we sit down... Wooop!

Anthony S. Layne said...

Definitely a narrow no-man's-land between "ashamed" and "shameless".

I really like the approach you took to this subject. But don't knock cardigans too much; on some women they can be rather appealing in a very wholesome way! :^)=)

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