This is our daughter, Rosie’s, talk on Modesty that she gave to a group of ladies a year ago….

Hello everyone, I am Rosie, and I am 23 years old. I am the eldest at home right now.

At the present time, I work as a painter on a crew for my brother-in-law, Mike. I work side-by-side with my two brothers and my dad.

The days I am not painting I spend working for my married sisters, house cleaning for an elderly lady, and doing parish work. I also do most of the gardening and landscaping at home along with having many hobbies which keeps me very, very busy… my life is so extremely full!

As a young woman growing up doing my best to dress and act in the way that would reflect my femininity and faith, I do understand the difficulties and struggles that come with being so counter-cultural.

I know I have had it easier than most, in the fact that I have been raised from a young girl to appreciate modesty in dress and comportment, along with understanding the reasons for my efforts.

A lot of you are probably just starting on your modesty journey and I just wanted to say that in speaking today I am just giving some of my own experiences and thoughts on this topic. I know that all of us have different struggles and difficulties in this area. Today I pray I can help in some way to make your journey a bit easier.

So, I wanted to share with you some of the many benefits that have come from our method of dress, and also what I have observed from my own upbringing and that of my younger sisters and nieces, who are being taught to embrace the methods of dressing that we were raised with.

I come from a large family, with many girls, that have always been extremely active! We were animal and vegetable farmers for most of my upbringing along with loving sports and the outdoors and working side-by-side with my dad doing construction, roofing, scrapping, plumbing, and, you name it, we’ve probably done it!

All of us, even we girls, were taught to work, and work hard, and to use our own instincts to fix something or solve a problem. When Dad gave us a job to do, he rarely explained to us how we were to do it, but just left us to figure it out for ourselves….knowing we would come up with a solution.

He trusted us with that and it worked…most of the time. I’ll never forget the time I was so proud of myself because I hot-wired one of our garage lights because it wasn’t working and when I flipped the switch…it came on! I couldn’t believe it!

We also played hard…Climbing trees, playing soccer or volley ball, jumping on the trampoline, riding four-wheelers and horses, etc. In all of our activity, be it roofing, driving four-wheelers or otherwise we girls did everything in skirts, and were careful to keep our femininity intact.  .

Has it been easy? To be honest, we didn’t even think about it because it was just a way of life.  When you have guidelines that you have been lovingly raised to follow, when you understand the whys and wherefores of those guidelines, any other method of dress just wasn’t even an option.

So, the hardships that did and do arise are just part of life and we work with them. There were steps we had to take with our dress depending on our activities though…

From my own experience I would say one of the best ways to instill in girls an understanding and love of modesty is to start very young.

Mom tried her best to always have us wear leggings or shorts under our skirts. Being wild little girls who loved to climb trees and jump on the trampoline, our skirts could be more indecent than wearing pants, so the legging were the solutions.

That doesn’t mean that just because we were wearing leggings under our skirts that we weren’t told, when we were seen sitting with our skirts up or all over the place, to sit like a lady, which meant, put your legs down and pull your skirt over your knees. Our awareness of modesty was already being instilled in us. Even if we were too young to understand why.

It wasn’t made into a big deal, but it was enough that when we hit a certain age it was just habit to keep that skirt below the knees, our legs together, etc. because we knew that that was the proper thing to do.

Things became more difficult as we got older. Our shape was changing, our curves became more prominent and things became too tight, too short, or too low and you just couldn’t be quite as carefree as before. I could never be more grateful for my mom and dad’s guidance during those years.

We were taught that to dress modestly was an honor and something to be proud of. Mom told us the guidelines we had to follow. She also explained to us at a young age the reasons we make the efforts in our dress that we do and the benefits of it.

She taught us that in dressing modestly we were showing respect for ourselves and for those around us, but most importantly we are making the effort to be as close to Mary-like as possible.

We weren’t extreme but we have tried to dress in a way that would be pleasing to God. I do believe that having a clear understand of the purpose and reasonings for dressing modestly helped us to embrace it more fully.

I’m not saying we never pushed the line on the boundaries that we were given, because we did. All of us went through our stage of trying to get away with, just a little tight, or just a little short. It is always hard when you find a beautiful skirt or shirt that you just love at a thrift store and it’s just a bit too short. Or your weight fluctuates and you have to modify your wardrobe because things don’t fit as they did before.

My mom tried to avoid confrontation as much as possible, so she was not over-the-top. She did not nitpick and would be right there with us “ooo”ing and “ahhh”ing over a nice outfit. If it needed work to make it modest she would be helping us figure out a solution.

So, when she did say something about our outfit as to its unsuitability, we normally took it pretty well. Yes, we would grumble or complain a little, but in the long run that skirt or shirt went to one of the smaller girls or into the giveaway. It was those moments that helped make us stronger.

There were a couple times that I can remember though, where mom didn’t like an article of clothing that one of us had but we just couldn’t part with it. Of course it wasn’t terrible, but it did cut the line just a little. We wore it a couple of times and then it just disappeared. Eventually we figured out that while Mom was doing laundry that piece of clothing just happened to make its way into the garbage…

A lot of you are probably struggling with the transition to dressing more femininely and modestly. I can imagine your difficulty. It is not easy to change a mode of life that is such a part of you especially when most likely everyone around you is dressing just as you have for years.

One thing I hear girls bring up a lot in conversation is sports. Well, let me just say that if it is a sport that you absolutely cannot play while dressing modestly, then, as a lady, you probably shouldn’t be playing it.

As I mentioned, we grew up playing sports, and we are all very competitive. No, we don’t play tackle football, but a lot of times our soccer games turned into tackle soccer… We don’t find that our skirts hinder our playing at all.. For the most part let us at that ball and we are good to go!

Just recently we were playing soccer at our church with a few deacons that were visiting and one of them told one of the girls of our parish that if he can play soccer in a cassock than it shouldn’t be too hard to play in a skirt!

Now I know he was just ribbing her a bit, but it’s true. Our deacons and priests play basketball, volley ball, soccer, even for tournaments, all while wearing the cassock.  I know it’s inconvenient and probably very hot at times, but they have made a commitment to wearing that cassock, so they make it work. They make that sacrifice.

We’ve even got it easier than our priests. Our skirts don’t have to hit the floor. It’s the same with riding horses, etc. Wear yoga pants, longer shorts or leggings under your skirt and just be careful to keep your skirts from flying up.

Others have mentioned the work place and how they stick out or get ridiculed. I know that if your job demands you to wear pants than there are guidelines for that too, but, I work on a crew of just guys in the midst of many other crews of men.

Thankfully those I’m actually working with are family, but I am the only girl in the midst of many men and do you think I stick out? Well, yes I do. I wear my skirt and do my hair every day, and if you can believe it, for the most part the reactions I have received from other workers have been positive.

The way I am dressed tells the men that just because I am working with the guys doesn’t mean I am one of them and so they are more careful when I am around. I know I have been saved from a lot of crass language and comments because of it.

Yes, I’ve definitely gotten my  funny looks and a comment or two, but if you can look past that and see the positive impression you are making towards most, you would know that it’s so worth it!

When I go out shopping with my sisters it is quite surprising the amount of looks we receive. We actually find it kind of fun! We will get all gussied up and then go walking into each store with our heads held high and a smile on our face. We receive many different reactions, but it always makes our efforts worth it when you see those few faces just light up when they see you.

Your joy and femininity gives people hope that there is something bright and beautiful out there!

Not long ago I went shopping with my mom. I had to run into Walmart and on my way out there was a middle-aged gentleman headed right for me and he looked like he was on a mission. I kind of paused and he came right up to me, stopped, and said, “Young lady, you look beautiful!” I was a bit taken aback at first but then I told him, “Thank you so much!” You can imagine the boost that gave me.

Do you think he would have made the effort to say that if I had been wearing jeans or sweat pants and a tank top? I was told I looked beautiful or pretty twice in town that day and it just reminds me that in a small way my efforts are making a difference.

We girls also look out for each other. We have our own method of getting our points across without drawing attention. If one of us has a shirt that is gaping or too low, it only takes that special look from one of the girls to let us know.

It’s the same if our skirts have ridden up or too much leg is showing. That look says it all. If our slip is showing. We are told that we are snowing down south or if our neck is too low, our boat is sinking. It is a very natural thing to inform each other of wardrobe malfunctions and it is very helpful in keeping us aware, as well as very annoying at times! 🙂

Ladies, be proud of your efforts! You are the ones making a difference! You are beautiful and you can emphasize that by the respect you show yourself in your modesty of dress and bearing.

However, there is good news: women can dress attractively to interest men who will notice first her head and her heart. Then what follows will more likely be a respectful, enduring relationship. The goal is to conceal, not reveal. The artistic eye of a good clothing designer can help by providing clothing that sends this signal: I am beautiful – inside and out. ~ Anne Kootz

Painting by Sheri Dinardi

The 3rd sermon on the series on modesty. The subject of this one is clothing. Father quotes Cardinal Siri & speaks of our current culture regarding clothing.

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