Friday, March 03, 2006

Little girls, little houses - the way I picture them in my dreams

Clothes are an important topic, especially in today's culture. Too many times I hear horror stories of people, girls especially, walking into Mass in skin tight clothes, short skirts, and revealing shirts. Have they no respect for the house of God? Have they no respect for themselves? We are temples of the Holy Spirit and when we receive communion we are living tabernacles. You would think, or maybe not, that people would understand this, especially by now! But it seems that as time goes on women seek more of a way to "be themselves" and "lose all the restrictions" which they feel are imposed on them by traditional society... but mostly by men. I think it is something that is ingrained in each of us as we grow up not only by our parents but by our teachers and our friends and... the media. Cliche? Maybe. True? Definitely.

Women are scared to be who they were made to be. The idea of submission is awkward and confusing and "restraining". Submission has such a horribly negative connotation that most women become zombies when the word is mentioned. A little light in their head goes off at any mention of submission to their husbands and all they can do is get defensive. It seems that what it means to be valued and respected has been twisted and manipulated into meaning that we must be "better" than men at just about everything. We need "bigger" and "better" jobs. We need to be CEOs and Presidents of corporations to feel like we aren't being degraded by men. But why?

At what point in American culture did the beauty fade from submission? When did we lose respect for the job as wife and mother? When did feminism become hardhats and jeans? Why do we have to make money and have titles to feel respected?

I have a hard time coping with society these days. I know I am a ripe nineteen years old but something in my very core longs for the past -- for a life I have never known. I long for submissive wives and respectful children. I long for long skirts and flowing dresses... long, silky hair on all the girls and men who appreciate it. Part of me longs for curtsies and bows, for gentlemen who open doors and stand when a woman enters the room. I sometimes wonder if this underlying desire for that type of life and dress was the root of my love of American Girl dolls. I envied their clothing and their imaginary world.

I realize that all of these things seem to suggest I wish for us to move back in time. I do not. I understand that returning to an old way of society could and most likely would create many problems which would hinder healthy growth. I say this, though: I believe very strongly that our culture, our nation, has been changed drastically due to the manipulation of roles in society and in the household. Some may say 'blurred' but I choose 'manipulated' for a reason. Blurred seems much too weak of a word for the distinct, and unhealthy, changes which have gone on in our country during the last century alone. [Here I choose only to address our country as we are not exactly like any one country in the world and I dare not label or define those people who I know little about.] I do understand the need for change but change does not need to mean, nor does it mean, distortion or manipulation of things that are normal.

I am aware that all of this may have seem sidetracked and not at all relating to my initial point. Here is where I bring it back and rope it all together. I believe that due to these ideals of women today, especially in the teenage years, that we have also allowed our dress to become like that of men. Some want to dress in such a manner to seem as though they are equal to the man. Why should we wear skirts when we can wear pants? Why are men the ones who wear pants and not women? It is as if wearing pants is some huge sign of power and control. It seems as though literally wearing the pants is conveying a more figurative meaning of "wearing the pants".

It seems everywhere you look there is clothing which in the end degrades women and allows them to be objectified not only by men but by themselves. Either gender can do this consciously or subconsciously. The challenge in all of the racks of spaghetti straps and hip huggers and mini skirts is to pick out and wear with confidence the modest clothing. Some would call this task difficult and perhaps impossible. I always laugh when I hear this because I find plenty of clothes at "normal" stores that are perfectly modest. You can walk into American Eagle Outfitters and find some absolutely adorable skirts and often for a reasonable price. I can also walk into Foley's or Dillard's and find something I like. I really like Ann Taylor, Banana Republic, and the like. They sell modest and classy looking clothing. There's also a store called White House | Black Market that I like a lot. In the end the basic truth is this: there aren't any stores in particular that advertise for modesty or sell all modest clothing. It must be up to the girl to find things that are classy and to dress modestly and to portray that person at all times. Seriously, no store is going to do it for you. There isn't a nice little package. It's a nice thought... but it doesnt exist.

These days even the word modesty has been so manipulated that the majority of our country thinks that tight jeans and a long sleeve scoop neck shirt with cleavage is modest. She isn't showing her hips, belly, or lower back - not to mention her legs are covered! Please! The clothing is probably so tight it gathers at her curves and barely moves when she runs. Her breasts are clearly visible and instead of being self conscious, she flaunts them. In the end I would vote out the jeans and put her in a skirt. The skirt would not be any shorter than her knees and it would be nothing close to skin tight. The skirts contrary to that, though popular, accentuate very few women in the right places. Even when the skirt works to the benefit of her curves, she looks down right nasty because there is no mystery. She flaunts everything and it is so repulsive that I would rather not even go on discussing it. Some jeans on some girls are not entirely unattractive or especially inviting of scandal, however I believe it best to avoid any of this at all. For me, for the most part, jeans are rather comfortable for private use but I prefer to be in skirts or dresses in public. Scandal might occur but at this point you have done about as much as is in your power to do in order to avoid it.

I'll be honest and say that when I get married I think I will be more inclined to chuck the jeans completely. I want to look feminine and attractive around my husband and that's what skirts give me a lot of the time. It is not that I don't feel that way without them, it just enhances the feeling when I have them on. It has always been hard to admit but as I have grown I have gained confidence in my ideals of dress for women. In my mind there's something very right about the Little House on the Prairie look. I love it. I always have. I will dress that way for my husband - it wont be easy but I'm willing to make that sacrifice. I also believe that in the home I would like a lower and wider neckline. The upper chest, without cleavage, can be a very attractive thing and very appropriate for a couple. I say this to ensure that I am no prude. I understand the beauty that can be found in a modestly revealed body. Some things, however are simply not appropriate outside the home. I once discussed these things with a friend of mine. He had this to say:
Oh for sure.. While the mostly naked woman in the Amazon tribe would not be sinning against chastity by walking around her village topless, this would be a grave scandal and major immodesty in the context of this country. But I'm not saying its just culturally relative. But the body itself is not scandalous or sinful, it is the intentions of the person, the conditioning of the "audience" and the cultural mentality that all factor in. And I don't believe in the nudist colony mentality that we should strive for a culture that can handle nudity without sinning. I think we should strive for a culture that values mystery and human dignity. I much prefer the Pride and Prejudice setting to that of the Amazon tribe or nudist colony. There is a value and meaning to covering oneself, and it can be a very beautiful thing. We won't be free of the fall this side of the eschaton. I just don't think attaining a culture of beautiful mystique and transcendent human dignity requires Afghanistan type fashion sense. The pictures of Our Lady that I recall from Italy, in which she was exposing a breast, in fact evoked tremendous sentiments of reverence and mystery. The body reveals the mystery of God, and nudity in the proper context is an icon of God's love and mystery.
I obviously could not say it any better or I would have already. He says quite eloquently that which I too feel in my heart. I do wish that our culture could embrace these ideals. I think we would be better off in many ways if we could. It would mean a much needed respect for women and their bodies. I also believe it would bring more value to the initmate act of marriage.

Not only because I recognize the need for images in order to give my blog a sort of more inviting and welcoming feel but because I enjoy sharing pictures which reflect my dreams, I will share some photos which I really love. This first one I have always loved very much. She may not look like me but she resembles, in her physicalities and in her attire, my little girls in my dreams.

Her long hair and her long dress... they are perfect. She is so lovely. In my dreams she radiates with the love of God and is a joy for all who see her. She reflects in every part of herself what it means to be a child of God and most especially what it means to be a woman. I know it will never be the attire or the physicalities alone which make a girl but they can say so much that I think it unwise to accustom ourselves to the world and it's standards of dress.
If we respect ourselves in spirit, mind and body as we should then we would never consider dressing as some do. We are temples of the Holy Spirit and at Mass we are Living Tabernacles. Modesty in dress does not end when we leave the church or step off of parish grounds. Modesty is something which we carry with us like the love of God. It doesn't end when we leave our parishes. Modesty shouldn't either.

For a bit of a humorous break from all of this modesty discussion which often times leaves me with a heavy heart and racing mind, I will introduce you all to the tiny house collection which was introduced to me several months ago by a friend I met at phatmass.

These tiny houses are made and sold by the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company. I was surprised at the number of people who were absolutely delighted by the sight of these little houses. My dad once built a house about the same size for a little girl. She got it from 'Santa' about two Christmases ago. Yes, he flew it in on his sleigh and landed it right in her backyard. It was cute and practical for her uses. However I myself have many questions about this one. Namely, where would company sit? Would you stand together there and talk? What happens when someone needs to make use of a restroom? These are cute to look at but they would never work for me.

Well there it is. Little girls, little houses - the way I picture them in my dreams.


Blogger The Confessionator said...

I totally get what you're saying! modern secular society is driving me nuts! Tonight I saw "mrs. henderson presents," knowing nothing of what the film was about. My grandma wanted to see it and took me with her. I figured, "it's british, has a good cast, should be good."

but the whole film was a glorification of female stripping. They made it out to be "liberating" and poked fun at humanity's innate shame regarding nudity as a result of the fall. i had no idea that's what the film was about, and i feel violated.

modesty is good. very good.

3/04/2006 11:36:00 PM  
Blogger Angela Louise said...

Hey, a website you may want to considering linking to is :) Very cool ;)
(And maybe my blog if you feel like it...)

3/05/2006 09:36:00 PM  
Blogger Laura H. said...

Hey, a website you may want to considering linking to is :) Very cool ;)
(And maybe my blog if you feel like it...)

cool... thanks for the heads up! and you can look for a link to yours very soon ;-)

3/05/2006 11:37:00 PM  

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