When I was growing up, my mom cooked a big meal for our family five days each week — Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. On Sundays, we usually ate together at 2:30 or 3:00 p.m., and on Mondays through Thursdays, we ordinarily sat down to eat at 5:30 or 6:00 p.m. On Fridays and Saturdays, we ate leftovers or frozen foods that were heated up in the oven.
I remember one particular Sunday during the summer of 1972 when the conversation around the dinner table became animated over a topic that always got my mom going. At that time, my parents had 15 children, at least 10 of whom were with them at the table that afternoon.
My two older brothers were home from college for the summer and were working as laborers on one of my dad’s construction sites in downtown Peoria. One of my brothers made a comment about how he enjoyed watching the cute girls who wore hot pants walk past the construction site each day during the lunch hour.
Hot pants had just started to become popular among teenage girls and young women. I’m not sure why the word “pants” was used to describe the new fashion, because hot pants were actually shorts that were extremely short (and usually skin-tight).
As a 15-year-old teenager who was interested in girls, I was looking forward to hearing what my brother had to say about this new fashion. But the conversation was cut short when my mom started lecturing me and my brothers about the lack of modesty in our modern society and how we needed to avoid any occasion in which we would be tempted to entertain impure thoughts and desires.
In addition to giving the boys a piece of her mind, Mom also reminded the girls that it was sinful for them to dress immodestly because this was an invitation to men to look at them in lustful ways. She emphasized that if my sisters expected men to respect them, they had to first dress and behave in a way that showed the men that they respected themselves.
Last week I thought about my mom’s Sunday afternoon lesson on modesty after I read a short article about the dress that Donald Trump’s wife, Melania, wore for her speech at the Republican National Convention. I clicked on the article after I saw the following headline on a news website: “Melania Trump’s RNC Dress Sells Out After Her Controversial Speech.”
The article failed to point out one of the most obvious things about Melania’s dress: It was an elegant, modest dress that covered her body from the neckline to her knees.
The article reported that the dress was purchased by Melania on netaporter.com for $2,190, and was advertised as a “beautiful option for the modern bride.” Within an hour after the convention ended, every size of the dress that was offered on netaporter.com was sold out.
In another article about Melania’s dress, a comment was made about how dresses also frequently sell out after the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, is photographed wearing one of them. Kate is well known for the modest dresses that she wears in public.
Melania Trump and Kate Middleton now have something in common. Kate is considered royalty because she is the wife of the Duke of Cambridge, Prince William. Even though we don’t consider our president and his wife to be royalty, we treat them as though they are; therefore, Melania is now a step away from being elevated to a position of near-royalty. Both Kate and Melania are poised, elegant, and graceful — qualities that are expected of women who are members of royal families.
There was a time when Kate and Melania weren’t concerned about modesty, but as soon as they entered the realm of royalty, they immediately started holding themselves to a higher standard of behavior.
In a lifestyle article that was published by Christian writer Kaela Worthen Gardner, in October 2011, Gardner wrote the following:
I adore Kate Middleton. [I]n a world where celebrities cavort more nude than not across the front covers of magazines, gossip sites, and the news, she’s a refreshing breath of air.
Because she’s modest.
It seems that many girls feel that modesty is synonymous with frumpy, boring, and unattractive; that guys will never pay attention to them if they don’t have enough skin showing; that all the best fashions include immodesty as a starting point.
[Kate Middleton] is not frumpy, boring, or unattractive.
In short … she dresses like a queen
Gardner summed up her article by stating, “Ladies, we are all princesses, all regal, all daughters of God. Maybe, if we want to find our ‘happily ever after,’ we should follow the example of a real-life princess, and start dressing modestly.”
During the years that I was growing up, my mom’s lectures about modesty and purity were frequent and passionate. Georgette heard the same lectures about modesty and purity in the home that she grew up in. She and I have done our best to pass those virtues on to our children.
On that Sunday afternoon in the summer of 1972, my mom had no idea that 44 years later, in 2016, it would be common for young women to wear hot pants and tight-fitting leggings to Mass on Sundays.
Those types of “clothing” are not appropriate for women who are in the presence of the Divine King, Jesus Christ. In addition to being in His presence, these Catholic women are also members of our Lord’s royal family.
A poised, elegant, and graceful member of a royal family never demeans herself by dressing immodestly in public.