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Wednesday, December 11, 2013


by Susan Fox

So goes the peanut gallery... After my last piece  My Apostolate to the Immodestly Dressed Woman, men were amazed that women dressed immodestly if they were not trying to attract men. Women were amazed at my husband’s disclosure about how chaste men view fashions. It seems like I managed to surprise both sexes!

Forty-eight years ago, I stood in the bathroom at my aunt’s house and watched my 20-something cousins putting on make-up. I was 12 years old.

I adored those cousins, I’ll call them Rachel and Judy.
They were the closest thing I had to older sisters. One of them, Rachel, I had chosen to be my Confirmation sponsor. All of us came from good Catholic homes.

The process of putting on that make-up almost seemed to me to be a scene of medieval torture. Judy would torment her eyelashes with a rack, make them longer, and then brush them with black stuff. Then she’d repeat the process until wow -- those eyelashes were so long they didn’t look human at all. It was 1965. The Church had just finished Vatican II. The sexual revolution was in full swing.

Those girls stood there working on their faces for two solid hours.  They were beautiful girls. They didn’t need to wear make-up at all.  

Then Judy lectured me. “Susan,” she said, “if your Mom doesn’t start wearing make-up she’ll never get a husband.” (My mother was a widow at this time.) I didn’t worry about this at all. I frankly didn’t want my mother to “get a husband” any way. At the age of 12, it sounded terrible to “get a husband.” Better to fight off a cold.

But it was clear that Judy and Rachel wanted a husband, and that’s why they were going to all this trouble. How sad the road they chose led to shame when they were single, and then marriages that didn’t last. My beloved Rachel, the oldest sister, died alone in her house with no family near-by and Judy was married only 9 years.

But on that day, they got dressed, and what Rachel put on would make today’s skimpiest dresses look modest. Rachel was very uncomfortable dressing this way, but her younger sister Judy kept telling her it would be all right, and not to worry.

Finally, they were ready, and as they were walking out the door, I said, “Where are you going?”

“We’re going on a date with Creep Perry.” Shocked, I asked, “Wait! Why are you going on a date with a guy you think is a creep?” They threw the answer out over their shoulders as they sailed through the door. “He has a yacht.” If only I could call them back now, stop them from walking out that door. But they walked out – too insecure to dress modestly, too insecure to date a decent man,  desperate to leave home, and choosing all the wrong roads to their goal to be loved by one man for the rest of their lives.  They failed. They utterly failed.

Part of the reason they failed was because of the way they were dressed.

I found some interesting research on the subject. A Princeton psychologist Susan Fiske used brain scans to show that when men looked at women immodestly dressed – say in bikinis – areas of the brain that normally light up in anticipation of using tools like spanners and screwdrivers were activated.

But parts of the brain that are normally associated with empathy for other peoples’ emotions and wishes shut down.  The study concluded that sexy images of half-dressed women can shift the way men perceive women, turning them from people to socialize with to objects to act upon.  Some men even demonstrate increased hostility.

The women appreciated my husband’s input in my last post on modesty, and so I ran back into his office this afternoon, and interviewed him. We met at the Maryland State Fair in Timonium, Maryland in 1982. He was running the Catholic evangelization booth sponsored by the Legion of Mary, and I came up from Northern Virginia to volunteer to work the booth.

My husband assures me that certain areas of his brain did light up when he saw me, but it was the “right kind of attention,” he said. Because my dress was modest but very feminine, it was the kind of attention he said,  “where I knew I had to know you first.”

Success! And I didn’t wear any make-up! No, two hours wasted in front of the mirror. I never looked for a husband in a bar or on a yacht. And after an 11-month courtship, we have been married 30 years.

But not all women wear immodest dress because they are insecure and desperately want to get married. At the age of 17, I was focused on getting an education, traveling the world and being friends with my mother.

But my mother bought me a mini-skirt. I did not know men were sight-oriented. I honestly didn’t associate my apparel with men at all, for what did they have to do with my life then?

I was what you would call a “late bloomer.” Even when I was in France without my family at the age of 19, I can remember a strange French man asked me to tea in his apartment. He probably thought, “American, hmm.” There was a book out that year (1974) in France called “L'AmĂ©ricaine,” and it had a half-naked blond woman wearing jeans on the cover.

So maybe his mind was in that book when he asked me to tea. This is what I thought: “That man must be completely insane to think that I would go alone to his apartment!” Please ladies, if it happens to you, always think that. There is no reason to go alone to his apartment. He can always invite you out to tea at a cafĂ©. Think safe.

But I didn’t say what I was thinking. I smiled sweetly, and said, “No, Monsieur. Merci!” And left.  He was utterly dumbstruck.

So why did I, on a few occasions, wear a min-skirt two years before this incident? Why would a girl totally ambitiously focused on career and education, wear something so designed to lead me to another kind of life?

It was a matter of self-esteem. I was a victim of bullying when I was a child, and it was a way of saying, “Hey, I look pretty good now.”

But I didn’t keep that skirt long.  I wore it up to receive Communion one day, and I suddenly felt terribly ashamed.

It was Jesus’ eyes that mattered after all. It was He I wanted to please. Jesus thought I looked great with a longer hemline. So I never dressed immodestly again.

And ladies if you have a vocation to marriage, a bit more material here and there will add an air of mystery that will help you attract a chaste man. That’s the kind of bird you want, ladies. They are not dull, and they make better husbands and fathers.

The key is to remember that what you are showing with immodest dress are the goods of marriage. They are intended for your husband, not some strange man on the street. And they will be enjoyed so much more if they are displayed in that context, and not before.

"Beautiful is the woman who understands she is God's highest creation. She has dominion to choose wisely how she will show up in the world." (Received in a Tweet.)

Don't miss watching this beautiful You Tube Video in which a Father sings to his Baby Daughter. 

"Gonna Be Beautiful" by Corey Durkin


  1. one thing to examine here, "The woman at the Well." Women who practice modesty and faitfullness to GOD, at the historical time of Christ, Would Stone, Shun, and Ostercize anyone who practiced immodesty and would not allow them to influence them and would have no part of them. (Think men are the only ones to be brutish?) hatred is about the only non discriminate emotion. It is a equal opportunity offender. was then, is now, always will be. why is that is the more important question, Because unfortunately, Most people (MEN AND WOMEN) as then, is now, and always will be, Love the Idea more than in Fact, but will never sacrifice what is needed to achieve the Ideal, it may actually involve some pain. hmmmmmm, might that not actually be a GOOD THING???? Christ said he is the Vine, Well his Father is the VINEDRESSER, and if you are included and grafted into that vine, a Good Vine gets Pruned to grow more, don't know about you, but lets say someone took your arm and sliced a portion off of it, that would hurt. when God prunes you, you actually willingly give something up, YOU are disorderly Attached to. Has Pain but it allows God To Grow more abundantly in you. Getting back to the Woman at the well, See how a person can lose Sight of her? Avoidance of a problem in yourself is a very easy distraction and excuse. How Many readers have actually found a homeless person, or one of these strange tye died kids, and actually approached them to talk to them, rather than point a finger. it may be the one time in their life they actually encounter Christ, but as Christ met the woman at the Well and his own Apostles were "SCANDALIZED" at his talking to a woman of Ill Repute, How many times are you and I "SCANDALIZED" By someone doing something that is in Contradiction to What we perceive as should be done, and in effect follow MY WILL vs HIS WILL be done. If you spend more time Excluding people from the Kingdom, you Can not be INCLUDING THEM, and bringing more Joy to The Father by bringing a Sheepfold to the Good Shephard. That one sheep you interact with today, may be the Mother or Grandmother or GREAT to the 10th power of a Saint, whose single act of kindness and perfect act of being unjudging to them and including them in your life may bring wonders. Or do we forget ourselves that Davids own grandmother was a Pagan Priestess at one time who would have done the very same things we justly condemn. The People of the Old Testament had the Gift of Foresight, We have the Gift of hindsight, We really are doing no better.

  2. I agree 100 percent. There is no looking down at anyone immodestly dressed. I am attempting to get my brothers in Christ to look compassionately upon the woman who doesn't understand how to dress. To understand someone, one needs to know why they are doing what they are doing. Hence the reasons for immodesty, and then for those who do dress immodestly for these reasons they hopefully will understand that more cloth will be more attractive to the right kind of man. But you should not doubt that my cousins lives were truly affected negatively because of their dress. Yet I love them dearly. I am only sad I couldn't help them. May be I can help your cousins? God bless you. Susan Fox