Ashley of the Love and Fidelity Network sent me this link to the Wall Street Journal. In the article a Jewish mother wonders why women today allow their daughters to dress "like prostitutes."
As a matter of fact, I am not up on what prostitutes are wearing these days. I know a young priest in Germany who worked in parish right near Hamburg's Reeperbahn a few years ago, and he said that the prostitutes all wore white--white bomber jackets, white shirts, white stockings, white skirts, white leggings, white spike heels--and they all used the same perfume. He could not tell me what this perfume was called, but he said when he could smell it, he knew the woman beside him was a Reeperbahn prostitute.
It is probably more accurate to say that today's daughters dress provocatively. Of course, they might not know that. They might not have the foggiest idea how their outfits look to the men around them. One of the trashiest looks I know is the Catholic Schoolgirl Look. This consists of a tiny uniform kilt on long legs covered only in the thinnest nude hose or, more modestly, coloured tights, with an untucked white blouse.
This, incidentally, was a fashion affected by year after year after year of girls in my high school, including yours truly. I didn't realize how shocking it was until I went to my baby sister's Graduation Mass and was horrified by the handkerchief-sized kilts. In the 80s, the mini was in. In the 00s, not so much, and yet there was the teeny-tiny kilt.
Teenage girls lack the imaginative power to put themselves into the shoes of grown-up men. Because as far as they are concerned ugly old men are invisible, they seem to think that they are invisible to the ugly old men. They want to be seen by teenage boys, and hence the bright, short, provocative outfits.
I'm not sure this has anything to do with carnality, as the author of the piece seems to think. I think the outfits cry out, "Notice me! Love me! Tell me I'm beautiful! Tell me I'm normal!"
God only knows why teenage girls feel a crying need to be noticed, loved and found beautiful and normal by teenage boys, but it may have something to do with the fact that human beings used to marry at that age. Our inner alarm clock does not jive with the outer realities of civilization.
Or it could stem from a life of watching television, reading magazines, seeing movies and goodness knows what other activities that tell us that the admiration of teenage boys is all that and a bag of chips. But even the carefully homeschooled feel a need to be assured that they are normal, beautiful and all that, so maybe it's not just the wicked world.
At any rate, the immodesty of dress of women is a perennial theme. In Jane Austen's day, fast women soaked their thin dresses so that they would stick to their figures all the more provocatively. In the 1920s, women began "to paint" in earnest, and this became so respectable that heavy makeup is part of the Evangelical Woman uniform. In the 1960s, my mother wore miniskirts, and there are pictures of Princess Anne in the early 1970s wearing the highest hemlines I've seen. In the 1980s, the miniskirt came back and Madonna-the-rock-star brought underwear-as-outerwear into fashion. And the cry goes up again and again "Why do we dress our daughters like prostitutes?"
To tell you the truth, I find this vaguely annoying. (The original bit of the WSJ article is the admission that maybe sex before marriage is a bad thing.) Teenage girls have enough problems without older women wailing constantly about how slutty they look. And it's not just a way to sneer at the younger generation. It's also a way to sneer at majority society. In the 80s, daughters of Italian immigrants in my town were told not to dress "like Canadian girls, like putanas." Hey, thanks for nothing.
But clothes do indeed send a message, and they do occasionally attract the attention of manipulative adults, which is something parents should tell their children, sons as well as daughters. I eagerly await a WSJ piece bewailing sons who dress like crack dealers or gay prostitutes.
We should encourage young people to wear clothes that say something other than "Love me" and "I hate Western society." How about "I'd like to be a respectable mother of three one day" and "I'm employable"?
Here is my How to Look Like a Nice Catholic girl again, since it is popular and nothing seems to attract comments on Catholic blogs like "What should women wear?"
Meanwhile I'd avoid wearing all white outfits with white bomber jackets and strong perfume.
Update: Girls, feel free to write at length in the com box about what men should wear.