Simcha Fisher, author of The Sinner’s Guide to Natural Family Planning writes for several publications and blogs daily at Aleteia. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and ten children. Without supernatural aid, she would hardly be a human being.
The weather's getting warmer, and here they come: articles from nice Christian men, begging and pleading with their sisters in the faith to dress in a way that shows them as the beautiful women they were meant to be: feminine, modest, and utterly captivating in the best possible way.
Well, well. I, too, am less than thrilled to see the sidewalks a-flutter with girls wearing little more than a strategically draped ruffle, or wrapped tighter than an empanada in strips and straps of hot pink lycra. Some of these ladies look alluring, some of them look just plain dumb, but they all have an unbearable eagerness to present themselves as a product to be approved of and consumed -- possibly something sold by the pound. Some of them even helpfully add product descriptions to their bodies: PINK, it explains, in case you were unclear.
I have plenty of sympathy for men who don't really want to see 80% some stranger's torso. On a hot day, that's pretty much all there is to see, all of them waving and frolicking in the current like a carpet of inappropriately eroticized anemones. So many limbs! I didn't even know there were that many legs, and other things, in this town. We don't want to dress like this, ladies. If we're old enough to be choosing our own outfits, then we're old enough to choose something that doesn't look like it was dreamed up by a twelve-year-old boy who doesn't have a reliable father figure in the home.
So as I said, I sympathize with the poor men. But here's where my sympathy stops: when they go beyond asking for basic decency, and say, "Just be modest and pretty. Just be feminine and beguiling and decorous and just wonderful, wonderful you, like God wants you to be. Just be decent and lovely, and I will respect you. Is that too much to ask?
YES. Yes, it is. Let me explain.
We just had our first really hot day here in stupid old New Hampshire. Behold, my suffering. I get hot. So, being a normal human being, I want to be less hot. I look for something cool to wear. I feel good -- relieved, like. I can sense a little bit of air moving around my collar bone, and I feel like life is worth living again (instead of like I am going to take the first person who asks me for something, and I am going to grab them by the hair on the top of the head, and I am going to just . . . swing, up and away, troubles all gone).
And then I go look at myself in the mirror to make sure this outfit isn't causing some kind of unforeseen shrunken head effect (you never know), and oh dear. I can't go out like that. I'm not an anemone! I don't care what Pat Robertson says, I definitely have a soul; and even if I don't especially feel like sharing it with every guy who walks down the street, I'd rather not appear soulless. Like a soulless empanada anemone that is PINK.
So what do I do? I find a tank top. A nice, tissue weight tank top -- and also a slip, because it turns out the material is transparent in sunlight-- and I put them on. Problem solved, yes? Yes, I am modest! But no. Because now I am hot again. And so it goes.
I'll spare you the details of the next few steps as I search the town fruitlessly for something that seems so simple: a plain old sundress made of plain old cotton, something I can just wear and be cool -- you know, like people do. Why is this so hard? Why can I find nothing but costumes, parodies of women's clothing? I've been buying my own clothes for twenty-five years and haven't found anything nice for the last twenty, but hope springs eternal, amirite? I complain a little bit about it on Facebook, and lo and behold! My friends supply me with all sorts of good leads: there's this top and that sundress; there's this sale and that bargain. We can do this. I'm scrolling through, and it really does look like, for the first time in my life, I can find something that is pretty and modest and cool and looks like it was designed sometime in this decade by someone who knows how to work a sewing machine! Hot damn, this changes everything!
So I narrow in on the ones I like: neck low enough to circulate some air, but not so low that I consign all my male friends to eternal torment and/or require a safety pin. Hemline low enough so I won't always be worrying about it, but high enough that I won't look like one of Princess Aurora's stubby little godmothers. It's sleeveless, but doesn't have spaghetti straps. Material thick enough to disguise some of the areas whose outline has become, over the course of nine pregnancies, somewhat blurred; but not asphyxiatingly thick. No gooney patterns, no baffling extraneous buckles or yokes or peplums, and it doesn't even appear to be a maternity dress. Could it be? Have I actually found something that suits me, and is modest, and comes in my size, and is kind of sort of, with a little adjustment for the current market situation, exactly what I was looking for?
Sure thing! And it's even on sale. It only costs as much as a two-week stay in Dr. Thorndyke's Institute for the Very, VERY Nervous. Which is what I'm going to need if I don't lower my body temperature asap. Augh, everybody looks like a werewolf!
And that, my friends, is why I'm sitting in my living room wearing a paper bag. I made the armholes with my teeth. It's modest. It's breathable. It's in my budget. Now all I need is to hear from all you virtuous gentlemen that you really appreciate the beauty of my soul when my outfit makes that crackling sound, and I'll be all set.
See, when I get dressed inthe summertime, I'm not trying to get involved in any custody battle with anyone's eyes. I'm just trying to find something to wear in a world where there is nothing to wear.