Sisterhood Envy by Katie Krouchick

Looking in the mirror, I observed very carefully what I saw. Within 5 seconds, I had mentally noted about 20 things that I would change if I could. It’s always frustrating the moment you realize, “Oh wait, I can’t lose 10 pounds in an hour.” So I did what I could – put on as much make-up as it took to hide my face, dressed myself in clothes showing just enough without revealing too much, and then went for a walk around the dorm to see what everyone else looked like. All that mattered was how I looked compared to the other girls…

Photo Credit: Found on the blog Wonderfully Made

That was me nearly 5 years ago. I was a naïve college freshman, and I’ll admit – I was pretty darn vain. I worried about my waist, my bra size, how I looked in a tight dress, and if I could pass for a 21-year old in certain venues. It’s important to note, though, that this was all relative. Imagine all of these factors on a line graph – there’s my one little line, and I’m surrounded every other women in my vicinity. There must have been a point growing up where I was introduced to this fabricated measurement, against which I (and all other women) would compare myself. While I’ve certainly matured, and my ways of coping with self-worth are now much healthier, it’s still a struggle. This insecurity manifests itself in countless ways for all women. A woman’s battle with self-worth could be equivocated to a man’s battle with lust. It is a struggle that can end up being life-long for many of us. The devil loves attacking us in the physical, and because of it so many women find themselves with eating disorders, patterns of promiscuity, abusive relationships, along with other self-destructing habits.

Why do you think we do all this? Is it because we’re desperate to find the perfect man, that we think won’t love us if we’re anything less than what he sees on the cover of Cosmo? That might be part of it. But I think it roots deeper than that. When a woman loses conviction in her dignity as a daughter of God, she is hard-pressed to acknowledge that dignity in other women as well. We begin to turn the beautiful notion of femininity into an unwanted burden, and we start to despise what God had intended as a gift. We have fallen away from the unwavering source of love, and have forgotten what we were created for.

This unanimous loss of self-worth has resulted in an increase in envy, vanity, and pride. Think of how many times you’ve gone out with a friend and thought, “she looks better than me, I have no chance,” or, “she’s not looking her best tonight, this works great for me.” It even extends beyond ourselves and begins to hurt our relationships; for instance, when on a date, how many of us have questioned the man’s interest when we look around at other women? Our deep longing for love has been distorted into something impure and vicious.

The evil one has planted the thought in our heads, “I’m not good enough. Therefore, no other woman should be either.” This goes against our innate making as the body of Christ! The more we critique our sisters, the more faults we find in ourselves.  The more we envy those around us, the less able we are to fall into a true love that extends beyond the superficial. When we build up our sisters, however, we are building up the Kingdom of God. So to show you what a true sisterhood should look like, let’s look at our Mother. Mary, Mother of God, Queen of  Peace, Gate of Heaven…our momma.

Being the new Eve, she was (and still is) the model woman. She demonstrated every virtue with perfection. She guides and protects virtue in each of us. She takes all of our worries, all of our concerns, all of our desires, and offers them to our Lord. She looks upon each one of us with a deep love and affection, and desires only our closeness to her Son. This is Mary as mother.

Immaculately conceived, she had no sin. She envied no woman – she did not think her self better or worse than anyone. She knew who she was by the wisdom God granted to her. And she offered everything she had back to the Lord, turning all praise back to Him. She was a woman of God, seeking only to do His will. This is Mary as daughter.

When Mary heard of Elizabeth conceiving, she went ”with haste” to be with her. Mary may have been carrying our LORD in her womb, but she saw it fitting to forget herself and be with her cousin. She stayed with Elizabeth through pregnancy and childbirth, recognizing the significance of this time in her cousin’s life. Mary had more than enough to be concerned about with herself, but was so filled with love for Elizabeth that she made her a priority. This is Mary as sister.

Mary’s sisterhood was so strong that Elizabeth immediately offered her beautiful affirmation: “Blessed are you among women, blessed is the fruit of your womb.” When is the last time we affirmed a friend like that? Certainly, none of us are on par with our Lady, but we all have dignity, and we are all blessed. Do you think either Mary or Elizabeth felt any jealousy towards one another at all? Do you think there was any hostility in that relationship? No. They genuinely loved one another. Elizabeth affirmed the Christ in Mary. Ladies, let’s follow their lead.

We are of fallen nature, there’s no denying that. We will continue to struggle with issues of self-worth, but that should not mean that we bring down our sisters. We are each created uniquely and beautifully, and all of us are made in the image of our God. When we let our pride infect our relationships, we tear down not only ourselves, but all those around us.

No more competition. No more coveting what belongs to another woman. Love what the Lord has given you, and trust that it is as it should be. If we can truly love our sisters, and pray for an abundance of blessings in their lives, all of us will see the fruit. If you’re in doubt, look to our Blessed Mother. She knew her own worth and where it came from, she showed perfect charity in her sisterhood, and look how things turned out for her – got her Joseph, and bore the greatest fruit of all time, our Lord Jesus Christ. How ‘bout an amen for that?

Modesty & Freedom by Katie Krouchick

Once upon a time, modesty was a code of conduct that was simply assumed and put into action. Society today, however, seems to have waged an unspoken war on modesty. A common definition for modesty is “freedom from conceit or vanity” and “propriety in dress, speech, and conduct”. Dress, speech, and conduct – three core elements of a person’s decorum, with each holding incredible importance. While of similar value, though, there’s one that catches our attention before the other two, and it’s the one that attracts us visually – dress. As the definition states, modesty is supposedly rooted in freedom. Seems odd, right? Having to cover up and hide beautiful parts of our bodies is “freeing”? Some modern feminists might call this restricting, oppressive, violating…anything but freeing.

As a rebuttal to the oppressive notion of modesty, women have resorted to saving on fabric while revealing more of themselves than ever before. Yet there are still women, of all backgrounds and beliefs, who believe in a modest lifestyle. Despite it being out of fashion (and out of stores), why do these women spend more time and effort on searching for ways to cover up? Is it that we’re ashamed of our bodies? Is it that we enjoy looking frumpy with no shape? Is it that we’re afraid of showing off the way God created us? …NO! Edith Head has a great quote saying, “A dress should be tight enough to show you’re a woman, and loose enough to prove you’re a lady.” We, as authentic women, certainly do NOT want to hide our beauty. We don’t even want to diminish it – we desire to be seen as beautiful, as that’s how the Lord made us! What we do not want, however, is to show off our bodies for our own glory or self-gratification, and even further, to lead ourselves and/or others into sin. And that is what immodesty often does, even if it is not the intent.

St. John Crystendom says, “You allege that you never invited others to sin. You did not, indeed, by your words, but you have done so by your dress and your deportment. … When you have made another sin in his heart, how can you be innocent?” The crazy thing about immodesty is that it may not produce any directly sinful actions. It may not have any visible, harmful effects. But when a women dresses to reveal something more than what is proper, she is giving off the okay for men to look, to imagine, and then, if the moment allows, to act. It is so easy for us to blame men entirely for this, and to not even give a thought as to how we contribute to this issue. So often we hear women saying, “It’s his problem if he’s impure. It’s his own fault if he can’t keep his mind off sex. He only ever wants one thing.” Maybe, just maybe, those impure thoughts are not simply his own, but a working combination of both a man’s natural desire and a woman’s lack of respect for that desire. It is indeed wrong for a man to treat a woman as a physical object, but it is just as wrong for a woman to entice a man with her body and then accuse him for taking notice.

We all desire to be loved, but a great temptation we face, as women, is to think that the only way to find that love is by exploiting our bodies for the world to see and admire. We need to stop blaming men for desiring what we make visible, and take charge of our own dignity. It is only then that we will gain the respect that we know we deserve. And once that mutual respect exists between man and woman, true love that goes beyond the physical can begin to take place.

It’s hard living a modest lifestyle when the media bombards us with images that contradict this, but the fruits of living this way far outweigh the temporal pleasures of not. What the Church teaches on modesty is so intertwined with teachings on chastity, and the Church’s teachings on chastity (aside from being the truth) are a direct way of exercising freedom in this world. By dressing, speaking, and acting in a modest fashion, it helps us keep our dignity as beloved daughters of God.

Modesty Is an Opportunity to Love by Jennifer Fulwiler (from NC Register)

There are a few women in the blogging world that regularly inspire me/blow my mind/make me laugh tears of joy and Jennifer Fulwiler is one of them. (Seriously. I laughed so hard when I read the beginning of her chapter in Style, Sex and Substance.) She just recently posted this little gem on modesty.  Please support her and read her other work at the National Catholic Register or her blog, Conversion Diary. You can also follow her on Twitter @conversiondiary.

Modesty is an Opportunity to Love by  Jennifer Fulwiler Wednesday,  July 11, 2012 4:45 AM

I got the memo. Those shady powers-that-be behind the Catholic blog  world called me, Simcha, Janet,  and Darwin and  told us that we’d better write about modesty this week or  else! So, alas, I have no choice but to share with you something I  learned about modesty after my conversion:

Growing up in secular culture, I don’t think I ever heard the topic of  modesty discussed, at least not like it is in religious circles. Parents of high  school classmates might have told their daughters that they had to wear  mini-skirts — no micro-minis allowed in this house! — but there was a sense of  purposelessness to it, like, “I don’t know why it’s a bad idea for my daughter  to go out of the house looking like that…I just have this vague feeling that  it is.”

Years later, in the process of converting to Catholicism, I encountered  serious discussion about this strange new concept called “modesty.” Plenty of  women in the secular world dressed with dignity and restraint, of course, but  this was the first time I’d seen modesty held up as a virtue with specific  characteristics, something clear and definable and worth aiming for. These  religious folks even had an interest in discussing this issue! A lot! My first  few forays into this strange new world involved reading some threads online in  which folks talked about modesty proponents who create strict guidelines for how  women should dress, then judge them accordingly. Though I never encountered any  of these people myself, everyone seemed to know a friend’s cousin’s  brother-in-law who believed that women who wore anything but ankle-length skirts  were on a one-way bus to hell.

Despite all the vitriolic debates that surrounded this issue, it seemed to  me that, as its core, there was something worth considering here. Nobody in  secular culture even wanted to discuss the downsides of women using the  Kardashian family as sartorial role models, and so I was relieved to see that  the concept was at least on someone’s radar. But something still felt wrong.  Christianity was said to be the religion of love, but all these harsh judgments  based on arbitrary regulations didn’t seem loving at all. If these kinds of  modesty standards really existed, they struck me as fear-based and  legalistic.

Then I began hanging out with actual real-life Catholics, and the whole  modesty thing clicked. The problem with both the secular and the religious  extremist views was that they were too narrowly, inwardly focused: Secular  culture said that each woman should be able to wear what whatever she wants,  without regard to how it might impact others; the modesty extremists said that  women were made worthy or unworthy depending on the details of how they clothed  themselves. In both worldviews, all the energy around the discussion is pointed  like a laser beam back at the woman…

Read the rest at: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/jennifer-fulwiler/modesty-is-an-opportunity-to-love/#ixzz20LJa5Yv0