Sunday, April 22, 2012

Prom 2012: Concerning Modesty

As has been documented on here, a lot happened this weekend in the run up to the prom at Ritter.  We addressed the issue of "grinding" and our young people met that challenge and exceeded our request.

Now, as pictures from the evening are showing up on Facebook, some are critiquing the fact that I was in pictures with young people dressed inappropriately or immodestly.  I want to say, first of all, that I of course agree that we have a lot of work to do in the modesty department. 

Some are lamenting the fact that we didn't also address the immodesty when we were addressing the grinding.  Truth be told, I didn't know how bad the situation was on the immodesty front until I got to prom on Friday night.  I hadn't been to prom in two years, and in that time, a lot has changed in the "fashion" department.  Certainly we are going to address this issue moving forward, but frankly I'm still thankful for the huge strides made this weekend.

At Ritter, we allow our seniors to dress up for Mass, and inevitably there are about 20 girls that get sent to the office and have to call home and arrange alternative clothing.  As our principal says, "If we don't fight that battle, who will?"  It seems, from our end, like we are often fighting this battle with little support elsewhere, but we will keep fighting it. 

The lesson for everyone here (mothers, fathers, fashion-savvy folks, young men, young women, clothing designers, etc.) is that everyone has to do something.  My saintly mother told me a year or so ago that she went dress shopping with my sisters for prom and there were ZERO dresses that were actually made in good taste with modesty in mind.  NONE!  I've seen my mother sewing up several dresses the past few years to make them acceptable for my sisters.

But what about the girls that don't have as vigilant a mother as mine?  What about the girls that don't have a father to watch over these things and not let their daughters out if they are dressed inappropriately?  Certainly our young people aren't getting any help from pop culture either as the types of dresses a lot of our girls were wearing at prom, so I'm told, are the exact same as the dresses that the women on the number 1 "family-friendly" show Dancing with the Stars wear.  I wouldn't know because I've never seen the show. 

It is important to realize that reversing this trend starts with each of us, and in fact, given the climate, there are some battles that are best NOT fought directly by priests.  Sure I can talk to people in general about modesty and its importance (and I have), but to tell certain people, in the moment, "sorry, I can't get a photo with you because your dress is too revealing..." or "you can't come in to Mass dressed that way, it is too inappropriate"...those sorts of statements would cause GREATER scandal.  It takes a village, and I think never more clearly does it take a village than on the issue of modesty.

I can assure you, modesty is of a grave concern to me and to all of us who work at Ritter.  I simply ask what it is that you personally are doing to change the culture with regards to modesty ... or are you waiting for someone else to do it for you?