I just happened to be browsing my Catechism of the Catholic Church (April 1995 version, imprimitur of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict) and found several references to Modesty, which I thought I'd share:
Section 2521 - Purity requires modesty, an integral part of temperance. Modesty protects the intimate center of the person. It means refusing to unveil what should remain hidden. It is ordered to chastity to whose sensitivity it bears witness. It guides how one looks at others and behaves towards them in conformity with the dignity of persons and their solidarity.
Section 2522 - Modesty protects the mystery of persons and their love. It encourages patience and moderation in loving relationships; it requires that the conditions for the giving and commitment of man and woman to one another be fulfilled. Modesty is decency. It inspires ones choice of clothing. It keeps silence or reserve where there is evident risk of unhealthy curiosity. It is discreet.
Sectopn 2523 - There is a modesty of the feelings as well as of the body. It protests, for example, against the voyeuristic explorations of the human body in certain advertisements, or against the solicitations of certain media that go too far in the exhibition of intimate things. Modesty inspires a way of life that makes it possible to resist the allurements of fashion and the pressures of prevailing ideologies.
Section 2524 - The forms taken by modesty vary from one culture to another. Everywhere, however, modesty exists as an intuition of the spiritual dignity proper to man. It is born with the awakening concientiousness of being a subject. Teaching modesty to children and adolescents means awakening in them respect for the human person.
Hmm, these are rather lofty concepts. Clearly, the Church is not just being repressive and prudish. On the contrary, the Church is concerned with honoring one's inherent dignity, and protecting one's heart and soul.
Any thoughts or comments? Which is your favorite and why? My favorite is the first one above, that says modesty protects the intimate center of the person. The point of modest dressing is not to cover you up in dowdy clothing so you look like a baggy thing, but to be protective, it's almost a form of armour.
American culture is youth-oriented and says "If you've Got it, Flaunt It." What that line of thinking forgets is that when you flaunt "It," people tend to see "It" and not "You" in your entire being. When you flaunt it, what do you do for a follow-up? You've exposed it all, you've held nothing back. What our culture has lost sight of are the advantages of keeping something back, keeping treasures hidden and protected, holding things in reserve, revealing what we have only to those who we trust and who respect us.