When I was a girl, I dreamed of ball gowns. I wanted a fur muff and white gloves and a cape, and, chances are, you did, too. Yet, now that we are all grown up, we’re not allowed to want those things anymore–except on our wedding day. What happened to us, I wonder, that those fashions became so unfashionable? In the following blog post, which I will endeavor to keep concise, I will address the excellent question raised by Christina, as well as explain IFTBAG’s reasoning for proposing “papal” fabric dimensions. Okay, come Holy Spirit.
I will begin by stating that the paradigm of It’s Fun To Be A Girl is delight. Why? The Enemy has tricked women into rejecting what is truly good for them and living, instead, that which is contrary to their happiness. We are told that sterile wombs, processed foods, unattached lives, and clothing with too little fabric are good for us. Yet, we live with hearts that are lonely and anxious, wishing for community and leisure and beauty. My heart is full to overflowing with the joy I have found in returning to the standards that our great-grandmothers knew. And, that is the message of IFTBAG, that we will discover happiness hitherto undiscovered if we only live in conformity with our nature as women. Just as a swan cannot be happy if she persists in trying to be a duckling, we cannot know contentment if we live in a way that denies who we truly are.
Now, how does the matter of living in conformity with our nature apply to feminine dress? Well, I propose that skirts and dresses are best suited to our femininity. Again, that does not mean that pants are bad. I own pants and wear them occasionally; they are okay. In addition, please allow me to say that the wearing of dresses that reach to collarbone, elbows, and knees is not exactly an issue of modesty, insofar as a woman can have the same fabric coverage if she wears pants and sweater. Let me explain what I mean, therefore, and why IFTBAG proposes these fabric measurements. Ooh, girls, this is so much fun!
These fabric dimensions are historical
An honest reading of history reminds us that in every Christian society, until the social instability of the last century, women arrayed their lovely curves in gowns with ample fabric. Certainly, there was degradation of women in these societies–instances of misogyny, abuses of female dignity, and reduction of certain feminine liberties. However, I think we fool ourselves if we pity our foremothers and cheer that we are the liberated ones. Because, they enjoyed many freedoms of which we only dream. Freedom from public display of pornographic images of the female body. Freedom from the widespread danger of sexual molestation in childhood. Freedom from pressure to prioritize their career over their families and to abort their children in order to secure a promotion. So, if women for 1900 years arrayed their persons in fabric that stretched from neck to ankles, why do we think that we are suddenly enlightened and that ours is a better way?
Their gowns were generally lovely, with pleats, ruffles, lace, and so forth. Oh, what beautiful dresses they wore, and how often I wish we had such options. And, hats. Oh, girls, I do wish we could wear hats. I mean, I know that we can, but I feel so very odd when I wear a hat anywhere other than the beach or in a snowstorm. Oh, hats.
These fabric dimensions are comfortable and cool
I discovered this secret when I studied abroad in India as an undergraduate. Long draping fabric acts as a veritable fan, such that the slightest breeze sets skirts fluttering and cools the legs; Lawrence of Arabia knew this secret, too. I used to think that shorts and a tank-top were the coolest clothes to wear in the summer, but now I wear linen, chiffon, or rayon dresses and am much cooler.
In addition, I am always comfortable in a dress that has ample fabric. When I dressed myself in halter tops and tight pants during my pre-conversion days, I was constantly uncomfortable, forever adjusting my top and tugging on my bottoms. I often felt a little like this.
Now, however, I never have to worry about bending over or sitting improperly. There is always plenty of fabric to cover my limbs. In addition, I don’t feel cheap anymore. I feel dignified, especially in Mass or at a professional meeting. And, one final benefit is that a dress with a natural waist and A-line skirt does wonders to cover my post-partum tummy. I simply wear a chunky belt, to create the illusion of a small waist, and breathe much easier than if I were trying to crunch my abs all day long.
We have been bamboozled
The fact is that we have been deliberately undressed in the last century. Second-wave feminists, like Simone de Beauvoir and Margaret Sanger rejected traditional moral norms, such as monogamous lifelong marriage and heterosexual relationships, and jettisoned their femininity. They mis-perceived that, in order to be equal with men, they had to become like men, as if their feminine natures were somehow inferior to masculine ones. So, they introduced two major fashion innovations, namely, that women wear men’s clothing and that women expose their lovely limbs to the public eye. These changes to fashion were symptoms of their rejection of Christianity and their femininity. And, women, en masse, accepted these new fashions with little concern for what they were losing.
So, it seems to me that when we wear little shorts or strapless tops, we are participating in the rejection of traditional Christian morals that they initiated. The pressure to conform is quite strong, I know. Societal architects still insist that liberated women expose their flesh, and, if we don’t, we are called “repressed” and “old-fashioned.” The recent “People” article which lauded Duchess Kate for her sexy new look also offered implicit criticism of her formerly modest style, as if to say, “We are glad you have begun dressing in a manner of educated and fashionable ladies.”
The fact is, however, that we can dress in a manner sassy and en vogue without sacrificing our feminine dignity. We don’t need to expose our shoulders and decolletage in order to be attractive. Case in point, I own this Shabby Apple dress (follow the link to see the dress). It’s difficult to find dresses that are cute and that offer ample fabric, but it is possible, ladies, and we are just the ones to do it. We can transform the culture and the image of woman!
If you are a choleric, I double-dog dare you to try. If you are a melancholic, I exhort you that this is a noble endeavor and worthy of your energy. If you are a phlegmatic, I assure you that IFTBAG will journey with you and support you. And, if you are a sanguine, I invite you to join the party. We can look as good as our great-grandmothers, girls, if only we try! Bless you, dear ones.