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By Justyna Braun, Crisis Magazine, Feb. 20, 2020
Justyna Braun holds a PhD in Comparative Literature from Rutgers University. She teaches literature and philosophy at Chesterton Academy of Buffalo.
A colleague at the Catholic high school where I teach approached me recently with a question. Girls at our school, he said, often dress immodestly. What could he do? He had studied Church documents and read lay publications that deplored the modern degeneration of women’s fashions. Some of these documents cite evidence of a Masonic campaign to undermine Christianity by corrupting women. Others quote statements from popes and bishops who spoke against pants, short sleeves, and low-cut necklines for women. I too had come across some of these documents. While I sympathized with the general concerns they raised, I saw little use for them among my students. Dress codes only go so far. Most of them chastise the girls for immodesty. Occasionally, someone reminds the boys to tidy up their collars and sleeves.
In the long run, however, restrictive rules do not help anybody dress well. Students rebel or simply wear whatever seems most comfortable. The reason, I believe, is that the majority of teenagers—and adults—never learn how to achieve a stylish appearance and seldom consider why it matters that they look their best. ….