The following comes from a September 4 posting on Monsignor Charles Pope’s blog for the Archdiocese of Washington D.C.
I was recently at the beach. It was a fairly nice “family beach” which dials back the loud youth culture and caters more to quiet things like dining, and more homespun entertainment on the boardwalk.
Please pardon me for what I write here. It is a little plain spoken. But at the end of the day, I wonder if a little plain talk isn’t necessary when it comes to beachwear.
Yes I must say, I always remained astonished at the tiny and revealing swimwear worn by many women. Frankly it’s so revealing and over the top that I don’t even find most of it attractive, just lust provoking, and lust isn’t pretty. There is something about modesty that I find more attractive. Maybe it’s the mystery that modesty protects which appeals. But when almost 98% is “on display” I just feel more sad and alarmed than anything.
I know that some of you will say, “But Father, but Father, what about the men? Are you just going to criticized the females?” Well, to some extent, yes. Frankly most men at the beach cover up a lot more than women do. Most men wear baggy swim trunks that reach often to the knees. And even though men don’t need to cover their chests, (at least in our culture), frankly most of our one-piece swimsuits have a lot more fabric than the two-piece bikinis of women. And even the one-piece swimsuits of most women fit very tightly so that every curve is accentuated.
But for the record, and for the sake of equality let me be clear, if a man wears a tight Speedo I am going to say he is out of line and is dressed immodestly. But frankly, I almost never see that today. Most men would not be caught dead in such a silly thing.
At a personal level it is a very great puzzlement to me why anyone, male or female, would desire to walk around in public with barely a stitch of clothes on. I admit that I am a rather shy person. I almost never wear shorts and would never dream of taking my shirt off in public. Even on the beach I wear baggy shorts that extend beyond my knees and a t-shirt. If I remove the shirt at all, it is just for a brief swim, then I put it right back on.
So I admit, I am shy. But even factoring in my shyness, the question remains, What gets into a person that they are not embarrassed to walk around all but naked? Tiny low cut bikinis that almost shout “Look here at this part of my body!”
It is all odd to me and strangely sad. When I go to the beach I usually spend little time out on the sand, and only walk there at all to be polite to friends. Normally I stay back at the house and enjoy a quiet porch and a book. But out on the beach and boardwalk a kind of sadness envelops me as I see so many young girls and women denude themselves. I walk, I do not sit on the beach, lest my celibate eyes, were to alight on a particular woman and stare too long.
It was not always this way at the beach. In fact the near nudity of current beaches was all but unthinkable until about the 1950s. As the video shows below, swim wear and modesty at the beach were carefully maintained and swimwear for both men and women covered most of the body. This began to change mid century as swimwear, especially for women, became tighter and gradually more abbreviated.
The present insanity and imprudence has been around since the late sixties, so it’s not new, but there were times, not so long ago, before the revolution, when sanity, modesty, prudence and respect were maintained even at the beach.
OK, I can hear some saying now, “Father, you are judging me…you are old fashioned….I am a modest woman and I wear bikinis….you’re a dirty old man.”
Well, I am judging, yes I am. Although it is your behavior I am judging. As for you personally, I am actually speaking, presuming you are a reasonable person who would give consideration to what I am saying, namely, that a lot of swimwear offends against modesty and tempts people to impurity….
As for being a dirty old man, I’ve got news for you. Young “clean” men also have “dirty” thoughts when they see naked and provocatively dressed women. They just do. And if you know this, (and deep down you do), why do you do it?
….This video [by Jessica Ray] gives some history of swimwear and points a way back. Enjoy it and spread the word.
To read the entire post, click here.