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Thursday, July 9, 2009

Dressing With Dignity by Collen Hammond

I approached this book with excitement. I have read other books on immodest fashions and behaviors and have always been facinated by the compelling reasons to dress and behavior in a modest manner. Colleen Hammond attempts to address a Catholic audience in her book Dressing with Dignity.

Some negatives of the book are:
1. The book is intended for too narrow of an audience: Catholic women. But the issue of immodest dress and behavior stretches beyond the realm of religion. Chapter two states that Original Sin is responsible for the decline in human integrity, which in turn causes immodest dress. What about those people who don't believe in Original Sin? Why write a book filled with valuable information and almost immediately make it inaccessible to thousands of women who could benefit from it?

2. The book seems to be laden with stereotypes that Hammond presents in a way to make one believe that these traits are genetically programmed into us by God. Some examples are when she states that women by nature are more receptive and intuitive, whereas men solve problems, provide, and protect. Women are more likely to be emotionally wounded, but men are protected from negative feelings by their analytical nature (p.81). Women care too much about clothing and fashions, men too much about sports and competition (p.83). Now, I am not trying to deny that these assumptions are true; in fact they probably are true to an extent. But it seems like a pretty big generalization when applied to the population as a whole.

Reasons that this book is worth your time:
1. Chapter 3 is appropriately titled, "Corruption of Fashion" and focuses on the evolution of women's dress starting from Adam and Eve and working up to the present. Some interesting topics include: introduction of the bikini, push-up bra, and bell-bottom pants. It also includes a section on the modern transition from favoring voluptous figures like Marilyn Monroe to a straight and boyish figure. This historical part was my favorite section of the book.

2. She writes a lot about feminity and how the feminist movement has pushed for a "new feminist image" that strongly resembles the male image. She encourages women to grasp their true feminine side and express it.

Overall I give the book 2.5 out of 5 stars. Some sections were interesting, but I don't see myself recommending this book to my immodestly dressed gal friends. It just kind of dragged on without ever reaching the peak. There was a lot of build-up, but the book fell short of my expectations. She mentioned many reasons to dress and behave in a "truly" femimine way, but there was not large convincing argument to bring them all together. If you should dress modestly because it is pleasing to God, that is one thing, but I can tell you that people who will be convinced by something as simple as that don't need to read an entire book to begin to dress modestly.

The review was done for The Catholic Company. You can check out more about this book by clicking here.


Katherine T. Lauer said...

In my general memory of Colleen Hammond's book, I agree with you. What I enjoyed more was "A Return to Modesty" by Wendy Shalit. I understand that she has written a new book, "Girls Gone Mild," which I'd like to read.

Colleen Hammond said...

Thank you for taking time to write a review!!!

Jill said...

I just wanted to provide clarification on your misunderstanding of the Catholic teaching of "original sin." Every Christian believes in "original sin" whether they know it or not. It just goes by different names. Original sin is the condition we are all born with. We are all fallen and live in a fallen world as a result of the sin [the original sin] of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden.

So, "original sin" equals the sin of Adam and Eve.

I have ordered Colleen Hammonds book and can't wait for it to arrive so I can read it.

God bless,
Mrs. Jill O.

Modest Mama said...

Mrs. Jill O,
I think you have misunderstood as well. I am not trying to address "Catholic" or "Christian" readers with this comment. I know many women who are not Christians and don't believe in Adam and Eve ever existing. I am merely providing an objective that I alone have to the text. I know several other women who have enjoyed this book very much and I hope that you do as well.