Modesty and Checking-Out Guys


I need some help explaining a few things to a friend of mine. She is a Christian, but not a Catholic, so I have found it a little difficult to explain some things. Here are the two questions I need help answering:

  1. Why is it wrong to “check-out” members of the opposite sex? My friend thinks it is natural for a person to check-out members of the opposite sex. While I think being attracted to members of the opposite sex is natural and good, I don’t think it is right to ogle them. How can I explain to her that she needs to be looking at the whole person, and that zero-ing in on certain physical characteristics of a person (and commenting on them) is wrong?

  2. Why dress modestly? Why is it wrong to dress to impress guys? My friend finds it pleasing and nice when guys “check her out”. She thinks it is unnatural that I don’t enjoy that type of attention. How can I explain to her that I liked being seen as pretty but not sexy.

I don’t want to come across as self-repressing and prudish in this area. I need some help explaining why I’m not prudish but modest. And why modesty is a **good **and **natural **thing. I’d appreciate your two cents!


Wow, what great questions! I’m not a Catholic yet, but I’ll give you my take on them.

Checking out guys: I think it’s perfectly natural to admire and comment on certain aspects of a person’s appearance. There’s a security guard who greets me everyday, a young man, who just beams at me with the most incredible smile. I regularly comment to my coworkers that the security guard has the nicest smile, and really lights up the room. I think that kind of comment is appropriate.

However, if I were stopping to admire his butt everytime I passed through security, that would be a completely different thing. Butts and breasts and chests and such are private things that we don’t generally present to strangers, and therefore it’s not polite to comment on them. Eyes and smiles and hands are more public - it’s polite to offer eye contact, a smile, and a handshake to a stranger - and therefore you can comment on them (politely) if you like.

Dressing to impress: many women find it gratifying to know that a man is attracted to them, and so they display their assets publicly. I agree that I would like a man to find me attractive, but I only need one man, not every man in the room. And when I find a man I like, I don’t want my assets to be his only reason for being interested in me. Dressing in ways that deliberately attract that kind of attention from guys gives men the idea that it’s the only kind of attention you want.

Frankly, I find it disturbing to think of men approaching me only because they like my appearance. I’ve never dated somebody that I haven’t been friends with first, or at least gotten to know socially. I agree that finding your partner physically attractive is important to a relationship, but starting the relationship on a foundation of lust is really not the right way to go about it.


I understand you, Lifesaver (and you, Just wondering, too)… No one wants to be regarded as a sex object. Those who wish and pursue that kind of attention perhaps can’t fathom that they could receive a different, more wholistic kind.

I don’t think checking out is necessarily lustful looking. However, the focus on the looks is excessive. One has to deal with it somehow - on the one hand, we like the looks, on the other hand looks don’t build a relationship and they don’t even really give a good reason to start a conversation. As I said, we somehow need to deal with it.

By the way, looks pass. As we get to know people, they have every chance of starting to look more plain and as we get to like them, they have every chance of looking better. And it’s also been somewhat proven that women who are in love or who are loved (whichever way it was) do in fact look better - skin gets smoother and so on.

Sigh… Graphomania. Anyway. The ancient Greeks had this ideal of kallokagathia. A person could be kallos k’agathos, “beautiful and good.” There was a belief in some kind of harmony between inner and outer beauty. I think it was Plato, but it’s been many years… In fact, while this does look superficial at first glance, there is indeed a connection. A beautiful character has every chance to reflect on the outside - with a warm smile, inviting face expression, deep, wise eyes… whatever else you can imagine. On the other hand, it’s normally hard to look really beautiful while being an obnoxious person. Just for the record, the Greek ideal had a lot to do with actually working on the body and keeping up virtue. It wasn’t really focused on qualities independent from our efforts.


Here’s a good site for you to check out:

Check out the Research tab for Church documents and the Links tab for info on John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. Here is a link to TOTB in its entirety:

God bless.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit