Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Laundry Detergent Commercials and Modesty (the lost art...)

There’s a commercial that I’ve seen a couple times while I was over at Nani and Grumpa’s with the girls and I can’t help but internally wince every time I see it. It’s for laundry detergent and it shows a father who is looking for something to wipe his filthy hands on when he notices a white mini skirt (which apparently belongs to his daughter) drying with the rest of the laundry on a line outside. He goes over and grabs the skirt and wipes his hands off and then throws the skirt in the hamper.

In the next part of the commercial the daughter, a pretty, blonde teenager, finds her skirt with brown stains on it in the hamper and shows her mom, who makes a little face and reaches for the detergent (by the way, this makes me glad that I don’t use this particular detergent!).

And of course the commercial ends with the girl in her mini skirt saying goodbye to her unhappy looking father as she goes out the door in her barely there outfit with her mother smiling happily.

Where to even begin?

There’s just so much wrong with the picture that this commercial paints and perhaps the most disturbing part is that I’m sure it is a pretty accurate depiction of what goes on in many households in our culture.

Mothers who either want to be their daughters friend and put aside the role of mentor in an attempt to be “best friends” or who are attempting to relive the “glory days” of their youth aren’t doing their daughters any favors (I’m sure there are father’s who do this too, but probably less often with their female children… After all, what father wants to see his daughter dressing like she’s ready for a night out on the streets?).

I would say that the entire scene emasculates the father, but the fact is, in this scenario, the father was emasculated long before this situation unfolded. If he hadn’t been emasculated the commercial would have begun with him wiping his hands on the skirt and holding it up and saying “there’s no way you’re going to be leaving my house dressed like this.” Instead he slinks over and hides it in the hamper, hoping that he has ruined it, but unwilling to take a stand against his wife (who is apparently okay with the outfit) and daughter.

Which brings me to another story that came to mind as I was typing this. On Ash Wednesday when we went to Mass there was a beautiful young woman (I would guess around 18) who walked into Mass by herself, and stayed around after Mass looking at the pamphlets on celebrating Lent. I was impressed that she was there on her own and was glad that she had made it.

At the same time her outfit, a very expensive looking bright pink mini dress with gigantic hoop earrings and stiletto heels, would have seemed better placed at a night club than in Mass. Yet as I watched her briefly on her way into and out of Mass, it was clear that she had absolutely no idea that there was anything odd or inappropriate about the outfit.

And then the thought popped into my head: she’s never been taught that it’s inappropriate!

It’s almost as if dressing modestly and being conscious of dressing modestly, has become a lost art. Dressing sexually is so commonplace that girls and young women do it without giving what they are depicting a second thought. I imagine there’s a very good chance that the young woman on Ash Wednesday got dressed up to go to Mass. However, without any solid grounding or education on what was appropriate she relied on what she sees on a daily basis passing for “dressed up” and the result was what we saw.

We have a duty to our children to teach them to respect themselves. Girls are taught these days that they can be whatever they want to be and do whatever the boys can do, but the message that their femininity is a gift from God is put aside as something from a bygone era. Actual feminine grace is replaced with an overly sexualized show that debases what we truly are.

And that, like that particular Tide commercial, is very, very sad…


  1. I hate that commercial, too! The sad thing is that I did this to my father all the time when I was a teenager. He would tell me to put more clothes on, and I would whine to my mother and she would give me permission to wear whatever it was anyway. Ugh, my poor father. :(

  2. I know which commercial you are talking about.

    One of the most surprising things to me is that he was able to clean his hands with that sad excuse for a napkin they passed off as a skirt. From my experience with grease rags, it is best if you are dealing with a long strip rather than a loop, so he should have cut it. And then you don't really wash those kinds of rags, so they then go either in a rag bin for later use, or in the trash.

    There are many moms I know who dress their daughters like street walkers and cocktail waitresses despite the protestations of the 'misogynist pig' father. It is sad and pathetic.

  3. "Some false and pernicious ideas on immodest dress prevail in the world and lead into error souls desirous to do right. Remember, therefore, it matters not how many others sin, yours can never be justified before God, and where it is fashionable to sin it is likewise the fashion to go to hell. The choice is always yours to make." --- St. John Chrysostom

    (A commenter posted this in response to the recent WSJ article "Why Do We Let Them Dress Like That?".)

  4. Yeah the commercial left me shaking my head too...

    As for the girl at Church. I usually have two thoughts when I see that... The first being something along the lines of "If that was my daughter..." and the second that I remember being that girl. My mom didn't become Catholic until I was in college (despite raising me as) and still doesn't really practice. My stepmom tried to teach modesty, but fell on deaf ears since I didn't live with them and... I don't know if I felt she was just trying to make me miserable or what lol. It just didn't sink in until I spent a couple summers overseas. Now she's loosened up and I've gotten more modest (though I still struggle with it some).

  5. Great thoughts on the commercial, I too found the commercial to be distasteful and sadly that is how it is many homes. Parents are too worried about offending their children so instead they walk on eggshells to keep them content and their poor children will never learn right from wrong and this goes beyond clothing.

  6. Oh, there's so much I could say about this commercial....! I think things like this are especially bothersome to me right now because I'm striving to dress with more feminine modesty, preparing to raise my daughter the same way, and even discerning about headcovering during Mass.

    It breaks my heart when people think it's "normal" that the wife/mother has all the control in a family, and that dad is helpless to make decisions because "girls will be girls." Just another sad example of the secularization of our society.

  7. I hate that commercial, too! I just want to shake the father and say "Be a man!" It's a disturbing trend of the last few years..the spineless, clueless father and the mother who plots against him with the children. It's a disturbing statement about the role of men in our society.

  8. ooo have times changed since college

  9. Yes they have. I thank God on a daily basis for that.

  10. I haven't seen the commercial as we don't have a tv, but this male bashing has been going on for a long time. On the radio now is a spot teaching us that we need to make sure our campfires are all the way out and the dad is shown to be a buffoon. Even in families where there is even a father present, he's perceived as an enemy, a dork, or anything but the family leader.

  11. I utterly despise that commercial (I wanted to say 'hate' but I'm working on really avoiding using that word).

    But I do confess, I did wear things like baby t-shirts and tank tops with tiny straps when I was a teenager. Now I call those "underwear".

  12. I actually thought the dad threw it in a trash can.... or maybe that was just wishful thinking? :)

    My DH and I laugh at that commercial, but only because BOTH of us would have placed such a "skirt" in the trash can, assuming it had somehow found its way into our home to begin with.

    We've even talked about it with our 7 year-old and it was a nice conversation about why that skirt is inappropriate and how she would never be allowed to dress like that.


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