Contemporary Christian artist Matthew West (known for songs “Hello My Name Is” and “Happy“) released a song titled “Modest Is Hottest” on June 18 that has received both criticism and support. The father of two daughters shared the intention behind his new song on his social media accounts.

As a dad raising daughters, this song is my ridiculously silly way of reminding them that their appearance doesn’t define them. While the world might focus on the outward appearance, the Lord looks at the heart. Regardless, they are beautiful inside and out! (Even in turtlenecks)— Matthew West (@matthew_west) June 18, 2021

The song and its lyrics have been discussed on The Today Show, Newsweek, and many more national media outlets, but have since been removed from YouTube. Many critics of the so-called purity culture feel as though the “modest is hottest” perspective leads to body shaming and victim-blaming for women. They feel as though this phrase implies that women are responsible for men’s lustful gazes.

What are your thoughts on this perspective of modesty? Start by reading over the lyrics.

Modest Is Hottest – Matthew West Lyrics

Dear daughter, it’s me your father
I think it’s time we had a talk
The boys are coming round ’cause you’re beautiful
And it’s all your mother’s fault
And I’ve been trying hard to raise you up right
No drinking, no smoking, no swearing
But your old man’s got a little more advice
When it comes to the clothes that you’re wearing, listen

Modest is hottest, the latest fashion trend
Is a little more Amish, a little less Kardashian
What the boys really love is a turtleneck and a sensible pair of slacks
Honey, modest is hottest, sincerely, your dad

If I catching you doing dances on the TikTok
In a crop top, so help me God
You’ll be grounded till the world stops
I’m just kidding, no I’m not

‘Cause modest is hottest, the latest fashion trend
Is a little more Amish, a little less Kardashian
What the boys really love is a turtleneck and a sensible pair of slacks
Honey, modest is hottest, sincerely, your dad

All the parents be saying their prayers
That all their girls, they’ll be wearing more layers
Moms and dads round the world, yeah, they’re on their knees
Lord make them more like Jesus and less like Cardi B

No offense to Cardi B
I’m sure she’s a really nice girl and Jesus loves her but I just think…

Modest is hottest, the latest fashion trend
Is a little more Amish and a little less Kardashian
What the boys really love is a turtleneck and a sensible pair of slacks
Honey, modest is hottest, sincerely, your dad
What the boys really love is a one piece with a raincoat over that
Honey, modest is hottest, sincerely, your dad
Trust me, modest is hottest, sincerely, your dad

What Does The Catholic Church Say About Modesty?

Purity has its source in the heart, but it is in the body that its material results take shape, and therefore it may be forfeited both by the exterior senses and by the thoughts and desires of the heart…All lack of modesty in seeing, hearing, speaking, smelling, or touching, is impurity, especially when the heart takes pleasure therein. – St. Francis de Sales

“Modesty protects the mystery of persons and their love. It encourages patience and moderation in loving relationships. . . . It inspires one’s choice of clothing. It keeps silence or reserve where there is evident risk of unhealthy curiosity. It is discreet.” —CCC, no. 2522

“Modesty should pervade all that is exterior – our walk, our gestures, and our movements. All outside appearances reveal the condition of our mind; although our passions are hidden, they manifest themselves exteriorly; one easily knows if a man is fickle, haughty, mischievous, or if he is wise, patient, and reserved; the motion of the body is a species of voice which bespeaks all that is passing in the soul. . . Modesty is suitable for all ages and for all classes of persons; for all times and places.” – St. Ambrose

“Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are…immodesty…But the fruit of the spirit is charity, joy, peace, patience, benignity, goodness, longsuffering, mildness, faith, modesty, chastity.” – Galatians 5:19, 22, 23

“There are, moreover, three virtues which perfect the devout person with regard to control of his own senses. These are: modesty, continence and chastity. By the virtue of modesty the devout person governs all his exterior acts. With good reason, then, does St. Paul recommend this virtue to all and declare how necessary it is and as if this were not enough he considers that this virtue should be obvious to all. By continence the soul exercises restraint over all the senses: sight, touch, taste, smell and hearing. By chastity, a virtue which ennobles our nature and makes it similar to that of the Angels, we suppress our sensuality and detach it from forbidden pleasures. This is the magnificent picture of Christian perfection. Happy the one who possesses all these fine virtues, all of them fruits of the Holy Spirit who dwells within him. Such a soul has nothing to fear and will shine in the world as the sun in the heavens.” – St. Padre Pio

 “My dear Mother [Godinho], the sins that bring most souls to Hell are the sins of the flesh. Certain fashions are going to be introduced which will offend Our Lord very much. Those who serve God should not follow these fashions. The Church has no fashions; Our Lord is always the same.” – St. Jacinta Marto

“How beautiful then is modesty and what a gem among virtues it is.” – St. Bernard

More Catholic Resources On Modesty

Reflect On Modesty

  1. Are we called to dress modestly for our own benefit, for others, or both?
  2. Why do you think the culture is so opposed to modesty?
  3. How do you implement modesty in your own life?
  4. What do you think about the lyrics to Matthew West’s “Modest Is Hottest”? Would you teach your own daughters the same?
  5. How can we as Catholics promote modesty and share with others the importance of this virtue?
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