Luther Seminary Digital Commons @ Luther Seminary

Ali Ferin
This work is dedicated to all girls and women, who have been manipulated by the church to hide, cover, conceal, diminish and shame their bodies. This work is especially dedicated to those young women who years ago, gathered around that trip-packing list, whose groans and protests I ignored. Thankfully, my failure does not have the final word. The final word rests in Christ's death and bodily resurrection, whose Spirit justifies us, and makes holy the bodies in which we dwell. "No Collarbones"
more » ... "No Collarbones" Cheeto®-stained packing lists and cans of soda covered the table as 14 Roman Catholic youth giggled and chattered with excitement. School was out, summer had begun, and they were leaving for Spain in just a few short weeks to see Pope Benedict XVI, at World Youth Day 1 . "Just a few more things kids, and we will be outta here," the priest promised, as he tried to regain the attention of the youth. I looked around at the other chaperones, wondering if they were as ready to go home as I was. The priest continued, "Girls, I want you to look again at the packing list. Skirts and shorts must be no higher than the knee. No tank tops, no undergarments showing, no necklines below the collarbone...and that includes your swimsuit of course. This trip is not a fashion show; you are not there to show off. Oh, and I know what men are like. I don't need you to be grabbed on the metro or yelled at on the street!" I found myself nodding in agreement as the young women sounded sighs of protest. As I sat in compliancy to the priest's dress code, my inner-dialogue began. "No shorts above the knees, and no tank tops... Isn't it supposed to be 100 degrees in Spain? Note to self: buy a one-piece swimsuit, and apparently shirts that don't show my collarbone. Is that what he just said? No collarbones? Men will grab the girls because they can see their collarbones? Something isn't right." Something wasn't right. In that very moment I realized that I had been participating in a system which was instilling body shame and fear into girls and young women. That very moment, my heart broke open, and scenes of my adolescence flashed 1 World Youth Day is an international pilgrimage for Roman Catholic youth. It began in 1986 with His Holiness John Paul II. For more information on the history and mission of World Youth Day, please visit