I feel so very honored to have had the opportunity to interview one of my all-time favorite Catholic blogger-ladies! Lizzie is such a beautiful light on social media and in the blogging world! Her ideas on modesty and authentic femininity are so beautiful and inspiring. It is truly so wonderful to see how one can use a platform to promote holiness and goodness!
+ For those who aren’t familiar with you, please introduce yourself.
Hi! My name is Elizabeth Rich and I am the founder of the Modesty Fashion blog, Just a Handmaiden. I started this blog my Freshmen year of college at the Catholic University of America and I am currently going into my junior year. The idea for Just a Handmaiden came from years of women’s sessions and modesty talks that left me feeling angry and unsatisfied. So often I was told to dress modestly and to protect men and yet it was never explained to me. How was I supposed to dress modestly? What were the standards I needed to hold myself to? Why couldn’t men keep their eyes to themselves? For a while this frustration lead me to reject modesty but by the grace of God it changed from frustration to fascination and I couldn’t stop researching modesty, fashion, and Theology of the Body. When my professor told me to write about something I was passionate about and I knew a lot of God made this blog the obvious choice and I couldn’t be more grateful that He did.
+ When did your relationship with Christ first take root in your life? What encouraged you in striving for a deeper relationship with God?
My relationship with Christ is a really drawn out love story that involved a lot of whoo-ing on God’s part and a good amount of kicking and screaming on my part. I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for my youth minister and Steubenville conferences every summer. Each summer I grew closer in my relationship with the Father as I learned more about His Heart and His Mercy. But even with these amazing experiences, I fell prey to the retreat high and would often spend months at a time not even acknowledging out Father (except for Sunday obligations). It wasn’t until the end of my senior year of high school that I went on a week-long retreat that I was overwhelmed by the relentless pursuit of our Father. In the sacrament of Confession, I came face to face with perfect mercy and that was it for me. I was all in for the kingdom. The sacraments, and the amazing Catholic community that I have been blessed to be a part of, have continued to challenge me to constantly be growing closer to Christ. I’m surrounded by people who do not let me live a life of mediocrity but challenge me to always pursue the Heart of the Beloved.
+ You are such a beautiful witness to the truth online! What drew you to begin sharing about your faith journey on your blog?
Since my re-version, God has placed the desire for a life of radical vulnerability on my heart. I have seen lives transformed from women who present their testimonies of freedom, my life included, and I desire that same transformation for all women. Once you discover the joy that the kingdom has to offer you can’t help but want to share it with the world and my blog provides the perfect outlet for that.
+ Why is it important for women to bring honor to God, and respect to themselves, through their appearance?
Wow, this is a loaded question and there are so so many ways to answer this. I’m going to start my answer by saying this – God gave us a physical form as a gift to better glorify Him. Everything that we do with our bodies; in the way we act and the way we present it to others should bring glorify Him. It follows then that the clothing we wear should be beautiful! We as women are the daughter of the King of the Universe, meaning that we have a royal inheritance and we must dress as such. To wear clothing that reveals too much or speaks disrespect is to say to the world that we do not understand our worth as women of God. As Christians, we speak a different narrative then that of the popular culture. A narrative that places our worth in heavenly hands, not in the sexualization of our bodies. We deserve more than what our culture deems as fashionable. Really take the time to think about how much your Heavenly Father loves you. Think about what He desires for you. Think about the happiness and joy He wishes to give you. The way we dress and present ourselves to the world should reflect the answer to these questions.
+ How has blogging and being part of the Catholic blogging world helped to strengthen your faith?
To be honest, I had no clue how much it has impacted my faith until I sat down to answer this question. This blog has shown me how God can work through the humblest words and the typos and the confusion to bring about massive conversions. I have met women and had conversations that challenge me to go deeper than I could have ever imagined and to ask questions I would never have even reached. I’ve been forced out of my comfort zone and have learned what it is to truly rely on the Holy Spirit to accomplish things that seem impossible. This blog has forced me to be vulnerable to an extent that I never intended and through this vulnerability has created friendships that would have been impossible before Instagram. God has put a community of amazing women who hold me up and support me and give me advice and challenge me when I am wrong through this blog and I would not be where I am now without it.
+ Recently, you made the switch to ethical fashion. Explain a bit about what ethical fashion is, in theory, and why you were drawn to it.
The idea of ethical fashion is looking at the entire supply chain of how our clothing is made and asking if it is not only legal but morally correct. It starts with the materials… how was the cotton made? Were the farmers harmed in the process due to pesticides and other production mechanisms? Then it goes to the actual manufacturing. Is the factory polluting a local villages water supply? Are the people making the clothing being harmed by the dies and the toxins in the air? Are the people working being provided a fair wage with reasonable work hours? Are the workers in a safe environment or is the building falling apart? Then it even goes to after the clothing is bought. How long does the clothing last? When you throw it away does the material decompose or does it sit in a landfill for years to come piling up to an overwhelming number because we have a shopping problem. All of these questions are so important to act because as Catholics we are called to uphold the dignity of every single human person and protect and care for the land that God gave us. How can I say I’m Catholic if I support an industry that allows hundreds to be killed in a factory collapse just to save an extra dollar? Our faith holds us to a higher moral standard than the rest of the world and while it may be incredibly hard and may seem impossible at times we are called to live a life that demands change for those who can’t defend themselves.
+ While this may seem like a daunting switch for some people, why do you believe it is important for Christians?
I kind of answered this in the last question but our faith holds us to a higher moral standard than the rest of the world and while it may be incredibly hard and may seem impossible at times we are called to live a life that demands change for those who can’t defend themselves. We are called to till and to keep our land meaning we shouldn’t support an industry that pollutes its waters and soil with toxic chemicals. We are called to love each individual as God loves us and see God’s presence in them so how can I wear a shirt that was made by a woman who barely was paid enough to eat that day. When I started thinking about these things the “beauty” of these pieces disappeared and what I saw was a culture that has tricked us into believing that mass consumption and dressing like the top ten celebrities is what will bring us happiness.
+ As a college student, do you have any tips and tricks for shopping ethically on a college budget?
Oh girl do I understand this struggle. The three top things I recommend is thrift shops and hand-me-downs and borrowing from a friend. Easily my favorite pieces in my closet are the ones I have found in the crowded racks of a thrift shop. Most of the clothing in thrift stores is older than the last five years, meaning they were made before fast fashion and will last you a lot longer. Hand-me-downs are the next greatest thing and totally free. My friend and I always tell each other when we are cleaning out our closets and I have completed my wardrobe with something that my friend didn’t want anymore – And its free. Borrowing is key especially when you have a nice event or one piece to complete an outfit one time. As women we feel this need to have a different dress for every event but that adds up to a lot of money and a lot of unnecessary waste. My favorite thing to do now is shop in my sister or my friends closet to find a dress that they have to fit my occasion.
Another key thing I would recommend is start with the basics. You only need a few pieces to really set the foundation of your closet. White shirt, jeans, shorts, a black dress, a skirt or two, and a couple of shirts. Our culture has convinced us that we always need to be on trend, buying the newest fad but that is a waste of money and leads to unethical production to keep up with the high demand. Find the basics and then see what you need from there. Create a list on your phone and only buy clothing that has been on the list for over a month so you know you really love it and it isn’t just a trend you want to follow.
+ Care to share any of your personal ethical fashion favorites?
Everlane is my absolute favorite place to shop when it comes to new ethical clothing. It is so much more affordable than most ethical companies and has all the basics and more. Etsy finds are my second favorite thing. There are so many ethical linen companies and people who hand make their own dresses or embroidered pieces on Etsy and they are all so so beautiful and such high quality. There is a website/Instagram called the Good Trade and they often give advice on places to shop if you are looking for ethical shirts, shoes, dresses, jeans, PJs, undergarments and so much more. It is my go-to place if I am looking for a specific piece but don’t know where to start.
+ If you had a megaphone and a message to tell every Catholic woman, what would you say?
You, sister, are the daughter of the King of the Universe. You are the Bride of Love Itself and have a dignity that is greater than anything this world could touch. We as women have a life-giving gift to bring love and light into this world. We can create world changing community and the power to make souls feel welcomed and accepted in our presence. Do not allow the world to convince you of anything different. You are loved, you are seen, and you are known. You are never too much, not enough, too loud, too quiet, too crazy, too tame, too weird, or too normal. You were created to bring glory to God with the personality and gifts that God has given you and I beg of you to remember this truth in every moment of every day. Live in Freedom sisters and help other women do the same.
Have a beautiful day!!