Why I Won’t Wear a Mantilla

It’s not that I don’t like mantillas. I do. They’re usually quite pretty. And I like pretty things. But wearing a mantilla just because it’s pretty is not, in my opinion, a good reason to wear one. And for me, it’s a positively bad reason to wear one. Let’s walk quickly through what would happen, should I decide I ought to wear a mantilla when in Church.

1. First I will scour the internets for the ‘perfect’ mantilla. I will find it, and it will be ridiculously expensive. And then I will pout over my inability to obtain the ‘perfect’ mantilla. (Alternatively, I will forsee this outcome and skip this step entirely to proceed to step 2.)

2. Then I will decide to knit my own mantilla instead. And it will be even more perfect. I might even decide to develop my own, special, lace knitting pattern, wrought with theological significance in every stitch and design element.

3. I would source the ‘perfect’ laceweight yarn, and possibly buy into a yarn of the month club, thereby spending all my pocket money for a year, just to get just the ‘perfect’ shade of variagated black.

4. I would knit, rip it all out and start over, snarl the yarn, swear, untangle, knit, swear some more when I discover a hideous mistake in the very beginning of my lace pattern, try to live with said mistake, knit some more, decide I can’t live with it after all, rip it all out again to fix the early mistake. Finally, someday, I might finish the project, if I don’t get distracted by some other, momentarily more important, project.

4a. In the meantime, I would be deeply distracted at Mass over my lack of a mantilla.

5. Finally, when it was finished, I would wear my mantilla. Of course it would require a new (read expensive) outfit. And it would wow everyone else in the church. It would single handedly convert all the women to respectable dress and mantillas themselves, and and when someone asked me where I got that simply lovely mantilla, I would just smile modestly and say “this old thing, oh, I just felt that I really ought to cover my head in church, and mantillas are so pretty, that I just grabbed yarn I had lying around and knit one up.”

This is exactly how it would go (I am well acquainted with myself regarding such matters). And that fake piety would the very worst kind of vanity, because it would be the absolute misuse of a skill in which I am quite talented.

Why not just buy (or worse, be gifted with) a mantilla that isn’t pretty, but is within my budget? Because, as far as I’m concerned, the point of a mantilla is that it is pretty. It does an abysmal job of concealing a woman’s hair; if that was my goal, I wouldn’t consider a mantilla at all. No, the mantilla is attractive solely due to it’s prettiness. Wearing one that I don’t think is pretty is self defeating. And indeed, the whole business would be deeply distracting anyway, since I’m not accustomed to wearing anything at all on my head.*

*excepting my sunglasses. They fit over my regular glasses, and I need them frequently, so my head is a good place to store them when I’m not wearing them. I try to remember to take them off and put them in my purse during Mass, but sometimes I forget.

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3 Responses to Why I Won’t Wear a Mantilla

  1. nancyo says:

    4a is really my favorite part, and only partly because you numbered it “4a”! My sunglasses are on top of my head perhaps more than they are in front of my eyes.

  2. Andrea says:

    I know this post was meant to be very humorous, but I hope that you don’t really think mantillas are only for looks. It’s a Church Tradition and a deep part of our Catholic culture (whether people recognize it or not), and I don’t think that’s anything to scoff at. Nor do I think that it would have carried through the centuries as it did if it was only to look pretty. It it was good enough for hundreds of years of saints who saw the beauty of it’s symbolism. That makes it good enough for me!


    • GeekLady says:

      I don’t think they’re only for looks at all, and I don’t mind other women wearing them a whit. But like most devotions, they originate in part from culture, and such things do not necessarily transplant well. In fact I think the issue of to veil or not to veil only has such prevalence in the United States because we’re accustomed to being a cultural hodgepodge. My intention was only to display that a woman might have excellent reasons not to wear one, and do I grow rather weary of those that are uncharitably pushy about it.

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