My take on the habit is that it is absolutely necessary. My community has some options and to be completely honest - I hate it. I wish we all wore the same thing all the time. However, we do wear a habit and for that I am grateful. The style of habit I wear is definitely in my opinion - "poor, modest, and becoming." It is practical for the work I do and the place I live and it certainly offers a witness to the people I meet.
However, my recent experiences have left me questioning my attitudes about the habit and the attitudes of others. It doesn't make me uncomfortable when people point out how happy they are to see a young sister in a habit - it is a normal and appropriate conversation piece. However, when a grown man tells me that I'm too young and beautiful to be a sister - a red alarm goes off in my mind. When someone stops me in the store to ask me where I work and what community I am in - I happily answer, with as much information as I can safely give. However, when someone asks to touch me (yes - I'm not joking - this did happen) I am extremely uncomfortable. I mean - how do you graciously answer that question?!
The above examples being strange - I would also add that others are just plain scary. While I love that the world knows that I am a spouse of Christ because of my habit - because of that witness I can also become an easy target. I didn't realize this until very recently when a man (a man who should have known better by his state in life than to say this to me) stated, "You should be careful, many men will find you attractive because you are young, pretty, and in a habit." (His intention was not to honestly warn me.)
Since then I have found myself extremely uncomfortable in a few situations and I have been asking myself a few questions to which I still have no answers. Should I stop wearing the habit I now wear in favor of a less feminine version? Does the veil always incite this type of attention? Are there times when it is appropriate, prudent, and justifiable not to wear the habit for the safety of oneself? Would people identify me as "less of a nun" if I wore a habit that was not as traditional as the more feminine one I wear now even though it is still blessed? How do I continue to give an open, approachable, and honest witness while still guarding myself from the inappropriate comments of others?
So those are my thoughts at the moment on the habit - not the most religious and inspiring, but a struggle that I'm sharing for now. I hope it wasn't too much to share, but I do feel like sometimes the issue of the habit isn't talked about with a lot of openness and understanding and I just wanted to shed another light on it. Let me know what you think.