Mama Deb (mamadeb) wrote,
Mama Deb

On Modesty and Politics (rantish)

A couple of months ago, I subscribed to Wendy Shalit's group blog, modestly_yours.

I put it on my jblog filter because that seemed the place for it. I have a different one for my more political blogs. But when I read it, I feel rather odd.

Yes, modesty is a big part of my life. It, for me, comes with accepting a halachic way of life. I've studied the issues and made my own conclusions, and I've also considered other things - the place I work, the place I live, the place I daaven, the things I do in my off time, and my own general preferences - not to mention what I think looks good on me. And that last, btw, isn't frivolous. One is supposed to feel that one looks good. After all, someone who dressed unattractively, or just feels they're dressing unattractively, will stand out more than otherwise.

So. My tops cover my elbows and my collar bones (and I have visible collar bones now!), and I prefer them to reach my hips and my skirts do not have slits and do cover my knees whether I'm sitting, standing or climbing stairs. I try to avoid wearing garments that are too tight. Also, I just prefer very full skirts because then I have complete freedom of movement. Pockets are also good. :)

And, of course, I cover my hair with an assortment of color-coordinated headscarves. I try to avoid dull clothes because they don't look good on me, and if I do wear something like that, I'll brighten it up with jewelry or a sparkly scarf or even a pair of handmade socks. I don't wear make-up because I don't like it on my face and I don't polish my nails, but I see nothing wrong with doing either.

I don't dress this way out of shame. I do it because I'm more comfortable keeping some things private, and because I do believe Jewish law requires me to do it. As I said, I've studied the issue.

Anyway, this is my way of dressing. I do wish that modesty was more more generally accepted - I'd think it would be hard for anyone to gain respect with body parts hanging out (that is, I think a man in very tight trousers would also have this problem) and I don't think a person's self worth should be tied up entirely in how her body appears. And, yes, because I'd like to not have to reject 3/4 of a catalog because of necklines or slits in skirts. (And on the other side of the coin - it's as hard to avoid being body conscious when one is keeping things covered as it is when one is keeping things bare, so I'm not sure what one wins.)

But I don't think I have a right to dictate to others what they should wear. I might advise someone coming to a synagogue event to take a wrap with them if they want to wear something that exposes chest or shoulders, but that's about it.

So here's this group blog. And they're all for pushing the modesty agenda on the world (not Wendy Shalit herself - she's content with putting the case forward and letting others decide) and they're very judgemental on those who don't feel as they do. Again, I think modesty is a good idea, but if someone else feels differently - fine. What also amuses me is that a lot of the people on the blog appear to be Mormon and they're always linking to "modest clothing" sales sites - and they're *not* modest by my own standards. They're hardly immodest - I'm just personally stricter.

And then I can see glimmers that these people are also politically much further to the right than I am. And, honestly, that's not all that hard, as I'm pretty much left of center for most (not all) issues. This is not a deep, dark secret. But it makes me uncomfortable to read about people objecting to the HPV vaccine because it's best for girls just after adolescence, or to legislate other things that I think are personal choices or just...I'm not sure.

I dress the way I dress for a number of reasons, but my politics are my politics and in neither case do I need to have the world believe as I do - except it would be easier to shop.
  • Post a new comment


    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded 

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.