One small piece of the storm surrounding Harvey Weinstein has been a resurgence of the question of whether modest clothing prevents rape. Mayim Bialik brought the issue back to the limelight when she wrote an opinion piece for the New York Times. In it, she implied that she had never been assaulted because “I dress modestly. I don’t act flirtatiously with men as a policy.” (She later retracted that implication on Twitter.)
It shouldn’t need saying, but modest clothing doesn’t reduce sexual assault. If it did, there wouldn’t be any assaults against burka-wearing Muslim women or long-skirted and cloaked Jewish women.
Brands like ours certainly disprove Mayim’s implication that dressing modestly is less attractive. There are so many great fashion lines out there that put effort into making modest dressing women feel beautiful. Just cast an eye over the huge stable of fashion bloggers who pull together amazing outfits from the modest pieces that are in regular fashion stores.
But it’s possible that modest dressing can make a difference to sexual assault, just not the way you might think.
It’s not about the clothes.
It’s about the mindset.
Women who’ve chosen to dress modestly generally feel more self-confident. They project an aura of assertiveness, of feeling comfortable in their skin. Contrary to popular myth, modest-dressers are not just victims of patriarchal brainwashing, nor are they ashamed of their bodies or scared of being assaulted.
One example of the power of covering up comes from looking at how powerful women dress. Check out how much skin is shown by female CEOs, politicians and other important women. The more power you have, the less skin you show.
Psychologists hold that sexual assault isn’t about sex. It’s about power. Choosing to dress modestly takes back the power into women’s own hands.
Note that the key word here is choice. This fascinating video shows a Muslim woman liberated from ISIS in Raqqa ripping off the abaya she was forced to wear to reveal equally modest clothing beneath. She wasn’t objecting to wearing modest clothing; she objected to the modest clothing she was forced to wear. It’s the modest clothing we choose that empowers us.
Modest clothing sends a clear message that this woman is not a man’s plaything, eye candy or entertainment. The aura of confidence that surrounds modest dressing women might just deter a number of men who, like all bullies, feel free to cat-call, comment or grab at an easy target.
As we approach the end of the summer and the new school year, anyone with children is starting to think about all the school supplies and books they need to buy. But, in addition to the typical and necessary things children need for school, new clothing somehow always finds its way to the shopping list.
It seems as though the clothing is becoming smaller and skimpier and as such, encouraging our children, especially for school, to choose modest items is proving more difficult. Because of this, many schools are opting to establish dress codes or even uniforms. Although this seems like a great solution to a widespread problem, it actually creates many challenges for parents, students, and teachers.
The dress code, which is often the first choice, is great because it allows the school to set guidelines while maintaining the ability for students to express themselves and be unique. A dress code can encourage unity among students, greater productivity in the classroom, save time in the morning and instill a real world appropriate vs. non – concept. On the other hand, there are many challenges to implementing a dress code. The biggest problem with a dress code is the inability to enforce rules uniformly. Often teachers must make judgments based on rules that can seem unfair to students. Especially with rules like the fingertip rule (where shorts and skirts should rise no higher than the tips of one’s finger), which varies greatly based on a person height and length of their arm or legs. Leaving it up to a teacher to decide what is ‘too tight’ can even leave students feeling picked on and judged.
Overall, dress codes work to ensure that the school environment remains conducive to learning and while there may be obstacles to achieving that, it is the smallest and simplest way to maintain control.
What do you remember from dress codes when you were in school? How does that compare to the dress codes in our children’s schools today?
Women who choose to follow a religious or cultural dress code are often grappling with what defines modest dress as, well, modest. Although different cultures may vary on what is considered modest, there are certain standards that are accepted as modest dress.
Modesty is a way of life. It is about choosing to keep things private that today have been exploited. That means for some women, trying to dress modestly is about minor technicalities like covering up past their elbows and knees or concealing their ankles. However, for other women, it may mean avoiding sheer fabrics or very tight revealing clothing. The concept of modesty is an important and personal one, and therefore different opportunities to express oneself modestly should be available.
Modesty and chastity are developed from within oneself, yet expressed outwardly. People as well should dress in ways that reflect their modest choices and beliefs and refrain from outwardly judging others’ choices in dress or how their modesty is conveyed.
Have you fallen into that trap of judging others for not being modest enough? Or bending the standards of modest dress? Share how you personalize the experience of modest dress below, I’d love to hear from all of you.
Is it possible to be modest in the beach, without actually suffering inside? Yes absolutely! We’ve previously written about how modest dress codes in tourist destinations, and how to dress for a cruise. Allow us to tell you how you can look modestly fabulous for the beach!
For starters, thank goodness we live in a digital day and age where you can simply order modest active wear, including swim shirts and cover-up skirts. Offhand, you might wonder, “What’s the difference?” The difference is that these items offer utmost comfort and protection for the modest wearer. They are UV protective, fast drying, and are even chlorine resistant. In the case of the swim shirts, they offer a double fabric panel at the chest, which helps maintain modesty after the area comes in contact with water. Best part of all is that these come in many gorgeous colors. No need to suffer in the heat wearing all-black!
There’s a passage we particularly love, from modest blogger TorahCents on the topic of dressing modestly for the beach:
What I do believe is that modesty is not relative to your situation or location. If your standard of modesty is a bikini on a beach, COOL! Then you should feel just as comfortable and appropriate with that on if you had to run into a grocery store or to church for service.
If you don’t, please believe that outfit is not your standard of modesty. It’s something that you have convinced your heart to believe is ok based upon what society promotes. It is illogical to believe that a bikini or one piece is ok at a public beach, but rocking a bra and panties or a leotard is immodest everywhere else. It’s the same thing—the same level of coverage, just made of different material.
What are your thoughts on dressing modestly in the beach? Let us know!
There are many contrasting opinions on what qualifies to be considered modest clothing. That is mainly because some religions have rules and guidelines on it that are far more strict than others. Furthermore, it varies between different sects of each religion, and between congregations as well. Modest clothing styles also tend to vary between individuals that don’t necessarily have religious affiliations. In their cases, it has more to do with culture and personal preferences.
In general, modest clothing refers to clothing that obviously covers the most private parts of the body, and is also relatively loose-fitting and doesn’t cling to the contours of the body. For most people who choose to dress conservatively, they opt for the types of colors that are more natural and earthy- the blues, greens, blacks, whites, and browns. When it comes to brighter colors such as the vivid pinks, oranges, and yellows- it varies between the wearer. There are many ultra Orthodox women who refrain from wearing bright colors and/or patterns, for modesty purposes.
There are also the matter of dimensions of each garment. In many religions, women are not permitted to wear short shorts. There are some in which women aren’t permitted to wear fitted pants at all, and are advised to wear modest skirts. But how long is a modest skirt expected to be? Well, in some cases it is expected to reach the knee. In others, it is expected to go below the knee. Then there are those that require skirts to reach the ankles. Women are generally also told to avoid see-through clothing, skirts/dresses with long slits, revealing bathing suits, and in many sects even tops with revealing necklines.
Rules of modesty aren’t limited to clothes. There are also restrictions on the wearing of makeup and jewelry. In some faiths, women aren’t allowed to cut their hair. Although it may appear a bit much to some, there are also strict rules of modesty that apply to men as well. The guiding principle behind the rules of modesty and modest clothing is to project humility and not spark sinful thoughts and actions on oneself or others.