The modesty panel: Why I choose not to cover up.

A group of bloggers, including both Nicole and I, have teamed up to tackle the issue of modesty, and what it means to all of us. There are lots of different perspectives from lots of different women, covering sensitive topics that may be offensive to some people. This is my perspective and my opinion, and I do not mean to offend anyone but I make no apologies for what I am about to say.

modestypic

When I first decided I wanted to participate in these modesty posts, I thought I was an outsider, I didn’t feel like I’d ever come across modesty issues or ever actively considered my own modesty. But then I realised, I have, it’s been there all along, masquerading as bitchy comments from friends, rude comments from strangers, school uniform rules and my own conscience for dressing ‘appropriately’. My own perspective here is difficult to define, I do not consider myself ‘immodest’, by my own standards, but that begs the question of what is modest and what is not, an answer unique to each of us. Compared to a lot of women, my hemlines are high and my necklines are low, I’m the girl that old ladies whisper and tut at, and I’m fine with that, in fact I have come to embrace it.

First of all, what I wear is very important to me, my clothes amass more than 4 double wardrobes full, and a new outfit is my ultimate pick-me-up. But my clothes do not define me in any way. I don’t choose clothes because of how revealing they are or aren’t, of the clothes I like and think look good on me, most happen to be short or tight, or low cut, and that’s okay. Some women prefer and feel better in loose cuts and long hemlines, and that’s okay too. I wear clothes that I feel comfortable in, if you put me in a full coverage maxi dress I am not going to be the confident, witty self I would be in a short body-con dress because that’s just not me.

I have not experienced all that many negative comments about my clothing choices, especially compared to the other bloggers in the modesty panel. Sometimes, people do stare at me, I understand that the way I dress does attract stares, especially from men, I’m not thrilled about it but it doesn’t bother me too much. Most of the actual comments that I have experienced, come from girl ‘friends’, advising me that I might want to change because my outfit presents an air of sexual promiscuity, or words to that effect. I’m a slut, I have no class, I’m not ‘girlfriend material’? Okay, what am I supposed to say to that, thanks?. I could go so much further into my views on this, but here is neither the time nor place, in a nutshell I refuse to be slut-shamed into covering up. I will cover up for other reasons, ones that I deem appropriate, but not this one.

I want to share the most recent negative comment that I overheard, and was probably one of the most hurtful, difficult for me to laugh off in my usual manner. I was recently on holiday, sitting in the bar in a cute (not particularly revealing) sundress having pre-dinner drinks. A family are sitting close by, mother father and two daughters, and the mother keeps giving me the stink eye- I ignore it. I had to walk past their table for the loos, as I pass she made eye contact with me and said  “attention seeking dressed like that, that’s what happens when their mothers don’t raise them properly” I was absolutely gobsmacked at this, for many reasons. Mostly outraged that she had just made a grown-woman version of the ‘yo mamma’ insult, but also sad for her daughters, no girl should grow up thinking that wearing a pretty dress is ‘attention seeking’.

 The ‘offending’ dressImage

My mum has had a big impact on the way I see modesty, and she really made sure it just wasn’t an issue for me growing up. I have never been told ‘you’re not going out in that!’ or the like. She has always understood that I express myself through my clothes, being there with a handy safety pin if a nip slip is imminent, but supportive of my choices. I grew up, and went through puberty, feeling proud of and happy with my body, and I am grateful for never having to feel ashamed of my body as a lot of fellow bloggers have. I often wonder if my self-confidence is what makes me dress more ‘immodestly’, but no, self-confidence gives me the assurance to dress however I want, regardless of how that is.

Some of the other modesty posts discuss feeling made to cover up by males, who are ‘distracted’ by female immodesty. So why have I rarely encountered this attitude? Why do I experience negativity mainly from other females? I live in England, where there is much less of a religious overtone to opinions on modesty at least compared to some of the US, and although attending catholic schools, I didn’t really have a religious upbringing and neither did the people around me.  The biggest issue with modesty that I have encountered is the attitudes at university, a ‘lad’ culture where slut-shaming and rape jokes are almost the norm. This is intertwined with modesty, many girls are made to feel like they can’t do right, covering up deems you a prude or ‘frigid’ whereas choosing to show skin makes you a ‘slut’. This mindset denies all women respect, it is one of general misogyny that goes way further than is relevant to this post but definitely affects how a lot of women see themselves, and it frightens me to think how accepted this is in some circles.

I have so much more to say, and I’d love to discuss this further, please take the time to read the other modesty panel posts because we all have differing perspectives. The truth is, from my point of view, my miniskirts and plunging necklines say nothing about my personality, my intelligence, or the cliché ‘how many people I’ve slept with’.  I am not seeking your attention, judgement or validation, I choose my outfits based on my taste and preferences, I’m used to the stares but please, keep your unsolicited opinions to yourself.

-Amy

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19 thoughts on “The modesty panel: Why I choose not to cover up.

  1. Pingback: The Modesty Panel: What I Wear is None of your Damn Business. | Bras and Body Image

  2. I didn’t participate, but it’s probably good that I didn’t, because mine would’ve been an exact copy of this post 😛 I don’t tryyyyyyyyyyyyy to dress “immodestly”, I just look better in things that are tight, short, and low cut!

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  7. I find passive aggressive comments like that to be the worst because what can you do? Do you interrupt their dinner? “Excuse me, but I am a human being deserving of more respect than that!” I feel like they don’t encourage dialog, and one of the best ways to overcome our differences is through dialog. Another fabulous post in the series!

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  10. I like in England too and most of my comments have been from women! I did a post about this a while ago, not part of the modesty panel but about cleavage and why some people seem to get so offended by it.

    That’s so rude what that woman said, I can’t believe people think it’s okay to actually insult other people’s clothing choices. You don’t have to like what I wear, which is fine, because you’re not the one wearing it. Just don’t be so disgustingly rude. It makes me sad when women say things like that, because they’re buying into patriarchy and the idea that a woman in ‘revealing’ clothes is improper, slutty and somehow less ‘valuable’ than a modestly dressed woman.

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  14. I seriously can not handle that rude woman. WTF. Where was her mother when she was learning what is an acceptable way to interact with other people? BLEH. That dress looks great on you.

  15. Pingback: Modesty. | Hourglass with Class

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