Thursday, September 5, 2013

On Modesty?

So I shared this article on facebook today. I'd read it a week or so ago when it was initially posted and I was struck then by how much I liked what it was saying, and then struck again when I noticed it posted on facebook by a few of my friends and read it again. It's not a flawless piece of writing, but I really like the couple of points it has to make.

After re-approaching the idea of modesty, really rethinking what it is to be modest, modesty being more about how one approaches ones self and others, how one lives and behaves, being humble and un-ostentation, the newish version of the definition of modesty, relating specifically to the cut of clothing, drives me crazy. I guess I simply believe, rather strongly, that "modesty" should be derived almost entirely from the self respect a person has for themselves, with a very very small amount left to be defined by society. A minuscule amount, really. Only enough to appease the most basic levels of decorum from society to society. And even with that minuscule amount, I still think I'm being entirely generous. There are many who will think I'm being too generous, actually.

I guess what really bothers me most are the cultural attachments to and the marketing and selling of the idea of "modesty." You can't sell modesty. Modesty is not about being covered from "here" to "here". It is not something to call people out on when they don't meet your definition of "modesty" or something to praise yourself about when you've met that definition. It should be something that seeps out from the deepest levels of your self understanding. While we've culturally attached a definition of modesty relating to level of dress, that idea does the word "modesty" a great disservice, degrading the good intentions and deep embodiment of what the word and idea can mean. And when we become so ingrained in thinking only certain things meet with being "modest" we unintentionally make modesty the most base and mundane version of what it should be, seeing only the most superficial level of it. It's more than that. So much more.

Ok. Rant over. I'm sure I'll continue to be fairly annoyed when I see sales pitches use the word "modest" in ridiculous ways, pandering to the superficial idea, but there's not much getting around that, other than working to remind people about what modesty is about.

In summary,

"Modesty is primarily about recognizing the dignity of the human spirit and acting accordingly."

Edit: Here's another post I've just come across that points out a lot of the issues currently tossed about with the idea of modesty - highlighting  ridiculous differences between the "rules" set for girls and boys.

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