Nonreasons, and Actual Reasons, for Modesty

Nonreason 1:

Because some geriatric patriarchy told me to.

Actual reason 1:

Because across decades of following (and not following) the advice of the leadership of my church, I have learned that there truly is merit to their invitations. In fact, no other council has ever been as consistently helpful.

Actual reason 1b:

My body, my choice. I choose this standard because it feels right.

Nonreason 2:

Because my body is a shameful thing.

Actual reason 2:

Because my body is friggin’ awesome. It has birthed five babies and fed them, carried me around two continents, climbed mountains, passed lifeguard training, progresses daily in various asanas,and I really do love it. It deserves respectful presentation, not exhibitionism. One can argue all day long about what is tasteful and what is not, at which point, please see Actual Reason 1. When choosing a standard, why not consider the input of people with hundreds of years of combined experience, who have proven themselves again and again?

Nonreason 3:

Because I don’t want to be “walking porn,” because I’m responsible for the thoughts of others, etc.

Actual reason 3:

Because there is a whole population of people recovering from/battling pornography addiction and sex addiction. While I cannot control their thoughts, and am in no way responsible for the caprices of their triggers, I will never forget hearing one struggling soul lament how much s/he hates summer–when being surrounded by exposed bodies is like being a recovering alcoholic in a bar. Out of respect and love and solidarity for those quietly fighting their personal battles, I will opt for knee length over cheeky.

Nonreason 4:

Because I don’t want to be attacked/catcalled/raped.

Actual Reason 4:

Once again, I’m not responsible for other’s actions. In a perfect world, we would all look at one another and see each other’s souls/ personhood/ infinite value, and behave accordingly. But we do not live in a perfect world. We live in a fallen world, wherein people can and will treat us differently according to how we look. Fair? No. True? Yes. Don’t believe me? Experiment. Experiment. Experiment. I dare you.

How I dress communicates more about myself than most people have the time or patience to hear or read. Ergo, I choose to communicate through modesty.

Nonreason 5:

Because I was brought up to. Because I was told to. Because my community expects me to.

Actual Reason 5:

Because I love God, and this is a sign between Him and me. It’s representative of many things, both sacred and profane, both explainable and beyond words, that exist in my relationship to the Divine. It’s an expression of my personal initiative and commitment in this most precious relationship. My choice of clothing is sacred, and how I cover myself is as real, personal, and sacred. Hijab for some, tichel for some, mantilla for some, sleeved shirts for some. It’s sacred and belongs between the self and God.

Actual Reason 5b:

Because I want to. And even if there were times and places when I don’t feel like it, see Reason 5. All relationships matter more than clothing choice, but this relationship matters infinitely more. I can already hear some saying, “if your God would cast you off for something as shallow as how you dress, he’s not worth worshipping!”

My dress is not about God’s love for me. It’s about my love for God. Which is small and imperfect and deserves every outlet of expression I can find for it.

The End

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