Modesty: The Ancient Secret of Allure

by Jen

By Basya Speshel

In today’s world of nudity appearing on the cover of Vanity Fair, legal pornography, and court battles over public thong wear, one might expect the value of modesty in dress and behavior to have long hidden itself under a rock. The online version of the Miriam Webster Dictionary defines modest as :

1 : freedom from conceit or vanity
2 : propriety in dress, speech, or conduct

Perhaps the internet would seem the last place to seek support for modesty in today’s world. However, there are in fact sites dedicated to a quiet counter revolution towards modesty rather than away from it. We sent questions to several sites dedicated to modesty and present here replies that will inform you about today’s state of modesty on the internet.

1) What do you feel are the greatest advantages of dressing modestly in today’s world?

Dara of replies: From an internal, spiritual standpoint, dressing modestly is one of the easiest ways to help one stay on the straight path and to be close to God, but ‘easy’ is a relative term isn’t it? One may find it difficult to dress modestly while surrounded by today’s messages of beauty, but think about the other internal and external struggles you face trying to do what is right. Isn’t the simple act of choosing a different style of clothing easy compared to other struggles?

From an external, worldly standpoint, a modest dresser has a better chance of giving a first impression that reflects her intellect and interests rather than her physical attributes below the neck. If one wants to give a first impression based on intellect and interests, then dressing modestly gives one this advantage. After the first impression though, modest clothing won’t hold up the image if one doesn’t back it up with matching conduct.

Jen of replies: There are many advantages of dressing modestly but I’ll just talk about one. I think that dressing modestly gives girls the advantage of attracting guys who are decent and are looking for something more than sex. It’s a way to weed out the guys who aren’t worth the girl’s time and find the ones who are.

Although girls do sometimes approach guys, most of the time girls like to wait for a guy to first show an interest in them. So a girl’s dating options are then limited to the males who have shown an interest in her or asked her out. A guy looking for a girlfriend doesn’t have much to go on when he looks around at girls he doesn’t yet know, and the way a person dresses is one of the few visible clues that can be used to try to figure out what they are like.

A guy looking for a girlfriend who has higher morals will look for a girl who dresses more conservatively while still being attractive. A guy looking mainly for sex will look for a girl who shows a lot of skin, wears tight clothing, and in other ways seems like she is trying to be sexy or attract someone for sex. Notice that the way a girl dresses might not be indicative of her morals at all, but males will still judge her based on her clothing because it is the easiest and most obvious way of guessing what she is like.

A girl who is looking for a decent boyfriend but dresses immodestly may unknowingly be hurting her odds and instead be attracting males who will be destructive to her. Date rape is common and it often occurs when a guy thinks the girl he is dating is willing to have sex with him and then (sometimes in the heat of the moment) he finds out that she isn’t. Date rape is not the girl’s fault, but a girl can better protect herself from date rape by making sure she isn’t unknowingly sending a message she doesn’t mean to send.

2) Why did you decide to build a web site about modesty?

Dara: It took me a lot of time surfing the Web to populate my personal list of modest clothing sites after I decided to dress more modestly. I imagined how much time would be collectively wasted by current and future modest dressers if we were all doing the same searches over and over. Plus, I wanted practice building a Web site, so I thought publishing my list would be a good way to get practice while contributing something to society.

I had two reasons for adding the other links outside my own niche. One reason was simply to help other ladies find, with less effort, the kind of modest clothing they wear. The greater reason though that got me excited was that I thought I could convey a subtle message of unity among ladies of different faiths if all the links were on one Web site. We can be reminded that even though we don’t agree on theology, women who dress modestly to please God have at least that in common. I know the reaction to this idea has the potential to be, “Well, that’s all we have in common, because they aren’t going to heaven!” But the reaction I’m hoping to elicit is more like, “Oh, I didn’t know they even have standards of modesty. Granted, they’re not like mine, but any woman who has the courage to follow any standards of modesty in this day and age shares something with me.”

Jen: I decided to build a web site about modesty to help young religious girls; to give them a resource to turn to and help them feel that they aren’t alone in their beliefs about modesty. I also wanted to provide an alternative to the popular magazines that, although fun to read, glamorize immodest clothing and behaviors.

3) What words of advice would you give to today’s young lady trying to maintain standards of modesty?

Dara: If you’re trying to maintain standards of modesty for religious reasons, then consider this analogy. Your teacher hands back your exam, and you’ve received an ‘F’. You’re floored and desperately glance around at your neighbors’ papers to see if you’re the only one who has done poorly. You are. Almost convinced that you should have done better, you ask your teacher about the exam. He says, “Oh yes, I graded your paper with the answer key for a different exam.” Are you going to turn around and sit down accepting your poor grade as is? Of course not. That’s not even a question. You’re going to ask to have your exam graded with the proper answer key. So too stick up for yourself when you’re unjustly comparing yourself to the model in the magazine. Tell yourself to quit grading yourself with the wrong answer key. Some young women are conducting themselves to receive the rewards of this life, but if you’re being raised to live a Godly life, you’re trying to conduct yourself to receive the better rewards of the next life, and the rules aren’t the same.

Remember too that the grass is not greener on the other side of the fence. You may be wistfully gazing across the room (in a public school) at a “hot” girl wishing you could wear makeup not realizing that she may be thinking of you, “Look at her. She’s so self-confident and happy with life, and she’s not even allowed to wear makeup or jewelry. I look hot, but my life is in the dumps.”

Everyone has something. Everyone has something in their life that they struggle with—we just can’t always see it. If we could see it, we’d probably stop wishing we could be them.

Jen: I would tell young ladies trying to maintain standards of modesty “Keep living what you believe. There are two ways you can look at your beliefs; you can think of your beliefs as something that makes you unique and be proud of those beliefs, or you can look at your beliefs as something that makes you different and be embarrassed of those beliefs. If you act embarrassed then other people won’t respect your beliefs either; they will assume there is something about your beliefs to be embarrassed about. If you act proud then other people will see that and assume that there is something cool or interesting about your beliefs.”

4) What do you think the near future holds for the topic of modesty on the internet?

Dara: I think we’ll continue to see modest dressers speaking up to get their voices heard in the larger society. Modest dressers are fighting an attitude that modesty is old-fashioned and that modest dressers need to catch up to 21st century styles.

In return, I think we’ll keep hearing the defensive arguments from the if-you’ve-got-it-flaunt-it camp that demonstrate that we’re not really being truly understood, and, unfortunately, pictures on our clothing sites will continue to be the butt of jokes and insults in online groups.

Fortunately, some stores, some individuals, some journalists, some writers, and others will understand us, respect us, and maybe even try to help us—even if they don’t want to dress modestly themselves.

Jen: I think modesty will continue to be a popular topic among religious people on the internet. The internet is great in that it allows people to learn about, find, and purchase things that aren’t available locally, so I think modest clothing will continue to be found and sold online.

True freedom of choice can only be exercised when a person has choices. In today’s world of disappearing clothing, one may feel like there is little choice left about modesty in dress and behavior. These sites and others fill the part of the spectrum that allows true freedom of choice by informing us about modesty online.

Copyright (c) Basya Speshel

About the author:
Basya Speshel writes for about topics in modesty. The site posts reviews of sewing patterns appropriate for modern dress, book reviews, and articles related to modest clothing. Visit today for more modest clothing resources or to post your own reviews.
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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Anonymous March 25, 2007 at 10:42 am

I really like this article. It’s so true that there are so many bad websites out there, but there are lots of good sites we can use aswell.


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