Tag Archives: Definition of Modesty

Marketing’s Chump I am No Longer

‘Tis the Season to make consumers feel like they don’t have enough and wont be cool enough until they have it all. Can  modesty extend to our purchases and consumer habits?

Modesty(Dictionary.com)

–noun, plural -ties.

  1. the quality of being modest; freedom from vanity, boastfulness, etc.
  2. regard for decency of behavior, speech, dress, etc.
  3. simplicity; moderation.

     

This holiday season, I’m aiming for #3. No over-buying, no over-spending. No useless chotchkie and doo-dads. And I don’t want them either. This Christmas I will embrace a season of simplicity and rebel against consumerism. Away goes the VISA or MasterCard. One well-chosen gift for the few who count.

But before that, I’m going to go and write some final exams.

Merry Christmas,

~CUC

Stay tuned for the post about my upcoming job interview.

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Aside

Ten minute video with three different muslim women. One is dressed in the secular fashion, one hijab and one niquab.

Cultural Modesty Standards – Part 2

Well it’s better late than never or so they say.

This is a response to Part 1 of the post.

I am not sure how I would deal with having to uncover to meet a cultural/political norm. I am uncomfortable with the idea of having to remove my head covering in any situation where there are boys to whom I am not related. This LiveJournal entry was the most thought-provoking post or article I’ve seen in quite some time.

Hotcoffeems has been put between the proverbial rock and hard-place. Family is important. In  this instance I feel like the political statement is more important. My mom and I may have friendly and irritating debates about the fact that I don’t run around without my hair covered, but it isn’t complicated by the fact that I’m also making a contradictory political statement. Even if I were, I don’t live in a country where things are so polarised.

There was an interesting comment about how the Jewish community or communities would look at an issue such as this.

My question about this is, are there no legitimate religious opinions in Islam that hold that a full hijab scarf is unnecessary? I know that in Orthodox Judaism it is pretty normative that hair covering is required, but different communities and different sages have disagreed about HOW to cover your hair. In fact, there are some rabbis who have even posited that it’s no longer a requirement in this age and place! There is disagreement about WHO is a legitimate Jewish law decider, but generally in our religion it’s understood there are often various (sometimes vastly differing) religious opinions on a topic that are all valid. For instance, Sephardic and Ashkenazic Jews do things very differently but often see what the other group does as religiously legitimate… for THAT group. Plus we tend to follow our rabbi’s opinions and if they reach a legitimate conclusion from serious study of the texts, it’s okay if that opinion isn’t exactly the same as someone else’s. There are still community norms, but when you travel from place to place they vary quite dramatically. I don’t know how it is in Islam, but in Judaism, context and culture and tradition can indeed matter when making religious decisions.

In Orthodox Christianity this could fall under Pastoral Guidance or Economia. Perhaps, in the Protestant denominations, these lines would fall down denominational divisions as opposed to two different congregations of the same denomination having practical differences.

So what is the answer? I have no clue.  I hope that Hotcoffeemsis able to find a way to cover to her satisfaction that also satisfies her family and her political associations.

And what are your thoughts?

My question about this is, are there no legitimate religious opinions in Islam that hold that a full hijab scarf is unnecessary? I know that in Orthodox Judaism it is pretty normative that haircovering is required, but different communities and different sages have disagreed about HOW to cover your hair. In fact, there are some rabbis who have even posited that it’s no longer a requirement in this age and place! There is disagreement about WHO is a legitimate Jewish law decider, but generally in our religion it’s understood there are often various (sometimes vastly differing) religious opinions on a topic that are all valid. For instance, Sephardic and Ashkenazic Jews do things very differently but often see what the other group does as religiously legitimate… for THAT group. Plus we tend to follow our rabbi’s opinions and if they reach a legitimate conclusion from serious study of the texts, it’s okay if that opinion isn’t exactly the same as someone else’s. There are still community norms, but when you travel from place to place they vary quite dramatically. I don’t know how it is in Islam, but in Judaism, context and culture and tradition can indeed matter when making religious decisions.

Cultural Modesty Standards

This entry is from the Live Journal community Modest Style and is reprinted with permission from the LJ user “hotcoffeems.” (Thanks again!)

This entry and the comments were facinating. This was one of those modesty issues that had never occured to me. What if I went somewhere in the world and my way of dressing was the same as a group with an opposing political or religious view to my own? Would I change?

Minimal editing has been done for context. Comments do not have usernames attached as their permission was not saught.

The entry was entitled: Changing Styles of Modest Dress

I’ve been hijabi for a while now, here in the US, from religious conviction.I just returned from a three-week trip to Algeria. While there, I got engaged. My fiance is a Kabyle.

Of note: In Algeria, there is a fairly sharp distinction culturally between those of Arab and those of Kabyle descent, particularly with people who are tribally identified as Kabyle (as Billal is). This extends to manner of dress. Women of more Arab tradition are the ones who wear hijab as we know it here; Kabyle women almost never cover their heads, although some older women wear a kerchief that leaves the neck exposed. Some of them actually wear quite-fabulous traditional Kabyle clothing; it was nice to touch down at Houari Boumediene Airport and see this, I was going, “OMG! Lookit the clothes! How cool!”

Actually there’s a wide spectrum of dress style in Algerie, from Western, often-revealing clothing, to full niqab. This in a country where 98% of the population is Muslim.

But: Wearing the hijabi style I’ve become accustomed to in the US in Algerie marks one as of the more conservative Arab tradition. Hanging around my fiance and his family and friends, it would have been inappropriate for me to do this, so I didn’t, only covering my head for prayer. I did continue to dress modestly, just not with full headscarf. Especially with older members of his family, it felt like a matter of respect, given the sometimes really contentious rift between Kabyle and Arab (of note: my fiance is a veteran of Algerie’s Civil War; he has strong feelings against the conservative “arabiste” style of Islam, for good reason.)

I have found that basically when we marry, I will be considered also tribally Kabyle. And the likelihood, right now, is inchallah I will be moving there, not him moving here.

So the thing is, I’ve had to kind of recalibrate my notions of hijab with certain cultural mores, because it’s a cultural identity issue. Given the amount of thought I’m putting into this, it’s not a matter of “hijab on, hijab off” fashion or convenience. It’s interesting though, because I *am* having to rethink my expectations.

Has anyone else had to adjust and adapt their modest dress conventions for cultural or identity reasons? Did you have difficulty doing so, or reconciling it with your religious beliefs? I don’t feel I’m compromising my religious beliefs, especially as my fiance and his family are just as good Muslims as anyone else, but it’s a rather jarring adaptation to make, mentally. But still, it has become part of my self-identity living in the US as a Muslimah, so it’s giving me a lot of food for thought.

I’ll share  my own thoughts in Part 2 next week.

Some comments on the entry:

These have been removed. It was pointed out that I only asked the poster of the original entry and not the posters of the comments. I appologise if I violated anyone’s sense of privacy or security. It will not happen again.


    You’re thoughts?

Modesty : It’s Shades of Grey

Interesting fact: When women started wearing the male-inspired doublet pictured on the left, many considered it immodest. The one pictured right was exclusively a female styled garment preserving the very definite gender differences. It didn’t matter that a very large portion of cleavage was showing. (Both portraits are of Elizabeth I at different points in her life.)

There are many different interpretations and definitions of modesty. Many books have been written. Debates have raged. Over time interpretations and definitions have changed and evolved.

As far as I’ve seen thoughts on modesty can fall into two basic categories: Coverage and Attitude. You can ascribe to either or both. Coverage, of course, is mostly concerned with clothing. To what degree should someone cover themselves? How tight or loose should a modest garment be? Attitude is a catch-all for everything that isn’t clothing.

Coverageis less simple than it may seem on the surface. It becomes more complicated when you are trying to develop a personal standard as opposed to following a community standard. For me coverage does mean avoiding clothing that is too tight or too tight for a certain situation. I wear skirts all the time. I don’t own pants. (Read my entry Put Some Pants On! to find out more.) I am covered to the knee, generally my elbows are covered and you won’t see my cleavage. I cover my hair in public, but bangs are seen fairly often. (I suppose this counts as cleavage, albeit, hair cleavage.) This is true for every time I step outside my house or there is an unrelated man in my house.

I am currently undecided about my swimwear situation. Before I started covering my hair I had a one-piece swimsuit that is commonly worn by fitness swimmers. I haven’t been swimming in three years or more. (I plan on a post lamenting the disappointing shopping trip.)

I decided on my personal standards after much research and experimentation. It was easy for me to decide to adopt something close to the Tzniut rules on dress. Being an Orthodox Christian, we commonly hear about our Jewish roots. There is respect for what came before. It is hard for me not to respect something that has been around for such a long time. The reason I don’t follow the Tzniut dress code exactly is not a fully formed decision. I think it is more a matter of ease and comfort. I cover my elbows because I feel more secure. I’m not sure why I feel more comfortable exposing my knee caps than my elbows. It just came to be that way. I don’t work to cover my collar-bone but the majority of my shirts nearly make it. My chest is fully covered, so I’m happy. Deeper necklines are easily filled with a scarf drapped overtop or a high-necked shirt beneath. I haven’t worn a turtle-neck in years. The one thing I am conscious about is bringing too much attention to my chest. (I’ve never been considered small) One thing that can make you look like you have a ski slope is a single coloured, turtle neck. No Thanks.

I have facial piercings and don’t feel these are immodest. I think people are just a tad confused. (post on piercings coming up!)

Attitude is an all together different matter. I swear, have been known to drink and am painfully blunt. These could be considered immodest. I wouldn’t necessarily disagree. Though I wouldn’t whole-heartedly agree either.

What I do attempt to avoid is talking about certain things in mixed company. Things like birth control, the female cycles (other women’s as well as mine), hygiene (such as waxing), etc. The basic rule of thumb is if it is gender specific or sexual in nature then it is not something to be discussed in mixed company. When it’s ladies only, all bets are off.

These are my personal guidelines. I tend to struggle more with the attitude more than coverage. Attitude is easier to slip up with than coverage by far. It’s all a process.

What are your thoughts?