You don't have to signal a social conscience by looking like a frump. Lace knickers won't hasten the holocaust, you can ban the bomb in a feather boa just as well as without, and a mild interest in the length of hemlines doesn't necessarily disqualify you from reading Das Kapital and agreeing with every word. --Elizabeth Bibesco

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Happy Belated Easter, everyone!

So Happy Easter! Sorry this made it up a bit late-- I went to Easter Vigil, then celebrated my Easter by sleeping in and then working at our local Domestic Violence Shelter-- where I wrote this (in the down time), but didn't get a chance to post it until now.

So today was my first day as a "free woman," so to speak. I also stressed out way more about clothes today than I have in at least a week. And don't get me wrong, clothes were stressful all through Lent, but now I have to decide what I want to wear rather than what's clean that I can wear that matches. :) Truth be told, I don't know what I want to wear.
So here's me trying to figure that out...

I know that I don't see pants as immodest or unfeminine. (To prove this last point, take any one of my jeans and put the butchest man you can find in them and he will look very feminine.) I do, however, see pants as a pain in the neck and not nearly as much fun as skirts.

Not many of my skirts are much shorter than 3/4 of the way down my thighs, but a good handfull of them don't cover my knees. I wore one of those today. With leggings. So my knees wouldn't feel totally bare.

The top was way more trouble for me. You see, I have 34DD boobs, which means that shirts that don't show one whit of cleavage on anyone else, show a lot on me. Today, I wanted to wear something that maybe didn't cover my collarbones, but also wouldn't show cleavage. In fact, maybe that's what I want all the time. I'm not sure. Either way, I own 2 shirts that fall into that category-- and both of them were dirty.

So I ended up wearing a shirt that covered my collarbones, but had short sleeves. I also covered my hair.

One of the big things I learned from Lent is this: my basic outfit of jeans and a t-shirt or jeans and a sweater may be comfortable for me, but it doesn't feel like honoring God. Not because of what I reveal or don't reveal necessarily, but because I want to think about God every moment of every day and I'm not. (Now, the odds of me actually achieving this are slim, but hey, a girl can dream.) So in order to achieve that, I'm going to start covering my head. It's not in obedience to Paul's command in 1 Corinthians... because I don't have a husband to show submission to. And also because I think Paul is a crock... a well intentioned crock, but a crock nonetheless. I plan on covering my head so that every time it annoys me, every time I have to fix it, every time I fuss about finding one that matches, I remember that God is always over me. That's the idea anyway. If it doesn't end up working, I may change it.

Another thing I learned from Lent is that there are parts of my body that I think should be between me, my Woman and God. And that's okay. And it's not necessarily parts of my body that I have issues with. Some of them are, but even then, the reasons I was having issues with them were because I expected the whole world to see them and thus, the whole world's opinion mattered. When I narrow it down to my Woman, my God and me, well... my Woman and my God like all of my body-- it's just me who needs to catch up. :)

Funnily enough, I think these areas correspond pretty well with the Mormon rules, which require that the clothes cover Temple garments (the women's are on the right). I think my body from my breasts down to 3/4 of my thigh should be covered, maybe my knees. I'm not so sure about cleavage yet-- simply because I'm unwilling, I think, to throw out all the clothes that show cleavage on me. I do think my shoulders should be covered almost all the time. (I'll make an exception for swimming.) And, although the Mormons never specifically state this, I think when the weather is cold and everyone else is wearing long-sleeves, I should wear long-sleeves most of the time too. To be honest, I don't think this has changed much since the beginning of Lent. I've simply learned that it's okay. I don't have to be okay with showing all of my body to everyone.

What do I think God thinks of this?

Well, as I've said before, I'm pretty sure God would prefer it if we didn't fuss about clothes at all. I shall work on that. In the meantime, I think God's pretty okay with my choices. Do I think God is also okay with what "Anne" wears? Yeah. Do I think God is also okay with what the women at the SlutWalks wear? Yup. I think God wants us to be comfortable in our bodies, to respect our bodies and to treat them as Temples of God, whatever that means to us. I think that can be done in all kinds of clothes.


Dina said...

So interesting to hear of a non-Jew choosing to dress in a tzanua manner. The rules of tznius, just to clarify, call for at minimum the covering of elbows, collarbone, and knees (even while sitting). I see modern Orthodox women wearing short sleeves but there is no halachic justification for this that holds any water as far as I can tell. In my family we wear opaque tights at all times as well as sleeves all the way to the wrists, but not all orthodox people do this. I am interested to hear how it is that you think despite all the biblical evidence from both Christianity and Judaism that G-d is okay with "slutty" clothing? I ask this with an open mind - I would like to hear how someone who chooses modesty personally does not extend that to other women. Please understand I was raised in an extremely restrictive cult where my mom was required to veil even her face, and I now live in an Orthodox community - So my knowledge of the diversity of views on modesty is limited. I am getting to know more Christian women only as an effect of entering the blogosphere! Nice to meet you.

Allie said...

Yes. I've been following the rules you listed as halachically mandatory. The one I hadn't been following is the no-bright-colors one-- because I would've had to buy an entirely new wardrobe to accomplish it.

A lot of my beliefs about God and clothing can be found in this post: The gist of it is that Jesus says God will take care of our clothing, so we shouldn't worry about it, and Micah says (which is, as I understand, the justification for tznius) to walk humbly with God. So, in my mind, as long as you are walking humbly with God and not worrying about what you wear (which could easily get in the way of walking humbly with God, I think), the actual articles of clothing don't matter so much.

Anonymous said...

Personally, I disagree with what you say about pants being neither unfeminine nor immodest. You simply cannot have pants that are both feminine and modest... you can only have one or the other. The only pants I've ever found that are truly modest are those that are extremely baggy, like cargo pants. On the other hand, these pants aren't exactly feminine! But at the same time, feminine jeans tend to be tight. I don't wear pants and when I do see women wearing them, I always notice how tight they are... they often leave VERY little to the imagination. You can see every curve of a woman's legs and butt (some designs even show every cleft!!!). This definitely doesn't fit the bill for modesty.

Allie said...

@Anonymous-- What about flair jeans? If they weren't too tight...

And I think this comes down to your definition of feminine. If you put my modest flair jeans on a very butch man, I suspect he would feel uncomfortably feminine.

Also, I think it's cultural-- current western fashions don't offer lots of options for a woman wanting to feel modest and feminine (one of many reasons I tend to avoid pants any more). However, check out some of the options for pants in a traditional, Indian salwar suit like here:

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