Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Modesty: Is it in the Mind or in the Method?

I love watching National Geographic, as I wish to NOT be ignorant of the world. It occurred to me today while watching one such video about a Congolese family that this woman, with her beautiful head wrap but her breast hanging out as to feed her child is a perfect example of modesty. No no, stick with me.

If this woman had been in America, feeding her child openly with one breast literally hanging, she would have been on the receiving of some very nasty glares and possibly even asked to cover her self. We have been so indoctrinated as to over-sexualized everything to the point that we see "BREAST!" before we see "feeding". WHOA! Breastfeeding tangent, sorry.

What I am trying to get at though is that THIS:

(check out that awesome head wrap!!)
is infinitely  more modest than, say, THIS:
(psst! I can see your nipples!!!)
Despite the fact that photo two COVERS more than photo one, photo two has the INTENTION of being sexy. AND guess which one would be deleted from a Facebook account. Yuppers! If you guessed photo one, give yourself a hand. If not, you have obviously not been paying attention to the news.

I guess what I am really trying to get at is this. You could cover every inch of skin and be LESS modest than say... me wearing my sarong tied around my waist to cover my butt and thighs at the beach. It's all about intent.

(aside.... I really thought that this would have come out more eloquent but for some reason words fail me today. Calliope, you have failed me! )


Cora said...


There is NOTHING immodest about a woman breastfeeding her child. I honestly don't understand what the big deal is when women walk around in deep v-neck shirts and no bras. Saw that a few times at Uni and I was like WTF??

It's intent and self respect. A woman feeding her child is not looking for sexual attention whereas a skirt that barely covers the ass cheeks is worn to get noticed. And I would argue that said woman is less comfortable in her skin that a woman wearing a demure knee length skirt...or it is for me.

Whoa...I'll stop now before I go into a modest rant ;-)

Katrina said...

I think you expressed your point beautifully and clearly! And I agree entirely, modesty IS about intent, and about what kind of image you want to present to the world. The covering up of one's anatomy does not automatically make one modest, just like the incidental nudity of a woman breastfeeding her child is not automatically obscene, or even sexual. Sometimes I wonder if "modest" is the right word to describe the standard of dress I have for myself. I think it might be more along the lines of "dignified," but even that doesn't quite capture it. I may have to give that some thought...

naiadis said...

The city I live in is one of those cities in the US where it's legal for women to walk around topless. Most people don't; I never would, but I like that they can because the double-standard is stupid. And yet, it's so ingrained. Last spring, after we moved to our new place, I was walking my dog past one of the co-op living places (I don't know that it technically is, it seems like it is) near our house. I saw, a block away, a topless person gardening. I'll admit, my thought-filters were not on (and my eyesight is not remotely good). My thoughts went something like, "wow, he's pretty small to have such generous man-boobs omigod they are not man-boobs" and then I had to turn down another street because I was way too flushed to be mature. But at least I knew it and acted accordingly? Or, something . . . . hey, I'm not proud (even if I can be amused at my juvenile thought process)