Religious Modesty

I’d like to first state that I would never judge a woman for how she dresses. That’s a personal choice and we all have the right to do whatever we want and have no one judge us. That being said:

For years, we’ve thought of religion as something that sets us back in time, a way for a bunch of old guys to dictate how we dress and act. I want to set the record straight.
I’m Jewish. I grew up going to a religious private school that adhered to all the rules judaism dictates. As part of this, girls, starting in first grade, were to wear skirts that reached at least midknee, necklines that hit our collarbones, and sleeves that reached the elbow. As we grew older, the rules were to be followed more strictly. I, like all my classmates, bitched and moaned because I’d have to change if my skirt had a slit too high in the back or because you could see juuust a little too much of my chest. I felt restricted and objectified. Boys also had a dress code, they were to wear only collared shirts and long pants (no jeans) and they had to wear kippahs on their heads. But ours were much more difficult to adhere to. We felt watched and judged because of what we wore.

It wasn’t until very recently that I began to understand why Judaism, and other such religions, had rules for modesty for women. It wasn’t because they didn’t want us to be sluts or because they didn’t want us to distract boys. It was because Judaism understands the value of a woman. And her body. I don’t deem the laws restricting, I deem them a compliment. Someone is telling me, “your body is beautiful, it does amazing things, and we don’t need to see that to know that”. I’ve learned to think about modesty laws as something for my benefit, not just a way to keep boys focused. My religion is telling me just how sacred I am, how special and personal my body is, how it should be respected, not stared at. I personally don’t really follow the rules of modesty, I’ve struggled with them my whole life (hello I love leggings). But I have the utmost respect for those who do, because I understand that they don’t just do it because our religion says to, but because they understand that the meaning behind it, they understand how special their body is, and they don’t need anyone to see it, to know it. Modesty is a personal choice made every day, it’s a commitment to know your worth. Women are not antifeminist for dressing modestly nor are they blind sheeple of religion. Women are not antifeminist for dressing in shorts and tank tops nor are they promiscuous. Once again, let me highlight that women who don’t dress by the religious modesty code are not sluts nor do they not know their worth, we are all wonderful pillars of beauty and strength!

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