7 Misconceptions About Feminine People Who Dress Modestly Because Not Everything Is A Protest
There seem to be a lot of misconceptions about women dressing modestly out there. I've noticed this especially after reading a New York Times article that implied modesty was a trend among young women stemming from the moment's feminist flavor. It's true that women and feminine-presenting people are constantly under scrutiny for the way that they dress. Regardless of if we're showing "too much" skin, choosing not to show any skin at all, or dressing in more masculine fashions, we can't ever seem to dress in a way that escapes judgement and assumptions from strangers and men.
My dressing preferences fluctuate based on my mood, my gender feelings, the weather, and where I am in my laundry cycle. But until recently, I've always favored clothing and cuts that may be considered "modest." Boat neck tees, turtleneck crop tops, sweaters and Peter Pan-collared button ups made up the majority of my wardrobe for a time. I dressed this way mostly based on coincidence, as my favorite trends at the time happened to be lacking a plunging neckline. That and, until recently, I've never felt entirely comfortable with showing off my cleavage and the more feminine parts of my body that so quickly become labeled sexual as soon as they're exposed.
There are countless reasons why feminine people choose to dress the way they dress, and why someone may prefer a more modest way of presenting. But high necklines and low hems seem to carry a specific set of stigmas and misconceptions with them. Here are some of the more popular assumptions that people draw from the sight of a feminine person in less revealing clothing.
1. She's Prudish
Not so much. So often, people pair modest ways of dressing with shyness, naïveté, and lack of sexual experience. Of course, there are shy girls and inexperienced girls wearing turtlenecks out there. But what does the clothing you choose to wear have to do with your social or sexual life? I enjoy modest clothing while also being an incredibly sex-positive and sexual human being. (Not that there's anything wrong with naïveté and inexperience!)
2. She's Covering Up As A Feminist Protest
As I discussed in my response to the NY Times article "Women Who Cover Up (Even As The Temperature Climbs)," feminism is not about men! The idea that we would cover up for the sake of defying men's preference for women in more revealing clothing is annoying and counter productive. I don't care what men think, and the way I dress has nothing to do with the opinion of dudes and strangers who harass me on the street. My feminism and way of dressing are about empowering myself, not disobeying some unspoken rule about how I should carry myself.
3. She Doesn't Care About Looking Sexy
Please, I don't need to try to look sexy. The article's constant fascination with the "are you wearing that for your date later?" issue is ridiculous. Just because someone is wearing an outfit that doesn't show a lot of skin or a mishmash of trendy pieces that may be considered "conventional" doesn't mean dressing this way isn't "sexy" or date-appropriate. The best date outfit is the one you feel cool, confident, and sexy in. If that doesn't include showing cleavage or thighs, then that's OK.
4. She's Not Fashionable
Really? You don't have to be accentuating your curves or showing a little skin to make a fashionable impact. I'm not always comfortable about wearing body-hugging, boob-exposing outfits, but that doesn't make me a tasteless grandma! Plus, there are plenty of trends and cool outfits that don't involve too much skin exposure.
5. She's Not Aware Of The Weather Conditions
Yes, I know how hot out it is. All this cute doesn't stop me from being able to perceive temperature and track weather patterns on my iPhone. Regardless, I am still wearing this jacket and these tights. I often value fashion over function. Not saying that's the right way to be, but I think many others share in my life motto of "suffer for fashion."
6. She's Ashamed Of Her Body
Nooo, I know my body is bangin', don't worry. Covering a certain part of my body is not the equivalent of not liking those parts of my body. Like many, I do deal with moments of body image issues and gender anxiety. But I'm generally comfortable in my own skin. I love my collarbones and my ass, but not all of my beloved outfit pieces show these off. It's a trade off, even an extension of the aforementioned "suffer for fashion" way of being.
7. She's "Modest." She Can't Dress Any Other Way
Although I sometimes dress modestly based on the day, I wouldn't call myself "modest." I love wearing low cut tops, back-exposing rompers, and high-waisted shorts just as much as I love my more modest pieces. I dress based on how I'm feeling, not in accordance with a fixed identity. The beauty of fashion is that it lets you move from one mood or identity to the other through your outfit. Don't over analyze my affinity for higher cut and breast hiding tops.
Bottom line, don't make assumptions about others based on the way they dress. We all have such diverse life experiences, and it is not in any way productive to box someone in based on how they dress or how high their neckline is. Whether you prefer modest, revealing, feminine, or masculine styles, you still have a right to confidence and comfort without judgment.
Images: FrancescaLunaBarone/Flickr; Giphy (7)