A Modest Proposal
June 29, 2011 Leave a comment
Sarah wrote about her experience at Spa World, and one part of it got me thinking. Specifically, the part where she described the experience of being naked in a room full of other naked people. Counterintuitively, it was more modest for her to be naked in that context than it would have been for her to be clothed in that same room, or for even a single person there to be clothed. Had there been a clothed person there, all eyes would have been upon her, and immediately there would have been discomfort among the naked women due to the imbalance of power and position – much the same way that there is an imbalance between the gowned patient and the doctor in a lab coat. The state where all are naked is like a return to the Garden of Eden – nakedness is only something negative once clothing exists.
This is the part of the teachings of tzniut (modesty) that often gets overlooked in our obsession with sleeve lengths – modesty doesn’t mean “be covered” – it means “be appropriate for the occasion.” Sadly, this is more observed in the breach, and the gradual trend toward informality of dress means that all occasions are the same. Had I my druthers, I would encourage a mindful awareness of dress – we should consciously choose what impression we want to send at that particular moment, and dress accordingly.