A modest presentation of beauty

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A modest presentation of beauty

Just today, I learned a new phrase which surprised me. It also knocked me off my feet, not because the words were striking but mainly because I had been musing about the very thought myself for several hours since I got up this morning. It all started quite innocently, if I may just say. Like most women around the world, I was thinking about what to wear for the day. Not necessarily on a vanity crusade or venturing towards lewdness or seeking to be the center of every man’s (or woman’s) attention, I simply wanted to look stunning and be noticed.

As a single lady, I’m still enthralled and intrigued by nature. While it is left to like-minded and similarly circumstantial peers of my sex to create a physically beautiful impression of ourselves, striving towards goddess-like beauty, in order to attract the attentions of potential male suitors, particularly those with good prospects in the field of fertility and material succor, it is the male dears of the animal kingdom, no matter what their species, that must always look stunning, leaving their female subjects looking rather forlornly plain and bland. Perhaps a clear exception to these unusual rules of nature is the Black Widow spider and similar captors of her species which must devour everything within sight.

Now, this new phrase (perhaps it’s old hat to you now, but it’s still news to me) that jolted me seems to be a simple one on the surface. It simply says that ‘modest is hottest’. While critiquing what one other (conservative) writer had to say about the phrase, I thought I’d share my own, original thoughts on the phrase. I thought I could have a go and see if there was a coincidence or whether I was anywhere close or whether I was hopelessly wrong as I sometimes am in making forays in the fashion world. A writer by trade, I’m no fashionista (is that what they’re calling themselves these days?). Trade or not, just looking or taking action, I have my own style, just saying, that’s all.

I assumed that whether scratching through one’s cupboard, looking for something marvelous to wear, or scratching one’s head, looking for own inspiration, being modest comes up trumps over being a show-off. I was thinking that keeping all parts of the body stylishly and tastefully covered would, in any event, lead to one man, one woman, men and women in general, finding something more attractive in the way I presented myself to them. No flesh on show, just, well, plain old me. Only me with a difference. Me as glamorous as can be. More interesting, more attractive and, well, I was going to offer myself a few other accolades that usually forms part of the fashion magazines’ jargon, but I won’t. I’ll leave that to you and your imagination to decide where I might have been going with this statement of intent or thought.

Another writer responded to ‘modest is hottest’ a little differently to me. She said that the statement had much to do with virtue. This, of course, is quite admirable. While I don’t entirely agree with her comment, I happen to like where she was going with it. Where I started to feel a little squeamish is when she started invoking all manner of religious inscriptions and quotes from religious texts. I don’t need to mention the source of her religion, it’s irrelevant for this medium and, in any event, most religious and/or philosophical writings, I am guessing, have similar thoughts or invocations. Rest assured, it is nothing close to the patriarchal commandments which literally dictate that women should not be seen and not be heard.

Now, where this writer made her mark is in her ‘objectification’ of the statement’s perceived ‘objectification’ of the opposite of being modest. She seemed to become a little self-conscious about women being prized as objects of pleasure, meant to be looked at or dangerous human vessels that can only spread seeds of temptation to commit certain deeds. She, in fact, objectified the very thought of being a woman and the very essence of being a woman. She also traced her debate to the lowest form of modesty to the point that it becomes a matter of shame to be a woman in the first place.

Now, as far as I’m concerned, no matter how conservative or liberal you are, how you dress is entirely your business. It is not my business to be telling you how to dress. Let’s also assume, though, that you might want to slip on something very slight to look and feel your very worst. My argument here is not so much about criticizing your most base motivations but more to do with the fact that you’re probably going to either look like trash or pretty ridiculous. Are we allowed to use the word sexy in this forum? It’s widely used in the genre of fashion-writing anyhow. Nevertheless, for lack of a better expression (writer here, not fashion artist), leaving extremely little to the imagination with very little on is hardly sexy at all.

I would have thought that if you allowed the creative instinct to kick in and dress according to your own personality or feelings or senses but without revealing much to others is rather sexy in its own right. It’s like having a conversation with someone, or being in a crowd. It, to my mind, makes you a far more attractive prospect (if you desire to be noticed) when you ‘cover up’ and let others, men or women, seek you out. That’s quite revealing, don’t you think.

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