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The Modesty Experiment


GeoBQn

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I didn't find any threads already covering this. Female seminary student Lauren Shields swore off make-up and covered her hair and limbs for a year, writing about it on her blog:

themodestyexperiment.blogspot.com

She started the experiment to "in order to loosen my death grip on the idea that youth and beauty were prerequisites to relevance." Instead, she ended up continuing to obsess about her appearance over the course of the year, and was counting down the days until it would be over. She met her fiance during that period, and her article for Salon is considerably more positive than her blog:

salon.com/2013/07/02/my_year_of_modesty/

She is now working on a book based on her blog. Here is Jezebel's commentary on why her experiment was misguided:

jezebel.com/bloggers-modesty-experiment-kinda-misses-the-point-648208857

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Ugh. Just... no. Like many of the jezebel commenters I have to wonder: does this woman ever *see* religiously modest women? Many hijabi women I know or have ever seen wear makeup, jewellery, have a killer fashion sense and generally look amazingly put together. No orthodox Jews aroudn here, so I can't comment on that, but I assume it's similar. Those who want to wear make-up and follow a fashion do, those who don't don't. Lauren just seemed to start obsessing about her appearance even more in those nine months than before.

and FYI, I mostly wear skirts that are knee-length or over, usually cover my shoulders and completely covered my hair for all of lent. It has never been a chore because I don't obsess about it; I put on some clothes. That's how they usually end up.

And just buy some nice thin scarves to cover your hair in atlanta. Doesn't have to be a knitted hat... And thinking no one styles their hair under headscarves is frankly insulting. "I have to make a hair appointment!" yes, because no covering woman ever does. No siree.

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Most of the fundamentalist Christians I know follow the dress code of their church rather than a general "modesty" ideal. They all criticise each other for not dressing properly. For example, SiL No.1 (Orthodox) only allows skirts/dresses on girls. She doesn't like seeing nieces in leggings. SiL No.2 (Catholic) says dresses are immodest on little girls because they ride up and you can see their knees. Cousin-in-law (Protestant) says they are both wrong but doesn't explain why. She dresses in what is almost a burka. I fail on every level because although I wear ankle length skirts + long sleeve shirts everyday, they are goth, which is evil.

Anyway, the point I wanted to make was that experiments about dressing modestly fail because those carrying them out are dressing against what their peers expect. Those who dress modestly for religious reasons are doing what is expected of them by friends and family. It is always going to be easier to go with the crowd than against it.

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Plus it wouldn't get you a book deal to say "I'm mostly covered up all day and....no one really cares but me! Woooo!" -.-

When I covered my hair, I got some questions as to why from my friends for the first week or so and then that was it. The only thing they (and strangers) commented on was when they liked a particular scarf or style and the next time I got comments was when I let my hair back down ( literally). I think this woman was looking for reactions ( of course, otherwise why blog about it) and her manner of going about the "experiment" provoked them more than the experiment itself. Had she just quietly changed her dress style, I doubt she'd have gotten much of a reaction.

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Ugh. Just... no. Like many of the jezebel commenters I have to wonder: does this woman ever *see* religiously modest women? Many hijabi women I know or have ever seen wear makeup, jewellery, have a killer fashion sense and generally look amazingly put together. No orthodox Jews aroudn here, so I can't comment on that, but I assume it's similar. Those who want to wear make-up and follow a fashion do, those who don't don't. Lauren just seemed to start obsessing about her appearance even more in those nine months than before.

and FYI, I mostly wear skirts that are knee-length or over, usually cover my shoulders and completely covered my hair for all of lent. It has never been a chore because I don't obsess about it; I put on some clothes. That's how they usually end up.

And just buy some nice thin scarves to cover your hair in atlanta. Doesn't have to be a knitted hat... And thinking no one styles their hair under headscarves is frankly insulting. "I have to make a hair appointment!" yes, because no covering woman ever does. No siree.

I think part of her problem may have been that she saw too many religiously modest women, and then tried to combine everything she could possibly find. I would think that trying to say follow Jewish, Muslim, and all the many varieties of Christian modesty would be burdensome. My stepdad's sister married a UPC (Apostolic Pentecostal that are skirts only, long hair, and no make up) preacher. Her daughter who's about my age doesn't find their rules burdensome in part because she's never known any different, but I think in large part because it's not that burdensome on her. Yes she's never cut her hair, but all you have to do is google Pentecostal up dos to figure out that that particular denomination has nothing wrong with getting their hair fixed elaborately. Basically she just doesn't wear pants. The blogger fusses about the heat, but I was under the impression that a lot of traditional Muslim clothes were loose and thin to promote air flow, and thus cooling. I prefer to wear skirts just because I like the girlyness of them, and I know that a long gauzy skirt is cooler than a pair of shorts. Whereas yes, a pair of denim shorts is going to be cooler than a heavy denim skirt. It's all about seasonal appropriateness. I read the salon and the jezebel articles, but I didn't go look through her blog so my impression might be wrong. But it really does sound like she just tried to do everything with no regards to practicality. An experiment like that needs to be very specific, and not just a vague idea of religious modesty. What's modest to one group is completely immodest to another. She missed the boat.

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Apart from the reasons noted here and in the Jezebel-article, her experiment is an utter fail because she limits modesty to clothing choice - a common mistake among many fundies, but yet, modesty is much more and might be better summed up in "not drawing undue attention to yourself", which means dressing according to station in life, financial means, activities that are planned, expectations of society and religion in the clothing department, but also encompasses behaviour, speech, activities, work etc.

So she actually was immodest by her approach to "modest" clothing, because she chose things that would deliberately set her at odds with the people around her. There is another blogger, forgot name and everything, who covered her hair for some time in order to understand the reactions Muslim women face in the USA, but her approach is entirely different and not hypocritical like this one.

Her experiment should be more aptly named "The Experiment of Drawing Attention to Myself by Dressing Frumpy".

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Example: Pentecostal girls who pretty much look like any other teenage girls except for the long hair:

283106_236070799747346_100000332825112_783461_5838403_n.jpg

The second girl from the right looks like she is no older than 18 at the most. Imagine how long her hair will end up if she remains Pentecostal her whole life!!!! :pink-shock:

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The second girl from the right looks like she is no older than 18 at the most. Imagine how long her hair will end up if she remains Pentecostal her whole life!!!! :pink-shock:

Unfortunately, hair growth does not work like that, the maximum length your hair can reach is determined by the amount it grows per month and the lifespan of the individual hair before it will stop growing and ultimately fall out.

So her hair will not continue growing endlessly, although she certainly has good genetic material, evident by the shorter her of the other girls who are equally "uncut",, but having never cut her hair and being grown, having gone through one or two complete growth-circles of her hair, I suppose she has already reached terminal length and her hair will most likely not grow much longer.

*sigh* I'm so jealous, I'm aiming for super-long hair myself, but I just don't have the genes for it, if I can reach extreme lengths has to be seen, but my hair is quite thin, so the ends will look forever scraggly.

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Example: Pentecostal girls who pretty much look like any other teenage girls except for the long hair:

283106_236070799747346_100000332825112_783461_5838403_n.jpg

The second girl from the right looks like she is no older than 18 at the most. Imagine how long her hair will end up if she remains Pentecostal her whole life!!!! :pink-shock:

That is some serious pre-Raphaelite hair right there. Kinda jealous of the young lady on the far right, truth be told. Her hair is gorgeous!

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*sigh* I'm so jealous, I'm aiming for super-long hair myself, but I just don't have the genes for it, if I can reach extreme lengths has to be seen, but my hair is quite thin, so the ends will look forever scraggly.

are you on the LHC? It's helped me loads, although I've had a stall :(

So she actually was immodest by her approach to "modest" clothing, because she chose things that would deliberately set her at odds with the people around her. There is another blogger, forgot name and everything, who covered her hair for some time in order to understand the reactions Muslim women face in the USA, but her approach is entirely different and not hypocritical like this one.

Her experiment should be more aptly named "The Experiment of Drawing Attention to Myself by Dressing Frumpy".

This.

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are you on the LHC? It's helped me loads, although I've had a stall :(

Yes, I have an account, also for a German community similar to it, and I have my haircare all figured out and it looks good as far as my hair type limits it. We've got to work with what we've got, haven't we? No amount of hair care tricks will turn my hair into anything similar to Merida's or that girl's hair above.

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Unfortunately, hair growth does not work like that, the maximum length your hair can reach is determined by the amount it grows per month and the lifespan of the individual hair before it will stop growing and ultimately fall out.

So her hair will not continue growing endlessly, although she certainly has good genetic material, evident by the shorter her of the other girls who are equally "uncut",, but having never cut her hair and being grown, having gone through one or two complete growth-circles of her hair, I suppose she has already reached terminal length and her hair will most likely not grow much longer.

*sigh* I'm so jealous, I'm aiming for super-long hair myself, but I just don't have the genes for it, if I can reach extreme lengths has to be seen, but my hair is quite thin, so the ends will look forever scraggly.

My hair doesn't get below bra strap length at all, and anything below my shoulders is horribly thin and scraggly.

I actually feel sorry for the girl with the longest hair. Crystal Gale kept her hair that long and said that it caused her terrible headaches and neck pain. Unfortunately, unlike Gale, this girl won't be able to cut her hair to cure the pain it (will) causes her.

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I don't understand either how dressing modestly is tantamount to not having to care how you dress. You care just as much (if not more) just in different ways. After all, what about elaborate hijabs, sheitels, etc?

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*snip*.

I actually feel sorry for the girl with the longest hair. Crystal Gale kept her hair that long and said that it caused her terrible headaches and neck pain. Unfortunately, unlike Gale, this girl won't be able to cut her hair to cure the pain it (will) causes her.

Even w/o the head pain, it can be kinda awful.

(My hair is long, usually somewhere between bra-strap and waist. Used to wear it longer [also have buzzed everything below the ears, so I've hit both extremes :)])..

The problems of hair in the toilet that arise as soon as it's long enough to sit on are considerable. Dealing w/ it while sick (in any form of sick) and having to scrub ick out of it is...incredibly disgusting.

It gets rolled up in car windows, it catches on chairs, people (my husband) accidentally sit/lay/place books/something on the ends so you're trapped until you can get them to move--or you leave scalp behind. Kittens climb it at 2 am, babies can get thoroughly tangled in it, toddlers attempt to use it as a rope ladder...

I consider 'moderately long' hair worth it--obviously, because I have it. But if I *HAD* to keep it long, I'd be resentful as fuck, because it can be a royal PITA. (and I'd probably start taking it out by the roots ASAP :pull-hair: :wink-penguin: )

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I really grow tired of people who do pompous things without an inch of depth just for a book contract.

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Yes, I have an account, also for a German community similar to it, and I have my haircare all figured out and it looks good as far as my hair type limits it. We've got to work with what we've got, haven't we? No amount of hair care tricks will turn my hair into anything similar to Merida's or that girl's hair above.

Help me out here. My Google search for LHC brought up Large Hadron Collider which I'm pretty sure is not what you meant.

I too am growing my thin, fine hair with rather disappointing results.

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Modesty isn't about clothing. Modesty is a state of mind or being. Why is that so hard to understand?

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Help me out here. My Google search for LHC brought up Large Hadron Collider which I'm pretty sure is not what you meant.

I too am growing my thin, fine hair with rather disappointing results.

The Long Hair Community. I'm also a member there.

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I would kill for that hair color and the texture of the hair on the girl on the far right. :)

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It amazes me how every one year experiment can be turned into a book now. I read and liked The Year Living Biblically. There very well may be a few other books that follow the same premise which are good but at a certain point people are going to glut the market. This trend has almost inspired me to write a book. I could write a book where I spend a year reading a book a week. All the books will be about people who do year long experiments and each week I have to do at least one thing they've done. So for this book I might cover my hair for a week. All of my coworkers will assume it's weather related and I'll look for any excuse to announce how modest I am.

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Well, I have met a few women, and seen photos of others, whose hair is so long it is like a train behind them ic they let it down. Not hugely common but it happens!

If I never cut my hair, I am pretty sure I would be a hunchback by 40. I have to get it thinned out a lot.

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It amazes me how every one year experiment can be turned into a book now. I read and liked The Year Living Biblically. There very well may be a few other books that follow the same premise which are good but at a certain point people are going to glut the market. This trend has almost inspired me to write a book. I could write a book where I spend a year reading a book a week. All the books will be about people who do year long experiments and each week I have to do at least one thing they've done. So for this book I might cover my hair for a week. All of my coworkers will assume it's weather related and I'll look for any excuse to announce how modest I am.

I think it's one thing if the challenge is something artificial, like reading the entire encyclopedia in a year. I get bothered when people attempt to live how other people live (or how they think other people live) for a year. This blogger was so glad to get back to "normal" after a year, but for other people it is either their own normal they want to follow or it is a situation that, for one reason or another, they can't leave. It reminds me of when a news anchor in Chicago made a huge deal of doing a "social experiment" where he was "homeless" for one night. I'm sure he was glad to get back to his comfy house after that one-night ordeal. Too bad it's not that easy for actual homeless people.

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