My daughter called me the other day expressing her disappointment in an article link (blog) that a friend of hers had on his facebook page. The sentiment of the piece expressed by a young woman (I presume) is the disappointment and rejection of what she calls the modesty doctrine. She says, “It’s a story about how modesty doctrines impacted my mind, in ways that had real, negative effects on my body….Modesty was one of the engines that pushed me into a full-blown eating disorder. It’s not just a dress code: it’s a philosophy, and it’s one that destroys young women, mentally and physically.”

What is modesty? Modesty is defined in the dictionary as “propriety in dress, speech, or conduct.” [1] The “modesty doctrine” the young lady speaks of is not well delineated in the dictionary, and neither is it in her essay. One can, however, pick up on enough of what she said to get a good idea of what she means by the “modesty doctrine.” In her own experiences she gives us an idea about what others taught her with regard to modesty: “Modesty taught me that what I looked like was what mattered most of all. Not what I thought. Not how I felt. Not what I was capable of doing” (bold in original).

In the next two paragraphs of her essay on modesty she relates particular experiences that have influenced her toward thinking differently on the application of modesty. She even commented on one experience that what she was taught on modesty was keeping her physically weak.  As she grew older she decided to dump “the modesty doctrine.” Evidently, however, before she got to the point of dumping her perceived “modesty doctrine”, she noted that it contributed to her having an eating disorder, and this disorder contributed directly to her feeling that her appearance as a woman was in order to prevent a man from lusting.  

There are some things in her essay that has much we ought to consider. On the other hand, there are some things that she said that is really nothing more than a reaction to a perceived doctrine undefined. In fact, it appears to me that her reaction to the “modesty doctrine” brought an imbalance to her life.

More will be addressed in the next entry….

[1] Merriam Webster’s Deluxe Dictionary, Tenth Collegiate Edition, p. 1176