Modesty, faith often cut from the same cloth

By Alicia Purdy

For the Deseret News

Published: Thursday, May 10 2012 11:46 a.m. MDT

Modesty — so often interchangeable for "frumpy" in an ultra-modern age — is still a widely held conviction for many faiths. Parents of any faith who try to instill an appreciation for modesty must fight against the cultural tide preaching an opposing message.

Many cultures work to preserve modesty. The GMA Network recently reported on "The Beauty of Modesty" at an Islamic fashion show, saying, "The festival was able to establish Islamic fashion’s presence in the global arena, and it enticed Muslims and non-Muslims alike to take interest in the often overlooked ensemble. …The strategic intent of the Islamic Fashion Festival was neither to preach nor convert, but to deliver the simple message that there is beauty in covering up."

Oppositely, according to ASU State Press blogger Grace Rolland, "In American culture, a woman's value and identity (are) greatly linked to her body and physical appeal. Women's clothing is designed to facilitate that with cuts that accentuate and reveal female curvature." The feminist movement of the 1960s aligned modesty with repression, but the resulting effect was an uncovering that caused women to be objectified, creating a different form of repression, reported Rolland.

Even the younger generations are not immune to this struggle. In fact, suggestive clothing and images that depict young girls in inappropriate or mature situations will have a lasting, negative and powerful affect on young girls whose "sense of self" is still forming, according to the American Psychological Association.

MSNBC reported on a study on clothing options for kids age 7-12 that found that one-third of the clothing being marketed was sexualized. When a person is held to such a narrow standard of attractiveness, it "devalues accomplishment, intelligence and character," The Deseret News reported in a recent story, "The end of innocence: The cost of sexualizing kids."

Eleanor Mackey, Ph.D, a clinical psychologist at Children’s National Medical Center, noted that parents should push their children to make more modest choices. "Certain clothing choices send certain messages," Mackey says, and parents should "stand [their] ground."

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