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How Different Religions Around The World Define Modesty

Elizabeth Morgan

How modesty is defined in different religions

Last Update October 21st, 2017

Modesty is important to women all over the world. I spent the last few weeks asking women of all different faiths the following question:

"How do you define modesty in your religion?"

Today you're going to read 22 responses that I gathered from women that belong to the following religions: Mormonism, Christianity, Mennonite, Islam, Hinduism and Orthodox Judaism.

1. Emily Inman - Mormon

Emily is a lifestyle vlogger on YouTube

Everyone defines modesty differently. I believe modesty is an attitude, a way of thinking. It’s showing your body respect. I don’t think modesty means you can/cannot wear particular pieces of clothing; I don’t think there’s a right or wrong way to be modest. If you feel comfortable and are respecting yourself, the choice is yours.

You can easily make an immodest piece modest by adding a simple layer underneath or on top. As long as you are attracting the appropriate kind of attention, you must be doing something right. Modesty is always beautiful. :)

2. Liz Oreilly - Mormon

Liz runs Embellish Me Boutique

The way I like to dress is to make sure I cover my knees, so my skirts/dresses are usually 4” or more below my knee, this way I feel like I can move around and never worry if I bend over and my G’s show in the back of my leg etc. I also like my shorts to fit 1-2 inches below my knees so when I sit they never pass my knees.

I don’t like my pants to fit tight/revealing so I don’t wear leggings or tight jeans. I like them to fit loosish. I like my sleeves on my arms to be covering well past my shoulders, I don’t like the cap sleeves. I like my collars to be just around my collar bone so if I bend over, or my kids pull on my shirt, they won’t show much.

When I explain the way I like clothes, through text, many people think it’s extreme, but when you see the way I dress it’s very pretty and fashionable. I’m constantly receiving compliments from strangers and friends alike. To be very well covered doesn’t have to be ugly or suffocating. I also make some of my own clothes and alter others I buy in thrift stores.

Many people have asked me where I buy clothes because they can never find anything “like that”. It’s sad, I wish there were more options for people that want to dress more covered up, but many ladies just kinda go “oh well” and wear what they can.

Related Content9+ LDS Modest Fashion Bloggers You'll Love Following

3. Stephanie Ann Torres - Mormon

Stephanie owns Incan Accessories

I pretty much follow the guidelines from For the Strength of Youth for myself and my children. I try to wear clothing appropriate for my garments to keep them sacred and encourage my children (who are small) to prepare themselves to make their own covenants if they choose. I also strongly believe that modesty is also an attitude. 

4. Megan Arrott - Mormon

Megan owns a custom sign shop called Small Town Charm

Nothing too tight! Even though it might be long enough a lot of time skirts and dresses fit way to tight and reveal a lot more than it should! Also, no cleavage.

5. Rebekah Webb Norman - Mormon

Rebecca runs Lavish Paper Co, a paper goods company.

When I received my endowments, we spoke about modesty in the temple that day. I was told that if a clothing item didn't cover a garment, it wasn't considered modest, the rest is up to personal interpretation based on prayer and comfort. I've grown to understand that more over time as I've learned to dress myself with garments. Part of my modesty is making sure my garments are covered.

Covering my garments is important because they're sacred symbols of promises I made to my Heavenly Father in the temple. In our religion, they're more of an inward expression to remind us everyday of those promises. You learn how to get creative with layering clothes and adding accessories. It is a lot of fun exploring new trends and looks to fit your needs. Modesty to me is empowering, beautiful and freeing!

Related Content: 6 Easy Modest Fashion Hacks

6. Kendra Tierney - Catholic

Kendra is the owner of Catholic All Year

The way I see it, Catholic modesty is more nuanced than any rules about fingers from the throat and whatnot. As a Catholic, I want to be attractive to people. That means having a smile, and being kind, and dressing in a way that is attractive, rather than provocative or attention-grabbing.

My personal goal is to dress appropriately for my age, activity, personal style, and state of life, and not in a way that's going to direct attention to my body rather than my . . . self. That's what I'm trying to teach my kids, too. Modesty isn't about rules, it's about how I want people to react to me and remember me.

7. Carolyn Shields - Catholic

Carolyn runs The Young Catholic Woman blog

I’ve always believed that women are the pinnacle of creation, but if we look to how God revealed His masterpiece to the world, he did so gradually, accompanied by a rising crescendo. Equating this to modesty, a woman shouldn’t bare her soul or her body to the world all at once. She must be inviting and alluring, and one of the easiest ways of mirroring the exposition of her soul to the exposition of her creation is simply through her clothing!

God didn’t reveal woman all at once; likewise, we shouldn’t reveal ourselves in one glance. Wearing modest clothing is a way of saying “I’m so much more, and I invite you closer.” And according to the Catechism, this attraction, which is aided by modesty put into practice, “protects the mystery of persons and their love. It encourages patience and moderation in loving relationships; it requires that the conditions for the definitive giving and commitment of man and woman to one another be fulfilled…”

To put it simply, there’s so much that a woman can reveal, whether that’s through her body, actions, image, or soul…modesty is a means to help both men and women be directed toward the Eternal Beauty that we are created in.

When it comes to the particulars of clothing, I think there’s two things here: one, some nice common sense. How does a woman naturally react when wind picks up her skirt? She holds it down. Why might a woman blush if she’s caught in her bra before an elder? Because something isn’t right. Second, what one woman considers modest, another might have a different opinion, and I think that’s fine.

There’s other factors involved here, like context, location, fitting, age, and even perhaps old wounds and insecurities, which all vary amongst women. Do I wear leggings? Yeah...do I think they are immodest? Well in what context? In what setting? For who? A fifteen year old? Or a woman in her late twenties? How tight are they? Do you feel beautiful in them? Who are you with?

We can’t reduce the issue of modesty to some kind of blanket approach, just like we can’t have some kind of mathematical formula for a true, authentic relationship. Just like we can’t for how to be holy. Yes, there’s so many beautiful avenues to guide us, but the heart is a complex matter, and that’s where our actions (what we wear, how we dress) should stem. If we always start there, in light of the inherent dignity and worth women have, then maybe we can dress accordingly.

8. Sonu Bohra - Hinduism

Sonu runs Fashion Bombay alongside Jasleen  

To me modesty is a state of mind that translates into action. Of course, traditionally dressing modestly means covering yourself but with a constantly evolving state of mind; to me modesty means wearing something you relate to and feel one. Fully clothed or in shorts, it doesn't matter as long as your true to yourself.

9. Supriya Kachroo - Hinduism

Supriya is a travel and food blogger at Shongruff

Hinduism is the world’s 3rd largest religion with over 1 billion followers. When it comes to covering the beautiful human body, I find the Hindu attires extremely stylish and comfortable. One example is a saree, which is a long sheet of cloth, draped over a crop top or a blouse.

A few other traditional clothing items include lehenga-choli and salwar-suit. India has multitudes of religions, customs, traditions, and states. Because of this, you will find changes in terms of clothing and the way the people adorn it on themselves.

In ancient time, women used to enjoy free and higher status in the society. Over time, rules and regulations were made to protect the dignity of women, which changed their true course and led to boundaries.

Clothes which cover most of the body are considered good. A girl wearing a saree with a blouse showing her navel and back is considered modest, whereas another girl wearing a crop top over a pair of jeans is considered bold. Someone has rightly said that- ‘How a woman is dressed (or not dressed) has no effect on a wise man’s mind’.

10. Rashi Gaur - Hinduism

Raashi runs Blah and More as an Indian fashion influencer

Modesty is a relative term. Each one of us has different measures and parameters to define this term. But when it comes to clothing, it opens to a vast range of fashion revolution that's prevailing in societies believing in modest clothing. I personally believe modesty can be as fashionable and stylish as any other trend.

Long sleeves, maxi lengths, scarves and hijaabs in beautiful prints and textures; all these can be equally stylish and modest, at the same time. Today, retailers are full of amazing options in this category. It again depends on the way how one styles their look.

11. AYEINA - Islam

Samina is a Muslim mommy blogger that runs AYEINA with Ayesha

Modesty in Islam is not just about the outlook, modesty is in your heart, in your dress, in your words, in your gaze, in your gait! Which is why modesty in Islam is not only confined to women but also extends to men. Modesty in gaze has been ordained in the Qur'an upon men before women.

Modesty is a choice for those who want to submit. For those who want more spiritual experience and connection with their Lord. The definition of it can differ for different Muslims. Some feel modest in full clothes. Some feel modest in simpler clothes. Some feel modest in hijab while some feel modest in niqab. Most people choose such modest lifestyle. A piece of fabric doesn't define them but it becomes an important part of their identity.

12. Fusionista - Islam

The Fusionista is a Muslim lifestyle blog

Islam promotes modesty in clothing and in ever walk of life. About clothing, you have to wear something that covers your whole body. You are not allowed to wear exposing clothes like shorts, mini skirts etc. This applied for both men and  women. However, men can have their trousers (which are called shalwar in Islam) a little bit above their toes.

Women have to cover their head as well. They can use a dupatta or a scarf. However, there is no restriction in the type of cloth. They are free to wear embroidered clothes or any simple clothes keeping in mind that it's not exposing. Because Islam promotes MODESTY!

13. Zahra Said - Islam

Zahra runs a lifestyle and fashion blog called The Zee Factor

Modesty is a lifestyle choice. It isn’t just how a person dresses, but it is also how they interact with the world around them. A person can be modest in dress, but they can still be immodest in their actions. Modesty is unique, and it is being fearless in the sense, no matter what people say you will stay true to yourself.

14. Becca Gaston - Christianity

Owner of Pineapples and Palazzos

The Bible says in 1 Timothy 2:9-10 "likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works.

The Bible doesn't give us the exact measurements of our dress, or what type of shirt to wear but gives us guidelines on how to not draw sexual attention to ourselves. Modesty is an attitude of humility. Not causing another person to stumble by what we are wearing. It's not particularly about covering up our bodies because we are wanting to hide ourselves, it's more about being humble, serving others and revealing our own dignity.

15. Hannah Bowers - Christianity

Hannah operates Young Wives

Since marrying my husband, I’ve deferred to him for what the standard for modesty look like in our home. He was pretty clear from the get go: “Modest” clothing goes hand-in-hand with a modest heart. So, when it comes to what I wear, he encourages me to examine my motivation behind the outfit and take into account the setting.

While this isn’t grounds to run around with my belly bare, it has revealed how stuck I was on the “rules” of modesty and daily teaches me more about the grace Christ extends to us.

Related Content53 Modest Quotes and Bible Verses That Teach Modesty

16. Meghan Weyerbacher - Christianity 

Megan owns meghanweyerbacher.com

Not everyone knows our beliefs and values. We are a walking billboard for these things. Honoring our bodies in a healthy way by choosing to adorn ourselves in apparel that bring attention to our care, consideration and creativity -- is honorable. Modesty coupled with humility breeds character. And today, these are both uncommon.

One doesn't need to compromise their convictions to stand out. It will automatically follow as life is lived from this place of regard. We needn't worry how our modest lifestyle is reciprocated if we are staying true to who we are.>

17. Angela Legg - Christianity

Angela is a Christian blogger from Oklahoma that runs The Diligent Woman

I believe modesty begins in the mind. Any Christian woman should be seeking to direct eyes and minds upwards to God – not toward herself. Her speech, her clothing, and her behavior should all reflect a spirit of being appropriate as a woman who professes godliness.

This mindset will not seek to expose her own body to others, instead, it willingly covers that which God has called “nakedness”.

Basically, modesty is an obedient state of mind that is reflected in the daily choices we make in our lives: including, but not limited to how we dress.

18. Elyse Fitzpatrick - Christian

Elyse Fitzpatrick is a Christian speaker

Author of Give them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus

What is modesty? Is it the length of your skirt or the cut of your blouse? Modesty isn’t less than that, but it certainly is much more. Modesty has to do with humility, with the determination not to show-off, not to seek to prove that one can “pull off” a certain look, or have the power to cause others to look at you. It’s love of neighbor.

Sure, it is love of the purity of the men who will see you, but it’s also love for the women who will look at you and either feel badly about themselves or envy you. Modesty means that you don’t have anything to prove, one way or another, by what you wear. It means that you dress in such a way that it makes it easy for others around you to love the Lord and love you.

It means that you’re resting in what Jesus has done for you. It’s the heart that Jesus had when he refused to show off by making stones into bread. Could he have done it? Sure. But he didn’t need to. It’s in that way that Jesus was the most modest person who ever lived. And if you’re trusting him his record of perfect modesty is yours. So, rest in his work and love your neighbor for him.

19. Katie Evans - Christian

Katie runs Everything Under The Sun with her friend Lauren

Modesty in the Christian culture primarily centers around the condition of your heart, whether it be centered around the will of the Lord or not, how you clothe yourself will reflect your heart. This may be subsequent of a personal conviction or strong belief that you wish portray in a certain standard of appearance.

As a Jesus-following Christian, my belief is that what you wear should draw attention to your face, and no other part of your body. How you clothe yourself should directly reflect the condition of your heart and love for the Lord, not physical attention.

20. Malky Weichbrod - Orthodox Judaism

Malky is the author behind the My Therapist Told Me To Write A Fashion Blog

I have always felt that dressing Modestly means dressing in a way that's more covered-up but not at all uninteresting. I feel like clothes should make us feel like our best selves and outfits should have personality- they should celebrate the wearer. For example, I personally love pieces that reflect my passion for the Seventies an era of velvet, corduroy, glittery knitwear and pleated midi skirts.

But that's just me- it's whatever vibe speaks to the wearer and makes them feel their best self. In my opinion the word modesty and the modest-dress phenomenon that is thankfully becoming such a huge part of fashion today are vastly different. Dressing modestly doesn't mean having to wear quiet clothes that draw attention away from the wearer- on the contrary dressing modestly should draw attention but in a positive way.

So wear red or purple or whatever beautiful color gets you going- if you prefer a classic palette that's fabulous too just don't feel restricted to certain colors or patterns in order to fade into the background- wear your modesty loud and proud.

21. Rachelle Yadegar - Orthodox Judaism

Rachelle is a Jewish modest fashion blogger who blogs at Not Without My Heels

As Jewish Women we are compared to jewels. When you have very rare and expensive jewel you keep its beauty hidden in order to keep its value. That's why I think dressing modestly is so beautiful. Modestly is not only in clothing, it's a lifestyle. It's being modest in everything you do. Just like Princess Diana, Jacklyn Kennedy and Kate Middleton, are all icons known for beauty and grace.

22. Lynette Yoder - Mennonite 

Lynette Yoder is a Christian home decor YouTuber

As a Christian woman I believe it is very important to understand the meaning of modesty. One of the main scriptures in the Bible that refers to Modesty is this- “likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire,” ‭‭1 Timothy‬ ‭2:9‬ ‭ESV‬.

I don't think Paul is saying we can't dress attractively! But I believe that modesty first needs to come from our heart.. We need to understand the importance of keeping our bodies covered. If I don't have a conviction about it, it will likely show up in the way I dress. So I ask myself these questions. What are my motives? Am I dressing to bring attention to my body? Why do I want to wear certain things ? What do people see when they look at me? Can they see Christ in me?!

Conclusion

As you can tell, modesty is important to women in all of the major world religions. If you belong to a religion that isn't included in this post and you dress modestly, I'd love to hear in the comments how you define modesty. 



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