The Surprising Reason Why Some Women Choose to Dress Modestly

I came across a clip from The Real, where the hosts are discussing whether they’ve ever found themselves dressing more modestly in order to avoid being judged by other women. The discussion was kicked off by the findings of a study found in the Social Psychological and Personality Science Journal, which aimed to explore women’s intrasexual competition.

The study found that many women will be selectively more aggressive towards women who dress more revealing, and women will dress more modestly to avoid such aggression.

*Now I do want to mention that I don’t know the ethnicity or culture of the women of the study and would like to note that the sample size wasn’t huge.

modest | ˈmɒdɪst | 
3. (of clothing) not revealing or emphasising a person's figure

As a Muslim, modesty is a cornerstone to the lifestyles that we are commanded to lead. It’s in the way we dress, the way we speak, the way we spend etc however for a Muslim girl or woman, there is a level of being hyper-aware of your body and how your adorn it that Muslim boys and men don’t ever have to deal with. Yes, men should also be covering up their goodies and observing this but we live in a patriarchy and this is a rant that I do not have the energy for today.

Personally, I am not a huge fan of having attention on myself. Yes I dress modestly as a Muslim, because I do believe that there is a grace and peace that it affords. It also makes me feel secure. But my choices are also partially rooted in the one insecurity I am always battling…being seen. I have a neutral and consistent colour palette in my closet for the same reason we may have uniforms, it’s simple, everything works well together…and I can just blend in. I pick silhouette’s that a flattering but that don’t vie for the spotlight and sometimes I pick silhouettes that obscure my body’s shape. On occassion we shock people because well, this girl might be slightly insecure but don’t get it twisted, we still know we got it.

[I would like to point out however that I am very sustainable with my clothing choices, because items don’t get bought unless they fit the criteria and will be worn regularly, so I am also hella environmentally friendly…just saying]

Now in the video the women of The Real ask each other whether they wanted to be friends with the really pretty girl in high school or if they hated on them on the down low. I don’t know why this still shocks me, maybe because I am too centred in who I am, but why aren’t we uplifting each other? I have never thought to myself that I have to downplay how I look as to avoid ‘bitchiness’ from another woman. In fact all the women I know are always complimenting, hyping up and blessing each other and supporting one’s journey to the ‘glow up’. I did agree with a point the women made that if you’re meeting up with friends, sometimes it’s good to give the 411 because no one ever wants to be the one person that is underdressed…be a girl’s girl.

I’m gonna teach my daughter that, when you see a beautiful woman don’t be threatened by her, be inspired by her.

Tamera Mowry

The point that was raised that I have heard too often is that women are bigger critics towards each other than our male counterparts. Now I wouldn’t make this a sweeping comment because I haven’t experienced it in my own life, but you hear it in passing, at the office, in a bathroom somewhere…it’s worrying. There is so much rhetoric around the partriarchy, and feminism all around the world but this is what women are doing? This is why I say western feminism is a lie.

Personally, there is a freedom and comfort in dressing modest, and that is so empowering and I think the more we see it in the mainstream, many people will flock to it, not to downplay themselves, but to make a statement about what can be deemed beautiful or attractive. It also puts power in the hands of the wearer and not the observer. It’s about the personal connection rather than the ‘show and tell’. Of course it’s also lucrative for clothing brands to tap into the halal/modest markets.

More than anything I really do think that culture and environment matters because it really boils down to how we are nurtured and what we see around ourselves. Please let’s work towards addressing our own insecurities before projecting it onto people who really are just living their best lives and celebrating themselves.

What do you think about this? Are your clothing choices ever dictated by the reception you may receive?


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