27 November 2006

Ladies in Skirts

I just read this article, and encourage anyone who comes across this blog of mine to read it too. This lady gets it. She mentions:
"I don't wear skirts because my church tells me to. I don't wear skirts because I just like being different and having people talk about me. I don't wear skirts so I can belong to some sort of "secret club." I wear skirts becase to me, they are the most appropriate way to be modest and feminine. I like being a girl, and that's why I wear skirts."

Sisterhood of the Traveling Skirts

How shall they know us?

I have these thoughts running through my head, and I've posted this question on my personal blog too. Here's the post from my page:

"Perhaps you, or someone you know, can point me toward some scripture or studies on the idea of setting ourselves apart from the world visually. They will know we are Christians by our love, of course - what a stunning difference we can make by loving our enemies, and putting others above ourselves! My humble question is: are there physical things which will also set us apart - and should there be?

"I'm thinking about the Amish and Mennonite women (and the Muslim and Jewish women too in a way), who go ahead and dress and live differently from the world around them; seemingly first because they feel that God wants them to do these things which are different, but also to to honour their husband's position as given by God and to be modest, and as a by-product, others can see who is a Christian (or Muslim or Jewish) lady outwardly. I am thinking that men must also consider these things in his outward show of faith (long hair, style of dress, jewellery, etc.).

"Now it goes without saying that SOME women or men wear or do something just to be different, and they are not being modest in the full understanding of the word - they're being just as proud and immodest as the worldly, IMHO. Or maybe SOME are removing themselves from the world a bit early, in a way. What are your thoughts? Or do you know someone else who's had these thoughts that you could direct me to?"

I had some interesting and good comments - then more thoughts:

One part of my question is indeed about modesty in general - the covering up that everyone normally thinks of. Young women whom I've talked to think that if they dress modestly it means that they will be standing out in a crowd, and that would be "drawing attention" in another way. I have a hard time convincing them that they don't actually "stand out" or draw attention when dressing nicely and modestly among their barely dressed friends. I've gotten the old "do you want me to wear a long fur coat to the beach?" type comment several times til I just want to scream: "There are more types of clothing than just the two extremes of Brittany and Burka (the full muslim coverup)!!"

I also wanted to try to bring up the concept of "headcovering". According to Paul in 1 Cor. 11, it's more than just a show of submission during worship, but also in the general relationship to men and for modesty's sake (if you read the whole passage). If my heart is right and I am trying to please my God whom I love, and to be His girl before others whom I love, then I'm not going to try to "fit in" with my culture nearly as much as I'm going to try to "fit in" with His will, even if I have to be a little different. And I do think it's only a little different.

Here's one thought: If we see a lady wearing a certain kind of headcovering, the average person can say, "Oh, she's a Mennonite" (though there are many women who wear headcoverings who aren't Mennonite), or, "she's a Muslim" (I pick these because their unique headcovering styles seem very linked to these religious undestandings, but only in the strictest sects does the rest of their clothing necessary stand out as extremely different and attention-grabbing). In many parts of the world and in our countries, Jewish women also cover their hair in honour of God's will and due to modesty, without radically standing out in the rest of their modest dress. Now: Why? Do they do it "just to attract attention" as some might guess? Do they cover their heads "just to appear pious"? Perhaps some do. Do they cover their heads because it's what you do to prove that they are Amish, Mennonite, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, etc...? Maybe some do. Do they wear a head covering just to make everyone else look bad? I doubt it, but let's just say that someone who is going out of their way to look different and draw criticism to themselves is only doing it to be mean to everyone else - I find that unlikely, but it's possible.

But what if they are covering their heads because after study and prayer and thought, and talking with their husband or elder believers whom they respect, they decide that it is proper to cover their heads - to show submission to God and men, for modesty's sake, to remind them of their own place in God's design? It may look like it is for one of those other reasons I listed above - but we can't know their hearts. We judge someone for dressing a little more modestly, for laying off of the makeup and jewelery, for wearing a headcovering - and looking very different from all the other ladies around them - and say that they're just drawing attention to themselves and I'm not so I'm okay.

But maybe I'm not okay. Maybe I'm living in a time just like Paul and Timothy were writing in, where women were forgetting their position with their dress styles and showing off their hair and body like the world around them, and forgetting their humility before God and others with their gold and braided hair and fine clothes. So many of us realize that modesty is important and that it's loving one another that really matters. So what does modesty and loving others really mean? And if I am to reflect Christ's light in every aspect of life, the physical reflecting the spiritual, then the way I dress everyday is a part of that.

22 November 2006

The Modesty Issue

Ladies are often called "old fashioned" or "prudes" when we dress in a way that we feel is modest. We are told that "our men" or "our religion" (meaning the organized group) is confining us to uncomfortable clothing, suppressing our freedom, or generally treating women as another type of human being. What is so oppressive about dressing and acting modestly?

This issue is coming "back around" again, as we can see by the resurgence of young women to dress and behave more "old fashioned." In this blog, from Elisheva Blogs , is a Jewish perspective on the modesty issue. She states that "It makes me very sad to read that so many ridicule and mock our Rabbis who are trying to do the right thing for us. We lack understanding. We lack courage and strength to stand up for what's right. Too many of us are embarrassed to be different, rather than being proud of it. I for one am proud to be an Orthodox Jewish woman who strives to dress as modestly as possible. I KNOW the value this has - in my own eyes and in Hashem's eyes. I can respect myself now when I look in the mirror. My husband respects me now. He treats me completely different than he used to. Other men respect me and treat me so much better than they used to.
"If only I could make you understand. All I can do is tell you that I have lived both lives and the one I am living now is far far better."

In another blog about modesty, I found a reference to an article a couple of years old in the New York Magazine online. The article, The Porn Myth, is an attempt by the author to explain impact that looser standards in morality by way of pornography is having on all of us. In it, the author refers to moral standards and their benefits, and states that: "feminists have misunderstood many of these prohibitions." She goes on to relate the following:

"I will never forget a visit I made to Ilana, an old friend who had become an Orthodox Jew in Jerusalem. When I saw her again, she had abandoned her jeans and T-shirts for long skirts and a head scarf. I could not get over it. Ilana has waist-length, wild and curly golden-blond hair. “Can’t I even see your hair?” I asked, trying to find my old friend in there. “No,” she demurred quietly. “Only my husband,” she said with a calm sexual confidence, “ever gets to see my hair.”

When she showed me her little house in a settlement on a hill, and I saw the bedroom, draped in Middle Eastern embroideries, that she shares only with her husband—the kids are not allowed—the sexual intensity in the air was archaic, overwhelming. It was private. It was a feeling of erotic intensity deeper than any I have ever picked up between secular couples in the liberated West. And I thought: Our husbands see naked women all day—in Times Square if not on the Net. Her husband never even sees another woman’s hair.

She must feel, I thought, so hot.

Compare that steaminess with a conversation I had at Northwestern, after I had talked about the effect of porn on relationships. “Why have sex right away?” a boy with tousled hair and Bambi eyes was explaining. “Things are always a little tense and uncomfortable when you just start seeing someone,” he said. “I prefer to have sex right away just to get it over with. You know it’s going to happen anyway, and it gets rid of the tension.”

“Isn’t the tension kind of fun?” I asked. “Doesn’t that also get rid of the mystery?”

“Mystery?” He looked at me blankly. And then, without hesitating, he replied: “I don’t know what you’re talking about. Sex has no mystery.”
Okay, I admit I don't know everything that a man thinks about, or a woman either for that matter, but I have to admit, there is more than just a little sense in being modest, whether it's old fashioned or traditional or even fashionable.

**See also this article in "Wendy's Modest Dress" (scroll down) for a Christian Lady's perspective on Modesty.

20 November 2006

About "Ladies Against Feminism"

I found this a most wonderful website, dedicated to the proposition that I agree with. It must then, be good. :) Here's a bit of their "about" page. I have also added a link to their site on my list of links, so that you may peruse their website and read some of the information. Something to think about.

Jun 14, 2003

This site is dedicated to the proposition that men and women are not identical creatures. Are we equal in human worth? Yes. Equal before the throne of grace? Absolutely. Equal in dignity? Indeed. But when it all boils down to it, if you insist that "equal" means exactly the same, you will have to fly in the face of biology, historical fact, biblical Truth and just plain common sense. In many ways, woman is not equal to man; and, by the same token, man is not equal to woman. They are different creatures with differing roles. Will we complement each other in our distinctive, God-given roles, or will we tear each other to shreds in a territorial dispute? LAF promotes the former. We are for maidenhood, modesty, virtue, intelligence, womanly arts and femininity. Join the new revolution!


"Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." - Phil. 4:8

17 November 2006

What kind of Lady Covers her head?

So who is covering? Here's some recent articles:
  1. From Nigeria, I found this article, "Wrap Around," with a photo, describing the various ways that the Nigerian Muslim women wear their head covering. Opening paragraph: "If there is any group of women that you can easily identify at a glance simply by their mode of dressing then it is our Muslim sisters."
  2. From the Jewish Press, I found a question and answer Rebbetzin who included a letter from a Lady who now chooses to wear a hair covering, in the article: "Give Me A Good Reason". She had these thoughts: ". . . hair is the one part of our body that is not essential to our well being, but connecting to Hashem is critical, and by covering our hair, our connection to Him as well as to our husbands, takes on a new dimension."
  3. From Malaysia, a blog from a dorm mother, who wanted to share a picture of her girls out playing basketball with their heads covered, hijab style, and dressed quite modestly.
  4. From Time Magazine, an article about the new trend for young catholic girls to take the veil - literally. The young Lady mentioned in the introduction "says the decision to wear the traditional black veil is her own. 'I could wear what a typical person my age would wear and blend into the world,' she says. 'But I wanted a constant reminder that every day I put on my veil, I am of God's service and I need to be about his work.'" Also see this article from Time on the same topic.
And all this regardless of what British Politicians, Catholic Cardinals, German Feminists or Egyptian Ministers might say. What does this really say about these Ladies and their choice to cover?

16 November 2006

Concerning Head Coverings

I began my "foray" into blogging with the idea of organizing a study on the head covering. First I began gathering information on headcoverings of Christian Ladies, as talked about in 1 Corinthans 11. There is much information on the subject in websites of churches and individuals, with several viewpoints concerning what it means and how and when to do so. The book that "started it all" for me can also be found online, at Headcoverings.org. (by Paul K. Williams, see photo)

I very quickly realized that covering the head was a much broader subject, since women have been covering their heads for much longer than most realize. It seemed to me that this was not merely a Christian injunction, that is, something to mark out which were Christian Ladies and which women were not. I came to understand that a woman covering her head is natural, submissive, modest, and even beautifying. Doing a search into websites and news articles on this subject, I also quickly realized that even though all women have this tendency to want to cover their heads, there are many names that may "mark" which women you are talking about. Christians usually refer to a "headcovering" - all one word - and this includes Roman Catholics as well as Anabaptists and Protestants. Jewish people refer more to "hair covering" for women, as it relates to the idea of modesty, tzniut, and then usually use the separate words "head covering" when referring to something a man uses to cover his head. When talking about Muslims, the media tends to refer to their "head scarf" or "veil", while the Muslims themselves use the term "hijab" (spelling differs). When head coverings are talked about in a secular way, sometimes the term "head scarf" is used, but also "head cover", "scarf", or the particular form of hat, such as bonnet, snood, or babushka. Now, this is not absolute, just a general observation.

So I believe that a Lady who covers her head in public is not alone, and need not fear being "marked out" for any specific treatment, other than that of a Lady. That is why on my Zoomshare homepage, I made these observations:

"I think that you will notice that wearing head coverings is not (and should not be) done JUST BECAUSE of an oppresive, ignorant, or male-dominated mandate.

"Wearing a head covering is (and should be) a FREE-WILL, MODEST, FEMININE and NATURAL* CHOICE made by women all over the world, throughout the ages. (*Natural - part of one's nature, which is given by God.)

"Women today do not need to rebel against their own nature OR modesty because this "modern, secular society" demands that they be more like men, OR more "sexy" - "letting their hair down"."

Sure, I believe that Paul was upholding certain truths for men and women to follow in their worship and in their relation to one another - Eternal Truths - which are natural, and even little girls follow. When was the last time you saw a little girl playing dress up and not cover her head with something - whether it be a cloth, a dressy hat, or even flowers?

(Be sure to check out my Zoomshare website, to see all the links I found at the time, along with photos and news stories.)

14 November 2006

About the Old Fashioned Lady

I'm starting this blog, because I want to all my stuff together - and since I am enjoying Gmail and Google search for now, I wanted to move my attempt to blog and research to the same server.

I have tried using the Zoomshare people, for a headcoverings blog and information portal, where I researched the use of the headcovering, head covering, head scarf, veil, hair covering, hat and etc. for women, and posted pictures, links and news articles that covered the issures about "Those Headcoverings". After a brief hiatus, I then went back to Angelfire, because I had used them for a family webpage a long time ago, and thought I would try their little blogger unit. Again, I wanted to include the links and recent news about headcoverings, and so I called it "Head Covered". Of course most news on the head coverings are about the Muslim population, for some reason, though there is as much confusion on the issue religiously and spiritually as for the Christian headcovering. And I want to be able to offer more permanent information and photos.

So now I am going to attempt a larger idea - that of feminity, which includes covering, as well as modesty and the ever elusive "inner beauty" which shines forth from a true Lady. Which most people consider "old fashioned", it seems. I think these areas are also all-religion inclusive, though personal interpretations will differ. For the most part, I believe that God created us women differently from the men, and we want to be modest, supportive, nurturing and beautiful - mostly, we want to be different from men because we were designed this way. As my best friend put it, "Ultimately what it comes down to is, you live. How you chose to live, ah, now there's the rub."

Incidentally, I was once "saved" from some harsh joking around that some women I was working with were doing, by an older gentleman who stopped and told them to watch what they were saying, because there was a lady present (referring to me). I suppose I've never forgotten that, and it has become a kind of vanity for me. Oh, well. I'm still working on it.