Why I Choose to Dress Modestly

By Leora Eisenberg

While Victoria’s Secret Angels are free to go bare on the runway, am I no less free to cover up in public?

If one more person tells me that I need to be “liberated,” I’m going to have a fit.

The moment someone catches a glimpse of my covered limbs and maxi skirts, they tell me how oppressed I am and how much I need to rebel against the patriarchal guidelines for modest dress, designed by men to curb their sexual impulses.

What am I supposed to do? Defend my clothing choices?

In our uber-enlightened age of “you do you,” I hardly find it appropriate that I, a strong proponent of “you do you,” have to defend my clothes. I used to feel that we belong to an age where a woman is free to dress however she chooses. But I wonder – while Victoria’s Secret Angels are free to go bare on the runway, am I no less free to cover up in public?

In some quarters, “modesty” has come to mean sexual repression and religious fundamentalism. I like to think that I represent neither of the two phenomena.

As a progressive observant Jew, I embrace and observe the tenets of my religion while living in the modern world. I don’t dress like a spinster, contrary to popular belief. I can look pretty nice in skirts and flowy clothing. I still look attractive – but not sexy. Modesty does not mean ugliness. It means a code of virtue in dress and behavior. And in my case, that code of virtue is deeply personal.