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September 16, 2010



What a beautiful reflection on the power of modesty: in speech as well as in dress! I, too, have found opposition to my modesty troubling. Why something I do that directly affects only me fosters so much anger from others was so puzzling at first. Then, I realized that if I repel people who don't understand, that could be in my favor, because they probably wouldn't like me immodest either, and I wouldn't want to associate with them if they did.

Cady Driver

Let me just be the first to say that this is an AWESOME article and almost everything you spoke about have been things that I've struggled with at one point or another. The criticism that people can dish out if you're not engaging enough, don't love parties enough, not to mention the fact that people treat me like a fool b/c I've never been drunk or lost control of myself in front of a roomful of people.....it's so frustrating!

I hear you, girl! Thanks for writing this. I dare say that you're a second born in your family? Just a guess. :)


Tom Babcock

Well put. Lisa. What an inappropriate question, "What gives you the right to be private" with those very parts of your life that are best held private. In today's world with the "reality" TV exposing anything and everything (at least that is what I hear because I would rather be entertained by artfully developed plot and character), it is interesting to see the anger and contempt displayed by reporters who demand private thoughts and feeling to be expressed--witness Tiger Woods.


My old science teacher told me something along the lines of "The casual observer would think you shy, but you are not shy." Very true. I think my Asian features and small stature kind of say "shy" but I'm really a chatterbox and pretty open personality wise. However, I had anorexia for a year as a teenager and subdued personality and covering of the body kind of go along with that and I got called a snob... lol. It was a bit of a shock, something I'd never been accused of being. I also got similar "little miss perfect" quips etc.
I also think going in the opposite direction, any person I have pestered for their modesty (including my husband) have maybe been along the lines of "you're so quiet, I can't tell if you like me as a person or not and it's a little uncomfortable". It's kind of a privilege to get to know shy/modest people (even if it can be uncomfortable or scary at first). When I tell people about my husband's personality they're kind of like "really? he always seems so quiet." So while my friends, neighbors and even the rest of my family don't get to see it, I get to experience among other things, his silliness and great sense of humor, his impressive intelligence, and his hilarious but well choreographed dance moves.


I love this blog. So true! You go girl. ;-)

Alpana Trivedi

Question. How do I post comments on this website? I'm not technically inclined and need to be babied through the steps.

I don't know what a web site URL is, but my comments aren't posting unless I give one. Please help me

Alpana Trivedi

Never mind, folks. Looks like I figured it out. Of course, I'll have to see if the comments actually get approved and posted. I look forward to lurking here every now and then:-). I'll post my comments later. Have a wonderful day.

Cady Driver

Alpana, the comments are approved by a moderator and then they are posted. The moderator simply makes sure that no one is attacking anyone else and that things stay decent. I am moderating this weekend but I posted your comments to let you know that you are welcome on this blog. There are many different view points and opinions but people tend to respect one other.

Hope you visit often! :)

Darla Gaylor

Reading the first paragraph was like reading the thoughts out of my high school journal. I, too, was very reserved in my high school days. It took me a while to find my voice, and the confidence to use it. Even though I am more outspoken these days, I still prefer writing. It does give you the opportunity to think through and reason out things- plus, I believe, some of us process thoughts/ feelings better internally.

As far as this relates to modesty, I am saddened by the number of young adults, especially the girls though, who do not value modesty in its various forms. They actually mock those who feel like their thoughts and body are not for general display, or "public consumption," as it were.

Excellent piece, Lisa.

Alpana Trivedi

Okay, I'm back. I've known about this website and Wendy Shalit's two books for about four years now. The topic of modesty has always been interesting to me. I'm generally modest in the way I dress (in terms of not showing skin), but I wear loud, colorful clothing like tie-dye skirts and just flat-out clashing colors. And I wear mismatching socks, when I'm wearing civilian clothes anyway. Which reminds me to give you a little background about me.

I'm currently in the U.S. Navy, stationed in Japan (what made me join I don't know anymore:-)). Our ship is underway a lot and that's where I live. My "permanent" address is in Texas. I was born in Stamford, CT and both my parents came from India. I have Bachelor's degrees in English and psychology. I LOVE to read and write.

Okay, about the current topic, I'm definitely NOT what you'd call shy or quiet, but I seem to seek out friends who listen more than talk (probably because I like to talk a lot:-)). I've noticed that people tell to pathologize shyness. Quiet people are seen as either having "low self-esteem" or being stuck-up. Perhaps it's like Stacy said in her post, that people tend to be afraid of the unknown. Loud people put themselves out there (I know I do), but the quieter people you actually have to make an effort to know and when you get to know them, they can be very deep, thoughtful, interesting people.

I know I HATE being put in a box. I've always been the one with the unique perspective on many, many topics and this is one of them. I'm actually a walking oxymoron, if there was a simple way to describe me:-). I have a very artistic, liberal, non-conformist personality yet I'm in the Navy (and I'm a handful for my command). I consider myself a very strong feminist, but I cry at the drop of a hat and don't consider that a weakness (another trait considered a weakness in the military). I'm also what you'd call a naive old soul (another contradiction), because my knowledge is more intellectual and theoretical rather than applied and practical.

I think I've always found modesty to be empowering. I've always liked long skirts over short ones (although I don't wear long sleeves when I don't have to). I overall gravitate toward comfortable, colorful clothing and don't follow trends. I've been asked by a lot of people why I don't wear "normal" clothes or even why I don't show more skin. And as Wendy talks about in her books, I've been accused of "holding back" something whenever I don't want to discuss certain topics that shouldn't be a public discussion. Uh...WRONG!! Why does keeping something private have to mean you're "ashamed" of it? The ironic thing is I've also been told I'm too honest and that people feel uncomfortable with my stance on certain controversial topics. It's like whether I'm haughty or modest, my thinking generally doesn't follow the party line and people are afraid.

So there's my stream-of-consciousness response to this blog. Thankfully, I could do a longer one today since I'm on holiday routine:-). Hope people aren't bothered by too many parenthesis and quotations:-). Have a good day.

Margaret Banford

Welcome, Alpana! I hope you leave many more comments like the one you left here - though I have to say that I don't consider crying at the drop of a hat and being a strong feminist to be mutually exclusive positions!

I'm like other commentors.....I read the first paragraph, and saw myself in secondary school. I didn't talk about boys and make up and hair and other things, and so I was left alone most of the time.

Now I dress modestly (I wore a uniform in both my schools) and still don't talk about boys and make up and other things :-) and I'm still alone.

Melissa May

Beautiful. I especially like the last paragraph. You summed up perfectly why modesty sometimes bothers others.

Empowered Modesty

Well said! Great post.


Wonderful article! I very much appreciated it. I like the way you pinpoint the reaction of some people towards your demeanor and life choices as "hostility". The display of a certain hostility seems quite prevalent in current culture towards modesty in general. I wish I could have read an article like yours during my younger years. To have felt confident in my choices and not to have felt like there was something very wrong with me to feel the way that I felt would have greatly impacted my life for the better. For young women and men, I think the difficulty can often be in recognizing the various guises which this hostility takes at the time they are faced with it, and sustaining the conviction to stand by their values. Since some of these guises are quite subtle (but persistent) from media and society, it can take a lot of maturity (and a toll on our self-esteem) before we may realize that we’ve “bought into the hype”. Your article gives a sense of how important it is that men and women who value modesty (in its various forms) gain confidence early on in their decisions to preserve a part of themselves FOR themselves, and need not feel compelled to apologize, make excuses for, or even explain their choices.

Alice B.

Thank you so much for this article. I too am a person who dresses modestly and thinks (possibly too much) before saying something. Good to know there are others like that out there.


It happened to me that some guy had a dream of me almost naked, wearing very little clothing. I told him that in real life, I do not wear that kind of revealing clothing ,it brings unwanted attention as i go about my business .

He kind of got insulted telling me that its being naked its very natural and so on . I see his point , however being completely bare has its time with his corresponding deserving eye, the public does not need to know how big or small my breast are and much less if my tights look good on short shorts .
But he didnt get it , and posted in website which we are both members that we shouldnt look down at the body because its more than a vessel and things of a similar nature. And i am here left wondering what in the world makes him think that modesty and covering sensuous body parts is looking down on the body?
Actually because I am an Anatomy student , i know what "looking down on the body " is all about because of all the stupid diseases that body can contract as a result of neglecting exercise , improper diet , and engaging in dangerous habits that kill cells and propagate bacteria so I was astounded that he was so "opinionated" and biased as just include someone personal opinion about fashion as if he was indirectly criticizing me.

This is how men and women bring their own destruction . Mystery is key, full disclosure to early ruin relationships but I guess one cannot argue with a young man in his 20's that has been under the guidance of an extremely liberal family.Reap your rewards. Excellent blog!


Luci, I have had very similar conversations in which I am told that I am mentally ill or strange because I think modesty is a good thing. I think that the young years are a time to try out various extreme positions before we sort of regulate towards positions that are more moderate. I bet this guy will form a more moderate viewpoint once he has lived a little bit more of life. And if not in the next few years, then when he has a daughter of his own!


What an excellent article. I've printed it off to give to my 14 y/o daughter. She is very modest in manner and dress. If only I'd had that gift as a 14 y/o!

At age 16 my family moved from Cleveland where I attended an all girls school to a wealthy suburb and public schooling. My family was definitely blue-collar. Most of the other teens were wild (even more wild than Catholic School girls) and they had the money to spend on clothes, alcohol and drugs. Although, this was the 80's and the clothes had not quite reached the level of sleaze that it has today.

I was sexually harrassed and mistreated in almost every way possible. I am not shy, nor am I un-friendly. In fact, I'm very outgoing, always smiling and I love people. However, the extremely harsh treatment I received from students and teachers alike caused me to withdraw and to have only a few, very close friends.

At one point my BFF and I hosted a Valentine's Day party at her house. Her parents disappeared and allowed chaos to ensue. The young people who attended trashed her house and behaved like wild animals as most of them arrived drunk. I was not raised that way and was horrified to the point of having to leave the party. My mother raised me to have respect for others and their property. I did return to help with the clean-up my BFF (who is still like a Sister to me) shrugged her shoulders at the vandelism and remarked, "This isn't nearly as bad as my last party." Huh?! What?!

I suffered two years of torment and torture. Then, at the age of 19, a person who'd I'd considered a "friend" informed me that another "friend" had started rumors about me being a promiscuous moaner! I was one of the few virgins to graduate that school in the 1980's. This horrid boy that I'll call "Dave" spread the rumor to all who would listen. One of his friends did call him on it and tell him that he was a liar because, "She's to big a snob!" Huh?! What?! Because I kept to myself as a mode of self-preservation and because I would not drink or partake in the cocaine that was so readily available, I was the "snob"? Well, so be it. The tragedy of their lives is evident. It is by God's grace that I avoided these traps in high school.

Well, back to my "informant friend." When asked why he didn't tell me what was going around, his response was that he 'didn't want to hurt my feelings.' Huh? What? Had I know at least I would have understood and been able to defend myself against some of the attacks.

In this society we are entitled to do or say anything as long as what do or say does not concern modesty, purity or respect. To train our children, especially our daughters, that their bodies belong to God, to them and to their husbands is considered near child abuse. To teach our sons to respect and defend females or that remaining pure for their respective wife is tantamount to cutting off their genitalia. However, the benefits of promiscuity, animal behavior, pornography, etc have never materialized. Yet, few admit the truth of how the aforementioned vices (aka sins) damage and destroys us personsonally, societally or globally. Despite the numorous societies that have fallen because of theses sins. Anyone remember Judah or the Greecian and Roman Empires?

My prayer is that God will heal our land, our children and us! 2 Chronicles 7:14 NAS [if] My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

Thank you Wendy for giving us a voice and a venue! May God's truth be heard and accepted!


Fantastic! Wish I had read this about ten years ago. A wonderful validation of something I've felt for many, many years.


Some of this is certainly true, but I'd like to point out that introversion isn't the same as shyness. That's another stereotype.

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