My son attends the Jewish preschool in our town. Like us, many of the students who attend are not members of the temple and are not Jewish themselves, so the school often sends home information about the Jewish holidays that they celebrate at school. With the recent Hanukkah activities at school (dreidel games and making latkes with the kids) the school sent home a little write-up about Hanukkah, its origins, its meaning, and the way it is observed. I am woefully uneducated in Jewish holidays, so I enjoy learning the little tidbits that come home clipped to my son's school bag. I was surprised to learn this: "The light of the candles symbolize the light of religious freedom. Hanukkah strengthens the conviction that religious freedom is the right of every people and that God desires man to worship him in freedom."
Especially that last part: God desires man to worship him in freedom.
Now of course I am approaching this question from a religious, I-believe-in-God kind of way, because that is my view, but this made me think about modesty as well, and what it means for modesty to be a choice, rather than a requirement. Personally, I believe that within a society, modesty means more when it is a free choice rather than being forced in some way. I also believe that, in opposition to many opinions that I have heard in the popular media, dressing modestly in accordance with one's religious beliefs is a free choice, provided that the religious observance is not mandated by the state. For instance, I see incredible freedom in a woman's right to cover her head, provided that, on some level, she decided that that is what she wanted to do.
In short, I think that modesty is meaningless if it is forced or imposed from the outside on an adult person who does not feel "called" to it. What do you think?