Comment: The Modesty Movement of the female body

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In a social media age where it’s fashionable to show of our body, Lydia Mormen finds out what bloggers are subverting the industry, and covering up in style.

Edited by Natalie Whitmore

What started as a step towards equality with it becoming acceptable for women to wear trousers instead of skirts has now become an infatuation with the female body that has been exploited by the media. The female body that was once mysterious and revered has lost its mystery. There was once a time that our grandparents would remember when a man would have to marry a woman or at least take her on dates, before having the privilege of seeing even a glimpse of her naked body, yet today the female body and sexualisation of women has become an accepted and implicit part of our society.

As women, we have been bombarded with the power of our bodies to sell. We drive past a billboard of a female body barely wrapped in a silk cloth, selling the latest bottle of perfume, while Selena Gomez ‘Good for You’ blares out the radio. Our idea of what is attractive has become solely reliant on our bodies. If our naked bodies can be used to attract people to buy a completely unrelated product, such as perfume, surely flaunting as much flesh as legally possible, “oozing sex appeal” according to the media, is what is required to be beautiful. We have been taught for the last 50 years that our bodies sell and now we are applying this to our own lives.

However, there is a movement of women of all faiths and none that are choosing to dress in a way that is fashionable yet modest. This season, in the world of fashion, popular high street stores such as  Zara, Topshop and Urban Outfitters are stocking more modest styles than ever with culottes back in fashion and the hem line of skirts and dresses often dropping below the knee.

13233440_10208085203505467_90056043_nReligious women of a range of different faiths have jumped at the chance to express their love for modest fashion  by creating a growing  community of modest fashion lovers who can inspire and be inspired through social media, blogs and Youtube.

Anlya from anlya_modestfashion , a 24 year old “modern fashionista in Paris’’ now has a following of nearly  10.000 on Instagram and is proud to be a part of a this exciting modesty movement and seeing women and girls able to express themselves through modest fashion. She decided to begin to wear modest clothing after a decision to take her Muslim faith more seriously but her passion for modest fashion can inspire women of all faiths to feel confident and to question the reasons we flaunt our bodies.
‘’Society tells us that being sexy and wearing make-up is true beauty and that that’s what we have to focus on in order to succeed as women. Be “beautiful” and you will reach the best job position, you will make the perfect man fall in love with you, you will make other women jealous of you and for me that’s not an accurate way to identify the notion of beauty and the way to succeed!

She went on to explain that ‘’If I want to attract people to me, reach a good position job, make a man falling in love with me and be an inspiration (and not a rival) for other women, I’d rather give others the opportunity to not just  see my feminine curves but to experience what I’m thinking, what I’m bringing to the society, what I’m dreaming of  every night before sleeping  to making this world better. I want people to remember not my physical beauty but my interior beauty. That’s  true beauty to me.”

Saima.Style is a younger modest fashion advocate on Instagram regularly posting modest fashion inspiration to inspire her followers. For her, dressing modestly is not something that is oppressive or restricting as many have come to believe, but quite the opposite. By wearing clothes that she loves but that don’t flaunt her bare body she feels incredibly liberated.

13250562_10208085203425465_1021909449_nShe  explained her passion for modest fashion when asked why she feels dressing modestly is so important. “From deep within my heart I believe that dressing modestly is a fantastic thing. It should be promoted and encouraged especially with the younger generation, who are in fact exposed by the media, which is constantly showing women half-naked. The media acts as a powerful tool in influencing people, and it is important that we show and encourage young women that you don’t have to be half-naked to be considered beautiful, and women should feel that it is okay to dress modestly because your body should be your own. As women we should all encourage each other that we are all beautiful.’’

It’s is a privilege to live in a country where as women we are empowered and free to dress however we please but perhaps our self-perception of what beautiful means has become warped by the idea that to be beautiful  means to be skinny and smooth and bare when perhaps in an age when the female body is being objectified and becoming the sole feature of someone’s sex appeal, dressing in ways that suggest our confidence comes from our inner beauty instead of how much flesh we have on show can perhaps be more empowering.