Webster’s dictionary defines modesty as, “the quality of behaving and especially dressing in ways that do not attract sexual attention; propriety in dress, speech or conduct.” Even with this definition “modesty” brings to mind images of plainness, frumpy clothes and overly-religious reserve; all things that the body positive movement is against. For the most part being body positive has meant wearing revealing clothes such as body-con dresses and crop tops, understandably so as plus size women are reclaiming visibility after decades of being taught self-loathing to the point of hiding their body. However, this in turn has made the movement somewhat exclusive as those who chose not to empower themselves in such a way are put down as needing more self esteem and confidence.May exclaim: “Show those arms! Your figure! Them legs!”Granted in some cases those kind of statements do work as motivators since there are many people who are still not in a place to try such things and some opt for less daring outfits. For instance, cold shoulder tops and dresses expose just enough skin without being too revealing. Yet I know for many people such pieces seem ridiculous or unnecessary exclaiming, “Just go sleeveless!,” not realizing that outfit may have just been a major step out of someone’s comfort zone or if it is within their modest lifestyle. To be clear, modesty in dress doesn’t make one better than those who don’t participate in this practice, even if it is linked to religious beliefs as they sometimes can be. Moreover, modest dress does NOT equal hiding the body under hideous over-sized shapeless sacks. I mean, just take a few minutes and look up Leah Vernon and her blog, Beauty and the Muse. Though modest in style she slays with the best of them and always on trend. When I think of mainstream examples of “fashionable modesty” I automatically think of Adele. She has an amazing sense of style though it is very reserved when compared to other pop genre female musicians.
That said, we now have body positive role models in industries such as fashion, music, and film that are worthy of support as they are helping break beauty and body standards, yet its wrong to demand them to do things just for the sake of increasing body diverse representation. Recently Rebel Wilson’s anti-nudity policy was revealed sparking some negative reactions across the internet. Whether or not her policy is backed by religious beliefs or otherwise, she has a right to say no. It is her body. She doesn’t owe it to us to break all the barriers just because of her position in media. It is the same for me as a blogger. Though I am a body positive fatshion blogger I can honestly say that it is highly unlikely that I will ever do a lingerie shoot. Yes, I have shared photos of myself in a swimsuit on the blog before, but there are just some things that I consider too personal for the internet. It’s not that I am ashamed, those days are far gone; I have modest values that deserve to be respected even if the majority of people don’t agree with them. For this reason, should Rebel Wilson ever decide to do a nude scene in the future, I will equally respect and defend her decision.
So, no modesty does not work against the body positive movement, it just complicates the discussion. Just like how there is no right way to be a woman there is no wrong way to be body positive. To be body positive means to love your body as it is, dressing yourself in styles and fashions you enjoy. For some that means bodycon, visible belly lines and revealing outfits, and for others not so much. It all comes to this: the same way we want the world to accept our bodies, we should accept the way people choose to be body positive.
What do you think? Is modesty harmful to the body positive movement? Is it necessary to reveal your body in order to demonstrate body love and body positivity? Should body positive role models be expected to do all kinds of things to increase body representation in media or can they live by their own values?
About this series: “My Two Cents” is a personal opinion series dealing with observed industry practices as well as society’s accepted concepts on body/self love and standards of beauty. It is meant to spark discussion on issues which I have deemed in need of addressing. Any ideas for discussion are welcomed and may be made in the comments or via the contact page.
Thanks for reading!