Much of the discussion among Plain Christians online seems focused on modesty-as defined as not showing your body. Not attacting attention is a distant 2nd- and submission of women to men and to God. What part do these ideas play in your choices about Plainness? What about living a simpler life? Where does modern Plain fit in?

    I am feeling led in this direction, but find most of the dialogue about not tempting men, and submission to our husbands objectionable at best! What about you ladies and gentlemen?

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For me it is about discipline before the Lord.  Focus is taken away from everything else, and more specifically is reminding me of why I am there (meaning Meeting for Worship).  I found that too often my mind would stray and Worship became nothing more than sitting quietly and reviewing my life.  My week, the current things going on, some of which were very trivial.  I could do this anywhere, Meeting for Worship is a place to listen, not to review my life.  By wearing plain clothes - and specifically covering my hair - I am constantly reminded why I am there.

 

No one else in my Meeting dresses plainly so I do have concerns about standing out like a sore thumb, but this is where I feel that dressing plainly is something I am called to do.  I do not question it, the Lord has led me to do this.

 

Follow your path, see where it takes you. - Love and Light, Caroline  (For the record, the only One I submit to is the Lord.  I do not submit to any person, nor do I think anyone should dress to submit to another human being)

     For me modesty is more about focusing away from myself and toward the Light.

     I don't dress modestly to show my subservience or submission toward the men in my life or to be "less than" to anybody or anything. I actually believe that submission to someone simply based on their gender is so completely against anything that God would have us do that I can't even get my head around the idea! 

     I see simplicity and modesty in dressing as a reaction to the over-focus of the world on such things as looking  outwardly to material things resulting in envy and greed and away from things of the interior - such as love or kindness or seeing others for who they are rather than what they look like/wear.

     I finally see it as my little part toward "greening" the world - using less resources and focusing less on self-consumption and leaving more for others.

Excellent way of putting it!

Meg Hill-Grigson said:

     For me modesty is more about focusing away from myself and toward the Light.

     I don't dress modestly to show my subservience or submission toward the men in my life or to be "less than" to anybody or anything. I actually believe that submission to someone simply based on their gender is so completely against anything that God would have us do that I can't even get my head around the idea! 

     I see simplicity and modesty in dressing as a reaction to the over-focus of the world on such things as looking  outwardly to material things resulting in envy and greed and away from things of the interior - such as love or kindness or seeing others for who they are rather than what they look like/wear.

     I finally see it as my little part toward "greening" the world - using less resources and focusing less on self-consumption and leaving more for others.

I have to put an additional little note in here - I dress modestly and even - when judging the prevailing fashion plainly but I do not dress in such a way that I am clearly noticeable as a "Plainly Dressed" person. For one thing - my career prevents this as I work in an office with responsibilities that require me to be constantly in court and in front of clients as well, and to be "obvious' in that way would not be appropriate in those places - not to mention I would not be comfortable as I would feel that the attention was being put on me rather than on the Light the way I want it.

My boss is also Quaker and also chooses to be simple (perhaps a better term than plain?) in his attire as well and for the same reasons (which obviously helps me keep to my plan). He also wants the focus to be on the Light and on others - not on himself. We both wish to be  a lens through which the Light can come through us - but not to be obviously "Plain" as that would take away from our ability to be a source of focus of the Light through our jobs by being distracting in the environments that we work in.  

  I know dressing in a  "Plain" fashion works for others - including a friend of mine - but for me - my need/goal is to be plain/simple but (for want of a better term - help here someone?) current.

I have heard there are nude (clothing optional) meetings although I don't know of any personally.  I personally would not feel comfortable sitting naked on a commonly used bench, if you know what I mean.  But there is nothing wrong with nudity, the ultimate of simplicity.  Of what faith are thee?

Graham from Devon said:

In my own opinion:

Personally I believe the most simplist form of clothing is not to clothe at all. Surely the beauty of our body is the most purest & simplist form and we can gain a greater connection and understand of ourselves through this practice.

 This is something however we me may want to practice in-doors or perhaps outside in private as 'people' have been taught that showing flesh is shameful.

 

Education and equal respect come before shaming ourselfs into hiding away as this leads to depression & self denial, unless you want that! This is perhaps a reason that the body is held in unhealthy desire, we hide it away and make it the forbidden apple?

As for wearing simple forms of clothing!!! - I wear colours that reflect the seasons, try to avoid designer labels, buy ethically and practically.

 

I must admit I'm not a Christian but hold a lot of Quaker beliefs. :o)

Thank you so much for all the great thoughts!  It certainly is wonderful to be reminded that we may do the same things for different reasons!

   Jenna, the way I see it there is *no* possible way to dress that will stop all men from feeling lust. I have talked to men from Muslim countries who say that the "feminine swish" of a burka is quite alluring. In raising my own sons I prefer to focus on self restraint! I do agree that the human body and sexuality  is highly over marketed, and that is part of my personal reason for moving in a simpler direction. But I fear that focusing on a woman's virtue is as objectifying as focusing on her body. It's a larger social problem that I don't know the solution to.

   I did miss the fervor of "women's lib", but I wonder if we're defining "submission" differently. What you describe sounds like letting the guy be the guy. I think letting  my husband drive when we're together, and make a majority of decisions works very well for us. The need to be "in charge" of everything does not seem conducive to good relationships, regardless of beliefs about gender and expression. When I think of submission it's more the process of substituting someone else's word for your own thought and freewill, as seems to be the trend in  many Christian communities.

      Certainly there are some things to think about regarding individual situations and not letting your style of dress interfere. For now, as a stay at home mom, I certainly have more options. I generally wear long skirts, or jeans with longer blouses. I'm working on "limiting my palette" just to make the process of dressing less of a focus in my life. And I've started hair covering, because I find it much simpler to tie a scarf than worry about how the humidity will effect my hair today.

      Graham, I also am coming at this from a not-quite Christian perspective. I've spent most of my teenage and adult years in the Pagan community, so that certainly colors my ideas about nudity and shame( as does several years in Europe).

My discomfort with sitting nude on a commonly used bench is more for sanitary reasons. I work in a career where nudity is the norm, I overcame any inhibitions about that a long time ago.  I did, though, come to understand the importance of not sitting where other nude people have sat.

  I suppose this is partly why, however, I do dress modestly before God.  My appearance is part of my career, I want nothing to do with that when I am in Worship.

Graham from Devon said:

No I don't go to Quaker meetings and sit naked, and probably would'nt being quite a private person.

I'm a 'Pagan' and generally try to strip life down to it's simplist and natural form. As for using nudity I like to spend time in silence naked usually before the moon or my spirits of place and commune.

It's an intoxicating way to centre and gain personal insight, I've had my best thoughts and ideas naked!!

 

Although using simple robes as a form of focus allows you to connect with specific energys that can be related to the colour and form. I imagine as a practicing Quaker you can relate to clothing that puts you into a state of mind for silence and insight? Infact spiritual clothing has a huge wealth when used, if you look at Monks & Nun's and how they use there robes and religeons accross the world.

Bottom line is, it's what makes you feel connected to your God or Goddess the most although we strive to cut out the barriers between?

Caroline Gulian said:

I have heard there are nude (clothing optional) meetings although I don't know of any personally.  I personally would not feel comfortable sitting naked on a commonly used bench, if you know what I mean.  But there is nothing wrong with nudity, the ultimate of simplicity.  Of what faith are thee?

Graham from Devon said:

In my own opinion:

Personally I believe the most simplist form of clothing is not to clothe at all. Surely the beauty of our body is the most purest & simplist form and we can gain a greater connection and understand of ourselves through this practice.

 This is something however we me may want to practice in-doors or perhaps outside in private as 'people' have been taught that showing flesh is shameful.

 

Education and equal respect come before shaming ourselfs into hiding away as this leads to depression & self denial, unless you want that! This is perhaps a reason that the body is held in unhealthy desire, we hide it away and make it the forbidden apple?

As for wearing simple forms of clothing!!! - I wear colours that reflect the seasons, try to avoid designer labels, buy ethically and practically.

 

I must admit I'm not a Christian but hold a lot of Quaker beliefs. :o)

Jenna Caruthers said:

 I was reading recently in a Muslim context about feelings surrounding modesty. The conversation was between young men, a non-Muslim and a Muslim. The former was incredulous wondering aloud what could possibly be so sexually tempting about a woman's elbow. The Muslim man said, "If you only knew." Constant exposure to "skin" I feel detracts from a man's sexual life,  and definitely creates an "object" mentality concerning women.

I disagree with this interpretation. The non-Muslim man not seeing a woman's elbow as suggestive implies, to me, that he sees a woman's elbow as no different than a man's elbow. That is, he isn't sexually objectifying her for wearing short sleeves.

The "submission to men" thing is something that pushes me away from some Christians, certainly. I can't imagine having someone else run my life for me. 

 

As to not tempting men:  I know there's no way to prevent that. Regardless of what you wear, you're a target for rape. However, even the more egregious street harassers (those guys on the sidewalk or hanging from car windows who are all talk with their "smile for me, baby!") would leave a Nun alone.  The habit is like a forcefield of "oh, that one's religious...say something wrong to her, and you're totally going to aych ee double hockey sticks."  I feel like modest dress lets me borrow that a little bit.  It doesn't fix the problem (them running their mouths all full of disrespect) but it can make my walks a bit more pleasant.

 

I was raised Catholic, with the skirt-length rules in Catholic school through 8th grade. In the public high school, I tried dressing "normal" for a year and decided I really didn't like omg-you're-a-girl type attention. So I started wearing pretty much all black so I'd blend into the shadows and be ignored...and I didn't get a date up until about the very end (when I stopped blending in by being the only woman working in a guitar store), so that pretty much worked.

I am sorry to see the "bra-burning" stereotype rear its head again, and on a Quaker site. This was an argument used in the 60's through the 80's to try to debunk the women's movement and indicate that women were getting too big for their britches. I understand that if there were any bra-burnings, they were very local and very small.

The propaganda also liked to refer to women trying to be men. Funny, though, this was said only because women wanted equal rights, AS WOMEN. Nobody would ever look at me and think I was trying to be a man. We were also called man-haters. Just because I want to be judged for my skills, rather than for my sex? Please, now, let's not go there again.

As for dressing modern plain: is it for simplicity or modesty or both?? The Quaker emphasis is on simplicity. If Friends want to include modesty into their definition of simplicity, that's OK by me, as long as you don't look down your nose at Friends who wear simple clothes that expose more of the limbs.

I tend to think about modesty in terms of worldliness, however. It is immodest to spend time and money keeping up with fashion. It is not immodest to buy simple clothing, made to last, and timeless in a fashion sense. I can't imagine that anyone would find my elbows immodest, unless they are offended by middle-aged skin.

In Friendship, Paula


Well said, Paula. Thank thee.

Mary Linda

I did live in that time, and she seems to be right on the mark.  Bra-burning was actually a myth brought about by the media to belittle the women's movement.  And when a woman tried to get into the major market of careers (most of which were dominated by men) they were accused of women trying to be men.  They were women trying to make money, trying to break out of the myths.

 

I worked in construction before the recession affected real estate and hope to get back into it.  I wear hardhats and steel tipped boots on site as protection.  I'm not trying to be a man, I am dressing like the men for the same reasons men dress like men.  Safety.

 

Furthermore, a 'feminist' has been made out to be manhaters.  A true feminist can be a man or a woman who strives for women's equality in society and the workplace.

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