Monday, May 28, 2012

Pondering Modesty

May is one of our family's birthday months. Now, we have DD1, Mrs DoomHamster, and DD3, who have celebrated their 26th and 14th birthdays respectively in the last week :-)

I took DD3 shopping to The Big City on Saturday, so she could choose some new clothes as part of her birthday gift. The Big City has a population of 330,000 and is very cosmopolitan indeed compared to our sleepy small seaside town, so it is always a big adventure when we visit maybe twice a year. Yes, I know, I need to get out more....but after Saturday, I have very little desire to.

Thinking of the rigours of repeatedly changing in order to try on clothes, DD3 was sensibly attired for the extremely hot weather, in blue jeans and a tshirt. She looked relaxed, modest, comfortable and very pretty indeed, and we had lots of fun travelling by bus and then by train.

Within 10 seconds of leaving the train station, our ears were blasted by a woman wearing very little, pushing a stroller, screaming across the concourse to an acquaintance that  "They just said they could see my ar*e in this!" in positively outraged tones. DD3 and I just looked at each other, and agreed that it was in fact a true statement and not an insult as it would be difficult to imagine her wearing any less clothing. This woman was in fact one of the most clothed people we saw that day:

  •  The girl wearing a tiny, totally transparent cream mico-mini skirt was notable for the fact she had elected to wear a black thong under it.
  • The woman in McDonald's wearing  shorts which exposed at least 90% of the cheeks of both buttocks, and which put us off our food so much that we individually and simultaneously elected to put our shopping bags on the table to block out the view.
  • The girls with backless, sleeveless and almost frontless tops.
  • The woman wearing a maxi-dress with capped sleeves but a wide cleavage split that went almost to her waist, and if she had coughed, would have had a fashion accident of an embarrassing kind.
  • The woman trying on  a leather lace-up corset in one shop, who came out of the changing cubicle to wait for her partner, who duly vocally admired her and their joint decision that that was what she was wearing to go out that night. Frankly, I would have been embarrassed to wear it as lingerie in my home for the sole benefit of my husband, let alone wear it out as her only item of clothing above her waist, as it was laced so tightly that acres of  sweaty flesh were bulging out everywhere.........

I want to add that we weren't staring at these people, mocking these people or judging these people in any way, but being the hillbilly hicks from the sticks, we were totally taken aback at what city folk seem to think is perfectly acceptable summer attire in 2012. I have seen prostitutes in London's less salubrious districts wearing more modest clothing than these apparently respectable people.

I came home feeling that I needed bleach for both my eyes and my brain, and after a carefully worded chat with my daughter, was rather relieved that she felt the same. I was beginning to feel very old indeed. No wonder so many cultures comment on the apparent western decadence; I felt a bit like that myself..........

PS For those of you who may share our enjoyment in such things, the trains we travelled on were named "The National Trust" and "Demelza" :-)
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elizabeth said...

Lord have mercy; I feel so sad for those people; it is so wonderful and becoming to be modest... just got back from the monastery and feel more and more convinced of this!

Ian Climacus said...

Your trains are named?? How wonderful!

And I was rather taken aback in December in Toronto several years back at what little ladies wore in near-or-sub-zero temperatures. And I too am often amazed at what people wear: another hillbilly from the sticks. :) I grew up with a lot of non-Western friends pupils, so my attitudes were often more conservative; I do not mean to sound judgemental, but I do wonder about the outfits some mothers think are appropriate for 5 year-olds let alone 15-year-olds!

And your daughter's attitude is a blessing and credit to you.

Anonymous said...

It's getting worse and worse. I live in a VERY hot climate, which apparently gives everyone from age 2 to 102 a reason to let it all hang out...and I mean all. Gads.


Andrew Tatusko said...

I recently came across an article about a Muslim woman who chose to wear an Hijab to express her femininity. I was thinking there about modesty and headcoverings as well. Interesting that clothing that seems to demean women is somehow seen as an expression of "girl power." Here's more on that article here: