Submitted Date 03/18/2019

Why are so many cultures obsessed with modesty? Especially modesty for women. It seems that as a woman, no matter what you do, you just cannot dress right. Jeans and a t-shirt - those jeans are too tight. Tank top and shorts - your bra strap is showing and those shorts are way too short. Oh, and heaven forbid if you don't even wear a bra. And then there is the opposite side of the spectrum. Long skirts and dresses - well aren't you so holy. Where does this all end?

Why are women so critiqued when we make choices on how we dress? So what if I want to wear booty shorts or a long-sleeved maxi dress. Does it affect your life that much if I choose not to wear a bra under my shirt? I am condemned if I do and condemned if I don't.

The thing is, we are born naked. We do not come out of our mother's womb fully dressed in socially acceptable clothing. We are not told from day one that we must cover every inch of our body. It is the opposite in fact.

Photo shoots of newborns and children under one year old often feature those "cheeky" little shots of their behind. We dress them up in outfits to make them look like little cherubs. We pinch their cheeks, both kinds, and tell them how adorable they are. And then, those photos are posted onto social media and made into calendars. Oftentimes, those photos will be put in a family photo album or hung on the wall in a home. This is normal for many societies. We view it as cute, adorable, and innocent. Heaven forbid though, if a woman wears shorts that accent her ass a bit too much. What is up with this double standard? And why does it apply to women so much more than men?

For example, if a man walks around with his shirt off, many of us won't give a second glance. If a woman did the same thing there would be people shielding their eyes, catcalling, and suggestive gestures made at her. Disapproving glares would make this woman feel as though her body is something to be ashamed of.

What is the true difference between a man with his shirt off and a woman doing the same. A little extra fat. That's right. Fat. Men and women's breast areas are made up of basically the same thing. Women simply tend to have more fatty tissue and lobules. (The milk producing glands of the breast.) So outwardly, there is little to no difference between men and women's chest than a bit extra "roundness". The nipples on our chest also look the same. How are a woman's nipples so different except that we have the glorious ability to feed a child through them? If anything, our nipples should be prized and praised - not sexualized.

Now I know that in some countries, women are accepted for being topless as it is less normalized as being a sexual thing. Yet in America, if a woman so much as pulls her breast out to feed her child, she is ostracized.

We wear too much clothing, we are judged. We don't wear enough, we are also condemned. If we feed our young children in the way they are meant to be, we are shunned. And in all this, we are constantly sexualized.

What are we as women to do in a society that tells us what we can or cannot wear and then judges us even when we follow the "rules"?
Well, we can tell them to "shove it where the sun don't shine". Women, we are in control of who we are. Every day we wake up and decide who we want to be. Shame on anyone who tries to tell us how we are to live our life. It is our own to decide.

We live in a society where injustices against women are committed every day. We have begun to take a stand against these forces. I encourage you to continue to show the world how powerful a woman is.

We should not stand for a society that does not want us to be empowered through the way we dress or choose to live. Do not let them constantly sexualize normality. Take back the self-love and courage that is ours and change the universe with it. Let us no longer lie down and be walked upon by people who consider us to be their inferiors. We will once again be in charge of our destinies.


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  • Tanya Marion 3 years, 5 months ago

    Being raised in the Bible Belt South, I’ve heard the very opposite argument my entire life. You’re taught at a young age that you have to dress a certain way in order not to “tempt.” Even as a child, that made no sense to me. You’re not in control of someone else’s temptations, and you’re certainly not responsible for anyone else’s actions. I think seduction has more to do with the way a woman carries herself than it does with what she’s wearing. (Common sense applies. You wouldn’t go grocery shopping in a thong.) But the pressure women feel to dress “appropriately” is very real. And I think women judging other women has a lot to do with that. There have been many times when I’ve checked to make sure my blouse was buttoned high enough, or changed bras because the one I was wearing showed under my shirt. And every time I’ve ever done this, I’ve felt frustrated and insecure for even letting it bother me. I want to be respectful of other people, but I also have so many other things on my mind like my work, my family, my daily responsibilities. I shouldn’t be worrying about the top button of my blouse. I’m glad for women like you who bring light to the double standards we live by on a daily basis. Challenging societal norms is the only way to progress. Less judgement, more love. Thanks Ellen!

    • Ellen Gibson 3 years, 5 months ago

      Thank you so much for this comment. I to was raised in a very similar religious manner. So I can completely understand what you have said. To this day i still struggle with those thoughts and feelings and am judged by some of my family as well.

    • Ellen Gibson 3 years, 5 months ago

      I am glad that you enjoyed this read and I really hope it can help some people. :)

    • Ellen Gibson 3 years, 5 months ago

      Thank you so much for that. I am so glad you enjoyed it and that it spoke to you. The support is very much appreciated.

  • Miranda Fotia 3 years, 5 months ago

    Great piece! You are so right! There are so many ways a woman can get it wrong in our society...especially with the way we dress. Worrying so much about how people judge us by our appearance should be at the bottom of our priority lists.

    • Ellen Gibson 3 years, 5 months ago

      I'm glad you enjoyed the piece. :)

  • Darlene Hayder 3 years, 3 months ago

    I understand where you're coming from. However, I feel judged for wanting to dress modestly. Women shouldn't be ashamed for dressing modestly or not.

    • Ellen Gibson 3 years, 3 months ago

      Absolutely agree with this as well. :)

  • Nina Appasamy 3 years, 3 months ago

    Thank you for writing this. My parents are very liberal, but, when I'm home (I'm 23), even they will make disapproving comments if I wear something that shows too much skin. I know they mean well, but it always makes me angry. Women should be allowed to wear what we want, regardless of men's reactions. I think we need to stop teaching girls to police what they wear because of how boys will react, and we need to start teaching boys to exercise self-control. Too often in sexual assault cases, women's clothing is used to judge whether or not they were "leading the man on." Changing the education of kids about clothing and sex to a system that isn't so [cis, straight] male-centric, would reduce the abomination that is the current "rape culture."

  • Julie Nunn 3 years, 2 months ago

    Love, love, LOVE your story. And I couldn't agree with you more! We live in a society that has everything so screwed up when it comes to fairly everything about women. It's going to take volumes of women writing article upon article, giving countless speeches and literally shouting from the rooftops on these subjects to get ourselves taken seriously and HEARD. We have been told (pretty much by men) for DECADES not only how we should dress but how we should eat, talk, walk and everything else in-between...usually for THEIR satisfaction and enjoyment, not necessarily our own. We need to change the narrative. So thank you for your article. When enough women speak maybe we will break through all the BS we have been told we have to swallow.

  • Alisha Constance 5 months, 3 weeks ago

    I agree with all of this! I would also add the issue of weight. People (men and women) need to just stop commenting on women's weight. She too fat, she's too skinny, there's always some criticism of her looks and size. Why do they feel the need to say it at all? What good will it bring? 100% of the time, these comments are not necessary, helpful, or good in any way and often cause more harm.