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Feminine and modest clothes

This is some of what the Bible says about feminine and modest clothes:

Deuteronomy 22:5 (New King James Version): 5 “A woman shall not wear anything that pertains to a man, nor shall a man put on a woman’s garment, for all who do so are an abomination to the LORD your God.” – usually interpreted as meaning that women should dress like women and not like men, i.e. using skirts and dresses, not pants.

1 Timothy 2:8-10 (New King James Version): “that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, 10 but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works.” – usually understood as meaning that women can wear gold and pearls and braided hair, but it should not be used as a means to become beautiful, it is the good works of a godly woman, and her inner self, that should be the beautification of her. It is that she should focus on, and work towards in order to distinguish herself from the rest of the world. The world was and still is, too preoccupied with a person’s looks and outer appearance.

In this last passage there’s also mentioned that the woman should wear modest clothes. What exactly is modest clothes? The interpretations differ. Does the skirt have to be at ankle length or mid-calf or slightly covering the knee? (anything shorter is considered un-modest by most) And what about the tops? Do they have to have long sleeves or is half-sleeves enough? No sleeves is considered un-modest by most) How tight or loose fitted? Can one have tailored/fitted shirts/tops showing curves or not?

There’s no official teaching/guidelines from the Catholic Church about what makes clothes modest and not. One’s asked to cover ones shoulders and wear knee-length skirts or shorts when going to church, and of course cover ones tummy, but what about everyday-life? I mean, I pray more outside church than inside, simply because most of my time is spent outside of church. If I’m to be modest inside the church where the Lord is present, I think I should be outside as well, as the Lord is present everywhere! I think it would’ve been nice if the Church made some clear guidelines all believers should follow.

I try to make my own rules, and looks at what others are saying. But, I can see a diversion in opinions everywhere. Muslims are required to cover everything but their hands and face. But some Muslims cover for example their arms with tight fitted long-sleeves T-shirts. Is that more modest than a loose-fitted t-shirt with half-sleeves? An I see many Muslims wearing trousers and jeans, perhaps that’s considered modest, I don’t know. most Christians doesn’t care much about the modesty issue, I think. A lot of young Christian females wear tight fitted t-shirts and singlets, and also have deep necklines. Only a few observe the only skirts and dresses rule. Most wear whatever the fashion dictates. You can’t see if a person is Christian or not, because she might be wearing a cross, but so might a lot of others do, because its a fashion item!

I wonder what happened in the 20th century that made women discard thousands years long traditions… For as long as people have worn clothes, it was the rule for women to wear dresses/skirts and they’ve always been ankle long. But somehow women stopped doing that, and the skirts became calf-long and then knee-long and then mini-skirts barely covering anything.  And the hair could be cut short, as a man’s, and one stopped covering ones head when in public. Why? And was it all good?

Couldn’t women obtain their rights and freedom looking like a woman? Where’s the appreciation of the difference between man and woman? If God had wanted us to be the same, he’d created us the same. But He created us different so that we could fulfill each other! We’re supposed to look different, be different, excel at different things!

Why niqab?

Some weeks ago I saw two women wearing all black, like in this picture, even black gloves, and it made me wonder why they do. I felt sorry for them, as I saw their dress as a prison. I can’t understand why it is necessary for a woman to cover herself this much, as though she’s trying to be invisible! I can’t see how that’s liberating to the woman.

I’ve done some internet searching and found an answer to the niqab question. I suppose that muslimahs around the world disagree upon the need to use niqab or simply the hijab, as they disagree about a lot of other hijab issues. (Hijab both in the sense of the veil and in the sense of modest clothing.)

In general muslim women should wear modest clothes, not drawing attention to their appearance or body. It seems as though most think that a veil covering the hair and neck, is needed in order to complete the modest attire. See explanation below.

Syed maintains that when a woman is covered, men cannot judge her by her appearance but are forced to evaluate her by her personality, character, and morals. “I tell them that the hijab is not a responsibility, it’s a right given to me by my Creator who knows us best. It’s a benefit to me, so why not? It’s something every woman should strive to get and should want.”

The young woman admits to being surprised that many people wonder if she wears the hijab everywhere (at home, when sleeping, in the shower). The truth is that Muslim women only cover themselves in front of men who are not direct relatives (brothers, fathers, and uncles) to prevent indecent acts or thoughts. (From “Why do Muslim women wear the hijab?” Eighteen year old Canadian Muslimah Sumayyah Syed explains.)

I’ve also read that the Prophet Muhammad explains the covering of women as a mean of protecting what is beatiful. I can’t recall the exact words, but it had something to do with hiding ones gems/pearls. It was in fact a beatiful sentence/excerpt.

According to Al-Muhajabah (meaning she who wears Islamic dress) niqab (see picture with woman in black) is an even better way of seeking to obtain the love of Allah. It is a prolonging of the hijab, covering even more, and harder to wear etc All this resulting in niqab being even better than hijab in means of keeping private what is meant to be private. She states that there’s not an explicit reference to niqab in the Quran, but makes reference to some other text and the fact that the Prophet’s wifes surely wore niqab. (For a full understanding and explanation, visit the www.muhajabah.com pages)

To me a niqab still looks as a prison for women, but now I know why someone choose this.

Naked

I went to a store today and wore a t-shirt with very short sleeves and jogging-trousers somewhat thight-fitted and just below the knee in length. Not an outfit I would wear going to work or to the city, but more of an at-home-outfit I use at home and when going to a store where I drive up to the door and go straight in. Comfortable clothes. Strolling through the store I suddenly saw a Muslim lady with an hijab and long sleeves and long skirt, and I felt almost naked… I felt an urgent need to go home and cover myself somewhat more. If I had wore a t-shirt with half sleeves and a long skirt, I doubt that I would’ve felt the same nakedness.

I’m not a muslim, and I don’t feel a need (or calling) to cover that much, but seeing the Muslim woman and feeling the nakedness – it made me think about which one of us is the most liberated woman… me dressing in fitted clothing showing all my bumps and lumps and bare arms, or her covered and modest, hiding her body under loose fitted clothing. I know that I didn’t feel good in the clothes I wore, all though they were comfortable (stretchable material).

I feel it is due time I start to wear more modest clothing, thus practicing what I believe is true… But a problem arises – what to do with the half-modest clothes I already have? I can’t afford to give away almost all of my clothes in order to buy new more modest ones. Almost all my skirts are just below the knee, and my t-shirts are tight fitting, because I’ve tried to look smaller by not hiding myself under large “tents”… Have I felt comfortable? No – because I’ve been very body conscious, and disliked myself because of my stomach, large breasts and generally large body… And I have probably attracted attention to my body by wearing these clothes.

Can wearing thights under the knee-length skirt make the outfit modest?

About halfway in lent, and still keeping my sacrifices…

I know one’s not supposed to brag about fasting, but as this is meant to be a personal blog, I regard it not as bragging, but simply stating the fact that I still manage to keep my sacrifices. I’ve even ended to magazine subscriptions today, as I saw that I don’t have the time to read them. This lenten sacrificing business is making me more satisfied with myself as I put my principles into action. I’ve had all these good principles in my head for some time, but have been rather dissatisfied with my failing to live by them. Lent is therefore a good time to put into action what I’ve been thinking about for some time.

Doing my daily round collecting and sending the mail for my office, I covered my head with a scarf – much like a muslim with some hair showing at my forehead. I did this because of the rain. And did not get any strange looks. It feels so right to cover, so I use every opportunity I’ve got, to do it. But, using a beret when it’s snowing or a scarf in rainy weather doesn’t make me stand out from the rest, and thus no one is able to see that I’m covering for religious reasons. I dream about going to a different town and cover my head just to see how it would be… Maybe on a holiday some time?

I can’t remember if I’ve posted some sort of explanation for my covering conviction? Well, it is according to the Bible. I can’t remember the exact place, but somewhere in the letters, St Paul writes about how a woman is to behave. She should among other things keep her hair long (it is stated that cutting one’s hair is wrong – it is the same as shaving the whole thing off) and to cover her head for the sake of the angels. In order to show that the woman has accepted being subordinated under her husband. Some say that the hair is the cover, but others says that that’s a translation mistake, and the covering should be in addition to the hair. That’s why I want to cover my head. To show that I’m subordinate under God. (The chain or rank of order is God-church-man-woman) Especially when praying I feel a need to bow my head and cover it, I’m talking to/with God! I know for certain that if I was to meet him, I would kneel down and bow my head in His presence. He is the Almighty, the Highest! I’m also trying to oppose to the mainstream thought in the society, that money and glamour and status makes one happy. And that people should be juged by their appearance and not inner qualities. Vain. And finally, in support to the muslim women who wear their hijab according to their religious or cultural beliefs. I can’t believe the Western countries banning hijabs in schools, workplaces and so on. I mean, to the hijabis, going out without that piece of clothing, is as if a non-coverer should stop wearing her trousers or blouse… They feel naked.

I took a pregnancy test today, but it was negative… I know it was too early, but I thought I could feel some of the symptoms known from the last time I was pregnant. That’s some sort of stretching ache very low on both sides of the stomach. But it could also be me wanting them to be the first signs of pregnancy… It could just be some bowel or congestion pains… :-S I must try to be more patient, and wait another week or so before I do more testing…

God, please give me the courage…

Snood with Head BandI ask God to give me the courage I need to put my conviction about covering my head as a sign for submission, into practice. St. Paul states clearly in the Bible that women need to let their hair grow and cover it as a sign for submission and to honour God. St. Paul talks specifically about how women is to behave in churches, but many women, including me, are convinced that a head-cover is needed whenever one “talks” to God.

Although I’ve been convinced about the covering need for some time, the courage hasn’t come. I live in a society where the hijab most of the time is viewed as an humiliating instrument used by dominant fathers and husbands to control their daughters/wifes. Muslim women wanting to use the hijab may face difficulties in getting a job, as employers ban hijab use on their workplace, and attracts negative public attention from others. Of course som muslim women are dominated by their fathers/husbands, as are some women from all religions, the hijab it self isn’t the problem. (more about that later) I admire the hijabis as they have the courage to display to everyone their faith and in doing so, distinguish themselves from the main feminine styles of the western world. To me they portray modest femininity beautifully.  

 When choosing among the various head-covering styles, this (picture on left) is my favourite. It’s called the Dutch Crown and is shown at www.tznius.com (a jewish headcover webshop). The picture at the top is from the same site and is called a snood. It would be my number 2 favourite. Probably more practical as it is a headband with a “bag” to put ones hair in. The Dutch Crown is made of a large scarf and is probably more likely to fall off during the day.

I have a lot of scarfs at home, in different styles, sizes and colors. I can easily picture myself using them everyday. But, I really need the courage… I get discouraged when thinking about all the attention I would get… people asking me or simply assuming I’ve become a muslim. All the explanation I would have to do. I’m afraid I can’t see it happening in the near future… 😦