Saturday, February 6, 2010

A Women's Revolution for Modest Dress

In the modern era modesty began its decline in the mid-nineteenth century. The rise of the burlesque show in the 1840's began as the entertainment genre for the lower classes, for the purpose of making fun of (“burlesquing”) the habits of the upper class, such as wearing modest, long dresses. What began as class warfare on the upper class' modest dresses; over the next couple of decades became an expression of bawdiness for all classes. Today's modest women, and teen girls, wearing long dresses and skirts and modest tops - wearing modest clothing - are warriors for the freeing beauty of modesty and for liberating those oppressed by pressures to reveal their bodies.

The immense success of “The Black Crook” in 1866 proved that American audiences were ready to pay to be stimulated by the absence of modest clothing for women. The plot of this colossal hit was completely mindless, but the producers made sure that audiences were distracted by women parading on stage in flesh colored tights, taunting modest standards of dress.

The march from the modest dress of the Victorian era overtook society through the “gay nineties” and into the “roaring twenties”. The race away from modest clothing slowed somewhat from 1930 up to the 1960's. But the 1960's elevated new thought processes. In the 19th century, and through the 1920's people were titillated by participating in what they knew to be bad behavior. In the 1960's our youth actually believed that systems of morality governing modest dress were formulated by the elite to oppress the lower classes. They genuinely believed that individuals had the right and ability to determine for himself whether to wear modest clothing or no clothing at all.

It is piteous how quickly the upper class was willing to give up standards of modest dress when the lower classes declared war on modesty. Today the only standard of the elite is the individual's right and ability to develop his own criterion concerning modest dress. I believe it's time to declare war on this “nonstandard” that denies the freeing beauty of women, and especially teen girls wearing modest dresses clothing.

Writing about early America, Alexis De Tocqueville stated, “Among the Anglo-Americans there are some who profess Christian dogmas because they believe them and others who do so because they are afraid to look as though they did not believe in them. So Christianity reigns without obstacles, by universal consent,...” He continues, “...everything in the moral field is certain and fixed,...” (Democracy in America, Mayer, 1988, pg. 292). This is why prior to the twentieth century women, teens and girls virtually universally wore long, modest dresses.

To reclaim modesty as a fixed standard today's modest woman must throw off the thinking of the 1960's which has oppressed women for nearly fifty years. Live Christian dogmas because you believe that they free women to dress in modest clothing. If you have any doubts about the freeing power of God's law consider this fact: theologians count a little over 600 laws in scripture, but congress passes thousands of bills every year.

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