August Tznius

Every year, I dread the searing August heat. But it’s not for the reason that one might think. It’s not because I hate wearing clothes which are tzniusdik (acceptably modest under the guidelines of Jewish law) in 30 degree weather. On the contrary, I love it. Nowadays, there’s such a wide range of beautiful, Halachically modest summer clothes, that I have a nice selection of both weekday and Shabbos outfits. In fact, there are some pieces which are so beautiful, I wish I could wear year-round. But I digress. What exactly do I detest about hot weather?

It’s the comments. The stares, the glares, the shouting, the insults.

If I decided to wear- G-d forbid- shorts and a tank top, then all of a sudden, I’m a liberated woman and my clothing choice is a no-go zone. If anyone dared say my shorts were too short or maybe I should cover my shoulders, a hundred people I don’t even know would leap to my defence. “It’s 2016!”, “Take your patriarchy back because we don’t want it here!”, “Her body, her choice!”. Fair enough. But if it is, indeed, 2016, and my body means it’s my choice, why doesn’t that apply when I choose to wear a long skirt and long sleeves?

Simply put, it’s hypocrisy. If feminists and in fact the general public admitted that what they actually care about is women being able to wear revealing clothes, I wouldn’t mind quite so much. Yes, it would be annoying, but not as annoying as activists claiming they’re fighting for my right to dress how I want to, when in fact they’re fighting for my right to dress as they want me to.

Freedom has to work both ways. If I am truly free, that means I can dress how I want. I can cover as much as I want, not just as little. And quite frankly, I see no harm in looking put together and refined, whereas the people heckling me are often wearing clothes which aren’t just untzniusdik- that’s their choice, I suppose- but also old, stained, creased, and maybe two sizes too small. I wish the staring and comments about how shameful I am would stop, so that I could enjoy the summer sun in peace.

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