Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Tzniut Project 12: "Normal" Clothes

This is the twelfth in a multi-part series called The Tzniut Project. Women from a variety of backgrounds with a variety of observances have volunteered to anonymously answer questions that I have written about their practices, people's assumptions, and more. For more information on the project, click here. Please continue to check back with The Tzniut Project to read more stories and comment abundantly!

Note: This post is contributed by a reader. 

1. How do you affiliate Jewishly? Feel free to elaborate on the words people use to describe you and the words you use to describe yourself. I am currently trying to convert to Judaism through the RCA (Rabbinical Council of America, Orthodox).

2. Growing up, did your mother or grandmother dress modestly in any way? Do you think modesty was something instilled in you by your family? Did you dress modestly growing up? No, no one in my family ever dressed modestly to the degree of modest I dress now. My family always was respectful, but never long skirts or long sleeves all the time. I in no way shape or form dress modestly growing up, I wore mini skirts/shorts and shirts where my chest was always exposed.

3. Are you married? How does your spouse feel about your choices for modest dress? Is it a dialogue or does your partner leave the mitzvah to you? I am not married, but I am dating, and my boyfriend has a HUGE impact on how I dress. At first (before my decision to convert), he never cared what I wore, or what I looked like, but now that I am dressing Tznius, he is always concerned, and constantly questions me. I am trying to find my own way around tznius instead of just wearing shells and skirts, so sometimes things always dont look the best.

4. What would you wear on a typical day? On Shabbos? If you dress differently on weekdays and Shabbos, why do you make this distinction and how? Normally I will wear a shirt, a shell underneath, and a black long skirt. I dont really differentiate how I dress on Shabbos and every other day because I dont have Shabbos at my house, and it gets difficult to lug so many different options around. Currently I am wearing a shirt, with no shell underneath (long sleeve, up to the neck) and a long black skirt. I have been trying to look for shirts that don't require shells.

5. What do you think other people infer from your clothing and hair covering choices? Has anyone ever said anything to you outright that expresses a judgment based on your appearance? (Ex: “You don’t cover your hair or wear skirts, so why do you keep kosher?”) Everyone comments on my dress of choice. Especially my mother. She always says that I look like an old lady with the skirts I wear or that I am not dressing my age. I got used to it. Some people at work also state how I should wear "normal" clothes again, and how they like looking at my Facebook to remember me when I dressed "normal."

6. Have you ever surprised someone by dressing more or less modestly and making them rethink their stereotypes about what it means to be an observant Jew? No.

7. When you see someone who observes tzniut differently than you, what are your initial thoughts? How do you deal with them? Since I am still learning, I take into consideration how different people observe Tzniut, but I know what I like to wear, and how I like to wear certain clothing. If I like a style, I will definitely adopt it, but otherwise, I keep it my way.

8. I say modesty or tzniut … what does that mean to you?Elbows covered, Chest Covered, Knees Covered, Hair Covered, covered everywhere! =]

9. Anything else you’d like to add about your choices, experiences, and more! No, but please let me know if you have any other quesitons!!! =]