By R. Stevenson
Toronto Star, Jan 23 2002
While out for dinner last week with colleagues, we sat beside three 20-something women. There was the usual posing and glances exchange, and as they paid their bill two Muslim women entered and sat nearby. Whispers were quickly exchanged and we could hear, “Why do they wear those things anyway?” … “I feel sorry for them” … and so on.
As they filed out of the restaurant, we noticed they sported a mixed collection of the following: skin tight pants, short skirts, exposed midriffs, push-up bras, high heels, jewelry, see-through or plunging tops, piercings, lipstick and makeup, and one had breast implants for certain. We observed the two Muslim women as they were engaged in close conversation over coffee.
Their graceful features complimented their dark headscarves and warm eyes. Their natural gestures were flirty without even trying – revealing natural beauty. And their clothes, while conservative, brought forth the hidden potential of something wonderful and truly feminine.
The idea of dressing modestly terrifies some western women – but why? Perhaps it would trample their “right” to show off. Would their self-esteem fall along with their hemlines?
After some debates, we identified the cost of the western “right” to flaunt. The Muslim women were free from the fashion trap -free to “just be” without posing, comparing, dieting and spending for the approval of men and each other. And they looked more desirable to us than the exhibitionists who were in the restaurant and parading on the sidewalk.
The sexual displays in our culture are so mainstream and competitive that modesty is seen as regressive. Yet, long term, when a man looks past the right pants and heels, he will ultimately detect not confidence, but a certain unattractive desperation.
Modest women don’t have that desperation – they don’t compete in the arena of vanity. They have themselves – and that’s the kind of attraction with legs to last the long run. Remember that the next time you feel sorry for a Muslim woman.