Friday, August 19, 2005

The Challenge of Tznius...

The laws of tznius are very straightforward - except for one of them.
Here they are:
1. There are certain parts of a woman's body that must be covered (there are disagreements about exactly which places these are - ask your rabbi).
2. There are certain modes of dress permitted in some places and forbidden in others because of the customs of each place.
3. Even if the first two rules are adhered to, a woman must still make sure that she doesn't dress in a seductive manner.

The last rule is the real challenge. I decided to post about this because I think that people don't realize precisely why the last rule is hard to fulfill, and if they did they would have an easier time dealing with it.

The reason why the last rule is hard to perform is because people hate looking honestly at themselves. Performing an accurate self-assessment is one of the hardest things a person can do, and when coupled with the desire to look good, it is very difficult to withstand bending the truth a bit. When a woman looks at herself as if she is someone else, she can truly tell if she is dressed in a tzniusdik manner.

21 Comments:

Blogger defen said...

Accurate and impressive. And true.

22/8/05 12:21 AM  
Blogger Moshe Y. Gluck said...

Thank you.

22/8/05 12:36 AM  
Anonymous Of course... said...

Better yet, she can ask her husband.

(Boy, mslatfatf is smart, posting an article and then posing as an anonymous comment-er to do the obvious but chauvinistic-sounding dirty work.)

22/8/05 12:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I once spoke with a psychologist about tznius and he suggested that we make an artificial distinction between women dressing to "look good" and dressing to emphasize sexuality. Instead, he argued, women who dress to look good are subconsciously trying to express their sexuality.

I assumes that this view comes from a Freudian perspective that sees sexuality in all aspects of people's personalities.

Are there psychologists who disagree with the above perspective?

22/8/05 4:16 PM  
Anonymous lkwdguy said...

When a woman looks at herself as if she is someone else, she can truly tell if she is dressed in a tzniusdik manner.

If we possesed the ability to look at ourselves from the outside we would be able to help ourselves in many areas, not just tzneyus. We would see all of our flaws from a truly objective point of view.

Alas, our Creator did not choose to give us the ability.

23/8/05 10:33 AM  
Blogger defen said...

of course...: Huh? You lost me somewhere.

lkwdguy: Perhaps we possess the ability but do not exercise it as we should.

24/8/05 1:03 AM  
Blogger Moshe Y. Gluck said...

(Boy, mslatfatf is smart, posting an article and then posing as an anonymous comment-er to do the obvious but chauvinistic-sounding dirty work.)

defen is not anonymous, nor is she me. Her blog is www.defen.blogspot.com.

women who dress to look good are subconsciously trying to express their sexuality

Maybe, maybe not. I have no clue.

Alas, our Creator did not choose to give us the ability.

Are you so sure? Perhaps you just haven't attained it yet... Or, perhaps we have the ability only to a degree, but the callenge is to reach that degree.

24/8/05 1:06 AM  
Anonymous Of course said...

My above comment is self-contained. First, I said "better yet, she can ask her husband". Then I "pretended" that I was mslatfatf who was too chicken to add that "chauvinistic" line to his piece (tongue-in-cheek). Go back and read it again.

C'mon, it might have been funny but when you explain too much you kill it. :(

24/8/05 7:39 AM  
Anonymous ag2003 said...

of course... - Not funny, btw, sorry. Also, asking the husband is just as useless, because they often aren't as aware of the spirit of the law as they should be. (Have you NOTICED how some married women dress?!) Besides, if a woman isn't sure if she should be wearing something, 9 out of 10 she shouldn't be wearing it.
Anon- usually if a woman looks 'good' in something, she also looks 'sexy' in it. What do you think the hip-hugging skirts emphasize? Her hips, and they accentuate the natural sway of the hips when walking, which turns a perfectly demure walk into something slightly provocative. Besides, anything that accentuates a woman's figure is automatically sexual, to an extent, because she is accentuating it to call attention to it.
lkwdguy - of course we possess the ability to look at ourselves objectively, to a certain extent. It does say, 'Ein Adam Ro'eh Nig'ay Atz'mo', but how do people better themselves unless we do have a certain ability for introspection. Also, we can look in the mirror and decide what we would think of another woman wearing this outfit. It works for me.
But people would rather not. So they don't. I think it's just very painful to be that honest with one's self, and that most people are so good at avoiding it that they don't even realize that they're doing it.
Besides, I (as a woman) know how hard it is to pass up an amazing skirt because it's a bit too short/tight/bright. Many people can't do it at all.
It's called 'self-discipline'. A rare thing today, unfortunately.

24/8/05 10:27 AM  
Blogger defen said...

ag2003: Your honesty is refreshing. I see so many frum women for whom I feel ashamed - because they are not ashamed of themselves or what they wear.
As a whole, society has become desensitized. The women of this nation must become stronger in this matter.

Stronger and more knowledgeable.

24/8/05 2:51 PM  
Blogger Semgirl said...

I have written a lot about this on my blog. Basically, I think in Lakewood, especially Tznius is shoved down our throats so much in school, Sem., and everywhere else that even the good girls are subconsciously rebelling..

Its all very difficult, especially when you are single, and if you look too plain and simple everyone, INCLUDING the Shadchanim and the boys treat you like youre invisible.
But if you are too glamorous, it sends the wrong message too..

12/9/05 1:22 PM  
Blogger Moshe Y. Gluck said...

Thank you SemGirl, for posting a wise comment.

12/9/05 7:59 PM  
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7/11/05 4:34 AM  
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22/11/05 7:45 AM  
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20/12/05 8:58 PM  
Blogger micha said...

But the rules are gender symmetric.

1- There are also parts of a man's body that must be covered, with disagreements over what they are.
and
3- Even if the first two rules are adhered to, men too aren't allowed to dress seductively.

For that matter, tzeni'us isn't only, and perhaps not even primarily, about seductiveness and sexuality. Perhaps #3 should be rewritten as "... to dress in an attention-getting manner".

18/1/06 9:35 AM  
Blogger Moshe Y. Gluck said...

Your points are well taken. Thank you.

18/1/06 6:44 PM  
Blogger another frum blog said...

I am not part of the lakewood community, and have actually never been there. But being tznius is still a big part of my life.

I do not think there is something in halacha against wanting to look good, even to a certain point sexy as long as you stay within the guidelines. We live in a superficial world and feeling like you look good is a good feeling, if that makes sense. Moreoever, guys also live in a superficial world and I don't think it hurts the whole shidduch and marriage thing when women look good and also because of that have more self-confidence.

20/2/06 12:58 AM  
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