Saturday, August 9, 2014

P is for Pagan Modesty

  [mod-uh-stee]   noun, plural mod·es·ties.
the quality of being modest; freedom from vanity, boastfulness,etc.
regard for decency of behavior, speech, dress, etc.
simplicity; moderation.

Now, a lot of people might see that word and think, “Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!”  and run screaming.   Keep reading before you run away, though, if you can.

When the concept of modesty is mentioned, people often picture plainly-dressed Quakers, or possibly Amish folk.  Perhaps you picture people (mostly woman, I’ll wager) from other Abrahamic faiths, with their long sleeves, dresses, and head coverings.   It’s what we’ve come to associate with the word. 

Now, if you look at the definition, dress is only part of it.  The definition deals mainly with manner and practice, as opposed to just what people put on their bodies.  

What I put on my body doesn’t make me modest.  There’s no such thing as “more modest than thou” because that is kind of the opposite of the meaning of the word.   I cover my body and my head for other reasons, reasons that I have outlined before. 

Do I consider myself a modest person, a modest Pagan?  Wellllllllll…no, I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’m all that modest.  In dress, sure.  I don’t boast about achievements and accomplishments that much, either.  I’m a rather atypical Leo in that regard.  (I blame it on the fact that I came early and was actually supposed to be a Virgo. Hehe.)

Am I vain?  No, my self-esteem is actually pretty damn low most of the time.  That’s another story for another time, however.  I may vlog and blog, but I don’t enjoy just talking on and on about myself, even when I’m asked questions.  It makes me uncomfortable to be in the limelight.

Let’s look at the second use of the word.  Regard for decency in dress?  Again, I wear long sleeves and long dresses over leggings. I wear a head scarf.  Therefore, I guess we can say that I am modest in dress.  Do I judge other people for not covering up as much as I do?  Hell no.  If you got it and want to flaunt it, go nuts.  I’m fat and uncomfortable having my pudge hanging out, flapping in the breeze, but that’s just me. 

Speech and behavior?  Do you know me?  Have you seen the amount of swear words I’ve used in this post alone?  Okay, not that many…yet.   Every time I’m outside smoking a cigarette (smoke-free campus), I kind of laugh to myself and wonder what people might think, seeing a woman with flowing dresses and weird scarves out there, puffing away on a menthol.  

The conclusion?   I would not consider myself a modest Pagan.  I consider myself to be someone who chooses to cover up in order to protect my energy and to feel more comfortable.   In my experience, a lot of people use the term modesty very loosely and go against it by boasting about how modest they are.   Kind of like Weird Al’s lyrics for “Amish Paradise”:  I’m a million times more humble than thou art. 

I just like to blend in with the scenery.

You get away with a lot more that way.   


wickedwiseowl said...

Great explanation of modesty. It is so much more then just dressing a certain way. Like you I'm not a modest Pagan. Haha. That's okay with me. :)

Sissy Witch said...

Having come from a very strict fundamentalist background, I found this article fascinating. It is a whole new (to me) spin on the concept of modesty, but fits in perfectly with my desire to live simply.