When modesty goes out of fashion

Modesty is an unpopular old fellow these days. In his prime, he was a real man about town, lauded as one of the greatest tailors you could hope to have adorn you.

But he’s decrepit now, and bent and broken, we’ve relegated him to the ranks of the unpopular chaps.

His name sill gets thrown around, now and then. But these days it is mostly an insult to be found wearing modesty. His brand has simply gone out fashion and anyone who suggests he ought to make a comeback is laughed out of the room.

Modesty is particularly unpopular with the younger generation, which is why young ladies scoff at him when it is suggested they ought to wear a bra to school, or stop rolling their skirts up at the waist, presumably to expose more of their legs.

It’s very sad, and all the more so because modesty fell out of fashion through no fault of his own. Someone, somewhere back in the fog of time, forced his collection onto the wrong bit of us. Ever since the unfortunate error we have considered him prudish, boring, institutionalised and repressed.

The mistake, you see, was that modesty cared about clothing. He doesn’t, and no one who knows him would ever believe his great and noble mind could be consumed by such a trivial thing as what people wear.

No indeed, modesty is a true master of fashion, and as such he worries about what really matters. He worries about dressing our characters in timeless qualities, not about dressing our bodies in the trendiest clothes.

He wants, more than anything else, for us to wear a modest opinion of ourselves and a great respect for others.

Because, if we are modest about ourselves, wearing a bra and rolling down our skirts is simply a way of saying to someone else “yes, I see this is bothering you, and because I respect you I will change my behaviour to ensure you feel comfortable – as I hope you would do for me in a similar situation”.

But since modesty is out of fashion, we detest being asked to consider other people and we deplore those who do the asking. We clothe ourselves in arrogance and pride, which have been branded as freedom and individual choice, so that we feel better about wearing such vulgar clothes.

That’s why the immodest bit about girls who roll up their skirts and wear no bra isn’t their hemlines or lack of support, it’s their attitudes. To run for headlines about your rights instead of running the hem a little longer shows an intolerance of others, and a selfishness, that is quite astonishing.

And it is also why boys can be just as immodest as girls. Indeed any bloke who couldn’t care less about his community or decides older and wiser heads haven’t a clue about life might as well be walking around naked, so immodest is his character.

And he will stay naked, no matter how many clothes he wears on the outside, until he lets modesty have a go at dressing his heart.

And though the old tailor may be bent and broken, though modernity may have almost killed him, modesty still has his touch. We just don’t know it because we refuse to let him work with our characters, and laugh whenever he fumbles over what we wear on our bodies.

It seems a sad end for such a great master of fashion. For no woman or man ever looked out of style who let modesty clothe their character.

This article was originally published on Stuff.co.nz

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