How Modesty Made Me Fat


This isn’t a story about how modest clothes allowed me to “let myself go” and conceal a growing figure. It’s not even a story about how wearing modest clothes kept my self-esteem at rock bottom and thrust me into a too-close relationship with Ben & Jerry. It’s a story about how modesty doctrines impacted my mind, in ways that had real, negative effects on my body.

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Modesty was one of the reasons my defining relationship with my body became whether or not I was “fat.” Modesty was one of the engines that pushed me into a full-blown eating disorder. It’s not just a dress code: It’s a philosophy, and it’s one that destroys young women, mentally and physically.

Modesty taught me that my first priority needed to be making sure I wasn’t a “stumbling block” to men. Not being sexually attractive was the most important thing I had to consider when buying clothes, putting them on, maintaining my weight (can’t have things getting tight!), and moving around (can’t wiggle those hips, or let a little knee show).

Modesty taught me that what I looked like was what mattered most of all. Not what I thought. Not how I felt. Not what I was capable of doing. Worrying about modesty, and being vigilant not to be sexy, made me even more obsessed with my looks than the women in short shorts and spray tans I was taught to hate.

Modesty taught me that I was always on display. There was no occasion in which it was acceptable to be immodest. Not the beach, not at the pool with friends, not in my own backyard (sunbathing was out because a neighbor might glance over and see me). This took my normal self-consciousness as a teenage girl and amped it up to an impossible degree. I once had a bee fly down my (acceptably loose) shirt and, in flailing around to get it out, had a family member comment that I’d just “flashed” my own grandfather.

I was horrified for the rest of the week. That’s not normal. The normal order of priorities is getting dangerous animals out of your clothing first, and then worrying about making your own relatives perv on you second. Not so with the modesty doctrine. I should have let it sting me, apparently. Getting stung was the lesser risk.

Modesty was not just about dress. It was also about moving like a lady. Knees together, butt down, breasts in, arms down. It is impossible to get physically fit while adhering to ladylike movements only. You might be able to run, but only if you wear two sports bras to keep anything from jiggling inappropriately. You certainly can’t do anything with weights. In college, I had the chance to join a horseback riding team for a couple of semesters.

I soon realized that staying on the horse required starting some kind of fitness regimen. In the gym, I found a couple of hip abductor/adductor machines that were handy for building the thigh strength necessary to grip the horse. The problem? I was so embarrassed that somebody might walk in front of me while I was on the machine with my legs spread that I started going to the gym the moment it opened in the morning and avoiding exercise when men were present. In this instance, modesty was literally keeping me weak.

Eventually, I grew comfortable enough with my own body to exercise without worrying about other people happening to look at me. Now, I do an exercise routine that would have scandalized my old self: squats, deadlifts, and barbell rows. I have so much more energy and my mood is so much improved—plus, I can move my own furniture! But I couldn’t have gotten to this point without dumping the modesty doctrine.

Because I couldn’t concentrate on hauling iron while worried that some perv behind me might happen to glance my way and pop his gym shorts. That’s not my job anymore. I’m not responsible for men’s souls, because I no longer think of myself as an object to be looked at and evaluated.

Backing up to before I got to college, modesty contributed to my eating disorder. How? Because I noticed that the best way to keep men from staring at my ass was not to have one. Ditto boobs. The skinnier I got, the less womanly I looked, and the more “modest” I felt, until I was 25 pounds underweight. I was perpetually “fat” in my own mind—because in my own mind, the only acceptable body type was an androgynous one—one that could not possibly provoke a man to lust. I’m sure I don’t need to explain why that was a bad thing.

Modesty taught me that I was a decoration. Everything about my life was governed by whether or not a man was watching. How I moved and what I ate or wore all depended on the male gaze. Modesty taught me that nothing I did mattered more than avoiding sexual attention. Modesty made me objectify myself. I was so aware of my own potential desirability at all times that I lost all other ways of defining myself.

I couldn’t work out or get fit without worrying about attracting men. I couldn’t relax my eating habits for a moment lest my shirts start to pull a little in the chest. I couldn’t grow like a normal human adolescent because staying slim and sexless was the biggest priority in my world.

When you argue that what’s modest and what isn’t is a valid concern for women, you tell them that their appearance matters most. You objectify them. You tell them that whether or not you are sexually aroused by their actions or their dress is more important than anything they want to do or wear. You tell them that they must, at all times, be thinking about you when they are making decisions about their own lives. That’s arrogant. That’s immoral.

When you argue that modesty is just a “debate” that must be won by those whose arguments are strongest in the abstract, you ignore the fact that the “debate” has consequences you don’t have to live with. Women have to live with the consequences of modesty debates. Those debates impact every sphere of their lives: work, play, even their own health and well-being. If you think that, as a man, you can somehow argue “objectively” about what women should or shouldn’t wear and “win” a debate fair and square, let me remind you of a few things.

If a man “loses” a modesty debate, nothing about his life changes. If a man “wins” a modesty debate, nothing about his life changes. But if a woman loses a modesty debate, the entire fabric of her existence changes. If a woman loses a modesty debate, she has lost whole areas of freedom in her life. She now has more things to worry about not doing so that men will not get aroused.

There is no such thing as an “objective” argument in which the stakes are astronomical for one side and nonexistent for the other. Furthermore, by even accepting modesty as a valid area of concern for women, you have accepted a premise that defines women by their looks and objectifies them. Women have already lost the moment a modesty debate begins.

Modesty made me “fat” because it defined my relationship with my body in terms of appearance. Not action. Not gratitude. Not the joy of movement. Just appearance. It also defined my relationship with men as one of predator and prey. It was my job to hide from men so that their sex drive would lie dormant, like a sleeping wolf.

But if that wolf ever awakened, it was not because it had been sleeping for a long time and its circadian rhythm kicked in, or it was just naturally hungry. It was my fault because I had done something to “bait” the wolf. Just by being visibly female, or by moving in “unladylike” ways. You cannot consider women full human beings unless you recognize that their lives do not revolve around the male sex drive. Modesty is a philosophy that dehumanizes. It incites constant fear and vigilance in one sex while excusing the other of all responsibility. It’s immoral.

By Sierra who is a PhD student living in the Midwest.

Live and Learn. We All Do.

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Darkness Cannot Drive Out Darkness


All the great leaders of ancient times realized and taught that the establishment of a state of permanent peace among the nations depended upon the release of human ideals.

One of the most ancient of man’s constructive ideals is the dream of a universal democracy and a cooperation of all nations in a commonwealth of States. The mechanism for the accomplishment of this ideal was set in motion in the ancient temples of Egypt. So brilliant was the plan and so well was it administered that it has survived tour time, and it will continue to function until the great work is accomplished.

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And so it is from the remote past, from the deep shadows of the medieval world as well as from the early struggles of more modern times, that the power of American democracy has come.

There can be no doubt that the Ancient Egyptians were aware of the existence of a great continent in the Western Hemisphere. It is nothing short of foolish to assume that the ancients lacked ships sufficiently seaworthy to navigate the larger oceans. Long before the Christian era, the older civilizations had constructed boats far larger and more seaworthy than any of the vessels used by Columbus.

Foreign nations came to this continent in times long ago; but they formed no permanent settlements nor attempted any program of colonization. And so the soil was not impoverished by thousands of years of intensive cultivation, nor were the natural resources ravished to supply the substance to maintain endless wars and ageless feuds.

It was the rise of the democratic dream in Europe that supplied the beginning of western civilization. Those in search of a promised land turned to the West.

By the nineteenth century America was definitely the land of golden opportunity, and to it came streams of immigration from nearly every country on earth. The better way of life drew them here, for it had been established that here men and women could build a future free of tyranny, intolerance, and enforced poverty. Here all were given opportunity for education, for free enterprise, and living a life according to the dictates of hope and conscience.

In a comparatively short time many racial stream have met and mingled, and a new race has been born, the American race is not one to be determined by an analysis of blood or by the proportions of the cranium.

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No. Americans are a race determined by the measure of conviction, set apart by that conviction; it is the conviction that human beings are created free, and are entitled to equal opportunity to perfect themselves in life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Among men and women of all races and all nations are those who share our conviction, and because they share it they are of our kind and belong to our race.

The old philosophers taught that physical birth is an accident, for men and women are born into various races and nationalities according to the laws of generation; but there is a second birth, which is not an accident; it is the consequence of proper intent. By this second birth we are born by enlightened intelligence out of nation and out of race into an international nation and an international race; America.

America cannot refuse the challenge of leadership in the postwar world. It is not enough that we solve particular problems. We must solve the very cause of the problem itself. Wars, depressions, crime, dictators and their oppressions, are the symptoms giving clear indication of a greater ailment. To examine each problem solely in terms of the problem itself, without recognition of its true relationship to a larger and more universal necessity, is to fail in the broader implications of an enduring peace and prosperity.

Live and learn. We All Do.

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Economically Considered, War And Revolution Are Always Bad Business.


There now about 7 billion of us humans inhabiting the planet.  On a collective scale, very few of us are satisfied with the present standard of living or the reasonable probabilities of improvement.

Why is it necessary for the planet to be a prison for most of us?  How is it that for thousands of years we keep making the same mistakes and nothing has been learned from them?

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Yes, every so often corruption builds to a climax- there is a revolution, usually resulting in  considerable loss of life and a very small probability of accomplishing the desired end goal.  But, after thousands of years of higher education and magnificient advancements in the arts and sciences, we are living just as dangerously as our remote ancestors.  The economic systems  that have been created collapse over our heads; the nations set up with pomp and circumstance fade away in a few centuries; the great discoveries which change our way of life are so badly handled that nothing practical is ever gained; and the religions preaching brotherly love are still immersed in sectarian squabbles.

Some like to believe that there are no answers, thus justifying the prevailing corruption. But, the truth is there is considerable things we have learned that can be applied to advance human destiny; this however, is ignored because it represents the fulfillments of natural law based upon an honesty which is actually built into the pattern of human growth.

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Every war, great or small, has resulted in destruction to life and property.  No one has ever received permanent good.  The serfs died with their masters, and modern armies die for the ambitions of a few master criminals.  In our times wars are still going on just as they were noted in the Book of Genesis.  With all of our skills and platitudes, in spite of covenants, leagues, and treaties, there has been no improvements to protect private citizens from the cupidity of their leaders.  It would seem that this simple fact wipes our most of our illusions or personal and collective progress.

“serving humanity through love and understanding”

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There’s Always Room To Be A Better Person – Always


Every day consists of hundreds of tiny commitments. The repeated ones constitute your daily habits, which might seem innocuous. However, the truth is that these commitment are what shape your lifestyle, determine your level of productivity, influence your long-term success and eventually reflect the person you are.

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The art of following the right habits appear to be an underrated secret of constant growth and development. In reality, the habits you follow have a compound effect, which allows you to accomplish massive results by doing simple, small steps.

The great thing about this is that you can totally take control over them and develop the habits that appear to have a positive impact on your personal growth, while filtering out those that are not a perfect fit for a person you would like to be.

  1.  Stop Worrying 

The popular idea that a worrier is a thoughtful and conscientious citizen is false. The Egyptians realized this when they included worry among the cardinal sins. Do not confuse thoughtfulness and worry. The thoughtful person plans solutions, but the worrier merely dissolves in his own doubt. If you think straight, you will have less cause for worrying. The worrier not only suffers the same disaster many times, but undermines his health and annoys all others with whom he comes into contact with. There are many things in this world that require thoughtful consideration, but there is really nothing to fear but fear itself.

2.  Stop Trying To Dominate And Possess Your Friends And Relatives

Each of us likes to feel that we are running our own life. The moment we recognize the rights of others to seek life, liberty, and happiness according to their own dreams, hopes, and aspirations, we begin to conserve our own resources. It is very debilitating to give advice which is ignored or rejected, and equally disappointing to attempt to possess and dominate people who immediately resent and combat our dictatorial tendencies. We are hurt when they do not see things our way. If we save advice for ourselves and those who seek it from us, and who are therefore grateful, all concerned will be better.

3. Moderate Ambition

There is a tendency to over look natural and simple blessings while we plunge on toward distant goals. Each individual has certain capacities. If he can recognize his own abilities and work with them, he can attain personal security. If however, he is constantly seeking that which is not reasonably attainable, he can never know happiness or contentment. The wise man observes the disastrous results of uncontrollable ambitions, and chooses moderation. It is not necessary to be famous in order to be happy, nor must one be the leading citizen in the community in order to gratify one’s social instinct. The ambitious usually pay too much for what they get, and are the more miserable after they get it.

4. Do Not Accumulate More Than You Need

There is no real distinction in being the richest man in the graveyard. We are supposed to have outgrown the primitive belief that we should bury a man’s goods with him so that his spirit might enjoy them in the afterworld. Here, again, the middle course is wisest. Let us reserve some of our energy for enjoyment, and not give all of ourselves to the task of accumulation. Many a man who has made a million has not lived to spend it. A rich life can be more practical than a monumental bank account.

5. Learn To Relax

The more tense we become, the more stupidly we are likely to act, and according to the old Buddhists, stupidity is a cardinal sin. Today many so called efficient people are perpetually on the verge of a nervous breakdown. This is not so likely to be due to overwork as to unreasonable driving impulses within themselves. Some say that that they are overtaxing their resources to keep their jobs or to maintain extravagant families. Whether you believe it or not, you are a better producer and a better provider if you do not collapse from psychic exhaustion at some critical moment when you are most in need of good health.

6. Cultivate A Sense Of Humor

As never before, we must brighten and lighten the corners where we are. The more seriously we take ourselves and our responsibilities, the duller we become. It is a saving grace to realize that, although living is a serious matter, we can take it too seriously. Also bear in mind that genuine humor is not bitter cynical or critical. It is the ability to laugh with the world and not at the world. If we must laugh at someone, let it be ourselves. Humor is a spice to living. It adds flavor to work, zest to play, charm to self-improvement, and proves to others that we have a security within ourselves. A sincere, happy laugh, like the joyous rippling of children’s laughter, relieves tension and restores good nature. It also makes friends and inspires confidence.

7. Find a Reason for Your Own Existence

Unless you believe in something larger than yourself, have some purpose more vital than accumulation or advancement in business or society, you are only existing, not living. A simple patter is to realize that the laws of Nature that put you here seem to be primarily concerned with growth. You are a success to the degree that you grow, and you grow to the degree that you become a wiser, more useful, and more secure person. In other words, we live to learn, and by this very process, we learn to live. Broaden your horizon, develop an interest in all that is fine, beautiful, and purposeful. Great internal good comes from the love for music, art, great literature, broad philosophy, and simple faith. Strengthen the inside of you nature, and the outside will be better.

8. Never Intentionally Harm Any Other Person.

Never by word or deed return evil for good, or evil for evil. Weed negative and destructive thoughts and emotions our of your personality, or they will ultimately contribute to your misery. As we look around us, we see the tragic results of individuals and nations that harbor grudges or nurse the instincts for revenge. Our critical attitudes and our long memories of evils that others have caused only reduce our present efficiency and endanger health and vitality. Even selfish men realize that he cannot afford to keep a grudge, and the unselfish simply will not permit grudges to accumulate because they know better and they believe better.

 

9. Beware Of Anger

When ill-temper controls us, we are no longer able to control ourselves. In a moment of anger, we may create a situation which will require years to remedy. Why should we spend our time trying to recover from our own mistakes? If we disapprove, let us state our case simply and quietly, and remember that we should never try to correct another when we have already committed a fault as great as his. A quick temper is a serious handicap in business or in the home. It is useless to say that we cannot control anger. This is as much as to admit that we have lost the power to control ourselves. If we resent the unkindness of other and collective irritability of this generation, let us make sure that we are not one of the irritating factors.

10. Never Blame Others For Our Own Mistakes

It is hardly necessary. Each of us seems to have an incredible capacity to do things badly and select unwisely. Actually, we are in trouble because we have not made constructive use of the power and abilities which we received as a birthright. Others can hurt us only while our own inner life is too weak to sustain us in the presence of trial or test. Instead of resenting misfortunes, and seeking to excuse our own limitations, we must face the facts. Either we are stronger than the problem and can solve it intelligently, or the problem is stronger than we are, and the only solution is to increase our own strength. Others are not to blame for our unhappiness. Each man must seek his own peace of mind, and as the Arabian Nights so well expressed it, happiness must be earned.

Live and Learn. We All Do.

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Where There Is Division There Is Conflict


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An Open World Begins With An Open Mind


Would you dare question who you really are?

You have more in common with the world than you think.

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I Am Not King – I Can’t Do These Things Just By Myself


The President of the United States should never be regarded as merely a political figurehead.  He or She should be a someone looked up to, respected as the personification of the qualities and virtues of their nation.  They should always strive to be the “glamorous” ideal to millions of young people, and the older ones too, for that matter.  Our youth should be proud to follow their leadership, and feel a certain personal cooperation with him or her in the preservation of the nation.

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No other country is so plagued with divergent and warring facts as ours, where viewpoints are as varied as the climate.  Within our boundaries are gathered representatives of nearly every opinion known to the human mind.  We have more races and classes than feudal Eurpose, more castes than Asia, and more dogmas than both, while all the eccentricities that afflict us are aggravated by the pernicious illusion that we are all born free and equal.  America is made up of very opinionated people.

Each citizen feels that the payment of taxes permits him to think and do anything and the common good never enters our consciousness.  While Japan is Japanese, Russia is Russian, and Germany is German, America is only American in one common emotion- the proud sense of its sovereign right of individual initiative.   It follows, therefore that any effort to reform or organize Americans is akin to trying to organize the entire world….

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While democracy permits many of us to speak out of turn, and to speak loudest when we have nothing to say.  It is a forgone conclusion, therefore, that no matter what is recommended or what is necessary for the common good, the moment any move is made to solve a problem, someone (usually utterly selfish or incompetent) rises up in all the dignity of his sovereign right and cries: “I object! It’s unconstitutional.”

If it is unconstitutional to enforce integrity where it is evidently necessary-if it is unconstitutional to enforce ethics upon those who have forgotten the ethical bases of relationships-if it is unconstitutional to prevent a nation from exterminating itself because of utter difference to the common good, then it would seem that proper steps should be taken to revise and reshape the Constitution.

If it is unconstitutional to sacrifice some part of private privilege to common good, it would seem still more unconstitutional to support an interpretation of democracy which denies youth a chance to live useful and constructive lives.

When codes are outgrown or perverted, it is not patriotism but stupidity to offer unthinking allegiance to them.

Of the Constitution Jefferson himself wrote: “The present Constitution is well as a beginning, and may be allowed fair trial, but it is in fact only a steppingstone to something better.

Live and Learn.  We All Do.

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