As a child, I often browsed through the pages of a well-worn report in a yellow office folder made by my aunt many decades back when she was in her teens. It was a simple cut-paste-and-put-a-caption kind of project made in the 1950s or 1960s. It was a report on the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Rosary and the devotion to her.
I enjoyed looking at the stampitas my aunt probably sourced through Catholic Trade in the Tayuman area. It was an extensive collection showing the different ways Mother Mary was referred to. They were the bases of many a sketch or portrait I did when I wanted to work on my artistic skills as I went to high school and college.
I recall the work having a short pledge in the end where my aunt, signed her name at the bottom, promising to be Mary-like in her actions, words, decisions and choice of attire. What particularly struck me was that what she had written was very specific. The choice of fabric for her garments, the cut, the length, the depth of the neckline and the presence or non-presence of sleeves. I had wondered how she had made it through the period where they had the mini-skirts in mode or the halter.
Over the years, we have seen the sheer become more sheer. The shorts even shorter. Practically nothing was left for the imagination to ponder as girls wore what they thought would attract male attention. And attract attention, they did.
Is It the Right Kind of Attention? Is It the Kind of Attention A Woman Would Really Want for Herself?
A study about men’s brains in 2009 or 2010 by Princeton psychologists revealed that men react differently to an image of a woman, scantily-clad, to a woman, fully-dressed. The subjects reactions were recorded via MRI. The results? As the male subjects looked at a woman, fully-clothed, the portion of their brains associated with social cognition were activated. When viewing sexually-dressed women, everything else shut down but only the part of their brains associated with tools were activated.
Is a woman just a tool? Does any female aspire to be just a tool in a man’s eyes?
In another study, when scantily and/or sexually-provocative photos of women were presented to a group of men and women, the subjects in the photos were perceived as personas “with ‘less human nature traits’ ” as compared to when the same women in the photos were fully-clad.
Is the casting of stereotypes to the fully-clad and the sexually-provocative-dressed female (and/or male) from a human being to an object societal or otherwise? What role does nature play in this? Perhaps some future study will reveal a correlation. At least now we understand the need for certain cultures to cover their female members up to the point of obscurity. At least now, I remember my aunt, happily married, now in her twilight years, sticking to a schoolgirl’s pledge on modesty and the choice to make oneself perceived as a witty and talented woman deserving of your awe and respect.
The courage to be modest is not about being frumpy. It is about taking charge of how you want others (males and females) to treat you. It is how you perceive and express yourself through your choice of fashion. That provocative bikini or revealing décolletage can only get a woman so far… and then what?
A tool? or a human being worth discovering and cherishing?….. The choice in fashion is much in a woman’s hands and less in the fashion dictates of the season.
Is modesty still being valued by Pinoys? Are our value systems changing? How? Send us your feedback!(TYason)