Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Dress Code, Anyone?

We got the coolest doll today: a Barbie-type doll dressed in Muslim garb (the "hijab" head covering and "abaya" dress).  It's kind of amazing, and telling, how each country dresses its dolls in reflection of its people.
I especially love how it proclaims, "Indoor fashion included!"

The glasses are more like safety goggles than fashionable shades, extra cool.
To be honest, one of the hardest adjustments for me to make on coming to Jordan was adapting to the dress code.  In one way, it was hard because I hadn't come prepared--I thought I had packed modest clothes with bringing only shirts with sleeves (even if short sleeves) and only pants and skirts that came below the knee.  But, boy, did I feel exposed and inappropriate!  It's especially hard to adjust when the weather is hot, because you roast wearing pants and long sleeves in the blazing sun!  In another way, it was hard for me mentally, because I would declare arrogantly to myself, "I am a free woman!  I can dress how I please!"  I did not like having a man-centric society imposing dress codes on me, an American woman with rights!  I have tamed a bit, since being here, and even grown to appreciate the way they dress...

Now, I'm beginning to think that maybe it's not such a bad thing to have society-established modesty standards.  In Western countries, immodest dress is perfectly acceptable, and even encouraged, to the point that it feels normal to us.  And where has it gotten us?  Nowhere good.  In no way am I proposing we Westerners adopt the head-to-toe coverings, but I think there is something valuable to learn here.

I was curious about the Muslim women's clothes, and found this website that had a fantastic explanation of how and why they dress the way they do.  The point is to protect women, not to subdue them.  And I can attest that they know how to maintain their individuality and beauty.  I quote:
In today's society womankind is being exploited, female sexuality is being openly used in advertising, mainly to attract the desires of men and therefore sell the product. Is the woman really free in today's society? The answer is obviously no. The constant bombardment by the media as to how the ideal woman should look and dress testifies to this.  Islam liberated woman over 1400 years ago. Is it better to dress according to man or God?
Maybe we're not as free as we think we are.  Maybe we are slaves to our own culture, slaves to the lustful desires of the flesh, slaves to arrogant individualism that does not want to answer to another.  

Let's not be so harsh in judging the different appearance of others, and consider instead what good things we can glean from them.  And let us consider how we can protect one another instead of looking out only for ourselves.  (And yes: I am preaching to myself!)

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