Christian blogger Veronica Partridge has proclaimed her conviction to no longer wear yoga pants or leggings in public and the news turned into a public debate. Partridge was finally pushed to act on the “conviction that was weighing heavy on her heart” by a conversation she had with her husband. Upon his confession, “Yeah, when I walk into a place and there are women wearing yoga pants everywhere, it’s hard to not look. I try not to, but it’s not easy,” Partridge was determined never to entice another man besides her husband again. She made the choice to honor God and her husband by not wearing yoga pants again.
Partridge explains to Christian Post:
“God didn’t say ‘don’t wear leggings’ but it’s important that we dress modestly. I believe that as Christians, we’re all responsible for our own actions and if we are going to put something on that we know is going to draw attention from the opposite sex … then we need to keep that in my mind when we’re getting dressed in the mornings.”
Interesting rationale. Sounds familiar. Every Muslim woman has heard or said the same thing when it comes to hijab. Of course, personal convictions — from “why hijab” or what “hijab” even is — vary from person to person, but the average American Muslim might explain hijab to you parallel to how Partridge explains “no leggings.” However, Muslim women in America who choose to wear hijab are not invited on Good Morning America to defend their choice. Rather, these Muslim women endure discrimination, harassment, and the frustration that comes with being called “oppressed.” Because of course, a woman choosing to cover her hair must not understand what “freedom” really is.
Women are entitled to dress how they want —“modestly” or not, to interpret modesty however they understand it, and to express their views without fear. Unfortunately, not all women are treated equal in this instance. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, “Muslim women have been prohibited from wearing their headcoverings in a number of contexts. They have been harassed, fired from jobs, denied access to public places, and otherwise discriminated against because they wear hijab.”
According to Christian Post, Partridge is “under attack by Satan” with all the negative feedback she has received. At the same time, there are those who stand with her, who have “thanked her for promoting modesty” and “considered her a good example to other young women.” She has been “overwhelmed with support from the Christian community,” writes the Christian Post. GMA’s Robin Roberts has even said that Partridge is merely “doing what she thinks is best for her.” Yes, even with all the backlash she has received, Partridge is entitled to her own opinion — this is America, after all.
The line is drawn, though, somewhere between yoga pants and headscarves, where public debate turns into racial profiling.
It is apparent that the concept of modesty is a controversial one for Americans — but why are we debating over a woman’s choice of dress, anyway? Even more troubling is that an American Muslim woman claiming modesty is not guaranteed her rights in the same way that a Christian woman claiming modesty would be. Because Partridge speaks from within the dominant religion in America, she is privileged.
Although she finds reading several negative comments in a row “discouraging,” she can rest easy; Partridge will never have to worry about losing a job, being discriminated against, or even being a victim of a hate crime because of her decision not to wear leggings — unfortunately, Muslim women who value “modesty” can’t say the same.
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