Lauren Shields describes her experiment in modesty at Salon . For a year, she put away her designer clothes, covered her body including her hair, and didn’t wear make up. Some people lost interest in her: “I learned that if you put down the Beauty Suit you will be ignored by people who think you have to look a certain way to be worth their time (men and women included), and that that is a small price to pay for not having to put on a costume every time you think you’ll need to impress them. I learned that you will feel invisible until you open your mouth, and then people will be amazed at what you have chosen to do in protest of the Western beauty ideal. And then those people probably won’t date you because you’re kind of outspoken. Or whatever.”

Others paid new attention: “I learned that, to the people who matter, you do not become invisible when you stop trying so hard to look available. I became visible to the one guy I had been looking for, and his proposal three weeks ago rocked my world. I became visible to a community of women who began to have conversations about just how trapped they felt by the beauty ideal because it demands so much expensive upkeep and such a constant stream of internal criticism. I even heard from a lot of guys who swore that the more made-up and ‘rich’ a woman looked (think the Kardashians), the less inclined they felt to take her seriously, either as a co-worker or a dating prospect.”

Above all, she learned that her new garb enabled her person to show through: “I learned how to see my appearance for what it is: a ‘Lauren Suit,”’ which does nothing more than provide a necessary exterior for an inner life that will never be available in stores. Also, you would be amazed at how much money you save not trying to buy the latest Grown-up Suit.”

Having ceased to be a disguise, her clothing became a disclosure.

More on: Miscellaneous

Articles by Peter J. Leithart

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