The Modesty of A Curvy Woman

Being shaped like an hourglass is glorified in the streets and shamed in corporate settings.

How is it that when a conventionally model-esque figure is deemed presentable in a pencil skirt, but a curvier woman in one is seen as dressing inappropriately?

How is it that a woman covered from head to toe is more modest than a busty woman who is just as clothed?

Although beauty standards differ from country to country, it is widely accepted that the curvier a woman’s body is, the more sexual attention is attracted. This is not to blame the natural law of enticement, nor is to say that women who are lacking in the curve department are also lacking in the ability to charm. This is to understand why modesty for a curvy woman is rarely spoken of, excluding the many rants that happen between ladies to which this is unfortunately relatable.

Studies have explained that like other species, men are, generally speaking, attracted to attributes that often indicate fertility. A biologically high sex drive for males is an evolutionary trait needed to satisfy vital reproduction. Considering this, women with signs of hormone-induced characteristics catch the eye of men who are unconsciously looking for such shape and size.

However, we cannot take this simplified scientific breakdown and forget we are not a primitive people anymore. Human nature is much more complicated than the natural world itself. Our understanding of attraction, inevitably coupled with factors involving culture and society, is many shades of grey. As an advanced and complex human race, the over-sexualization of a curvy woman’s body has contradicted society’s demand to be modest for mutual respect. This sense of degradation has been normalized.

The double standard of thin and thick women is one that not only unfairly highlights curvy figures as more “womanly”, but also penalizes women with these bodies unless used as a sexual means. Women, even young girls who develop at an early age, are taught that their natural curvatures are features they must hide out of shame. They are taught that their physical makeup is itself an entity that asks for unwanted attention.

Of course, we cannot overlook the hype that is now the curvy body, especially with influences like the Kardashian/Jenner family who have artificially enhanced their curves to complement the sudden “hyper-appreciation” of being “slim-thick”. The “Barbie” ideal female prototype is no longer a physical idolization. However, the conversation about girls being pressured to have double D’s, flat stomach and yes of course, a fat behind, is rarely interjected with the pressure to be modest. Although our generation is becoming more sexually-liberated, there is still those who prefer to conceal their promiscuous personality. Of course, this is not to say women who choose to show of their skin are immodest— a word that has been defined by the patriarchy, and means much more than its physical connotation. To some insecure men, an immodest woman may just be a woman who voices her bold opinions without a filter, a woman who dares to lead.

The subject at hand is precisely the over-sexualization of curvy women.

Because of this, curvy women who practice their façon de modesty often have to result to fashion that is not quite à la mode. Even the modest in-style clothing are tailored to tall, skinny women, who could even pass for being modest when wearing fitted garments. Curvier women would still be deemed as wearing clothes that are “too flattering” in such outfits. The question isn’t how we can develop easier ways for our women to conform, the question is how can we tackle the over-sexual stigmatization of voluptuous women, redefine modesty that is inclusive of all shapes and sizes, recognize dehumanizing micro-aggressions and solidify the simple humane fact that everyone deserves respect.
Celebrate curves. Celebrate modesty. Do not punish them.

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Sabrina Amrane
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18 years old. Inquisitive Algerian, lover of languages. African history and culture enthusiast, aspiring journalist.

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