Raggedy Mom pointed out that I didn’t answer all of the questions myself. I’m glad I waited to read the other responses as they helped me clarify my own thoughts.
- For married women, do you dress by the same standards as you did when you got married? Yes, as I mentioned in the original post.
- Also for married women, do you and your husband conflict about this issue? Not really, although he’ll comment if my stomach shows when I life my arms.
- Have your standards changed from when you were growing up, and why? I grew up wearing pants, going mixed swimming, etc. I stopped completely after my year in Israel, although the changes began earlier in high school.
- Do you often feel uncomfortable when you are in the company of a group keeping higher or lower standards (for lack of a better term) than you? Lower, not at all. Higher, only if I am wearing something that I myself feel is borderline.
- If you have ever suddenly changed your standard of dress, did people treat you differently or make approving/disapproving remarks? When I was in college, people often made disparaging remarks about women who wore skirts. Once, while collecting sponsors for a walk (or run?) for Soviet Jewry, a smart-aleck said that he would sponsor me on the condition that I wore pants. I shut him up by telling him that his remark was religiously intolerant.
- How accepting is your community of women who “deviate” from the generally accepted mode of dress? Good question (if I say so myself LOL). I think in the English-speaking community we are more tolerant. In my town whether or not you cover your hair can affect what school your kids go to, what youth group they attend and who their friends will be for life. So because I have one kid in such a school (for just one more year), I guess by default I am going along with such a division (although the school has additional admissions criteria).
- If you have a daughter, has tzniut become an issue yet? My older daughter just turned 13. She made the transition to skirts fairly young, and fortunately tzniut has so far been a non-issue. If she wanted to wear pants (out of school) I would not make a big deal out of it. Just as married women can go with uncovered hair and stand firmly within Orthodox observance, so too can women in pants. My take on tzniut, davening (prayer) and shul attendance is that teenagers will have to make their own decisions about these issues soon enough. Unless their behavior directly affects the rest of the family I generally leave it alone and hope to discuss it later.
- Any other comments to share? Just about everyone chooses to make some kind of statement with their dress, especially about how willing they are to conform to their neighbors around them. As the various responses showed, observant women also decide how much they prefer to fit in with the outside community or within their own, aside from issues such as comfort, fashion, expense, and of course halacha.