Lifestyle 26 April 2018
Scrolling through close to one million photos under Instagram's trending hashtag #modestfashion, I expected to see mostly Hijab-clad women, Mormon-style clothing, and Orthodox fashion. Instead, I noticed something different. I saw millennial women, dressed in feminine button downs, beautiful long dresses with cinched waists, and gorgeous designer boots to match their handbags.
Sweeping across the closets of western culture, these were real women I was seeing in the near 1 million photos, all sporting different body types, smiling, and happy in their own skin. According to Who What Wear in January, "searches for "modest fashion" [on PinterestUK] are up 500 percent since the beginning of this year." I took a page from Carrie Bradshaw's book and I wondered: is modern, chic modesty the new IT girl trend?
Kate Hudson attends The 2018 Golden Globe Awards in a polkadot gown. Photo Courtesy of Mirror
One factor that seems to influence most fashion trends is a question of whether or not your identity within the clothing and what you feel it represents.
As an example, I have a proclivity for gorgeous, vivid loafers of all different colors, as they fulfill my need for a simple pop of color that reflects my personality. In the midst of the workweek slump, when I am up to my eyeballs in work and feel at my most vulnerable, my vibrant shoes give me comfort and confidence.
This notion certainly holds true to modest fashion, as people who identify as modest seek out the clothing of modest fashion companies. But what about the other way around? Many modest styles are gearing toward trendy, modern, and attractive styles that fall within many unified standards of acceptable dress. In Hollywood, A-list Celebrities such as Angelina Jolie, Kate Hudson, Zendaya, and Beyonce' have all sported less skin on the 2018 red carpets this season in their dare I say conservative, well thought out dress choices that definitely don't compromise fabulous for extra fabric.
Feminism + Modesty
A change is upon us. People are leaning toward the modest notion because they can identify with themselves and the confidence, not to be swept up with the western culture of provocative wear. Actress and Emmy Award winner Mayim Bilalik, known for her role in Big Bang Theory, penned a powerful essay as an op-ed for the New York Times on feminism in the Weinstein era. In it, Mayim noted that the power she felt as a figure in Hollywood many times involved a conscious decision of how she portrayed her body and her dress in order to navigate the harsh, overtly critical landscape that surrounded her. In other words, her modesty was her personal power. In the modern political sphere, it can oftentimes seem incredibly daunting and uncertain, as women have been jumping through the hoops and hurdles of society's laid out expectations for centuries.
C'est Moi Clothing Spring/Summer 2018 Ruffle Midi Dress.
The Future is Now
So, how do we bridge the gap between the “old spinster" stereotypes of the past and the modest fashion icons of the future? For starters, outlets like TheModist.com are gaining popularity, serving up Net-A-Porter vibes and sleek, eye-catching designs. Women of all walks of life now have options, further clearing the notion that longer inseams and lower hemlines are oppressive and defeminizing. Macy's recently announced its collaboration with Verona Collection, the Muslim-founded brand featuring sparking both blame and backlash on social media and online reviews from all over the world:
Lisa Vogl, the brand's founder, said in a press release, “Verona Collection is more than a clothing brand. It's a platform for a community of women to express their personal identity and embrace fashion that makes them feel confident on the inside and outside." Vogl continues to express that her designs are not, in fact, oppressing women of the western world at all, she is not force-feeding any shoppers her hijabs to wear as accessories.
On The Verona Collection website, Lisa states:
“After embracing Islam, she had a stark realization: modest and fashionable clothing were both hard to acquire and difficult to afford. After doing a bit of research, she realized that many other women, both Muslim and non-Muslim, felt the same way."
Thus, her goal is to present options in shopping malls all over the country in an area which was once an empty void to purchase with positivity and inclusivity. Other notable brands that have come out have been Orthodox Jewish and Mormon-inspired designers, boasting fashion-forward designs and affordable basics.
Jen Loch, a Mormon mother of three and founder of Jen clothing, describes her struggles in realizing that modest can be fashionable growing up.
“As I grew up and got married I finally started to understand why modesty was important. I now have a passion for helping young women discover the value of modesty, and that 'modest fashion' doesn't have to be an oxymoron!"
Valentino's Spring Haute Couture, Paris Fashion Week 2018
Wherever your personal style falls in the modest spectrum, we can all ultimately agree that this fashionable niche is on the rise on a global scale. It is not only incredibly fascinating seeing each designer's unique take on their pieces, but it is empowering knowing that we as women with different inherent beliefs can unify under our stylistic standards of our own choosing. The future is now, and we have the ability to resonate our message to the generations to come. My hope as a stylist and designer of essential pieces is for you to evolve and adapt your own wardrobe repertoire in a way that isn't forced. Be bold, be chic, be comfortable, and above all else, be you.
For decades, women have been unknowingly suffering from PSD and intergenerational trauma, but now Dr. Valerie Rein wants women to reclaim their power through mind, body and healing tools.
As women, no matter how many accomplishments we have or how successful we look on the outside, we all occasionally hear that nagging internal voice telling us to do more. We criticize ourselves more than anyone else and then throw ourselves into the never-ending cycle of self-care, all in effort to save ourselves from crashing into this invisible internal wall. According to psychologist, entrepreneur and author, Dr. Valerie Rein, these feelings are not your fault and there is nothing wrong with you— but chances are you definitely suffering from Patriarchy Stress Disorder.
Patriarchy Stress Disorder (PSD) is defined as the collective inherited trauma of oppression that forms an invisible inner barrier to women's happiness and fulfillment. The term was coined by Rein who discovered a missing link between trauma and the effects that patriarchal power structures have had on certain groups of people all throughout history up until the present day. Her life experience, in addition to research, have led Rein to develop a deeper understanding of the ways in which men and women are experiencing symptoms of trauma and stress that have been genetically passed down from previously oppressed generations.
What makes the discovery of this disorder significant is that it provides women with an answer to the stresses and trauma we feel but cannot explain or overcome. After being admitted to the ER with stroke-like symptoms one afternoon, when Rein noticed the left side of her body and face going numb, she was baffled to learn from her doctors that the results of her tests revealed that her stroke-like symptoms were caused by stress. Rein was then left to figure out what exactly she did for her clients in order for them to be able to step into the fullness of themselves that she was unable to do for herself. "What started seeping through the tears was the realization that I checked all the boxes that society told me I needed to feel happy and fulfilled, but I didn't feel happy or fulfilled and I didn't feel unhappy either. I didn't feel much of anything at all, not even stress," she stated.
Photo Courtesy of Dr. Valerie Rein
This raised the question for Rein as to what sort of hidden traumas women are suppressing without having any awareness of its presence. In her evaluation of her healing methodology, Rein realized that she was using mind, body and trauma healing tools with her clients because, while they had never experienced a traumatic event, they were showing the tell-tale symptoms of trauma which are described as a disconnect from parts of ourselves, body and emotions. In addition to her personal evaluation, research at the time had revealed that traumatic experiences are, in fact, passed down genetically throughout generations. This was Rein's lightbulb moment. The answer to a very real problem that she, and all women, have been experiencing is intergenerational trauma as a result of oppression formed under the patriarchy.
Although Rein's discovery would undoubtably change the way women experience and understand stress, it was crucial that she first broaden the definition of trauma not with the intention of catering to PSD, but to better identify the ways in which trauma presents itself in the current generation. When studying psychology from the books and diagnostic manuals written exclusively by white men, trauma was narrowly defined as a life-threatening experience. By that definition, not many people fit the bill despite showing trauma-like symptoms such as disconnections from parts of their body, emotions and self-expression. However, as the field of psychology has expanded, more voices have been joining the conversations and expanding the definition of trauma based on their lived experience. "I have broadened the definition to say that any experience that makes us feel unsafe psychically or emotionally can be traumatic," stated Rein. By redefining trauma, people across the gender spectrum are able to find validation in their experiences and begin their journey to healing these traumas not just for ourselves, but for future generations.
While PSD is not experienced by one particular gender, as women who have been one of the most historically disadvantaged and oppressed groups, we have inherited survival instructions that express themselves differently for different women. For some women, this means their nervous systems freeze when faced with something that has been historically dangerous for women such as stepping into their power, speaking out, being visible or making a lot of money. Then there are women who go into fight or flight mode. Although they are able to stand in the spotlight, they pay a high price for it when their nervous system begins to work in a constant state of hyper vigilance in order to keep them safe. These women often find themselves having trouble with anxiety, intimacy, sleeping or relaxing without a glass of wine or a pill. Because of this, adrenaline fatigue has become an epidemic among high achieving women that is resulting in heightened levels of stress and anxiety.
"For the first time, it makes sense that we are not broken or making this up, and we have gained this understanding by looking through the lens of a shared trauma. All of these things have been either forbidden or impossible for women. A woman's power has always been a punishable offense throughout history," stated Rein.
Although the idea of having a disorder may be scary to some and even potentially contribute to a victim mentality, Rein wants people to be empowered by PSD and to see it as a diagnosis meant to validate your experience by giving it a name, making it real and giving you a means to heal yourself. "There are still experiences in our lives that are triggering PSD and the more layers we heal, the more power we claim, the more resilience we have and more ability we have in staying plugged into our power and happiness. These triggers affect us less and less the more we heal," emphasized Rein. While the task of breaking intergenerational transmission of trauma seems intimidating, the author has flipped the negative approach to the healing journey from a game of survival to the game of how good can it get.
In her new book, Patriarchy Stress Disorder: The Invisible Barrier to Women's Happiness and Fulfillment, Rein details an easy system for healing that includes the necessary tools she has sourced over 20 years on her healing exploration with the pioneers of mind, body and trauma resolution. Her 5-step system serves to help "Jailbreakers" escape the inner prison of PSD and other hidden trauma through the process of Waking Up in Prison, Meeting the Prison Guards, Turning the Prison Guards into Body Guards, Digging the Tunnel to Freedom and Savoring Freedom. Readers can also find free tools on Rein's website to help aid in their healing journey and exploration.
"I think of the book coming out as the birth of a movement. Healing is not women against men– it's women, men and people across the gender spectrum, coming together in a shared understanding that we all have trauma and we can all heal."