THE MODESTY EXPERIMENT: NY WOMAN LAUREN SHIELDS GOES INTO A ONE YEAR JOURNEY OF NO MAKE-UP, LONG DRESSES AND HAIR COVERED…BUT DECIDED TO KEEP HER NOSE RING

Before and after: Shields during the experiment (left) and afterward with her Shields with her $2000 pink-highlighted hair extensions (right) Before and after: Shields during the experiment (left) and afterward with her Shields with her $2000 pink-highlighted hair extensions (right)

My (almost) year of modesty: What happened when one New York City career girl covered her hair and body – and even swore off make-up for NINE MONTHS

  • Lauren Shields was working as a receptionist on Fifth Avenue when she started to become interested in Quaker, Jewish and Muslim belief systems
  • After hearing a woman speak about her experience wearing a hijab in the Middle East, she decided to reject Western standards of beauty
  • For nine months she covered all of her hair, wore nothing fitted, and only exposed her knees and shoulders at home 

By Catherine Townsend

A former Manhattan career girl has described her experience of giving up revealing clothes and make-up for a year – as well as completely covering her head, legs and arms – as ‘liberating’ and ‘frightening’.

Lauren Shields was working as a receptionist on Fifth Avenue when she started to become interested in Quaker, Jewish and Muslim belief systems.

‘Every morning I would shoehorn myself onto the train with an army of ladies sporting fitted waistlines, toned arms, blown-out hair, full faces of make-up and heels,’ she writes on Salon.com. ‘I hated every second of it.’

 
Before and after: Shields during the experiment (left) and afterward with her Shields with her $2000 pink-highlighted hair extensions (right) Before and after: Shields during the experiment (left) and afterward with her Shields with her $2000 pink-highlighted hair extensions (right)
 
 Before and after: Shields during the experiment (left) and afterward with her Shields with her $2000 pink-highlighted hair extensions (right)

 She contrasted this with the headscarves and long skirts worn by Hasidic women in her Williamsburg, Brooklyn neighborhood.

‘These women were not “fashionable” first, like most of the women I saw everywhere else — they seemed to be focused on something else, something more important than what was trendy,’ she observed.

 Because she didn’t practice those religions, Shields felt that she had no ‘excuse’ to dress in a similar fashion. But two years later as a student at Candler Theological Seminary in Georgia, a woman spoke to her class about her experience in the Middle East wearing a hijab.
Covering up: Spiers says men take women who look like Kim Kardashian less seriouslyCovering up: Spiers says men take women who look like Kim Kardashian less seriously

 Her epiphany afterwards? ‘In America, Islamic dress is often a choice, and the women who make this choice are declining to endorse Western Imperialism and the sexualization of their bodies’.

‘It’s a way of expressing modesty and resisting the pressure to be scrutinized against Western standards of beauty.’

So, with the support of her seminary community and then-boyfriend, she designed the Modesty Experiment.

In order to help loosen her ‘death grip on the idea that youth and beauty were prerequisites to relevance’, Shields started a blog and Facebook page.

For nine months she covered all of her hair, wore nothing fitted, and only exposed her knees and shoulders at home.  

She also shunned makeup or nail polish, except on ‘rare exceptions’.

At first Shields felt more ‘invisible’ – to both men and women – and missed her products.

‘I had been telling myself I was beyond superficiality when in fact I had bought the whole thing hook, line and sinker,’ she says.

But there were also good points: She found that she got a lot more done when she was no longer obsessed with shoes. She saved money. 

And she says she finally met ‘men who believe that the more ”rich’ and made-up like Kim Kardashian a woman looks, the less inclined they are to take her seriously as a co-worker or dating prospect’.

One of them became her boyfriend, and the couple is now engaged.

 
Letting go: Shields says that she was able to get a lot more done once she got rid of her shoe obsession (left) but admits she cried when she gave away her clothes (right) Letting go: Shields says that she was able to get a lot more done once she got rid of her shoe obsession (left) but admits she cried when she gave away her clothes (right)
 
 Letting go: Shields says that she was able to get a lot more done once she got rid of her shoe obsession (left) but admits she cried when she gave away her clothes (right)

 Her project has caused controversy. Many commenters accuse her of judging women who wear make-up in the same way she was judged. Writer Katie Baker of Jezebel.com commented that, with her tapered eyebrows and nose ring,’she was putting just as much time and energy into her appearance as the vain women she pities.’ 

The site called Spiers’s project ‘superficial and silly’ and called her out for lengthy blog posts that complain about how hard the project was that only became more positive after she got a date.   

‘Judging by her blog, she didn’t feel all that fabulous about it, except when her antiquated, mishmashed concept of perfectly modest femininity was validated by a man. How radical.’

Spiers insists that looking good isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but ‘when it becomes the cornerstone of your identity then you’re doing nothing but damage to yourself,’ she writes.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2356152/My-year-modesty-What-happened-New-York-City-career-girl-covered-hair-body–swore-make-NINE-MONTHS.html#ixzz2Y9EIEM00
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One thought on “THE MODESTY EXPERIMENT: NY WOMAN LAUREN SHIELDS GOES INTO A ONE YEAR JOURNEY OF NO MAKE-UP, LONG DRESSES AND HAIR COVERED…BUT DECIDED TO KEEP HER NOSE RING

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