Growing up in the early 2000s, it was common to see our favorite music artists, high fashion models, and video vixens revealing plenty of skin with an emphasis on their favorite assets throughout many facets of mainstream media. While overtly convincing young women being sexy was determined by the least amount of clothing one could possibly wear, it caused many of us to become obsessed with our bodies believing that was the only way to be seen, feel beautiful, and most importantly gain the attention of the opposite sex.
Over 20 years later the fashion industry is beginning to shift in ways we haven't seen in decades. Throughout the spring 2023 runway collections, designers debuted enticing looks featuring long hemlines with emphasis on silhouettes and fully covered midriffs articulating sexiness with fashion-forward modesty.
A part of this modern culture shift can be attributed to the current state of our economy here in the United States. As we climb out the last three years of a worldwide pandemic there has been a decline in consumer confidence with predictions of a looming economic downturn. The hemline index theory is what's known in the fashion industry as the theory of recessions correlating to longer hemlines and less flashy clothing resulting in a more conservative way of life. To give a comparison, skirts tend to get shorter when the economy is doing well and people are feeling more confident financially and longer when there's less optimism and uncertainty.
While the theory is debatable in its factual nature, this can be seen throughout history with clothing being of neutral tones and less revealing following the Wall Street Crash leading to the Great Depression and World Wars in the most extreme cases, while bright and jubilant during the 1960s and early 2000s.
When it comes to fashion, less being more is truly subjective, especially to those that believe dressing conservatively to be the quintessential aspect of true elegance, style, and liberation. While seemingly another mainstream fashion trend on the rise here in the United States, for many women around the world modesty is not a trend but a lifestyle. More than maxi skirts, oversized blazers, and baggy trousers, modesty represents a mindset of sophistication while demanding respect for one's body, mind, and soul regardless of one's personal style or religious affiliation.
Even with a modern shift in the sartorial world, modesty has misconceptions of its own. While there’s still a long way to go with modest representation, these fashion influencers are sharing why they believe modesty makes women more attractive and how it’s more than clothes but a way to represent who they are from the inside out.
“Modesty is the core of my self-expression and there's a level of elegance to it that I always found endearing.” - Aïssata Diallo
Based in NYC, Aïssata is a fashion influencer whose style is based on who she is and where she’s from. When asked what inspired her style she shares, “My personal style comes from my inspirations of the inner-city girl mixed in with my faith and culture. I try to blend all of these different components of myself [in]to one aesthetic that screams modern Muslim woman from NYC.” Developing her personal style, Aissata says “modesty” was not in her vocabulary at a young age. “Being new to this, it took time figuring out my personal style, and to be honest the learning is still ongoing but it’s been empowering to keep pushing the envelope with my modest fashion.”
For many Muslim women, modesty can be seen as oppressive from the outside looking in, what many fail to see is that women of the faith have a choice in how they want to be perceived in the world and express beauty in their own way. “What most people don’t realize is that modesty is a personal journey and a decision you have to make for yourself otherwise you’d never stick through with it. Eventually, I got to a point where I wanted to submit to God.”
She continues, “Modesty is the core of my self-expression and there’s a level of elegance to it that I have always found endearing. In being modest you’re going against the societal norm to revel in the power of your choice. It’s also a spiritual thing for me and a way to please God. It’s more than just what you’re wearing on the outside, it’s a lifestyle. The way you carry yourself, the way you think, your heart, your morals, and values. There’s a lot of inner work that goes into it and the outer beauty just reflects it.”
"Dressing more modestly naturally elevated my style." - Aïssata Diallo
Another way modesty defines a woman's beauty is by elevating personal style, shifting from fast fashion to investing in quality items. “In my opinion, modesty enhances a woman’s beauty beyond the superficial and [adds] substance, depth and a level of mystery to one’s beauty.” Aïssata continues, “It also enhances the amount of respect I demand/receive from anyone who sees me. In terms of my personal style, dressing more modestly naturally elevated my style. I used to buy a lot of fast fashion before embarking on this journey and now I find myself only investing in high-quality pieces.”
Furthermore, Aissata explains, “Modesty is personal, and it does not have to be boring and you don’t have to look like an elderly. I’m learning that you can bring parts of yourself and your culture in your modest journey and continue to grow further as you learn more about yourself and your faith.”
“Modestly enhances my personal style because it forces me to pay more attention to the small details of my outfits.” - Asma Shakar
Fashion stylist and boutique owner Asma Shakar is a fashion influencer who describes her personal style as both modest and versatile. “Modesty to me not only means dressing in a way that my body is not shown. It also relates to how I carry and conduct myself as a woman and as a Muslim,” Asma shares. “I think modesty enhances a woman's beauty because it allows for people to look past their physical attributes and focus more on their heart and soul. Modesty enhances my personal style because it forces me to pay more attention to the small details of my outfits.”
Always feeling confident, she continues to elevate and develop her natural style. “I feel like I’ve always been confident in my personal style but it has been developing since I learned the true definition of style.” She continues, “I honestly feel like my personal style is developing every day and probably won’t stop anytime soon.”
As far as negative stereotypes for Muslim women, she states that “one of the biggest misconceptions is that dressing modestly as a Muslimah is oppressive. But when major fashion houses dress their models modestly, it’s fashion. I believe when I dress modestly it’s liberating as opposed to being oppressive.”
“It shows class and a sense of inner confidence.”- Anne
Conservative fashion doesn’t always have to be a religious decision. For Anne, it’s an expression of who she is and how she feels on the inside. “How I dress is a reflection of my mood and energy. I’m always intentional about the way I want to look.” She continues, “There’s an effortlessness and hints of androgyny that always remain as part of my signature style. I enjoy playing in clothes and reinventing myself.”
Her belief in modesty is simple, it’s a choice. “It shows class and a sense of inner confidence. It can also be seen as a reflection of one’s self-esteem. My personal style is predominantly modest because I enjoy the contrast of wearing something feminine with something masculine. I think there’s so much more to look at when you’re fully clothed and dressed well.”
“Modesty enhances a woman’s beauty by shifting the focus to the beauty of other attributes like her smile, behavior, her stance, and/or her words. Modesty isn’t a limitation, it’s the liberty to showcase other sides of you.” - Anne
As a child, Anne states she was always confident in her style which gave her the freedom to express herself and develop into the woman she was destined to become. “I was confident as a child with my style. I was given the space to express myself through clothes. I liked what I liked and there was always a freedom to choose how I wanted to present myself. My mom really nurtured that side of me.” Allowing her that freedom, she learned how to see herself in many forms and appreciate all attributes of herself which gave her the freedom to experiment with style. “I believe modesty enhances a woman’s beauty by shifting the focus to her smile, her behavior, her stance, and/or her words. Modesty isn’t a limitation, it’s the liberty to showcase other sides of you.”
Modesty enhances Anne’s personal style by inspiring her to experiment with layering, structure, and shape. She shares her number one style rule, “If I’m to wear something that shows a little more skin, everything else is to be covered. I think the overall look becomes that much more interesting and tasteful.”
Her overall thoughts on why she encourages modesty are that “it inspires transformation. There are so many ways to enhance your beauty and reinvent yourself whilst fully dressed. Modesty isn’t boring. It’s timeless and powerful.”
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Featured image by Aïssata Diallo/Instagram
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This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
It (almost) never fails. Whenever I do an interview, someone will ask me: 1) is it hard to be a marriage life coach and not be married (chile, these clients are a part of the reason why I’m more cautious than ever about mate selection) and 2) am I lonely when it comes to being single? From the angle of loving Black men and understanding, daily, what a marital covenant can do for a person, I am totally open to jumping somebody’s broom one day. Lonely though? No. Not really. And a part of the reason is because I have such an awesome group of male friends.
No, I’m not one of those women who don’t see the value in female friends too. It’s just that one demographic “scratches one itch” while the other scratches another. And when it comes to men, specifically, there are certain things that they bring to my life that are simply incomparable.
That’s why, whenever single women will tell me that they are getting restless as they wait on their husband to make his presence known, I am quick to ask, “Girl, where are your male friends at?” Because while they can’t meet every need that a husband can (and should), believe me when I say that they do offer some bona fide benefits that will definitely make them a great alternative on a few different levels.
I’ve got a solid six for you today.
1. Men Are Not Women. Let’s Start There.Giphy
Listen, I’m sure that there is a lot of good stuff out in TikTok world; however, as a life coach myself, on the coaching front, truly sensible advice can really be like a needle in a haystack on that platform — especially when it comes to trustworthy (and sound) insight on men. So much stuff is rooted in bitterness, stereotypes, and gross generalizations (generalizations are typically rooted in bitterness, by the way) that there’s no way that it can be seen as being even close to being reliable.
And as much as some of y’all might not want to hear what I’m about to say, I think a part of the reason is because a lot of women don’t want to accept that men are just…different. Not in a “Yeah, I know. They should be more like us” kind of way. I mean, a “God made it that way by design, and science is there to back it up.”
For instance, some professionals believe that women having more blood flood to the brain is why they are more emotional in their communication style, while men are typically more direct (more on that in a bit). Other studies reveal that women are more comfortable with their emotions while men tend to be more centered (and sometimes quicker) at problem-solving. And while a woman’s right hemisphere of her brain is more developed to the point where she is more sensitive and empathetic, a man’s is more developed to where he is more “mathematic” (2+2=4, that’s it) and explorative.
This kind of stuff always fascinates me, so while I could go on and on, the bottom line here is men's and women’s wiring are not identical.
And while society keeps trying to make them be the same via all of these damn gender wars, the beauty in the differences is men and women can actually provide each other with balance. Because, after all, as a man by the name of Larry Dixon once said, “If two people were exactly alike, one of them would be unnecessary.” And both men and women are…necessary.
2. Guys Tend to Have a “Straight No Chaser” ApproachGiphy
Whenever I read an article about how social media is creating more narcissists than ever, I can’t help but nod my head up and down in total agreement. I don’t even hesitate because one example of this that I see on a regular basis is how people are becoming more and more wired for praise, and yet they can’t handle any kind of criticism or call out to hold themselves accountable to save their lives.
You know who will bring you back down to earth, though? A good friend. And guy friends? I guess due to some of the science that I just mentioned, I don’t have one in my life who pulls any punches. Although some are more, let’s go with tactful in their approach (LOL), there’s not one who sugarcoats issues or tells me what I want to hear. And you know what? I need that. I don’t need flatterers (even the Bible frowns on that…did you know that? — Job 17:5); I need folks who will be as direct, candid, and “Well Shellie, you asked” as I tend to be with other people. It keeps me responsible. It grows me up. And it helps me to better discern when my ego is getting all up in the way.
Yeah, if you want to hear the REAL real, a guy will deliver it to you. Which brings me to the next way that they are a true “win.”
3. They’re Good At Catching Blind SpotsGiphy
Back when I was on my “Get Your Heart Pieces Back Tour” (you can read more about it here), there was a guy from my past who I was talking heavy with for a few weeks. He’s always been fine. The sex was always incredible. And, back in the day, he was there for me during a time that was very dark in my life, which is why I will always hold a special affection for him. That’s why, I ain’t got no lies to tell y’all — after our first eight-hour-straight conversation, I was ready to get on a plane and (eh hem) relive some memories. So, what stopped me? One was a particular conviction that I have (perhaps we’ll discuss that at another time). Another was a conversation that I had with two of my male friends.
One asked me, “So, who contacted who?” Oh, the loaded question that will make you reflect on talking to these exes, chile. The other said, “He said he did what when he found out his ex cheated?” Listen, I don’t know who reads my content or not as far as people who know or who knew me, so I won’t get all into the details. I’ll just say that it wasn’t anything violent, but it was intense. And those two questions, put together, caused me to ponder some things that I wouldn’t have otherwise.
Because while my girlfriends thought that it was some rom-com come to life, my guy friends were like, “Uh-uh. Think it ALL the way through.” They simply had eyes where I didn’t because…they are guys who know guys. Simple as that.
4. They’re Like the Big Brothers (or More Big Brothers) You Never HadGiphy
I didn’t really notice how much I needed my blood brother until he moved to South Africa. Even though he’s younger than I, there’s a presence that he provided that made me feel protected; like if some ish really hit the fan, I had someone to call who could help me to feel safe. Thankfully, over the course of the first couple of years that he was gone, some “love brothers” came into the world. And when I tell you that they don’t play about me — I mean, at all.
A good example of this is when my house burned down back in December of 2021. Two immediately sent me a laptop (because for a writer, that’s like not having a car). One sent me the deposit for a new place to stay. Another came to check on me for a week straight. I can’t tell you how many mini-sermons I got on how to legally proceed with my landlords. Bottom line, they held me down and didn’t even give it a second thought. And although my girlfriends had my back as well, they were coming more from a nurturing stance, while my male friends were more protective.
Another example. Earlier this year, I had to drive to another state to sue the person I bought my car from (heads up: a meditator told me that Kentucky has some of the strictest as-is laws in the country). Long story short, the dealer assured me of a feature that wasn’t there. Anyway, I asked one of my male friends to drive me, and even though we took my car, he was like, “Let me drive” — and I had no problem with that. He does it for a living; we had to leave while it was still dark outside, and he knew that I was kind of tired. There was a natural “let me cover you” energy about him that we didn’t need to be dating for it to show up — he’s a good man who knows how to take care of ALL of the women in his life. I love that for me.
One more example. One time my car didn’t start, and I didn’t know what to do. I had to leave it in a random parking lot and, so I called a male friend for some advice. All he said was, “I got it. I’ll call you later.” By that evening, he drove it to me. He had a mechanic friend of his put a new alternator in, and he didn’t even charge me for it. He was like, “Girl, you need to get a man, but until you do, I got you.”
When all you have in your life are guys who you date, sometimes it’s hard to discern what their motives may be. Plus, if things don’t work out, you’re back to figuring everything out on your own. When you have male friends, though? There’s no slick ish. Plus, they’re not going anywhere. You’ve got brothers from another mother who acts just like that. And it’s awesome.
5. They Are Awesome Friend (or Stand-In) DatesGiphy
One of my male friends, folks have been thinking that we’re screwing on the low for years now. He’s a cutie. He can sing his butt off. I tell him often that if I could turn his speaking voice into a person, that part of him (and that part alone) would be my sneaky link, for sure (that voice!). Yet nah — nothing even remotely sexual/physical has happened to us beyond a hug “hello” and a hug “good-bye.” And while I wouldn’t say that we’re exactly “platonic” because he sometimes jokes that “Shellie, you are like a sister, but you still ain’t my sister” and that holds a bit of subtext (check out “Here's Why Very Few Relationships Can Actually Be 'Platonic'”), we’ve got almost two decades under our belts — at this point, ain’t nothin’ finna go down. It just doesn’t “click” that way. And we are both so good with that.
That doesn’t mean that we’re not each other’s kick-it buddies, though. Aside from the fact that we try to have a lunch or dinner date once a month, if there’s something we want to do or a place we want to go to, we don’t hesitate to take each other as an unofficial date. That’s because we know that it will make the event more fun and less stress-filled because there is no extra stress, pressure, or expectations. We also know how to dress up or down, be casual or corporate — y’all get it.
Yeah, if you’ve got something coming up, you don’t want to go alone, and the idea of a traditional date seems like it would be “too much,” a guy friend is the perfect solution. It has worked out for me (with the guy whom I’m referring to and others) for years now.
6. Platonic Love Is Really SpecialGiphy
Clearly, I believe that men and women can be “just friends” (check out “Unpopular Opinion: Men And Women CAN Really Be 'Just Friends'”). And although the genuine definition of platonic means that there is NO sexual interest on ANY level (which is why I think that word is used too loosely), those types of relationships can exist — and they are truly one of a kind.
Final example. I’ve got four male friends who I absolutely adore. We hang out. We can talk on the phone for hours. We send each other stupid clips throughout the day. And HELL NAW, we ain’t gonna date each other. Like…ever. We talk enough about relationships that we get how and why other people are attracted to us — and still, that doesn’t mean we want to fit into those categories. We like each other. We love each other. We trust and respect each other. We enjoy each other. As friends, and that’s all it’s ever gonna be.
However, because I am a woman and they are men, we bring something into each other’s worlds as far as opinions, perspectives, and insights that no one of the same sex can. As their friend (for instance), I tell them when a woman has some ulterior motives that they haven’t even thought about, and as men, they tell me when a guy is just wanting to hit, no matter how cryptic their approach may be.
OH, HOW I LOVE MY MALE FRIENDS. They make my world so much richer. Plus, they’re great reminders that you don’t have to be sexual with a man in order for you to be intimate with him. Men are far more layered than that (contrary to whatever you may hear in the media).
So, if you don’t have any strictly male friends, I’m hoping that this will encourage you to at least consider getting some (or hell, at least one). And if you do, do what I do and treat your male friends to a meal sometimes, just to say “thank you”. Men who’ve got your back, just because, without wanting you to get on your back? Sis, they deserve a seasonal meat-‘n-three or somethin’. Wouldn’t you say? I WOULD.
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