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Take the Bathing Suit Test

Take the Bathing Suit Test

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Dear Readers,

I’ve heard the expression that you are what you eat, but do you ever feel that you are what you wear?

Often, our choice of clothing reflects the image we want to project to the world. That’s why so many advice columns offer suggestions on what and what not to wear to a business interview or cocktail party. The members of the Royal family have rules on how formally they must dress for public engagement—from gloves to military uniforms to the length of their skirts. Private schools often enforce uniforms for their students, but even many public schools now have dress codes.

Usually, these codes are all about how our clothing affects others, either in what impression we make or in the image we want to project. But recently, I read a fascinating article proving just how much our clothes affect us!

A study was conducted by the University of Michigan, headed by Barbara Fredrickson, about how clothing correlated to academic performance. A random group of college-age men and women were asked to wear bulky sweaters or swimsuits: a one-piece suit for the women and swimming trunks for the men. Each participant was seated alone in a windowless room, with no observers, and asked to take a math test. Fredrickson later compared how the type of dress affected the test scores.

Men wearing swimming trunks did slightly better than those wearing sweaters. But for the women, there was a significant difference. The women in swimsuits fared much worse than those in sweaters, scoring only about half as many answers correctly! Subsequent research confirmed these results.

Dr. Leonard Sax, a psychologist and author, concluded that when women wear skimpy clothing, self-objectification occurs. Self-objectification distracts and makes it hard to focus on academics. They feel self-conscious.

Remember: These women were in a windowless room with no one watching them. Yet their clothing caused them to assess themselves as an object on display. Sax asserts that girls who self-objectify are more likely to become depressed and less likely to be satisfied with their bodies.

There is a very beautiful phrase in the book of Psalms (45:14) that reads, Kol Kevudah bas melech penima (“the very honor of the daughter of the King is within”). Every Jewish woman is the daughter of the King, and spiritually, she instinctively understands that her worth and honor come from within.

In Chassidic philosophy, the term penimiyut (“inwardness”) is discussed at length. Penimiyut is the opposite of superficiality or externality, and it means inward integrity—someone who lives according to his actions, who projects outwardly what he is inwardly.

A woman intuitively feels that her worth is far more than the external image she presents to the world. And yet, as this study indicates, her mode of dress affects how she views herself.

In a superficial world that objectifies women, the verse from Psalms reminds us to cherish inwardness, to stay true to our essence and to remember that we are a spiritual being.

And in a world that very much objectifies women, don’t let your dress objectify you.

How does your clothing make you feel about yourself?

Chana Weisberg

Editor, TJW


Chana Weisberg is the editor of TheJewishWoman.org. She lectures internationally on issues relating to women, relationships, meaning, self-esteem and the Jewish soul. She is the author of five popular books.
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A. Alo U.K January 13, 2018

Thank you.
Indeed we create our world all the time. Creativity starts from the inside out.. Our thoughts Find expressions in everything we do, including our dress codes. I hear you very well Ma’am. Praying more ladies hear and do. Reply

Ruth M Coconut Creek FL via chabadcoconutcreek.com January 11, 2018

Thank uou for such an eye opening article. On how a jewish women should dress. hashem wants His daughters to be different from the nations. Psalm 45. We can make a change in our code of dress in the world for the better. outward attire does effect the society and our personal life. Just think how many of us react inwardly when one see' a woman dressed skimpy. The proverbs say..... As a ring of gold in a swine's snout, So is a lovely woman who lacks discretion Proverb 11:22 Reply

Andrea Salem January 9, 2018

Thank you for sharing this important message. Some girls receive too much advice regarding what to wear, and they are not making their on choices about how to dress themselves for that reason; others are affected by peer pressure. Still others have negative feelings about their self worth, and this is reflected in their wardrobe. Choosing clothing has many "layers" :) Mothers should try to give their daughters the confidence they need in picking out their own clothing! Reply

Lauren Spector Brookings, Oregon January 8, 2018

Swim suite test I wear what is comfortable for me and not what is in fashion. If people do not like it, it is their problem not mine. I been an outsider all my life.
My mother was a size 6, if one was size 8 so,so if you were over size 10 one was obese. I was a size 12 or 14. I was a disgrace.
I found out, it was the inside of the person and not the outside. Be comfortable who you are. We are all our Higher Power's children. Reply

Debbie Brant Maryland January 13, 2018
in response to Lauren Spector:

I'm so sorry that kind of pressure regarding size was on you Lauren and you are absolutely right,
its what is on the inside that counts and taking care of our bodies making healthy choices in foods. Make a Post It saying,
"Be kind it looks good on you" (And it does in attitude loving G-d and others thats hurting too)
💖Debbie Brant - Reply

Mandi Wilson Melbourne, Australia January 8, 2018

Thank you for this beautiful article.
It really reinforces how my feelings about myself have changed since I started to dress modestly. Reply

Debbie B. Maryland January 8, 2018

Personally, I'm not in big fashion clothing but like conservative quality clothing thats lady like.
Quality in fabric, style even the dye used can make any woman look beautiful especially when
touched with simple small pearl earrings. Also, since I love makeup keep that in the best quality
not cheap chalk stuff especially when getting older thats hard looking.
My motto is, keep it simple and elegant. Unfortunately, trying to find the perfect black skirt or dress
is becoming imposdible being too short and stretchy that doesn't flatter and theres no soft drape.
Guess I till get my sewing machine out.
Debbie B.
Maryland Reply

Chavi Toronto January 8, 2018

What a beautiful way to start a discussion on a topic so hotly debated. Chassidus tells us that what you wrote is true, and now you have shown that even modern psychology is catching up. I hope your readers take you up on the challenge and value their own penimiyus as a result. Reply

Ayobola UK January 8, 2018

Very succinctly addressed. Thank you Ma’am. Everything we do is a manifested extension of the state (s) of our minds. Reply

Often we need a break from our daily routine. A pause from life to help us appreciate life.

A little pat on the back to let us know when we're on track. A word of encouragement to help us through those bleak moments and difficult days.

Sometimes, we just yearn for some friendship and camaraderie, someone to share our heart with. And sometimes we need a little direction from someone who's been there.

So, take a short pause from the busyness of your day and join Chana Weisberg for a cup of coffee.

Chana Weisberg is the author of Tending the Garden: The Unique Gifts of the Jewish Woman and four other books. Weisberg is a noted educator and columnist and lectures worldwide on issues relating to women, faith, relationships and the Jewish soul.
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