In the last decade, hundreds of advocates in blogs, magazines, and social networking sites have promoted modesty as an empowering style. By dressing and acting modestly, girls and young women are promised the capacity to effectively deflect sexual objectification. Popular feminist critics have responded to these efforts by labeling modesty as a postfeminist advocacy that simply employs the language of feminism to promote aims that injure girls and young women and the goals of feminist projects. Reading both discourses that encourage modesty and feminist criticisms of modesty, the article suggests that these discussions use the figure of the autonomous subject to generate a division between modesty and feminisms that limits the capacity for young people’s agency. It argues that modesty might be productively read as an outgrowth of aesthetic-based feminist claims that equate empowerment with autonomous individual choice. As such, the connections between these discursive communities—especially the limits and possibilities of aesthetic resistance tactics—provide critical guidance for collaborative dialogue.


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pp. 22-42
Launched on MUSE
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