Little girls and modesty - Mothering Forums

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Old 12-10-2007, 03:39 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Ok, modesty mommas!

I'm not sure if we're having a boy or a girl (no ultrasound needed yet, so we're just not finding out), but I have a question.

Little girls are supposed to halachically wear dresses or skirts. Personally, I think it is MUCH more modest for little girls (especially toddlers, who are very unaware of their bodies) to wear flowy pants than to wear skirts. I can't tell you how many times I have to pull a skirt/dress back off of a toddler's head as she flashes the crowd in shul or in religious school.

These mothers are good about putting stockings or leggings on their daughters under their skirts, but I think that it's developmentally inappropriate to have these little girls wearing dresses (regardless of what's under them) and to expect them to not flip them up over their heads, yk? The little girls in baggier pants seem to me to stay more modest (and they're very well covered up) than their dress-wearing counterparts.

Any thoughts?

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Old 12-10-2007, 03:50 PM
 
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How will your child learn to act properly in a dress though if they never wear one? I usually put leggings, capris, bloomers or jeans under my dds dresses - depending on the dress (tights come later when they already know how to behave modestly in a dress as I don't feel even the thickest tights are particularly modest). This way everything is covered as they are learning modesty and self control. I don't particularly think even a buck naked baby is immodest but if we start teaching them young by the time modesty actually becomes an issue dressing and acting modestly is already a good habit.

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Old 12-10-2007, 03:50 PM
 
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I only have boys so I'm not an expert but I think it depends on what age you are talking about. I think most people don't consider pants on a 2 year old to be immodest. What age are you asking about?
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Old 12-10-2007, 04:12 PM
 
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I value teaching little girls modestly, but I believe that such should be age-appropriate. I personally don't think it's realistic to expect a young girl to wear skirts all the time, or not expect them never to forget that they can't put their legs in certain positions. I think that impedes on their experience as a child and puts them into a stuffy environment where they aren't allowed to move around as they wish-and all children need to be able to wear clothes that are both modest but allow them to move about and play as kids need to. For my girls, I always put them in jeans or flowing capris, and reserve the dresses for small increments to be worn on fancy occasions or on Sunday for children's meetings. There is nothing wrong with teaching girls that they can surely be modest without wearing skirts and dresses all the time. As a little girl my mother taught us modesty, but she herself hardly ever wore dresses except for the Lord's Table on Sunday, and most of the time wore jeans/sweatpants/blouses that were covering. FWIW my mother is one of the most modest people that I know.

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Old 12-10-2007, 04:16 PM
 
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Well, my daughter's still too young (five months old)... but I love the look of little pants underneath dresses like you see at Hanna Andersson.

DD has these little pull-on pants with ruffles at the bottom that are adorable...and look very girly.

If it were me, I'd probably just dress her in dresses and skirts and put pants on underneath.

I don't know... we don't have the requirement that girls have to wear dresses and skirts... although we are told that women's dress should not imitate men's dress (and vice-versa). How this is interpreted varies... in Saudi Arabia and many other Arab countries, men wear galabayas which look remarkedly like the women's galabayas. (Long white (or other color) floor-length dress) In Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh, women wear shalwar kameez... which is a long top over baggy pants.

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Old 12-10-2007, 09:15 PM
 
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Yeah. Coming from a mixed bag of modesty myself (growing up that is) I never heard a worry about a newborn.

All of the answers of the other posters make 100% sense to me
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Old 12-11-2007, 02:07 AM
 
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Baggy or flowy pants could be developementally hazardous or inappropriate for a small child.

The little girls I see all have bloomers or shorts or pants under their skirts, even the bigger little girls.

And as SaraFR said most people do not think pants on a 2 y o to be immodest.
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Old 12-11-2007, 03:32 AM
 
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From a Jewish perspective, we don't usually stress about girls wearing dresses till they're 3 years old. Until then, even Khasidish little girls commonly wear pants.

At 3 we make a big deal about how "big" they are to wear a dress like big sister or ima, and then we're very careful to put pants under the dress every day or tights.

In the summer (and the spring and the fall ... this is, after all, the MIddle East and it's hot ... she wears shorts under the skirt.


FWIW my 7yo DD wears pants under her dresses/skirts, too. Cotton Lycra bicycle pants are the greatest invention (for modest-dressing-girls, anyway) since the wheel.









(I wear 'em, too, when the weather is cold or if my skirt is not entirely down to my ankles ... and my shortest skirt is only about two inchest above my ankles anyway )



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Old 12-11-2007, 07:57 AM
 
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I personally don't think modest dress should be imposed on small children--at home mine is allowed to run around in her altogether if she wants. Rather, I think their clothing should not be "sexy" or communicate that sort of attractiveness. Sometimes this amounts to the same thing.

My DD loves skirts, but usually does wear shorts or pants under them if we're going to be doing anything even remotely active. It doesn't really phase me if she does flip her clothes up over her head (though I do discourage it for public decorum reasons), and at 4 I have still at times had her try clothes on in a store (requiring getting half-undressed) without going to a changing room--though we do go to a changing room if she requests it, which she does more often nowadays.

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Old 12-11-2007, 11:07 AM
 
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My youngest is 3, I kind of let her wear whatever she wants as long as it isn't too tight or too short. My oldest is 9, I am teaching her more modest choices now, but I don't make her cover completely. If she wears shorts or skirts, they must reach at least the knee, dress always require leggings, and no sleeveless tops or plunging necklines, though short sleeves are okay for now IMO. I have noticed that the older my girls get, the harder it is to dress them modestly. We went shopping this spring for a fancy dress for my dd to wear to a father-daughter dance w/ girl scouts and after going to 5 different stores, she only had two that I approved of to choose from. Everything else looked like something you would wear to a nightclub. It was a bit depressing.
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Old 12-11-2007, 12:48 PM
 
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We put a little pair of shorts under dresses until they're old enough to be aware of flashing their undies.
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Old 12-11-2007, 01:08 PM
 
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I never "imposed" modest dressing on my kids- except to insist that all shirts have sleeves (for warmth in cooler weather and sun protection in hotter weather.) They often ran around in nothing but a diaper at home. And I don't think I put them in any dresses at all before they were walking consistenly. Basically, they had a lot of pants outfits when they were crawling, and when they learned how to walk they kept wearing the same clothes until they outgrew them, and then I got more dresses/fewer pants in the next size up. Both of my girls were mostly in dresses by 1.5 or so. If I had later walkers, I'd have kept them in pants longer.

By age 1.5 or 2 my girls WANTED to dress like Mommy- and anyway dresses are easier for potty-learning toddlers than separate pants and shirts are. It's also great for preschoolers who want to dress themselves- a dress can't clash the way a pair of pants and a shirt can!

Then I had a few years where we stopped being religious and the girls were in public school and they got used to wearing pants for school. I'm curious how their innate sense of modesty would have developed if they'd continued wearing skirts and dresses exclusively (though they always had pants for wearng under skirts, to be bundled up for snow play, etc) throughout childhood.

I still don't "impose" my standards of modesty on my kids. My 13yo voluntarily dresses modestly- she just isn't comfortable with her elbows showing, or with pants on, in mixed company. But she does own 1 pair of jeans she wears around the house (and wore in public for a time but now feels uncomfy doing that) and she sleeps in pajamas.

DD2 doesn't care about her elbows, and will wear loose-fitting pants for some activities, but in general prefers to wear skirts or dresses. I doubt she'll feel differently about her clothing in a few months when she's Bat Mitzvah'ed.

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Old 12-12-2007, 04:36 PM
 
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My daughter wears Salwar Kameez sets, very girlie and very modest, and comfortable for babies, toddlers and older.

Like these: http://www.thekrishnastore.com/Detai...&bar=_shp_kids
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Old 12-12-2007, 04:43 PM
 
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My daughter wears Salwar Kameez sets, very girlie and very modest, and comfortable for babies, toddlers and older.

Like these: http://www.thekrishnastore.com/Detai...&bar=_shp_kids
Oh, those are absolutely adorable. I can't wait until DD is old enough for one.

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Old 12-12-2007, 06:48 PM
 
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my older dd has been wearing skirts that cover the knee only since age 2 3/4 and elbows covered since age 3. she has never "flashed" anyone and would be embarassed to do so. she is very conscious of modesty b/c i dress modestly and we discuss it/ praise her for it. My dd2 is almost 2. the only discussion of modesty that i have with her is " no we cant nurse here, there are alot of people around it isnt modest (but we use the word tznius). adn she even understands. if she wears a dress she likes to cover her knees when she sits on the potty to show how tznius she is. she says (in her limmitted vocab) like mama and dd1. Perhaps the little girls who "flash" everyone in synogogue are wearing dresses to "dress up" and not to be modest and are not getting the value of modesty from the culture around them and their families - I think this would be the case if you are not talking about an orthodox synogogue, most Jews outside of certain orthodox in america have no consciousness of modesty and place little real value on it.
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Old 12-12-2007, 10:54 PM
 
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Perhaps the little girls who "flash" everyone in synagogue are wearing dresses to "dress up" and not to be modest and are not getting the value of modesty from the culture around them and their families - I think this would be the case if you are not talking about an orthodox synagogue, most Jews outside of certain orthodox in America have no consciousness of modesty and place little real value on it.
i think this is a really good point.

while we do dress up for church my children wear modest clothes and dresses all the time. even when we are alone at home (more or less). they learn from a young age to play and move modestly and to be mindful of that. (and for the record I don't think this has stifled them in any way. it is just a different norm. they are still able to play freely at the play ground and such. they have just learned how to move differently)

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Old 12-13-2007, 06:24 AM
 
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We do dresses only from age three here, although my 2-year-old hasn't worn pants, except under a dress or nightgown, in over a year. In my religious community, however, plenty of girls do wear pants up to age three.

I have to say that I haven't noticed my girls flashing much. I rarely see my two-year-old pull up her dress. She does have one dress that she enjoys taking off, I suppose because it has fun snaps down the front, but she otherwise remains quite modest.

My five-year-old is pretty mindful of how covered she is and it doesn't stop her from having fun at the playground. I don't harp about it, but I will occasionally make a comment to draw her attention to how a certain movement causes her body to become uncovered.

Mostly I just try to buy clothes that allow freedom of movement while still covering everything. I like jumpers with full skirts of just the right length. With the right clothes, there is no problem with sitting a certain way or playing rambunctiously. When the top and bottom are connected (as in a jumper or dress, rather than a skirt and shirt), there is no bare belly or back when arms are raised. If the length is long and full enough (but not so long as to be unsafe), legs remain covered in almost every position, excepting maybe upside down on the monkey bars.
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Old 12-13-2007, 06:30 AM
 
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I spent some of my childhood in a community that required skirts/dresses for girls and women. My two sisters were babies then, and were in dresses from newborn on. It didn't affect their development or activity level. Although I'm sure my youngest sister flashed occasionally, I don't remember it happening very often with any little girl, and all of them wore leggings or bloomers anyway. They learned very early on not to lift their dresses, because gentle reminders were part of every day life from their infancy on.
Now, they weren't particularly concerned about little girls tucking their skirts itno their bloomers to wade in streams, or hanging upside down from the play equipment, but again, there was always something underneath.
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Old 12-13-2007, 06:58 AM
 
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I put leggings or bloomers under my dd'd dress.

Moms for Modesty is a mission statement for mothers to dress their daughters modesty and to buy clothes from retailers that sell modest clothing. This is a very good thing, calling moms to make a commitment to buy clothing for their children that is G-d honoring.
Moms for Modesty Mission Statement
Quote:
* As a Mom for Modesty I believe in common-sense modesty for girls and young women.
* I believe in refraining from sexualizing
our girls and young women.
* I believe that it is unwise and unfair
to taunt boys and young men by permitting
my daughter(s) to dress in an immodest manner.
* I believe that true beauty comes from within and I strive to teach my daughter(s) this truth.
* I will loyally shop at retailers that provide girls' and young womens clothing
that is modest, affordable and stylish.
Retailers that sell modest clothing:
Lands' End <--- I this site! Its where I get dd dresses.
Gymboree
Old Navy

I want to say more but I need to rest now.
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Old 12-13-2007, 07:05 AM
 
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We switched my twins to dresses when they started gan this year. We were in NYC last year with my mother who is very oppoesd to dresses, it's the one BT thing that *really* bugs her, so it just wasn't worth the fight. They turned 3 in Feb and when I got their summer clothes it was all skirts / dresses / jumpers.

Rivka pretty much exclusivly wore dresses from the same time (the girls pants from last year are too big for her, and most of the ones from 2 years ago are too small), but she does have a few pairs of pants that fit her right that she does wear. When it gets too warm for pants though she will be in skirts, and she won't be wearing pants next winter.

We allow short sleeves here until 6. I never really thought about it much, but the standard in this neighborhood is short sleeves until 6 (when they start 1st grade the school requires covered elbows and I think it's a mixed message. I don't wear short sleaves but I'm not making an issue of it yet with the girls). This neighborhood has a pretty wide standard of dress. Some of the girls in their gan do wear pants, and if the twins ask to wear pants out of the house I just explain that it's okay for X, and it's okay for Rivka because she's not in gan yet and still little, but they are big girls almost 4 and mommy doesn't wear pants either (though some of the mommys here do)

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Old 12-13-2007, 08:39 AM
 
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this is NOT a halachic issue, btw. I challenge anyone to give me halacha on it. Pants, if modest, are a fine option.

dd(almost 3) wears both, and usually both together (her choice). She has some "mini" skirts (too small/short) that she wears w/ sweatpants. No prob there either.

Age 3 is the "magic" age, maybe because chinuch is supposed to begin there?

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Old 12-13-2007, 11:02 AM
 
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We also start modest dress at 3 - out of the house. I am a bit more lenient at home. They are taught that they are now big girls and this is how big girls dress. For the most part they wanted to dress like mommy and how the other big girls dress at shul, so it wasn't a problem. They often wear leggings under their skirts.

From what I have seen with people who start with older kids it is harder to get them into modest clothes at 8 or 9. My daughter is 8 and it would never even occur to leave the house immodest, whereas a friend of hers is just starting to be more encouraged to wear modest dress and she is fighting it tooth and nail.

But for the original question, I wouldn't put a baby/toddler in modest clothes as it is just not really necessary at that age and would cause more problems than it solves.
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Old 12-13-2007, 08:37 PM
 
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This is slightly off topic, but in the same vein.

I have been looking high and low for some modest panties for my three year old, and I am not having any luck. The "full-briefs" that I find in the department stores do not cover her bum all the way. They are not modest, and they are not comfortable... she discovered her brothers underwear the other day and now only wants to wear "boy underwear" because they are so much more comfortable!

I would like to get her some comfortable, modest underwear... can anyone here point me in the right direction?
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Old 12-13-2007, 11:32 PM
 
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In agreement with Yonit, BY here. I started the girls in skirts/dresses around age 3. Both dd's have polarfleece snow pants. Dd2 (now 4) frequently wears leggings under dresses; dd1 who is 7 rarely does -- she has a uniform for school and in the summer she wears skirts that cover her knees.

She started covering her elbows also in summer last summer (before 2nd grade) and that seems to be the standard here.

She has no issue with it, knows what "tznius" (modesty) is about. IT's not about "sexiness" or viewing a child's body that way (G-d forbid) but more about making a very discrete distinction between what should be public and what should be private.

She sometimes wears bike shorts under her skirts but she and her friends play very hard on the playground and/or at camp (no one can beat her friends' team at Machanayim thankyouverymuch -- a weird form of dodgeball) and noone seems to have any trouble with skirts flying around/flashing. They do monkey bars too. (then again, it's an all-girls' camp and they also swim 2x a day etc.).

Anyway. dd2 who is 4 wears leggings, bike shorts, or tights under her dresses/skirts and is fine. She also plays quite hard with no problem, and at the same time understands quite clearly what tznius is and why we do it in our family/community.

(I : Lands End, LL Bean, and Hanna on sale for great tznius girls' wear).

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Old 12-13-2007, 11:49 PM
 
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Melibee, check out the "classic" girl's underpants at HannaAndersson.com. They have comfortable, covered seams like boy's underwear, and are modest. They are expensive but are supposed to last a long time.

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Old 12-14-2007, 02:46 AM
 
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this is NOT a halachic issue, btw. I challenge anyone to give me halacha on it. Pants, if modest, are a fine option.
Yes, it is a halachic issue. Nearly all types of pants, excepting perhaps very wide trousers that look like a skirt, show were the upper legs divide, which is considered very immodest for a woman (Rashi, Pesochim 3a s.v. b'Zov Responsa Shevet Halevi 6:118:2).

Also, some authorities consider pants, no matter how loose, modest, or feminine to transgress the issur (prohibition) of lo silbash (that is that women may not wear clothes suited to and worn by men). Even though pants have become acceptable clothing for women in the past century and pants are manufactured specifically for women in women's styles, in Western culture, they are not traditionally considered women's clothing. Apparently, the Chazon Ish is of this opinion (Orchos Rabbeinu, Vol. One, page 226 and Mekoros 46:2).

Now, I know there are other authorities who do not agree with these views, and one can follow those opinions, but to say there is no halachic issue with pants is incorrect.

My sources all come from Rabbi Falk's book (which is, btw, considered to be "intense" by many); I'd have no idea how to look this stuff up otherwise.
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Old 12-14-2007, 05:09 AM
 
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Melibee, check out the "classic" girl's underpants at HannaAndersson.com. They have comfortable, covered seams like boy's underwear, and are modest. They are expensive but are supposed to last a long time.
DashsMama, I see that you're in Portland. Have you been to the Hanna Outlet in Lake Oswego? Is it actually an outlet? Would it be worth my driving from Vancouver for?

Sorry to disrupt your thread.... I just felt like you ladies would be helpful, and you were very helpful. Thank you for your responses!
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Old 12-15-2007, 06:49 PM
 
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**Disclaimer: I do not generally dress modestly. In fact, even with my long, very tznius skirts and occasionally covered hair, I tend to wear shirts that would make tznius women avert their eyes. **

That said-- I've got two little girls who vastly prefer to wear dresses or jumpers to pants (the older in particular) and I have issue with the sexualization of children. The girls want to be comfortable, and I want them to look cute, so that's what they get-- cute. BooBah prefers soft cotton dresses, and is very unhappy if they don't come to mid-calf length or longer (no idea why). Bella likes jumpers, and tends to dress in layers-- while for BooBah, any dress or jumper is fine without an undershirt or turtleneck as far as she's concerned, Bella will have you dress her head to toe in something else and pull a jumper over it. She likes to wear layers and layers. She's 20 months old and far and away the least verbal of my children, yet she has never flashed anyone (and even if I did, she's inevitably wearing pants under her jumpers).

Sleep & play suits have legs, and every frum family I've ever known has put those on babies, boys and girls alike. It's not reasonable (or at all modest, really) to put a crawling child in a skirt, either. Once they start walking, things are often different but crawling babies wear pants/shorts, in my experience.

We really can't afford Hanna or Land's End or anything like that, but we've had great luck finding appropriate clothing in Lancaster county because of the huge Anabaptist population. Check out Weaver's Store, and ask some of the mennonite women there how they deal with modesty for little girls-- I've seen all sorts of solutions. I also have to agree with the posters who said that girls who wear dresses occasionally are very different from girls who wear them all the time-- the flashing problem has to do more with the novelty than the fact that they're wearing dresses.

Rynna, Mama to Bean (8), Boobah (6), Bella (4) and Bear (2)
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Old 12-17-2007, 07:58 AM
 
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Originally Posted by jul511riv View Post
this is NOT a halachic issue, btw. I challenge anyone to give me halacha on it. Pants, if modest, are a fine option.
i think there is only one halachic authority who permits pants i dont remember if it is rav ovadia yoseph or rav eliyahu (although i am inclined to think it is rav eliyahu). But this is a bedi-avad heter. It is permissable buyt not the ideal. He permits women to wear loose fitting pants as an alternative to short skirts. i beleive this is a heter that was written after women started doing this. perhaps as a way to judge favorably the masses.
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Old 12-17-2007, 01:57 PM
 
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perhaps as a lesser of two evils.

The truest answer to violence is love. The truest answer to death is life. The only prevention for violence is for the heart to have no violence within it.  We cannot prevent evil through any system devised by mankind. But we can grapple with evil and defeat it, but only with love—real love.

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