Tuesday, May 22, 2007


Trollope, Hepburn, Geiger

(our panel of experts)

Today I was signing up for rental insurance, so I decided to zip through quotes from reflectionfortheday.com while Alon was creating my customer profile.

I got to this quote:

She knew how to allure by denying, and to make rich the gift by denying it.
- Anthony Trollope
British writer (1815-1882)

and it gave me pause. It was fitting, because I had just been browing facebook (yes, yes, killer of a day), and came upon the group "modest is hottest." The whole quote brings to mind some Victorian lady in a billowey pretty dress, with buttons up to the neck, and a parasol, who can say the world and make promises with her eyes.

The rest of us, well, we can't keep our mouths shut, and put it all on the table, while wearing really, really cute semi-revealing outfits.

This is a topic that has been on my mind lately...the battle between wanting to want modesty and enjoying wearing things that aren't particularly modest.

My dress today is an example of that issue. It's quite low-cut. But it's super cute. According to the modest is hottest group guidelines, it's pretty whore-like. And I'm sure Anthony Trollope would fling banana cream pie at me, or something similar that indicated disgust in the 1800s. And after looking at that website, and reading the Trollope quote, I did have a moment of, "hmm. Am I conducting myself with comportment unbecoming of a lady? And how do I feel about that?"

With those thoughts twirling, I kept pushing on through the quotes, and came upon this gem of a one:

If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun.
- Katherine Hepburn
American actress (1907-2003)

Paradoxes keep life interesting. Make oneself alluring by denying and creating a mystery...or throwing it into the wind, screwing up a bit, but still having a blast?

Also, now that I'm re-reading this...it's interesting that the value of the "gift" appears to be based solely upon its unattainability. As in, it's all about the chase. And sure, the guy is getting into the "gift" because it's being denied to him, but where's the fun for the girl? She's probably bored stiff, just leading on some awkward Victorian bachelor because it's the thing to do, while she's secretly lusting after the rakish guy who breaks all the rules of society by consorting about town with unreputable females (played in the movie version of my blog by Me, C-note, and E).

Or something.

There's a line from "For You I Will (Confidence)" by Teddy Geiger, and it goes:

"nothing tastes as sweet as what I-"

and I always expect him to say

"have planned."

But, the line is,

"nothing tastes as sweet as what I can't have."

Later in the song, he sings/exclaims "You always want what you can't have!!"

TOTALLY different from my expectations. I've thought a lot about this, and really, I'm not into what I can't have. I think I decide what I want, then try to get it, and if it doesn't happen, I move on. The desirabilty of the item does not increase if I can't get it. If anything, the desirability of the item decreases. Some might call it sour grapes...I call it adjusted desires. Why want what I can't have? It seems like a recipe for unfulfillment.

So, what type of person are you? The one who likes the gift made rich by denying, or the kind that moves on to the next big thing? Are you a Trollope, Hepburn, or Geiger?

(Taking into account that Trollope and Hepburn's quotes aren't mutually exclusive, even though I treated them as such...)

hahaha, i'm totally in that group! i think modesty is more a state of being rather than simply a style of dress. it's how you carry yourself overall that matters, i think. how you dress is just a part of that (and there is much much much debate over what, specifically, is considered modest as far as dress goes).

i don't think modesty is really about making yourself unattainable or about torturing poor victorian gentlemen with what they can't have (okay maybe once in a while - house of mirth, anyone???). ultimately, it's about how YOU relate to yourself, and what comes out of that is how the world sees you.

that was long-winded.
Look what breaking the rules got hepburn, she's dead! She loses!
I know that the word modest can be interpreted in many different ways, so I went online to Merriam-Webster to get an "official" definition of what modest means. And here's what I found:

1 a : placing a moderate estimate on one's abilities or worth b : neither bold nor self-assertive : tending toward diffidence

If that's what it means to be modest, count me out. I think too often we confuse self respect and dignity with being a "modest person".

Put me in the category with Katherine!

And on a side note, Meg I am sure that your dress is more than appropriate, you're not really someone who dresses to show skin off.

Sorry I was kind of all over the place on that one.. .running out the door!
You know what word should be used more often? RAKISH. Remind me to use that at work! :)
You weren't being a whore with the dress, you were showing off your assets. Unlike the girls of the 1800, we don't have men our daddy's set up to marry us off (at least, I don't and I'm assuming you don't either) for their fortune, so we have to use our own... ahem, fortunes.
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