A Letter to J.Lo and Shakira

Dear Jennifer and Shakira,

       My husband and I are not football fans so we didn’t watch the 2020 Super Bowl. Of course we didn’t see the halftime show either. But we heard about it on social media. It was a big deal. So big, in fact, that even before game day, there were those who were looking forward to the halftime show even more than the game itself.

       Honestly, I was disappointed about what I heard about your show afterward. Instead of people talking about your singing and dancing talents and your creativity, people were talking about your provocative gyrating and your revealing costumes. And I felt bad about that. Your talents deserve to be in the spotlight and not be obscured by cheap gimmicks.

       I don’t follow either one of you very closely but I have heard wonderful things about your creativity and your performing talents. So why aren’t you celebrating those? Why instead are you using cheap gimmicks to distract from them as if they’re not worth anything?

       In Judaism, we have a concept called tzniut. There’s no exact translation into English. Most call it modesty. I prefer to use the word dignity. What it means is that we use our external trappings to reflect who we are as real people. When it comes to appearance, it means that we cover ourselves and use our clothes to reflect our personalities.

       The concept of tzniut teaches that when we wear clothes that are too revealing, it screams louder than everything else. When people see your body, they can’t focus on any other aspects of you. Of course that’s no excuse to treat anyone with disrespect, but it’s hypocritical to put your body on display and then tell people not to notice.

       Before anyone starts screaming at me about how I dare to say that you should be ashamed of your respective bodies, let me clarify that I would never say any such thing. You two have obviously been taking very good care of your bodies and your good health and energy deserve to be celebrated. But your intelligence, creativity, and performing talents (which, as I hear it, have only gotten better with time and practice) all deserve to be celebrated as well.

       Plus, even the compliments about your respective bodies- “she’s older but she’s still got it” and “she’s older but she’s still hot”- come off a little backhanded. Why should your age be an issue? Why can’t people just say things like “she’s beautiful” and “she’s amazing” without any mention of age?

       The good news is that with true tzniut, you can use your appearance to have it all. You can wear clothes that cover you tastefully but that also fit and flatter (to celebrate your good health and energy) and that are colorful and fun and reflect your style (to celebrate your intelligence and creativity and anything else about your persons). There’s nothing more empowering than that.

       Ladies, I hope that when each of you makes your next public appearance, you’re feeling better about your selves and you decide to celebrate that.  

About the Author
Meira E. Schneider-Atik is a wardrobe stylist, personal shopper, and writer/blogger. Her goal is to help women feel good about themselves and to dispel the myths about tzniut and dressing well. Her heart is in Eretz Yisrael, but for now, she and her family live in Queens, NY.