Happy April Fools' Day! Assuming you can call it a happy day. Personally, I'm not a fan because I'm a gullible person. Remembering that it's April Fools' Day is half the battle: I'm going to assume every person is a liar today.
Fridays have apparently become my soapbox day, where I write about whatever's on my mind.
Today, tznius is on my mind. The weather is getting warmer in California (yay!), which means that my tznius clothing is getting hotter (boo!). I've always been a very modest (aka, bodily self-conscious) dresser, so dressing tzniusly wasn't as big of a change as I had expected.
Honestly, my new concern with the heat makes no sense. I began dressing tzniusly full-time (as a conscious decision) last April, so I've dealt with the sweltering hot summer already. (Last summer had many days with 110+ degree weather!) I don't know why I'm worrying about this when I know better. I'll be just fine, despite the disbelief of my skin-bearing friends. I wondered whether anyone would notice or whether I would look unusual in the hot California weather in my sweater sets. Because it is relevant, you should know that I dress to a pretty strict tznius level: elbows covered, high necklines, and skirts below the knees and with no slits. (However, pantyhose are evil.)
So all this had me thinking, particularly when combined with a potential shomer negiah mindfield today. It didn't come up today, but people are often surprised that I am shomer negiah or purposely dressing tzniusly. (A key piece of advice: You don't have to be a jerk about it!) I thought about how differently people might treat me if I were male, and thus, wore a kippah (yarmulke) as I became observant. I think I would be viewed very differently on campus. Being on a law school campus and in professional employment, my tznius wardrobe isn't out of place at all. My classmates generally think I'm coming from work, and approximately 90% of my wardrobe is fine for business casual use. How would things be different if I lived a less "professional" lifestyle? I thought these changes would be huge, but they've been a blip on the radar. Your mileage can, and will, vary.
Perhaps as a reaction to these thoughts about how different things could be, I've worn my star of David to work for the first time this week. Normally, I avoid wearing anything to work that would identify me as a Jew in order to avoid any prejudices my clients may have. After all, a lawyer (and future lawyer) should appear neutral, and I have to do whatever I can to inspire my clients' trust. There's no reason to unnecessarily alienate a client based upon his or her prejudices. (On the other hand, do I really want the business of someone who hates me? I suppose I won't be able to be picky as a new lawyer.) As a future professional, I've seriously considered keeping my English name and maiden name as my professional name simply because it inspires little prejudice. It's even gender neutral! (Of course, already being published under that name is also a serious reason to keep it as a professional name.) These are the dilemmas that converts face, I suppose.
On the other hand, while my appearance and behavior isn't considered unusual in my school and employment, I was asked in Starbucks in NYC where the boundaries of the eruv are. From the perspective of another orthodox Jew, this total stranger looked like someone who would know the local eruv. To be fair, even though I don't live in the area, I could still answer the question :D
All very interesting to think about. To me, anyway. Perspective is everything, folks.
In other news, Pesach cleaning isn't going so well. Chametz eating, on the other hand, is going quite well. After several weeks, my appetite is finally back and the stress nausea is gone.