Modesty isn't an absolute. Modesty revolves so much around culture and the atmosphere in which societies exist. Clothing was made for the climate. Middle Eastern culture demanded long clothing that protected the skin from prolonged exposure to the desert sun. Western culture and the changing job market evolved with the new times and skirts shrunk as women entered the workforce.
Recently a survey, from University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research
, conducted in seven countries (Tunisia, Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Lebanon) addresses this idea of women's dress and what was felt to be acceptable. "Only in Turkey and Lebanon do more than one-in-four think it is appropriate for a woman to not cover her head at all in public." (Pew Research
It's an incredibly interesting insight into Middle Eastern culture and adds to the level of understanding about why head coverings are still in practice. Although modesty remains relative to culture and country it is notable that most countries place strict societal norms on what women wear and what is acceptable in public. Although its less visible in the United States, you can still catch little snippets when a celebrity appears on the red carpet or out in public with more showing than is "acceptable."
A growing majority in Middle Eastern countries, however, is more and more favorable of women having the right to choose her clothing. The University of Michigan's survey sheds a great deal of light upon changes that are taking place in the Middle East. The opinions of the survey takers might be that a woman should be able to choose a different covering for her face and head or that she could go without any head covering...
What should be remembered though is that attacking a cultural norm like clothing isn't beneficial and it hardly ever works. The United States and the rest of the west remain in a less than honorable position as our magazines feature celebrities and models that are barely even clothed. Perhaps we have lost touch with modesty and respect for our bodies. But then again...what is modesty? It falls in line with that ever irking question of "what's perfect?"