‘this must be so exhausting’

An Orthodox Jewish woman is chronicling her search for “modest clothing” at popular department stores.

On July 25, Sophia (@sophiathejew), who, per her TikTok bio is a “Latina Orthodox Jew,” shared a video showcasing her try-on haul of Target’s “modest selections” for this summer. In addition to her content related to modest clothing, Sophia also posts tutorials for putting on wigs, kosher recipes and “day in the life” vlogs.

“I’m an Orthodox Jew. I only wear shirts that cover my elbows and skirts and dresses that cover my knees. I also personally don’t wear any pants at all,” she says. “I heard there’s been a little bit of controversy over Target not having any modest clothing, but right now I’m in Target and I’m going to see if they have anything modest up to my standards.”

As Sophia explains, Orthodox women abide by a set of rules that outline what they are to wear. The elbows, the knees and the collarbone must be covered, and clothes mustn’t be too tight on the body.

Orthodox Judaism isn’t the only religion that observes modesty rules. Islam, Sikhism and Christian denominations like the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormonism) and Mennonites also follow a code of modesty.

Aubrey (@aubrey.fails), for example, is a TikTok creator who is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Much of her content consists of get ready with me videos and “modest/garment friendly” fit checks.

Fizz Khan (@fizzkhan52) is a Muslim content creator who specializes in posting modest fashion inspiration.

Angelina Maria (@angelinamaria_04), is an ex-Mennonite who educates her followers on commonly asked questions, like whether or not Mennonite women wear makeup and her decision to forego traditional Mennonite cape dresses.

What Sophia does especially well with her platform, on which she has more than 195,600 followers, is her unique use of fashion content as a gateway into her culture. She creates a wide range of videos pertaining to Orthodox Judaism, and has managed to capture the attention of a wide audience of viewers through her modest clothing videos.

As the video continues, Sophia surveys Target’s dress selection and picks out a long purple slip dress with spaghetti straps, followed by a shorter, sparkly V-neck dress.

“So this covers your knees but it’s got it all open here on top,” she explains. “So none of these would work for me unless I wore a shirt underneath, which I wouldn’t do.”

She comes across a brown zebra-print blazer and then a brown knit sweater, both of which she’s reluctant to purchase. Sophia then finds a cream-colored slip skirt, but is concerned about its side slit.

“I like this dress but I would need to wear something underneath it,” she says. “But for this dress, maybe it would work.”

Sophia then tries on a black slip dress paired with a lilac-cropped cardigan on top.

“I found a few things that could possibly be modest,” she says. “This is one of those slip dresses that don’t have any sleeves on top. [I] put one of their cropped cardigans on top and I like the sleeves. This dress, even though it’s really long, there’s a slit down here and it goes all the way up there, so it doesn’t work.”

According to Tamara Fulton, a London-based lifestyle editor and fashion stylist who married an Orthodox rabbi, the Hebrew word tzniut has been translated to “modesty” in English, but there’s more to it than that.

“‘Tzniut‘ is the word in Judaism that is slightly mistranslated to mean simply ‘modesty,’ but it’s not just about modest dressing,” Fulton explained to CNN. “Tzniut applies to both men and women, and is based upon the concept of humility. It’s really about how you are in the world, and how you carry yourself in a reserved but dignified manner.”

Sophia has posted a series of TikTok videos that document her hunt for appropriate, modest clothing and footwear, at stores like TJ Maxx, Zara and Nordstrom Rack.

‘It’s really hard to find modest clothing at target in the summer!’

Sophia’s more recent video, documenting her trip to Target, has more than 3.1 million views and 259,500 likes in one day of posting. Based on her comments, many users question why she doesn’t get the slits tailored or stitch them herself.

“This must be so exhausting,” commented.

“It’s really hard to find modest clothes at target in the summer!” @niki_weinstock wrote.

“Do you ever buy items with slits and have them sewn or do you typically only buy things that are already 100% modest?” @hayleycavanaugh asked, to which Sophia replied, “I don’t like having to make the trip to the tailor tbh so I try to avoid it as much as possible.”

Fashion, for Sophia, seems to provide an accessible look into her faith and one of the unique avenues through which she’s able to connect and appeal to an audience that may consist of creators from different backgrounds.

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