Using a dynamic definition of modesty, a psychic movement alternating between veiling, unveiling, and re-veiling, the author attempts to show how the current re-veiling of Moslem women is not, as claimed, the effect of a movement of modesty. It is even opposed to modesty, both because it implies a fixed gaze, and because instead of allowing female desire to express itself without advertising itself, it entirely negates and even tries to eradicate it.
The so-called Islamic veil is less religious than cultural in origin. The pubescent girl hides the hair on her head as she hides her body hair, because the sight of them is reserved for just one man.
Because the Ego can only be projected image of the subject through its multiple representation, its various “ garments ” it can only be imaginarily sustained by the Other, the Other’s gaze. Clothing and its problematization in adolescence are a way of grasping oneself back from the Other’s gaze, in a renewed quest (like an after effect of the mirror stage) for approval and confirmation of one’s image from the Other. In this way the adolescent’s relationship with clothing may be perceived as a necessary phase when gazes are recombined in order to construct what we call a visage, within the difficult meeting of these gazes. Thus we propose that clothing be thought of as the place of a process of visage-ification affecting subject and object, a process through which the meeting of gazes is played out again and put into dialectical form.