Encyclopedia > Modesty

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Modesty describes a set of culturally determined values that relate to the presentation of the self to others. Modesty is closely related to shame and humility.

It can describe:

  • playing down or not mentioning one's own accomplishments, sometimes to the point of "false modesty", a form of boasting through excessive self-denigration;
  • the wish or requirement not to expose too much of the human body; this applies to the bare skin, but also to the display of undergarment, and especially to the intimate parts; this is accomplished by suitable clothing, special ways of changing clothes (see beach), closing or locking the door when changing or taking a shower[?], etc.; it varies according to who could see it, with categories such as:
    • spouse, partner
    • friend or family of the same sex
    • strangers of the same sex
    • friends or family including those of the opposite sex
    • people in general
If exposure is restricted, how much exposure is acceptable varies greatly, from nothing for some women, to everything except the glans penis for men of some tribes, see foreskin.

A derogatory term is prudishness.

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