I’m writing a paper for my [disappointing but at its core awesome] archives and social memory class about Quaker women and plain dress. I keep coming across the sexualizing of Quaker women in interesting ways, from the 17th century to the present. An article by Jennifer Connerly in Material Religion, vol. 2, issue 2, discusses America’s love affair with the imaginary silent, beautiful Quaker woman.
“At the turn of the century, the rapidly shifting culture of the United States had come to prize individuality, fashion, self-determinism, and the shifting roles of a bold new woman—but retained a hazy love affair with a woman imagined, by virtue of her covered body and face, as the potential antithesis of all these new values. This missing Quaker woman was neither a feminist nor even outspoken; she was an open and compliant symbol for pious femininity of the past.”
See how this continues today:
From Vogue Italia, clothing purchased from a store that sells to Mennonite, Amish and plain Quaker women and men.