A friend recently sent me to a video advertisement for Pristiq, an anti-depressant. Click on the picture below to go to the 1-minute video (the video's poster has blocked embedding on Blogger):
Pristiq's "wind-up doll" ad campaign has been criticized for various sins over the past few years, but my friend's point was unique: In this ad, all four of the depressed women wear long skirts and long sleeves. All four of the happy women wear pants or shorts, and two of them have no sleeves.
Of course, a commercial for medication is not a planned statement against the tzanua [perhaps best translated as "private"] attire traditional among observant Jews. However, I think this ad demonstrates a negative social stereotype which casts tzanua dress in a bad light. As reflected in this ad, people tend to view long skirts and long sleeves as signs of negative body image, or avoiding the world's gaze.
This is upsetting, of course. From a traditional Jewish perspective, being private - with one's body, one's thoughts, one's life - is an active choice, designed to promote self-development and a strong relationship with Gd. Tzanua conduct isn't supposed to be about flight from the world or a sign of insecurity. Tzniut is a healthy lifestyle decision, whether regarding the way one dresses, or the way one speaks, or the way one socializes.
I find the message this ad sends regarding tzanua dress, and tzanua conduct in general, depressing.