Thursday, December 19, 2013

Personally, I'd rather be a potato

I have read a number of books on the subject of tzniut since becoming frum.  The most infamous, Modesty--An Adornment for Life by the obsessive (and possibly pervy) Rabbi Eliyahu Falk I've only glanced through, because it's almost encyclopedic.  I've also read Daughters of Dignity, 6 Stories, and Seams and Souls.  Along with the laws, one usually runs across the following scenario:
"Imagine going into a jewelry store to buy a diamond bracelet.  You are buzzed in, and the diamonds are locked away under glass.  Now, imagine buying a potato.  They're out in the open, for anyone to take.  Would you rather be a diamond, or a potato?"
The implication, of course, is that we would rather be a diamond.  Diamonds are rare and precious, and must be hidden away.  But anyone can just take up a potato.  They're cheap and readily available.(Am I the only one who senses a slight rape culture vibe in that statement?)
But let's consider each.
Like us, both diamonds and potatoes contain carbon.  But the similarity ends there.  Diamonds, unless they're used in saws (and the ones that ends up in jewelry do not), are purely ornamental.  They are meant to be shown off and then locked away.  Moreover, they usually say, "Look at me!  I'm pretty!  I'm expensive!  I have value!"  I would not call that very modest, or even very practical.
However, potatoes are both modest and practical.  They are completely unassuming, drawing no attention to themselves whatsoever.  Moreover, they are living entities!  They can reproduce by themselves.  (Potato plants are usually grown from pieces of potatoes, rather than seeds.).  Moreover, they are food.  They provide energy and some nutrients.
Now, I happen to take umbrage at being compared (and therefore reduced to) an inanimate object.  However, given this rather bizarre little dichotomy, I think I'd rather be a potato.

(HT Love Joy Feminism for the image)


  1. Great point. A potato has intrinsic value; a diamond's value is artificial, made up by society. (I know some diamonds are used for industrial purposes, but they are not the pretty ones).


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