Hi, my name is Fence, and I used to be a tznius fanatic.
Yes, you read that right, the author of this OTD blog who now wears pants and short sleeves whenever she can get away with it, used to be really into tznius--for years. I practically had Oz V'hadar Levusha memorized and was makpid on everything from covering my head (I kept my hair covered at all times except when showering) to covering my toes (opaque tights, "aidel" shoes, etc). I also learned the mekoros from tznius inside halachic sefarim, and would readily debate and defend my tznius standards whenever asked.
Despite what many people who know me speculate, I did not go off the derech because of frustration from keeping such a high standard of tznius. This was not a case of taking on too much and then confusing chumra and minhag. As I said, I learned mekoros and knew full well that many of the things that I kept were in fact chumros.
So, what happened?
I believe very strongly in acting in a way that is consistent with the way that one believes. I decided to become frum as a young teenager because I believed that the Torah was true and therefore felt that it was wrong not to keep it. Despite the tremendous difficulties that it involved, I took on one mitzvah at a time until I was fully shomer mitzvos, or since of course no one can keep all the taryag mitzvos, as observant as possible.
As tznius--or to a lesser extent, the equivalent for men, yiddishe levush--is the ultimate external representation of ones beliefs to the world, I viewed this mitzvah as particularly important. Therefore, I was extremely bothered by frum people who did not keep tznius properly. I viewed frum people who believed in the halachic system, including the principle of "minhag yisrael Torah hee", yet dressed in a manner totally inconsistent with halacha, as the ultimate hypocrites. How could I have respected someone who believes that there is a God-given objective truth, yet chooses to openly violate it to fulfill a taavah to follow fashion? So, yes, not only was I makpid on tznius, I was also intolerant of those who were not.
However, as I grew older and circumstances led me to start questioning Judaism, I ran into a problem. At first I held steadfastly to tznius even while breaking shabbos, because tznius had become so important to me that I could not bear to deviate from it. Yet as time went on and the dichotomy between my beliefs and the way I dressed grew wider, I could not bear it any longer. My way of dress had to change. But, as I was and still am living in the frum community, it could not change completely without harming my family. So, I joined the ranks of the not-quite-tznius frummies whom I had once despised. But I have started dressing in a truly secular manner at college and wherever else I can get away with it, in order to minimize the need to live a double life.
As I walk down the street in questionably-tznius, yet frum-looking clothing, I can't help but wonder if there is a young woman out there looking at me with the same disdain that I once felt towards others. If there is, then she is somewhat right. I am a hypocrite, but not in the way that she thinks.
What goes around, comes around.