Last week, we learned that Jessa Duggar will be holding a seminar on modest dress at the upcoming Middletown Women’s Retreat in Ohio.
The reaction to this was mostly negative, for a number of reasons.
Many fans had hoped (against hope) that as they left the nest and started families of their own, Jessa and her sisters would forge their own path.
In a broader sense, but also in specific ways.
Basically, moving away from the ultra-conservative, inherently misogynistic teachings they were raised with – starting with how they dress.
Sadly, it seems Jessa shares her parents’ belief that it is a woman’s role to “cover up” as to prevent any sexual temptation to men they encounter.
For obvious reasons, the Duggars’ philosophy on proper attire doesn’t sit well with many fans, even those who like and support them regularly.
For one thing, the notion that women are to blame for lecherous behavior or even criminal sexual misconduct on the part of men is absurd.
Beyond that, it’s backwards and offensive.
The Duggars have been accused of teaching their children that sexual assault victims are often to blame for the actions of their attackers.
Indirectly, it seems Jessa intends to perpetuate this.
Many see the bizarre level of secrecy surrounding her speaking engagement as proof positive that it will be controversial and polarizing.
Girls and under nine and males of all ages are forbidden to attend, and an online description for the event was pulled as soon as it sold out.
But there’s a bigger reason fans are up in arms:
Others object to the seminar on the grounds that Jessa is contradicting herself by charging fans $20-50 a seat to hear her lecture on modesty.
The irony is not lost on Duggar Nation.
“Being paid to talk about your modest lifestyle seems like an oxymoron,” commented one fan said on The Duggar Family Blog.
“It feels immodest to talk about how modest you are,” wrote another, echoing a familiar criticism of the famously conservative family.
Other fans took a less philosophical approach to the issue, claiming that it’s hypocritical for Jessa to discuss modest attire.
Why? Simply because in the eyes of some members of the community, she doesn’t always dress all that modestly herself:
“Will Jessa be discussing modest attire while pregnant?” a fan asked. “Everyone has seen her too tight, overstretched T-shirts hardly modest.”
When there’s a baby growing inside you and your body gets huge, obviously some clothing is going to fit a little more snugly.
See photo above. Short of tossing on a burlap sack to disguise the fact that curves are a thing that exist, it’s pretty darn modest.
Moreover, has anyone seen the Jessa Duggar swimsuit photo below? That is serious commitment to not showing skin there.
In a POOL. No less.
Either way, clearly, the Duggars made a major PR miscalculation either way, as there’s not a lot of positive feedback coming her way.
The outcry also brings to mind the controversy that ensued in 2015 when Jessa and Ben Seewald asked fans for cash as “wedding presents.”
Of course, this time, there’s the added unseemliness of Jessa publicly espousing the ideas on poverty and chastity taught to her by her parents.
Say what you will about Jim Bob and Michelle, but the fact that they raised and sheltered a sex criminal for more than a decade is …
Well, factual. That is a thing that happened.
It’s clear that to the Counting On clan, the Josh Duggar sex crimes and the belief system that may have led to them are a distant memory.
Many fans don’t see it that way, however.
Every time they see this family attempting to get even richer by peddling a fraudulent, “wholesome” ideal, the controversy is revitalized.
No photo of Jinger Duggar wearing pants, as delightful a change of pace as that may be, is going to change this broader perception.