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Michigan Psychoanalytic Institute & Society

WebMD: Is Modesty Dead?

Finding modesty in U.S. society is becoming harder as Americans become more consumed with the rich, famous -- and vain.

by Denise Mann
January 9, 2006

Webster's dictionary defines immodesty as offending against sexual mores in conduct or appearance; indecent; boastful, and arrogant. Think Donald Trump, or former Eagles wide receiver Terrell Owens doing a dance after he makes a touchdown.

By contrast, the dictionary defines modesty as the lack of pretentiousness; simplicity and/or freedom from vanity or conceit. With shows like American Idol and The Apprentice that involve participants vying for attention and status, and role models like Trump and Owens, it's much easier to conjure up images of the immodest today than the modest.

When we are told we need to have positive images of ourselves to feel good and we need to be promoting ourselves at work to be sure we are recognized, where does modesty fit in anyway? Is modesty dead? Does it even matter if it is?

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