Is it possible to dress too modestly? Or, rather, should anyone be allowed to wear full burkhas with face veils in Canada? I really dislike this picture, by the way.
Ignore for a moment the fact that many women are forced into wearing burkhas, as it probably is true that some choose to wear it of their own free will. In their view, a woman showing her face is immodest and provocative. We generally respond to this with something along the lines of, "You're in Canada now. Your face is fine. Deal with it." As far as I am aware, a woman must show her face in certain situations, like when she is pulled over by a police officer for speeding. He has to verify that she is who she says she is, and she can't demand to show only a female because there may not be a female officer present.
But suppose we head down to the jungle of Ecuador somewhere and we come across a village where the people wear g-strings and precious little else. It is certainly counter-cultural to then wear a standard amount of Western clothing. We would probably be quite uncomfortable taking off our clothes just to fit in with the locals. Yet, what if we were required by law to bare all? Is that fair? What if beaches in Canada required all swimmers to wear bikinis or speedos and nothing else? I suspect there would be some backlash.
Apart from being oppressive and dehumanizing, the thing about face veils is that they can actually prove to be a security risk. For all we know, it could be a man under there using the veil as a way to get into some place he shouldn't be. Or perhaps it is a female, after all, but the not the female who is supposed to be taking the exam or who has the license to drive (naturally, this is only a problem in more Westernized nations where women are allowed to take exams and drive). And I wouldn't be surprised if you could smuggle a bazooka into a school under a burkha.
But then, if we start considering clothing as security risks, things get silly fast. Bulky clothing itself can be a problem, because of how easy it is to smuggle something in under a full skirt or a hoodie. In warmer climates, this problem could be fixed by having everyone join a nudist colony. In Canada, however, we would quickly end up a bunch of naked popsicles. I suspect that the best way to combat this would be to have electrically heated spandex unitards for everyone to wear. I'm not sure if spandex would burn or melt or not, but currently it's my best idea.
Finding the reasonable middle ground may prove difficult, but unless we already suspect that someone may try to smuggle contraband, then it's not really all that bad for them to wear some clothes. And in the vast majority of cases, if not all, there are other ways to make sure people aren't carrying weapons than to strip them naked.
So, if we are reasonably sure that a woman isn't armed and just wants to wear a burkha because she likes wearing them and not because someone will throw acid on her face if she doesn't, should she be allowed to do so? At what point does security trump personal rights? Well, if someone insisted that they should be allowed to wear a balaclava around the mall, how far would they get?
It's not like we're nomads in the desert, where you may need something over your lower face to keep you from breathing in sand and to keep your face from burning off. In Canada, you might need something over your face while you're outside on the coldest days of the year, just to keep your nose from falling off. Beyond that, however, there is no practical reason to wear face veils like that, except to hide your identity. If you don't want an identity, that's your choice, but if you don't care to have an identity then why do you care to be a part of Canadian society?
Your identity isn't hidden at all if you wear western clothes in the jungle. Being modest isn't the issue - the issue is who you are. What you do in your own home is up to you, but I say no to allowing burkhas in public.