TMI Friday: Mormon Beauty, Modesty, and Shame

false modesty toy story memeSometimes you feel something, but it’s not an appropriate time to say it. For me, I tend to keep my mouth shut (literally), bring it up on Twitter, and then talk about it on my blog later. Now it’s time to talk.

Today’s topic: Modesty.

There have been many talks, articles, blog posts, and firesides given in Mormondon about modesty. I’ve noticed that it’s been an especially hot topic in Utah since I returned from living in California, Michigan, and Georgia in 2009.

On the official LDS Church website, it reads “Modesty is an attitude of propriety and decency in dress, grooming, language, and behavior. If we are modest, we do not draw undue attention to ourselves. Instead, we seek to “glorify God in [our] body, and in [our] spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:20; see also 1 Corinthians 6:19). Continuing on,

“If we are unsure about whether our dress or grooming is modest, we should ask ourselves, “Would I feel comfortable with my appearance if I were in the Lord’s presence?” We might ask ourselves a similar question about our language and behavior: “Would I say these words or participate in these activities if the Lord were present?” Our honest answers to these questions may lead us to make important changes in our lives. Prophets have always counseled us to dress modestly. This counsel is founded on the truth that the human body is God’s sacred creation. We must respect our bodies as a gift from God. Through our dress and appearance, we can show the Lord that we know how precious our bodies are.

Our clothing expresses who we are. It sends messages about us, and it influences the way we and others act. When we are well groomed and modestly dressed, we can invite the companionship of the Spirit and exercise a good influence on those around us.

Central to the command to be modest is an understanding of the sacred power of procreation, the ability to bring children into the world. This power is to be used only between husband and wife. Revealing and sexually suggestive clothing, which includes short shorts and skirts, tight clothing, and shirts that do not cover the stomach, can stimulate desires and actions that violate the Lord’s law of chastity.

In addition to avoiding clothing that is revealing, we should avoid extremes in clothing, appearance, and hairstyle. In dress, grooming, and manners, we should always be neat and clean, never sloppy or inappropriately casual. We should not disfigure ourselves with tattoos or body piercings. Women who desire to have their ears pierced should wear only one pair of modest earrings.”

black mannequins

Do I have a problem with what the official stance of the Church is? Absolutely not. Do I have a problem with the cultural implications? Yes, I do.

The specific clothing items mentioned in this official declaration are “short shorts and skirts, tight clothing, and shirts that don’t cover the stomach.” That’s it. No flagrant scolding messages about bare shoulders, knees, and toes (knees and toes). No finger-pointing about blouses that actually elude to the fact that women have breasts.

There have been many talks, articles, blog posts, and firesides given in Mormondon about modesty, and the DOs and DON’Ts of modesty seem to be very regional, all while teaching out of the same For the Strength of the Youth pamphlet.. When I was a young woman in Oregon, it was during the grunge era. Our discussions about modesty were usually encouraging us to set aside the dirty flannel, brush our hair, and act like a lady.

Then I moved to Utah and was often advised in excrutiating detail which exact clothing items were approved, and which ones would basically send me to hell. If I wore a skirt that showed a hint of my kneecap, or wore a v-neck tee that showed a shadow of cleavage, and it prompted a young man to formulate a lustful thought, his weakness suddenly was on my conscience. If I wore a dress that flattered my curves, and it turned on a boy’s “little factory,” I was just as much as fault for his actions.  I knew I was attractive and caught the attention of guys, and I’ll just say it – I had larger breasts than most girls my age. Even if I was in a bulky sweatshirt, I got attention for my chest. I hated knowing that if a boy acted on him impulses, it suddenly could become my fault. Needless to day, my mid-to-late teens were spent with unnecessary shame…and in skirts that were mid-calf to floor-length.
Mormon Modesty Meme

Some activities require a “less modest” appearance, such as swimming, bathing, exercise and physical activity. When I lived in California, there was a lesson where our Relief Society president told us “We’re in a heatwave, and if you need to take off your garments and put on a sundress to get your yardwork done, by all means, DO IT. No need to put yourself in the hospital to mow your lawn in clothes that accommodate garments. Men are taking off their shirts to stay cool, and you need to find a way to stay cool as well.” To me, that makes sense. Do what you need to do, and then change back into your normal clothes.

byu cheerleadersI’m frustrated by the inconsistencies of modesty within the church. One of the most iconic symbols of beauty in Mormondom are the BYU Cheerleaders. But look at the uniforms – they’re tight, show leg up to mid-thigh, and sometimes have a deep enough V-neck that little is left to the imagination. Nobody else on the BYU campus could get away with an outfit like that, yet the cheerleaders can. And are applauded with it. Obviously I’m no prude, and the BYU uniforms are more modest than other colleges’ cheerleaders, but it’s an inconsistency nonetheless.

I’ve always loved swimming, even thought it’s hard to find a comfortable, flattering, and modest bathing suit. When I went to BYU-Idaho, I was excited that there was a place on campus where I could swim and do other exercise. Shortly after I arrived in Rexburg, I went into the locker room with my own suit. The attendant said “All students must wear a school-issued bathing suit.” I rented a suit, put it on, and looked at myself in the mirror. It was unflattering, unsupportive, and so sheer you could see the detail of my nipples and areolas. I can only imagine how much more detail would have shown when the suit was wet. I showed the attendant how I looked, and she apologetically told me that it was my only option. I got dressed in my street clothes, threw my bathing suit into the laundry chute, and never went swimming on campus.

In this case, modesty was knowing that I was not comfortable in the only clothing that was offered, and choosing to not participate. I would much rather look at myself in a mirror and decide for myself if what I’m wearing makes me comfortable, attractive, and gives off a vibe that I respect my body. And as the excerpt from the Church website said above, I don’t leave the house in anything I wouldn’t want the Savior to see me in.

hooker boots new beginningsI feel like talks about modesty have been so frequent recently, and so much misinformation and false doctrine is given. My friend Shannon recently posted this picture on Instagram from Young Womens New Beginnings night. Does anyone see the irony in “Stand in Holy Places” when there’s a pair of sexy hooker boots right next to a statue of a temple?

As an adult, these presentations have stirred up the shame and frustration I felt as a teen. This week I attended a combined Stake Relief Society and Young Womens’ event titled “Beautiful.” While my first impression was that there would be slideshows of pictures to James Blunt, One Direction, and Christina Aguilera songs, I hoped it could be an event focusing on true beauty and divine nature.

Instead, it was a glorified standards night. There was a talk about lures of the devil, chock full of fly-fishing metaphors (I guess that’s to be expected in a ward in Lehi). There was a reading of an odd fairy tale book about modesty. There was a lot of emphasis on the laundry-list items of modesty – no skinny jeans, don’t wear two-piece swimsuits, etc. The had an oppressive feeling, and I felt scolded (even though I don’t wear the items that they essentially forbade). I’m sure it had the same feeling as meetings where the Priesthood men get the “NO PORN!” talk. Even those without a problem leave the room feeling like garbage.

I didn’t feel the spirit. I saw people crying, and I could tell it wasn’t brought on by the spirit. It’s a sensitive subject for many women, especially when the gist of a presentation is that modesty=beauty. For women who have been abused, neglected, and told that they’re not beautiful enough, or that they don’t deserve love because of the way they look, there was no inspiring message to help those sisters. As the cliche says, beauty is more than skin-deep, but that was not discussed adequately. Inner beauty is essential, not whether or not I buy clothing items from Shade or ModBod (For you non-Utah types, these companies were created to help women be more modest by layering). I was sitting next to Rosie, and she was judging my reactions through the night…and we had a good talk about why I wasn’t happy about what was presented.

Earlier this week, Rosie led a discussion on modesty with the combined Young Men and Young Women, so the topic was fresh on our minds. She prepared questions, gave examples, and talked about inner beauty as opposed to the things you wear. When I talk to Rosie about modesty, I’ve told her that the way she feels is much more important than looking at a checklist of forbidden clothing items. She knows that boys will be boys, and that sometimes they will think inappropriate thoughts, but if she feels confident and chooses her outfits wisely, she does not have to bear any amount of blame when a boy can’t control himself.

alpine plastic surgeryUtah freeways are littered with billboards of this type, which tell women that they’re not beautiful enough until they choose plastic surgery. I would venture to guess it’s harder for men to pass billboards like this on the freeway, than to see a woman in a form-fitting outfit. But instead, women are given lectures full of propaganda about why their dress and appearance will be the downfall of men…who are likely viewing loads of scandalous content online (whether or not they seek it out). There is so much inconsistency in LDS culture about modesty, beauty, and sexuality. And it’s hard to know that there’s not a clear message given by the church, so local leaders are left to teach about it at their discretion.

How do you feel about these discussion about modesty? Do you think emphasis is given to the right details? Should there be less focus on the clothes you wear and more focus on the woman you are inside? Let me know in the comments.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jennifer.j.galan Jennifer Johnson Galan

    YES. To all of this.

  • Hilary Biggart

    I completely agree. I got into a row with my Relief Society President a few weeks ago during her lesson on modesty. The resounding message, as you pointed out, was cover up or create lustful thoughts. It was so sad to me that these are the messages that we are imparting to our daughters about their bodies. Instead of their bodies being a thing of beauty, it is a thing of potential shame.

  • Leanne

    I didn’t grow up in Utah as a teen and although we had talks on modesty they were more geared to how we felt in what we were wearing and if we would be embarrassed wearing it. We talked more about how we felt inwardly and how that was reflected on the outside. That’s how I’ve tried to raise my girls. To have their outside appearance reflect how they feel inside.

  • http://twitter.com/erinannie Erin Ann McBride

    THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!

    I despise “fairy tales about modesty.” Things like that make me cringe. Talk about it straight!

    Yes, your clothes do send a message about you. What message do you want to send? That is all that needs to really be said on the subject.
    Beauty is both internal and external.

    Women need to find their strength and worth from within, not from fashions, not from men, and not from other women.

  • Jenna Wood

    I agree that the modesty thing can be taken too far. I heard of a high councilor who said that women shouldn’t wear tank tops with lace because of the thoughts men might have about lace. Frijoles. That is out of control! And I TOTALLY agree that women ought to dress nicely for their shape. It is not necessary to wear shapeless horrible things. It’s OK that we have bodies. However, I disagree with some of what you said.

    A couple of years ago, the church issued a special edition of the Ensign called Temples. There were a number of articles in it about keeping covenants, teaching our kids and also about proper wearing of the garment. This quote was part of that section.

    “The fundamental principle ought to be to wear the garment and not to find occasions to remove it. Thus, members should not remove all or part of the garment to work in the yard or to lounge around the home in swimwear or immodest clothing. Nor should they remove it to participate in recreational activities that can reasonably be done with garment worn properly beneath regular clothing. When the garment must be removed, such as for swimming, it should be restored as soon as possible.”
    —First Presidency Letter, Oct 10, 1988

    It is my personal opinion that the garment is the guideline to the Lord’s Standard of Modesty. I have zero problem with recommendations to cover shoulders or wear clothes to our knee cap, since that is the garment standard.

    That’s my two cents! (You wanted my two cents, right?)

    And kudos for not wearing the college-issue swimsuit. That is horrible.

  • Shannon LuckyRedHen

    I believe the Church has given a clear message TO THE INDIVIDUAL. Each person will read the statement and have their own interpretation, as they should, based on their relationship with their creator.

    The way anyone over 18 years old decides to dress is NOBODY else’s business, and under 18 is the business of their parent(s). And by “business” I mean right to impose.

    How leaders choose to teach these principles in their areas should be based first on what the Church stance is in writing and then as directed by the bishop and stake president, which would probably be based on what specifically is happening in their area. After that, each family should decide amongst themselves what they believe as a family and discuss why we might disagree with what has been taught as well as ways we can stand up for our decision to act differently than what is expected.

    The following statement (especially what I’ve changed to BOLD letters) should be directed to the individual wearing the clothes, not necessarily the ones viewing the clothes (which is the way I think most people interpret and get bent out-of-shape about it)…

    “Revealing and sexually suggestive clothing, which includes short shorts and skirts, tight clothing, and shirts that do not cover the stomach, CAN STIMULATE DESIRES AND ACTIONS that violate the Lord’s law of chastity.”

  • cuteculturechick

    I really wish the discussions would focus on exactly that – how the outward appearance reflects how they feel inside. It breaks my heart to know how many girls feel shame for stepping over an unimportant line that could been judgement from one person, and no response from another.

  • cuteculturechick

    I know we are of one heart. Thank you for all your support…and being a sounding board when I need it.

  • cuteculturechick

    I’m always disheartened when Gospel discussions focus on things of small importance. With how many women struggle with depression, low self image, and not feeling a place in the world…and discussion on inner beauty would have been so much more productive.

  • http://profiles.google.com/kemi.like.chemistry Kemi Sutton

    I feel the same way you do, Jenna. I’ve always purchased clothes that cover my garments, and did so even before I had been through the temple. With the exception of my current maternity wardrobe, I don’t feel like I am horribly unstylish or frumpy for choosing to dress the way I do, although there are many who would (and have) disagreed with me.

    And maybe I’m just *that* lazy, but if it’s too hot to mow the lawn without stripping down, it’s just too hot to mow the lawn. (For women AND men!) ;)

  • cuteculturechick

    It really is up to individual interpretation. I moved from Oregon to Utah in Jr High, and I saw a blatant difference in the way that morality and modesty topics were discussed. There is no place for unnecessary shame in the tender hearts of the women of the Church, especially the Young Women. I think guidelines should be given, and those who need to have their “modesty” addressed would be best approached privately….with a huge dose of love. Not guilt.

  • cuteculturechick

    Personally, I don’t take off my garments unless I absolutely need to. It feels strange to be without them. I like the reminder of the covenants I’ve made. In the times I don’t wear them, I’m constantly aware of it. But! Kneecap length on garments isn’t always standard. I’m 5’10″, very leggy, and wear the extra-long-tall garments (XLT sizes often need to be ordered online). Depending on the package I open, they’re often 2-5 inches above my knee.

    I just gave the example of the Relief Society President talking about a change of attire to illustrate the fact that modesty standards tend to be regional. I’ve never stripped down to do yard work outside…but I saw it all the time in California.

    And yeah. Swimsuit. Awful.

  • cuteculturechick

    Agreed. I’m happy to find another solidarity sister.

  • cuteculturechick

    Hahaha! Good point. Personally, I’d rather pay someone to mow my lawn then have to do it myself.

  • Miriam

    What thoughts might men have about lace? The doily on their grandma’s table? I must be dumb. I don’t understand what’s wrong with lace.

  • Shannon LuckyRedHen

    A to the men.

  • Shannon LuckyRedHen

    And THAT topic would be worth teaching… WOMEN NEED TO FIND THEIR STRENGTH AND WORTH FROM WITHIN (not from fashions, men, or other women).

  • http://www.facebook.com/nicole.jade.10 Nicole Jade

    applauded “for” it (not “with”)

    But, yeah, there’s all sorts of Pharisaical ways that Mormons take the rules of the Church and then exaggerate them. I thought the membership would’ve stopped doing stuff like that by now.

  • Mary P

    These are ideas that I’ve had some deep thoughts on in the last two years. Growing up, I was taught by my mother that the definition of modest was both specific lines/lengths of clothes (including covering shoulders) as well as a way to behave/feel. She also helped instill in me a tremendous sense of self. I was always one to be unique, and to like being “me.” Modesty and worth were never connected in my mind (thank goodness, cause I’ve heard some horror stories about that!). Still, I grew up with parents who taught me to keep commandments with exactness, and this led me to feel that some people around me weren’t measuring up. I didn’t look down on them necessarily, but there was a sense in my mind of people being more mormon-y than others. It wasn’t a large part of my psyche, since that’s not who I am, it was more the noticing. Last year, I read a fabulous post about a woman’s experience in which she called out people with that sort of thinking. I liked her idea: It is immodest to even really NOTICE someone else’s modesty. I love that. So as for my goal? I want to teach my daughter to keep the commandments, I want her to prepare to wear garments by always wearing the types of clothes they require, but I also want her to understand the difference between a church law, and a family law. (I was 17 before I realized that no TV on Sunday was a family rule haha). I also want her to have more respect for others than to think about what they wear or even how they look. I want her to know that first and foremost we keep commandments because of OUR relationship with God, and THEN we can worry about how our actions affect others. I call it the Enos principle. It is kind to worry about the struggles of the people around her, but it is more important that she wants to keep the commandments because she genuinely believes they will make her happy.

  • Wahlee

    I have lots of comments that I can’t write because I’m at work and then I’m going to see Terrence Mann, so it’ll have to wait other than saying that, in general, I agree with you, and that making women responsible for the sins and/or thoughts of men is against everything we believe about agency. Women are not the keepers of men’s virtue; men are. And modesty is much more about reflecting who you are than it is about how low your neckline is. And for those of us with larger chest, the same shirt that is “modest” on you will fit completely differently on me. So, yeah.

    But I wanted to point one thing out– having attended BYU, and still reading BYU-related things all the time (like the 100 Hour Board, which I read daily), I can tell you that the cheerleader’s uniforms do not go unnoticed or uncensured. And other sports teams do “get away” with outfits like the cheerleaders– the gymnastic’s team, for example, as well as the track teams and swimming teams and. . . etc. It’s just that the cheerleaders are more visible. There were probably more angry letters to the editor written to the Daily Universe when I was there about the cheerleader’s outfits than about the people who cut corners and make trails in the grass or the people who don’t stop for the national anthem as the flag is lowered (I know I was shocked and appalled!). It is, after all, the Lord’s University. :P As an example, here’s a recent question to the 100 Hour Board: http://theboard.byu.edu/questions/68729/

  • http://www.facebook.com/Kimberly.Cherrine.Bell Kimberly Lynn Cherrine-Bell

    I am leaving a comment leaning in another direction on this issue…I have never been accused of being immodest in fit or length , but on the standard of “not drawing undue attention to oneself”..I have been told my “designer and themed socks” are inappropriate in any situation and I should not wear them at all (www.sockdreams.com)..That my long hair is completely unexceptable and should be cut to short hair..every year I get the same lecture since I was 30..thats 16 year of continued harassment..that it is wrong for ANY woman over 30 to have long hair period…And this was not the same people but different leaders over and over again…lastly I am an artist and a large woman.Ii have been told repeatedly by a large number of leadership that I should not be wearing loud bright colors, hats or art clothing which is one of the ways I make a living….Its gotten so out of hand I have not been going to church..After all these years of digging and digging and digging at me and me not being accepted I am done!

  • T

    Of all the comments I have read on here yours makes me the saddest. My heart breaks that anyone and especially a church member would do anything other than build you up. Something I struggle with almost EVERY Sunday is remembering that the church’s values and its members actions are not one in the same. Please do not give anyone the power to make choices for you. Go to church, show off your long hair, and wear your brightest clothing, and please do wear lots of hats (I personally love hats). I promise that for every woman that felt the need to give her unwanted opinion there was another thinking how much she loved what you were wearing. I love when people wear hats because it gives me the courage to wear mine. (I have a whole collection that hardly gets worn because I feel unsure of myself.) it is unfortunate that the bratty people are so vocal, when the people that love individuality are more quite. As one of the quite women that always sit in the back corner and never talks to anyone I would like to say that we love seeing your bright and beautiful and different style. It makes us feel that it is okay that we didn’t come from the cookie cutter mold that seems to be taking over.

  • Minoa

    Over the years in the various wards & stakes
    I’ve attended around the country, I have seen many women that wear modest
    clothes & hats that are also bright and stylish. Not only did I think this
    was ok, but I was impressed that they found stylish clothes that were modest. Modest
    clothes with cutting-edge style are sometimes very hard to find. When anyone
    finds good stores or websites for great modest clothes, I have seen Church leaders
    encourage them to spread the word. And I applaud that. Thus, the thought has
    never occurred to me that in some cities the local leaders might feel that
    bright colors, alone, are inappropriate. Or hats. There is nothing against
    those things in the Church’s written policy. I guess they have an honest
    difference of opinion about what it means to “draw undue attention,” and about
    what are “extremes in clothing, appearance, and hairstyle.” Those leaders have a right to their personal
    opinions, just like you and I do, but they should not try to misrepresent their
    opinion as Church policy. In a situation like that, the girls and women in that area need to
    stand up and ask for clarification. Girl, if it’s modest, and great looking
    too, I say wear it to meetings with pride, and spread the word to all the other
    women that, I guarantee, are always frustrated about finding modest clothes. If
    local leaders try to tell you a modest item is immodest because of a color or a
    hat, ask for a private meeting about it. At the meeting—this is important—listen
    & speak respectfully, but also ask lots of questions to make sure what,
    exactly, they are talking about. It’s easy to misunderstand. Again, a critical
    key to persuasion is to speak respectfully and calmly, and yet to stand your ground: if, after their explanation, it still seems
    to you that your clothes are modest, just say so. Explain why. Ask them to show
    you where written Church policy specifically prohibits your modest choices. If
    all they’ve got is the “undue attention” and “extremes in clothing” thing, then
    calmly explain why you feel your choices meet those criteria. If necessary, ask
    for time to think things over and meet again. Yes, use some of that time to
    consider what they said and to check your facts, but also use some time to determine
    which women in your ward think your clothes are modest. Jot down some notes and
    present your findings at the next meeting. Remember, stay calm and keep your
    cool. I’ve had to go through this process over a different issue (not modest
    clothes), and it took over a year to work things out. I’m glad I did it. It’s
    clear from what you said that if you take a reasonable & respectful stand
    on this, that you will be doing your ward or stake a
    huge favor. Just remember that because some of these people disagree with you,
    it doesn’t make them bad people, AND it does NOT make you a bad person, either.
    Like any other organization, the Church is composed of imperfect people with
    strong opinions. Sometimes it takes awhile to persuade people to live and let
    live. It can be a pain. But it’s worth it. We need each other, regardless of
    differences and flaws.

  • Minoa

    To Kimberly Lynn Cherrine-Bell: Over the years in the various wards & stakes I’ve attended around the country, I have seen many women that wear modest clothes & hats that are also bright and stylish. Not only did I think this was ok, but I was impressed that they found stylish clothes that were modest. Modest clothes with cutting-edge style are sometimes very hard to find. When anyone finds good stores or websites for great modest clothes, I have seen Church leaders encourage them to spread the word. And I applaud that. Thus, the thought has never occurred to me that in some cities the local leaders might feel that bright colors, alone, are inappropriate. Or hats. There is nothing against those things in the Church’s written policy. I guess they have an honest difference of opinion about what it means to “draw undue attention,” and about what are “extremes in clothing, appearance, and hairstyle.” Those leaders have a right to their personal opinions, just like you and I do, but they should not try to misrepresent their opinion as Church policy. In a situation like that, the girls and women in that area need to stand up and ask for clarification. Girl, if it’s modest, and great looking too, I say wear it to meetings with pride, and spread the word to all the other women that, I guarantee, are always frustrated about finding modest clothes. If local leaders try to tell you a modest item is immodest because of a color or a hat, ask for a private meeting about it. At the meeting—this is important—listen & speak respectfully, but also ask lots of questions to make sure what, exactly, they are talking about. It’s easy to misunderstand. Again, a critical key to persuasion is to speak respectfully and calmly, and yet to stand your ground: if, after their explanation, it still seems to you that your clothes are modest, just say so. Explain why. Ask them to show you where written Church policy specifically prohibits your modest choices. If all they’ve got is the “undue attention” and “extremes in clothing” thing, then calmly explain why you feel your choices meet those criteria. If necessary, ask for time to think things over and meet again. Yes, use some of that time to consider what they said and to check your facts, but also use some time to determine which women in your ward think your clothes are modest. Jot down some notes and present your findings at the next meeting. Remember, stay calm and keep your cool. I’ve had to go through this process over a different issue (not modest clothes), and it took over a year to work things out. I’m glad I did it. It’s clear from what you said that if you take a reasonable & respectful stand on this, that you will be doing your ward or stake a huge favor. Just remember that because some of these people disagree with you, it doesn’t make them bad people, AND it does NOT make you a bad person, either. Like any other organization, the Church is composed of imperfect people with strong opinions. Sometimes it takes awhile to persuade people to live and let live. It can be a pain. But it’s worth it. We need each other, regardless of differences and flaws.

  • Kalei Bosman

    I know I’m a bit late on the discussion but I completely agree. Being raised in the church I see that the girls are always told to cover up as if their skin is something to be ashamed of. And they go about it in a pretty sexist way. It didn’t really occur to me until I was old enough to pick out my own clothes and of course I went for some cute thigh high stockings and skirts at about the middle if my thighs. The response I get from others when they see what I REALLY want to wear is not a positive one. It’s almost as if they’re saying “Females, how dare they have legs??”

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  • Susie

    I think each of the comments has contributed to the discussion in one way or another. Thanks to all for your thoughts. I do have one small correction — the picture of the BYU girls is actually the dance team (the Cougarettes), not the cheerleaders.

  • MooLa

    Many interesting points on this…

    I think we should dress modestly for ourselves… it’s important that we don’t give the boys too much to ogle, but I agree, they should be held accountable for their own wandering eyes and wandering thoughts. :|

    The fact that no matter where we go, where we shop, what we watch, or where we browse online, there will always be scantily or immodestly dressed women, and I have to wonder if the LDS men who watch those ever put that much effort to avoid it. The panties section at the clothes store I work at, which is right smack-dab in the middle of the store, is covered in the photos of the models showing off the merchandise! And I felt a little confused when today I saw a missionary with a spiral notebook with Wonderwoman on it… Wonderwoman is pretty much wearing a strapless one-piece swimsuit… I don’t have anything he hasn’t seen before a million other places!

    It’s discouraging. No matter how modestly we dress, men will always see it somewhere. At this point, I dress modestly for myself more than for the sake of keeping guys’ minds out of the gutter, because, let’s face it, the world is full of so much immodesty, I think most women will end up marrying a man who is already very aware of… well… a sexually ‘exposed’ woman looks like… Sigh!

  • Griffin

    It was my experience as a young newlywed moving to Utah a decade or so ago that the main conflict here is brought about if not in part, but mostly by the rampantly contradictory LDS culture in the region.

    Predominantly LDS social culture is horribly broken without much hope for repair so far as I can tell.(If you can maintain complete separation from all things relating to LDS church members should you happen to live in Utah, you probably wouldn’t notice, unless you enjoy alcohol.)
    I am ever grateful that I was mature enough when the time came to expect our first child that it would be wise to raise them in a more socially diverse culture. So after two years in the “lovely deseret” we packed up, sold our house and left before our firstborn would take their first breath.

    I will never regret leaving, and still occasionally visit the beehive state and witness how the hypocrisy of the collective LDS cultural has furthered its decline.

    A couple additional thoughts:

    Could a link be drawn to the rampant prescribing of medication to treat depression and anxiety in the region be linked to this person conflict creating phenomenon? Very possibly. I’ll refrain from elaborating on that sensitive idea.

    For the record there should be some equalization with the statement:

    “Boys will be boys, and that sometimes they will think inappropriate thoughts.”

    Girls and women, as equally sexual beings will and do have “inappropriate thoughts.” That is part of being human and not exclusively a bad thing. I hold some minor disdain for all sexual thought being generally categorized as inappropriate. Without these thought patterns you and I would certainly not be here.

    I enjoy my membership in the church. I hope to never feel otherwise.
    There are some ways of thinking that creep in among it’s membership
    that seems extreme or unfounded. This note you share alludes well to
    how LDS people have created their own baseless standards:

    “Do I have a problem with the cultural implications? Yes, I do. The specific clothing items mentioned in this official declaration are “short shorts and skirts, tight clothing, and shirts that don’t cover the stomach.” That’s it. No flagrant scolding messages about bare shoulders,knees, and toes (knees and toes). No finger pointing about blouses that actually elude to the fact that women have breasts.”

    Very well put. The same idea exists with the predominant myth that Mormons
    cannot consume caffeine. This idea was born from the Word of Wisdom
    doctrine advising that a member should not drink coffee or other “hot drinks.”
    There is no official or doctrinal declaration forbidding the use of caffeine.
    That is not to say you should feel ok replacing water with Diet Coke…. (very specifically another seeming rampant issue among the LDS in the mountain west.)

    I enjoyed reading into your thoughts about modesty and the assumed rules created among the predominantly LDS population in Utah.
    Thank you for sharing.

  • Griffin

    EXACTLY!
    Like the whole myth with caffeine consumption!
    And that a display with no less than one doily and flower arrangement should be present during any relief society function…. ;)

  • Griffin

    That sounds awful.
    My wife was told by her bishop as a member of a singles ward that her colored hair was inappropriate and incompatible with the lords teachings on modesty.
    (It was bright blue, but SO WHAT?! She totally rocked it BTW….)

    I only learned of this encounter after we were married and was so bothered by it that I actually asked this (now former) bishop what doctrinal basis he had for reprimanding her for her hair style.
    He came up short and attempted to dismiss the question and my concern.
    It still bothers her that a ward leader did that to her, 14 years later.
    She still doesn’t know I confronted him about it….

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