Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Modesty Shmodesty

I just want to put it on the record that I hate modesty -- both the word and concept.

Ward pool party!  ONLY MODEST SWIMMING SUITS WILL BE ALLOWED!!!  (Because the act of running around in swimming suits can be, in some way, modest?)

Karate night for Family Home Evening!  There will be kicking, SO MAKE SURE YOUR SHORTS ARE MODEST, LADIES!  (For all you girls who don't wear underpants?)  (Oh, and how about you just point out the fact that there will be kicking, and assume people aren't too stupid to realize that those who prefer to go commando better not on this particular occasion?)

Are we not adults?  Do we really need hall monitors measuring the lengths of our skirts?  If I am not capable of dressing like a classy adult at the age of 26, guess what -- no amount of modesty disclaimers will ever help me.

Perhaps this is an issue if you're raising or teaching teenage girls, and would prefer they not show off their whole world.  Fine.  (Though, it must be acknowledged, you most likely wore something scandy back in the day yourself, and you never went on to make a porno.)  But I take real exception to the idea that grown women feel the need to lecture other grown women on what they choose to wear.  (And while a tangent, don't get me started on, "I just hate seeing flip flops in church, it makes me feel like I'm at the beach!" because sweetie, if you can feel like you're at the beach after three hours in a meetinghouse, GOOD FOR YOU.)

I have been in too many meetings that devolve into a gripe session on modesty, which I feel has the same spiritual relevance as figuring out how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.  (Though, again a tangent, I wish I could have been in my sister's Relief Society a few months ago when a lesson on modesty began with the teacher taping magazine pictures of scantily clad women all over the room as a visual aid.  YAY OBJECT LESSONS!)

In Sunday school and seminary, these gripe sessions sometimes involved boys.  Boys usually have no genuine feelings on the modesty issue, until clothes get into the DANGER WILL ROBINSON, DANGER! zone, and then their strong feelings range from strongly positive to strongly negative.  However, there's always one boy (who kinda talks like a General Authority, even though he's seventeen) who raises his hand and says something along the lines of, "A young lady dressing immodestly makes me uncomfortable, and I don't think it's attractive.  I want my future eternal companion to dress in a manner befitting her divine nature.  And besides, seeing shoulders really just makes it difficult to feel the Spirit."

I always found this discussion helpful, because the boy who makes that comment is either (a) closeted gay, (b) plans to only have sex for procreative purposes or (c) will soon be addicted to hardcore porn.  DO NOT DATE THIS BOY.  The actual modesty stuff?  Totally unhelpful.

But for the love, I thought I had left these passive-aggressive discussions behind when I became a semi-grownup, going to a semi-grownup ward.  NO MORE MODESTY DISCUSSIONS.

Here are the simple rules I think we should substitute for all these ridiculous pronouncements on modesty.

1. Don't dress like a whore at church, at work, or in your daily life.*  Dress any which way you want at home.

2. If you feel like someone else has broken Rule Number 1, keep it to yourself unless they asked for your opinion.  If someone else's shirt, skirt, or shoes are seriously damaging your ability to feel spiritual or productive, you really need to work on sanctifying your inner life.  Go see a Zen master and learn to get your focus on.  This ain't Iran, ladies and gents.

* Unless you are a whore, in which case I hope you're just doing it to put yourself through med school, young lady.**

** Obviously a joke, jeez.


  1. Agreed.
    When I was a teenager I always thought it was stupid that they made the girls go out and buy 1-piece swimsuits if we had a youth conference involving swimming (which we did, twice), and then we'd be at youth converence, and the leaders would be wearing their evil tankinis.

  2. Conference! Not converence! I swear I know how to spell.

  3. Huh. This particular discussion never really bothered me that much. But good to know ... I really don't want to be one of THOSE leaders/fellow ward members so I'll be sure to watch what I say.

  4. AMEN! Even though I was super modest when a member, and still usually am modest by LDS garment standards now, I hated those discussions.

  5. The weird thing is, it only kind of bothered me when I was a kid, and then it was more applicable. (Also, when my creepy freshman year seminary teacher would talk about it, but I think that had more to do with him, haha.) It's started to really bother me now that I'm an adult, and it suddenly feels like I'm being lectured to as if I were a kid again. Like ... really? Who over the age of 18 hasn't already grasped this concept? And if they haven't, it's because they don't want to, and won't change no matter how long you drag out this discussion.

  6. You need to read this:

    PS-- My wife looks amazing in her tankini. :P

  7. Thanks for the link! I love Robert Kirby and don't read him enough down here ... though I have to say, a little bashful about choosing a topic so similar ... :)