We’ve explored some of the answers members have posted on the mormon.org site in the church’s new profiles campaign. So far, we’ve discussed member answers to questions about polygamy, women& the priesthood, politics, parenting, prophets, and priesthood ban. Today, let’s see what members had to say about chastity & modesty.
This sounds like another question nobody asked us, but hey, let’s answer it anyway. However, it might be a good way to see how Mormons raise their kids and what Mormons believe about chastity and modesty I suppose. Personally, modesty is the thing that always sets my mo-dar off (especially at Disneyworld): families with great white teeth wearing knee-length stuff with sleeves and no bare midriffs in 100-degree weather.
Answers I liked:
- Attitude vs. Clothes. I like the idea that modesty as it relates to chastity is a state of mind, not just what you wear and how you affect others’ states of mind. I also liked those who acknowledged that they like cute clothes. Otherwise we sound like a bunch of stuffy Amish people who claim we love our drab rags.
- “In my opinion, modesty isn’t only defined by the clothing worn by a person; it’s an attitude of being unassuming and humble.”
- “if we dress sexy, we tend to act sexy and often think sexy.” So, should married people dress immodestly to encourage healthy sex lives?
- “Modesty is an attitude of humility and decency in dress, grooming, language, and behavior.” That quote is from a gospel reference book called “True to the Faith.” The way that you dress is a reflection of your inner self and how you view yourself.”
- Self-esteem advice. OK, I really could have gone the other way on this one (especially as most of these assumptions seem directed only at girls), but as a parent, I actually liked some of the advice about immodesty being one way for teens to seek attention. It’s definitely not the only one, but especially in a conservative environment, I think parents should notice signs that their children need attention.
- “a young teen who needs more attention than that may resort to unnatural hair colors or argumentative attitudes or picking on a younger child or spray-painting graffiti.” Also nice that it’s a boy example and one that’s not just about dress!
- “I do remember being angry at my parents when they addressed only the symptoms of my teenaged cries for attention instead of fixing the gaping hole in my heart.” I love this.
- “I like feeling attractive while modest.” I think it’s important that modesty should not mean you never feel sexy or attractive.
- “I’ll be honest this one is a struggle for me. I love cute clothes, and how they can flatter your figure and having all eyes on you let’s face it–it’s great!” Keepin’ it real at least.
- “Dressing modestly shows confidence.”
I felt mixed about this type of answer:
- Parents’ Examples. This just seems like foolhardy advice. Are teens modest because they want to dress like their parents? I thought the point of being a teenager was to rebel against your un-hip parents. I would wager that if parents were immodest, more teens would dress modestly because they would be so grossed out.
- “Parents teach best by example, but should also be active in their children’s lives to give them good counsel on how to live, but not be overbearing.” I actually think this person got it right.
- “Rules seem too much like limitations without purpose, an order from someone in authority which make us bristle and resist. What to wear, for example, is largely molded by peers and media. Parental rules which go against media models are questioned by our children.” Nicely put.
- “Parents have to be an example to their children, teaching them from a very young age how to dress and encouraging them to stay modest even though the world is now.” Is now what?
- “Because I respect my parents, an easy way for me to judge what choices to make was to not do anything that I would be embarrassed to tell my parents about.” Aw! I want one of these.
Things I didn’t love:
- Girls Only! Especially when it’s a man saying it, this just strikes me wrong, like women are being held responsible for male sexual response or like a defense for blaming the victim is being set up. Girls aren’t to blame when guys have no self-control.
- “Rule number one for clothes: if it’s not on sale – don’t advertise it!” Ouch. So, immodesty = prostitution? Good to know.
- “To girls, young women, women, wives, & mothers: Firstly, men are attracted to you no matter what. If you feel that you are not noticed…you are. Isn’t that liberating?” Not so much liberating as creeping me out. But at least a woman wrote it.
- “I was talking to a good friend on Sunday. He is single, 26, a really good man, but very discouraged. “Is it too much to ask a woman to dress modestly? Does she not think enough of herself? The tightness of clothing worn by some women is very disturbing. Why wear anything at all if it’s going to be that tight?”” This guy is creeping me out.
- “Elder Oaks was initially talking to the men of our church about the evils of pornography but then he added this warning to the women, “And women, please understand that if you dress immodestly, you are magnifying this problem by becoming pornography to some of the men who see you.”” Ick.
- “I want to feel gorgeous but I try to think of how it makes me feel when another woman is dressed showing waaaaaay too much in front of my husband. What is she trying to say to me and especially to him???” Maybe you should scratch her eyes out.
- Immodesty is Sloppiness? I’m a little floored by this notion. Certainly, I’ve seen some bare midriffs that had no right to be so, or tank tops with bra straps showing, but to me, it’s equally sloppy to go out in public in sweatpants. Yet, it’s not immodest. On the contrary, if you have a cheese doodle stuck to your shirt, you are more likely to turn off sexual attention, not attract it. You may attract flies, though.
- “People who are not modest, who don’t care how they dress, or how they talk, or how they treat each other, don’t live up to their best. And worse still, they tend to drag other people down with them.” I’ve seen loads of frumpy modest people and loads of stylish immodest people.
- “When dressed lazily, we act lazily. When dressed formally, we act formally; and likewise, when we are dressed immodestly, we are inclined to act immodestly.” Perhaps she is not equating immodesty with laziness, but it sure sounded like that.
- “I don’t ever want to be “walking pornography.”” Well, who does?
- Little Kids. I am not a fan of sexualizing our very young (prepubescent) children with restrictions on sundresses or making shorts be knee-length or the notion that everyone needs to be dressed as if they are already wearing garments when they are not yet, so they can “be ready.” Their lives will be over soon enough.
- “I have three young girls, and have made it a point to teach them from a young age what modesty looks like and feels like.”
- “If you start with they are infants then as they grow and mature acting and dressing modestly is a habit.”
- “It is also increasingly difficult to find modest clothing in stores, even for a four year old!”
- “I think modest should be taught at an early age. Even with little girls at a young age should dress modestly so they will be use to it.”
- Live in Isolation. [Shaking head].
- “Associate yourself with same faith friends and those who will HELP you live your standards of living, dress, use appropriate language.” So, every member a missionary, except my kids because I don’t want them associating with the rabble?
- “Surround the family with other families who share the same beliefs and the children will follow what they see being emulated around them.” Only families with the same beliefs are modest? No Mormon kids are immodest or ever break the law of chastity? Hmmm. See how that works out for ya.
- Humor Alert! Some of the things people said just sounded funny.
- “When we dress to show off the private parts of our body we are sending the wrong message and we attract the wrong people and the wrong situations.” Tee hee! She said ‘private parts.’ I’ve seen some immodesty in my day, but I’m still pretty sure private parts were not hanging out.
- “When we dress immodestly in pervokes bad thoughts in others around us.” Pervokes? Is that a cross between “provokes” and “perverts”?
What I might say:
- Being committed to chastity is something that will affect your attitude and demeanor. For example, you probably will decline to star in Basic Instinct.
- It’s possible to be sexy and modest, under all this clothing. Likewise, being sexy is a state of mind.
- Teens are especially vulnerable to immodest and unchaste attitudes that erode self-esteem, so open communication is critical.
How would you answer this question? Do you think Mormons are too obsessed with modesty? Do you think it’s a good or bad question? Discuss.