Sunday, July 1, 2012

Mormons and modesty

Feminist Mormon Housewives is currently having an open debate/forum on discussing modesty with children (oh, FMH, how I love thee!). Mormons have this thing about modesty: they are kind of obsessed. We are taught from a young age that we cover our shoulders, wear shorts to the knee, and GOD FORBID you put on that bikini on your honeymoon.

A fairly popular Mormon Mommy blogger posted a Primary lesson on modesty that she taught in her ward. Besides being culturally-insensitive (those immodest Indians!!), it also presented ideals of modesty that go above and beyond what Church leaders encourage (like swimsuits needing to cover what garments cover rather than simply one-pieces and tankinis). I'm not trying to criticize her approach... no wait, I am. Not because she is teaching her children that. Whatever, you can parent how you wish and dress your daughters like nuns and make them ashamed of their feminine figures. But I'm scared as to what Tallulah will be lectured on when I send her to an LDS Primary when she comes of age and she happens to have someone like this teaching the Sharing Time lesson. Yikes. Tim and I have discussed before where we will draw the line on what we want our children to be taught at Church. In our home, we discuss Heavenly Mother right alongside Heavenly Father (I even change the words to Primary songs when I sing at bedtime), and I am dreading the day they are reprimanded for mentioning Her in a prayer in a public setting. Or what if Tallulah is wearing a sleeveless dress to church when she is 9 during a modesty lesson like this? I'm hoping Mormons who believe things like this are few and far between, but these days, I just don't know.

Instead of enforcing strict rules on shorts-length and swimsuit detail, why don't we encourage self-esteem, the beauty of the human body, the power of our bodies, how strong and healthy they are, dressing practically for the situation (like you wouldn't wear a swimsuit to Church). It seems to me that settling on arbitrary cultural ideals on how we should dress is not that important to Jesus, nor is it that important to teach our children, especially when many of the children probably do not pick out their own clothing.

I mean come on, woman-- Peter Pan's tights?! Really?!??

And I also love these photos someone linked to in the comments on FMH (Abinadi: immodest, King Noah: modest, Stripling Warriors: immodest).


  1. Stuff like that KILLS me. Now that I'm in YW I know that a modestly lesson is coming up and I'm dreading it a little bit. I hate that people in the church make modesty such a specific thing with guidelines and dos/donts. Modesty is so much more than clothing. Whenever that lesson comes around I plan to tell the girls that they should take a good look at what they're wearing then think, "If the Savior were to show up today, would I be able to run and greet him or would I wonder if I had time to go home and change?" That's my guideline and it's served me well.

  2. Caitlin--those swimsuits. I DIE.

  3. I agree with kayla.
    so much effort and energy is put towards what is easiest to teach and so little effort is put towards things that are actually spiritual and testimony building. I hate the yw manuals. I barely used them when I taught.

  4. Love your thoughts on this subject. I had no idea that people freaked out over toddlers and kids wearing "short" shorts and dresses with sleeves, until I starting seeing passive aggressive comments on the internet.

    Have you seen that somecards floating around that says, "Dear girls, Dressing immodestly is like rolling around in manure. Yes you'll get attention, but mostly from pig."

    So... girls that dress "immodestly" will mostly only get attention from pigs? Because all men are hyper-sexualized? And we're only teaching 'modesty' so we can wear modest clothing FOR men? What happened to wearing things to make you feel empowered as a woman?

    I could go on and on and on, but basically, it pisses me off. Our church is waaaaay too obsessed with modesty and it's only obsessed with girls being modest FOR boys. Because men can't control their thoughts apparently.

    It really makes my blood boil.

  5. Caitlin, I really appreciate this post. The idea of raising kids (especially daughters) in the Church culture is really terrifying to me. I love hearing what you are doing with your children and I hope you write more about being uncorrelated :).
    P.S I met a lot of your friends at the Birth Activist Retreat and they were so lovely!

  6. Funny thing is I wrote a lengthy post about modesty earlier today (that says a lot of the same things you did) and am revising it for publishing on my blog. I couldn't agree with you more.

  7. What the . . . ??? Just when I thought I'd seen it all. That link to that woman's blog - where do these people come from???

    As for what your kids will pick up at church (and school, for that matter), you and Tim are going to be far more influential in their decision-making and their understanding of the gospel and life. You are such a confident and self-assured woman, Tallulah will have a powerful example with you as her mother. I can see your grounds for concern, but don't underestimate your own power and awesome influence.

  8. Also, I think people should take a walk down that special hall in the Wilk that shows all the past homecoming queens and student body council members, well over 90% are photographed in sleeveless, yet appropriate, dresses.

  9. I found you while searching for a picture of that vile manure/pigs/"real men" meme for my own blog (Abinadi popped up and I had to investigate!) and I LOVE this post. I am sending you a big fat high five across the internet for everything in it. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for teaching your kids about Mother!

    Waitasec... And yet again, I run into Racher. ^^^ That lady is all over the place! :)