Monday, July 20, 2015

Why I dress modestly

Once upon a time I used to write blog posts mostly for humor.  But now that I started writing rant posts, I can't seem to stop.  I would say sorry, but I'm not apologetic enough to quit just quite yet.

So why do I dress modestly?  As a kid I was taught that we dress modestly because our bodies are temples.  I didn't wear bikinis.  I didn't wear sleeveless prom dresses.  I didn't wear Daisy Dukes simply because they weren't "modest."

Then I started to think about why I really dressed modestly.  I didn't dress modestly because I was taught to, I did it because I respected myself.  I had confidence and didn't feel the need to seek for the attention of guys based off of my body/clothing.  I didn't want that kind of attention, so I didn't dress in a way to get that kind of attention.

As I got older we didn't just learn from adults, we started to get testimonials from the guys our age.  Clean, trim teenage boys would stand in front of me and the other girls and talk about our beauty and how we should guard it because we didn't know the mind of a male.  We didn't understand how hard it was for them to control their thoughts.  And then they'd thank us for dressing modestly because it helped them keep their thoughts clean and helped them to be better.  And then the moms would swoon because everyone loves a pure hearted boy who just wants to stay clean so he can marry a perfectly pure virgin in the temple.  And more than one girl would swoon because she just wanted to marry a boy who wanted her to wear knee length shorts and shirts with sleeves to control his thoughts.

And I would sit there confused.

Wait, you people are actually buying this??  Was I the only one who saw the absurdity in this boy's remarks?  Had I been mistaken?  Was I dressing modestly not because I respect myself and don't want the attention of low life guys, but because a bare shoulder would spark a young man into thinking dirty things about me?  No. I dressed modestly for myself and no one else.  If guys can't control their thoughts, that's their problem--not mine.

More time went on and I found that other women also hated the discussion of modesty and how it objectified the female body.  I wasn't the only one who cringed when they heard "Modest is Hottest," and it felt good to know that not everyone was buying into this whole messed up idea of modesty.  So why am I even writing about this topic if so many women have already done so here and here and here?  Because I realized that I was beginning to dress modestly for reasons other than just self respect.  I was wearing one pieces because I didn't want to feel the judgmental stares of the people on my bare midriff.  Mind you, these weren't the stares of regular people at some city pool or even of a hormonal teenage boy--these were the stares of my fellow Mormon "brothers" and "sisters."

As LDS members, we live lives of pretty high standards.  And although it is great that we push ourselves daily to keep up these standards, we often forget that it's not our job to hold other people to these standards as well.  Middle School and High School can be rough, but I was never judged for wearing shorts two inches above my knee in Ohio.  But you better believe it happens on BYU campus.  Of course, there is an honor code involved in this as well, but overall we (as Mormons) tend to be extremely judgmental of each other.

So here's an example from my life.  I run.  Well, sometimes I run.  And when it's hot I run in my sports bra.  But since I run in Provo, the city that consists of BYU and mostly Mormons, I feel awkward running without a shirt.  Mind you, men run around shirtless all the time, but heaven forbid I run in a sports bra and show three inches of my stomach.  Anyway, because I'd rather not have people judge me, I will run with a shirt until I get to Center St. and then take off my shirt.  Or I'll run in the mountains where no one really cares.

And when it comes to bathing suits, I don't wear bikinis.  I just don't really think it's my style, and I don't feel that comfortable wearing them, but I really don't think wearing a bikini is much more sexual than wearing a one piece.  We're all wearing basically nothing.  I can tell what your body looks like whether you're wearing a one piece or not.  But mostly, if I were to wear a bikini other Mormons would judge me as one of those Mormons.  One that pushes the rules.  One that just isn't that good.  And I know this because I do this all the time.  It's so easy to judge people off of their appearances.

But this is ridiculous.  Just because things like modesty, or Sunday observance, or language are so easy for outsiders to judge, doesn't mean we should be doing any judging at all.  What if that boy who speaks kindly of others and always acts politely is struggling with pornography?  What if that girl who always dresses modestly has had problems with the law of chastity?  Both of those things are much more serious than modesty and language, and yet we still judge people based on what we see.

What I mostly want to say isn't just about modesty.  I guess I'm just talking about judgement.  And how stupid it is.  We all have trials.  We all have faults.  We all need to be better.  We shouldn't judge someone about their clothing (although I do recognize it can reflect the type of morals you have) and we shouldn't judge people's morality because we have no place to judge with our own faults.  Remember that story about the woman taken to Christ because she had committed adultery.  And what did Christ say? "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her." John 8:7
The crowd dispersed because no one is without sin and Christ said, "Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more."  Christ didn't approve of the woman's sin, but even He, our Savior who is sinless didn't judge her.  Do you feel dumb for judging others yet?  I do.

So this is where I'll return to modesty.  Do I think modesty is important?  Yes.  Of course I do.  Do I think that we put too much pressure on girls to dress modestly for reasons outside of their responsibilities?  Yes.  I don't want to dress modestly to avoid lustful eyes and I don't want to dress modestly because if I don't, other Mormons will think I'm a wayward member.  That's stupid.

I have read article after article about why people pick one piece bathing suits over bikinis, but it always comes down to body objectification and judgement.  And I don't like that.

And to end.  Here is a picture of me and my friend wearing tasteful one pieces.  Do you think I'm a perfect Mormon now?  Because you shouldn't.

1 comment:

  1. Huzzah Huzzah! Thanks for this Kristen. Sometimes I'm afraid of wearing my two piece in front of other members because I don't want them to think a RM has turned to her wicked ways again. Why should I feel like a failure just because I wear a high waisted two piece? Anyways, I loved this and I love you and let's hang out more.