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Evolution of the Swimsuit – Modesty is Right

I’ve always been stunned that the rise in “feminism” has often as not harmed women. I’m all for equal pay for equal work and for allowing women opportunities, such as education. But when women confuse equality and fairness with some kind of unrestrained hedonism, it isn’t a good thing.

So I’ll just say it. How in the world can LDS moms buy bikinis for their daughters?

From a Princeton University Study:

Brain scans revealed that when men are shown pictures of scantily clad women, the region of the brain associated with tools — such as screwdrivers and hammers — lit up.

Some men showed zero brain activity in the medial prefrontal cortex — which is the part of the brain that lights up when one ponders another persons thoughts, feelings, and intentions.

Researchers found this shocking, because they almost never see this part of the brain shut down in this way.

A Princeton professor said, “it’s as if they’re reacting to these women as if they are not fully human. It’s consistent with the idea that they are responding to these photographs as if they were responding to objects, not people.

And this.

Bikinis really do inspire men to see women as objects, as something to be used rather than something to connect with.

Is this the kind of power we want?

Her closing statement is one that we should be sharing with the Young Women in the church.

We need to teach girls that modesty isn’t about covering up our bodies because they’re bad. Modesty isn’t about hiding ourselves. It’s about revealing our dignity. We were made beautiful, in His image and likeness. So the question I’d like to leave you with is: How will you use your beauty?

{ 35 comments… add one }

  • MarieJohansen June 18, 2013, 10:53 pm

    Love this whole thing. Thank you for sharing and for your comments.

  • Angie Gardner June 19, 2013, 5:13 am

    I don’t know how LDS women feel comfortable wearing them THEMSELVES, let alone buying them for their daughters.

  • lizzylu June 19, 2013, 7:39 am

    For real? So let’s see… If one wears a one piece swimsuit, we won’t be objectified, but if we do, we will. Why don’t we just ban women from wearing a swimsuit at all? Put us all in a burqa. Except no matter how much women are covered up, women still get raped and fondled and oggled and Lord knows what else. I just got back from Europe and, gasp!, there were topless women at the beach in every age and shape. No man was running to rape them all. The reality is that men need to control their actions. Period. They may want to objectify or force sex upon or whatever, but that doesn’t mean they get to act on it. Teaching our sons that lesson is far more critical than forcing women to cover up. I wear a 2-piece swimsuit and my daughters have 2-piece suits, too. Good heavens, I am so tired of this hyper-sensitivity to the church’s version of modesty (which, by the way, has changed dramatically since Joseph’s day and also varies widely among cultures and religions). Seriously, it teaches poor girls little more than to see their bodies as something to be ashamed of and an object of evilness. This has to STOP.

  • pardonmoi June 19, 2013, 7:46 am

    This video is better than anything I”ve ever heard in the history of Mormons screaming about modesty. WE should have come up with this!

  • Alison Moore Smith June 19, 2013, 10:24 am

    Yea, lizzylu, fer rills. :)

    If one wears a one piece swimsuit, we won’t be objectified, but if we do, we will. Why don’t we just ban women from wearing a swimsuit at all?

    This is a beard fallacy argument. Enough said on that.

    It’s just a scientific fact that if you want to be seen as a human who is intelligent and thoughtful and worth listening to, it’s not going to happen if you’re flashing your boobies and booty at everyone. You can yell and scream that it SHOULD NOT BE SO. But in our culture, it is.

    If you don’t care about being taken seriously, ignore it. But if feminists (and I am one) really do want equality, they will wake up to reality, instead of using explicitly feminine characteristics to get what they want.

    Argue with the science if you can. Show us your contradictory study.

    I suggest the same is probably true the other way around. If a guy were to walk into the office with his goodies on display, I suspect few people in the room would take him seriously. They might even be a little distracted — either trying to get a better look or trying to avoid one.

    I wear a 2-piece swimsuit and my daughters have 2-piece suits, too.

    I don’t know if you’re LDS or if you’re endowed (guessing yes and then no?), but I suspected that you are a bikini wearer due to the highly charged response. (When you speak of hypersensitivity, you might want to look in the mirror on that) My post was written due to the fact that I actually think the church teaches modesty very poorly.

    Either way, I’m glad you commented. I have hoped for an endowed LDS woman to explain your position. So here are my questions:

    Why do you feel the need to expose yourself so much in public?
    What do you gain from it?
    Why is it important to you?
    Why do you want your daughters exposing themselves?
    What do you think will be accomplished from removing most of their clothes publicly?
    Do you have any compunctions against public nudity/stripping, etc?
    Do you have any compunctions against public sexual activity?
    Do you see a difference between public nudity and public touching?

    I’d like to hear a cogent argument for how being scantily clad is good for women in general, how it’s good for society, how it is appropriate within an LDS context.

    Look forward to hearing from you.
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  • Oregonian June 19, 2013, 10:35 am

    methinks she doth protest too much.

    yup, how dare you question that she puts her daughters on display for the world. its not like shes pimping or anything. shes just happy that they are natural. same reason she has sex in front of them. nature is all good. its just your dirty minds.

    i get way too much of this sheeit up here. shes probably FROM up here with the granolas or california indoctrinated by hollywood. great value set. even new yorkers know how to cover up most of the time.

    but yea yea yea. rules are for other people. shes fine and her daughter are fine. its just the rest of you stupid sheeple who cant think for yourselves.

  • Male cowering in corner June 19, 2013, 11:22 am

    Women may go topless in Europe. But if you don’t think men are having “thoughts” as the breasts are bouncing around, then you don’t know the male pysche very well. Here’s what I can’t figure out. A typical bikini resembles a small bra and panties. Yet, I doubt women (even non-member women) would be comfortable walking around town, to work, the grocery store, etc, in only a bra and panties. In fact, most women, even if they’re wearing a bikini in and around the water, put on a “cover up” the moment they get away from the water. So, what’s the point? If one is comfortable walking around in something that resembles a bra and panties, why not just walk around in your bra and panties? (Unless, of course, you’re wearing garments.) I will admit there are some tight one piece suits that don’t leave much to the imagination, and in that sense, aren’t any better than a bikini. And modesty will always be in the eye of the beholder. But from an LDS perspective, it seems like young women/adult women who want to wear a bikini are trying to make a statement with their body. In theory, we all ought to be able to run around butt naked and it not be a big deal. In reality, life isn’t like that.

  • Alison Moore Smith June 19, 2013, 12:00 pm

    lizzylu, I wanted to respond to this specifically:

    The reality is that men need to control their actions. Period. They may want to objectify or force sex upon or whatever, but that doesn’t mean they get to act on it. Teaching our sons that lesson is far more critical than forcing women to cover up.

    I agree that men need to control themselves. I’ve written at length both here and on Times & Seasons about that. I don’t believe that women are responsible for men’s thoughts or behaviors — although we are all responsible for how we influence others. (I think those are two distinct things.) But if there is a benefit to women for behaviors we ask them to engage in (like modesty), we should TELL them.

    It’s not “feminism” to put our collective heads in the sand and pretend that what we do doesn’t mean something.

    And maybe being obedient to prophetic counsel has some benefits as well.
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  • Male cowering in corner June 19, 2013, 12:50 pm

    One comment about the need for men to control their thoughts. I work in a job where I interact with about 100 non-member women a month, several each day. About a third dress modestly, another third somewhat immodestly, and the final third make it tough on me — and I’m an “old” guy! I’ve been doing this for 20 years, and it hasn’t made me leave my wife, cheat on her, and so forth. So, I do control my thoughts, and in turn, my actions. But it is a welcome relief to also work around an LDS sister who always dresses modestly. It’s relaxing. It’s a welcome respite from otherwise having to exercise that “control” that is expected of me. I don’t have a solution. But I would think, if it were possible, that we would make each other’s burdens as light as reasonably possible. I can open the door for a sister who’s got her hands full and three kids in tow, or I can say to myself: Not my problem. She can get it herself. Which is more Christlike? If I called a woman fat and ugly, I would be accused of being rude, and deservedly so. But am I responsible for that woman’s thoughts of poor body image and poor self esteem? Could I simply say “not my problem — she’s in charge of her own thoughts.” Again, what’s the Christlike thing to do? How we dress is just as much a form of communication as the words that come out of our mouths.

  • Male cowering in corner June 19, 2013, 2:04 pm

    Last point and then I’ll be quiet. I can’t think of a perfect analogy for the sexual / visual thing for males. I know, women are visual, too. But I don’t believe there is such a distinct, quick physiological response in females seeing a naked man as there is in a male seeing a naked woman. If I asked a room full of young men what young women could do so that young men saw them as people as opposed to objects, I imagine most of the young men would encourage the young women to dress modestly. If I asked the young women what the young men could do so that young women saw them as people as opposed to objects, I wonder what response I would get? You see, most females would deny they ever see the young men as “objects.” But, I believe women objectify young men just as much as young men objectify young women. It’s just in a different way. The teenage boy who’s got a car and nice clothes is captain of the football team? An object. And if he’s got a build like Taylor Lautner, even more of an object. So, how do young women control those thoughts? Or do we expect them to?

  • Dave K June 19, 2013, 2:31 pm

    Alison,

    We’ve crossed swords on various T&S postings before. I’ll try to be charitable in my comments here. I generally agree with your approach to modesty. We are not responsible for others’ thoughts, but we should consider how our actions affect others. It’s a form of the commandment to “love thy neighbor.” And we should be aware of, and teach our children about, the judgments that others will make of us based on our dress.

    The challenge with modesty comes in defining specifics beyond these general principles. Specifics include hem lines, sleave length, belly buttons shown, beards ok or not, one pair of earnings or 10, what color shirt for sacrament meeting, etc. These standards vary greatly based on the society, time period, family norms, and many other circumstances. We do not create the standards ourselves; we learn about them from watching and talking to our peers. Critically though, in my view, the specific standards are *not* eternal truths. They are norms that are constantly changing based on what we, as a society, are comfortable with. We have no idea what modesty standards will be 50 years from now, much less the eternities. As one example, Joseph described Moroni as wearing a loose robe that revealed his chest. Apparently in Moroni’s society, that’s perfectly ok. In our society, it would be quite odd.

    And that’s where I disagree with your analysis. If you simply said, “here are some great swim suits to consider,” that would be unobjectionable. But you went further and judged those who dress differently – “How in the world can LDS moms buy bikinis for their daughters?” In doing so, you open yourself up to similar judgment. In many societies, your dress is considered immodest because you do not cover your head. How would you feel if a neighbor moves next to you from Saudi Arabia, comes over for a visit, and says “I’m just going to say this – how can any mom dress immodestly like you do in front of your children?” Or, more relevant to this post, how do you view the woman in the video you posted? Is she immodest because she is not wearing sleaves? How would you react if she sat down in RS meeting and her neighbor said “I’m just going to say this, how can any decent woman wear that to church?”

    I don’t have any easy answers for the dilemma of setting modesty standards. Because the standards depend on what we are each comfortable with, we do need to speak to each other. But we also need to allow for differing viewpoints. There is no *right* answer to any specific standard, just a general principle to help all feel welcome. I don’t allow my young daughters to wear bikinis because I don’t like them. But if they choose to do so when they are adults, that is their perogative. We each have an equal say in morality standards; none has more than another.

    Long post (I’m sorry), but I’ll finish with this. From the Savior’s example in the NT, I find it interesting that he bucked societal trends for many things of eternal weight – healing on the sabbath, correcting ignorance of women’s cleanliness due to menstration, etc. But I can’t find any reference to him bucking societies modesty standards. He seems to have simply gone along with the dress and grooming of the day. That said, I also do not find him particularly interested in those standards, much less *enforcing* them on others. Perhaps that is the model to follow.

  • Alison Moore Smith June 19, 2013, 4:33 pm

    We’ve crossed swords on various T&S postings before. I’ll try to be charitable in my comments here.

    Hey, Dave. Thanks for commenting. And for charity. :) I really appreciate your analysis of this and your good insights.

    The challenge with modesty comes in defining specifics beyond these general principles.

    Agree completely on all the specifics you mention, particularly culture. Also agree that those norms change. I had an exchange on T&S a few weeks back that addressed the same thing. The current general RS presidency would be kicked out of Brigham Young’s Retrenchment Society based on something like hussiness.

    And that’s where I disagree with your analysis. If you simply said, “here are some great swim suits to consider,” that would be unobjectionable. But you went further and judged those who dress differently – “How in the world can LDS moms buy bikinis for their daughters?”

    Yup, because that IS my question. I’m not going to pretend it isn’t. Bikinis simply are the MOST undressed attire intended as outerwear in our culture. As far as the covering part of modesty goes, they ARE they extreme. They are the domain of pole dancers. Even hookers usually wear more until they get a paid room.

    Why, as LDS women, would we want our daughters to be in that space? Even if it is NOTHING more than a current cultural space? Even if the celestial kingdom is just free love and nudity and flower wreaths around our heads and passing a join (or a Coke), why — HERE AND NOW — would we want our daughters to dress like pole dancers?

    In doing so, you open yourself up to similar judgment. In many societies, your dress is considered immodest because you do not cover your head.

    Absolutely. And if I moved to a culture that had particular expectations or requirements, I would try to honor those, even if I disagreed. Or I’d try not to go there.

    How would you feel if a neighbor moves next to you from Saudi Arabia, comes over for a visit, and says “I’m just going to say this – how can any mom dress immodestly like you do in front of your children?”

    How would I feel? I’d feel like they had a different standard than Americans generally do and I’d tell them that my dress is considered conservative in America (where I live) and I’m fine with it. I’m not sure how that needs to be complicated.

    Or, more relevant to this post, how do you view the woman in the video you posted? Is she immodest because she is not wearing sleaves?

    No, I don’t. Just like I don’t think non-Mormons who drink coffee are evil. :) But again, you’re arguing the beard fallacy. Whatever MY PERSONAL modesty line is, it can be argued with, just as yours can. That doesn’t mean we can’t create a reasonable modesty standard.

    How would you react if she sat down in RS meeting and her neighbor said “I’m just going to say this, how can any decent woman wear that to church?”

    I’ll be charitable ;) and assume you see a difference between accosting someone at church about how they dress (or do anything) and posting a general to-the-universe question on my own blog that people can choose to read or ignore, respond or not. Right?

    But we also need to allow for differing viewpoints. There is no *right* answer to any specific standard, just a general principle to help all feel welcome.

    I’m not sure how I could possibly DISallow differing viewpoints. I haven’t yet attained that power. :) However, I don’t have to agree with them.

    Still, there ARE some right answer. Some are specific. Swimsuits have, to some degree, been discussed in the specific by our leaders. So as far as LDS standards go, that’s where it is. And bikinis are out of the question. Just facts.

    Of course Mormons don’t have to abide by that standard. But it’s still there. I didn’t make it up. And I’m not going to throw things at you if you wear a bikini, but I’m also not going to allow them at my pool (when we build it). :)

    I don’t allow my young daughters to wear bikinis because I don’t like them. But if they choose to do so when they are adults, that is their perogative. We each have an equal say in morality standards; none has more than another.

    Well, except maybe the prophet? And our general leaders? They not only have stewardships over us, but they do speak for God. But of course our adult kids can make their own choices. I don’t think I’ve said anything to the contrary. My parents didn’t like all my choices and I don’t like all my kids choices. That’s life. Right?

    But I can’t find any reference to him bucking societies modesty standards. He seems to have simply gone along with the dress and grooming of the day.

    That’s absolutely true. But he didn’t spend much time talking about smoking or heroine or cloning or surrogacy or porn, either. Like you said, culture makes a huge difference and that likely extends to the actual problems a culture deals with.

    Again, thanks for your thoughtful response. Much food for thought.
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  • Alison Moore Smith June 19, 2013, 4:35 pm

    Male Cowering in the Corner, no need to “keep quiet” nor to cower. :) Many good insights.

    But I don’t believe there is such a distinct, quick physiological response in females seeing a naked man as there is in a male seeing a naked woman.

    Chocolate? ;)
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  • lizzylu June 20, 2013, 9:05 am

    Swimsuits are by their very nature, immodest. Wearing a swimsuit walking around a shopping center or in an airport or eating in a restaurant or in a business meeting is also completely inappropriate. So I’ll answer your questions:

    Why do you feel the need to expose yourself so much in public?It’s a swimming pool and it’s comfortable to wear a 2-piece swimsuit (and appropriate). I’m not wearing a g-string bikini. I have one-piece swimsuits, too. I wear what feels most comfortable to me on that day. If I’m at a water park or jumping from a cliff in Costa Rica into water, I’ll probably wear a one-piece. If I’m lounging around a pool, most likely I’m wearing a 2-piece. Wearing any kind of swimsuit means you’re going to expose more than you normally would in public.

    What do you gain from it?Comfort and it’s appropriate for the venue

    Why is it important to you?To wear a swimsuit? Because I’m out at a pool. Because I’mswimming. Because I like it. Because it’s comfortable.

    Why do you want your daughters exposing themselves?They are at a pool. It is appropriate. They like them. There is nothing wrong with it.

    What do you think will be accomplished from removing most of their clothes publicly? Well along those lines of thinking, we shouldn’t wear swimsuits at all, ever. Because even a one-piece suit means removing most of their clothes in public.

    Do you have any compunctions against public nudity/stripping, etc?I’m not a fan of public nudity, although I am not offended by the women I see topless in other parts of the world. It’s definitely not a sexual thing and I think it’s awesome.

    Do you have any compunctions against public sexual activity? Of course I do!Are you seriously equating a two piece swimsuit with copulating in public? Oh my!

    Do you see a difference between public nudity and public touching? Of course I do. You don’t?

  • lizzylu June 20, 2013, 9:17 am

    If you’re really concerned with covering up at a pool, even a typical 1-piece is way too immodest.

    I have a huge issue with older men telling women and especially young girls how to dress. It’s creepy and inappropriate. I think the advice of dressing modestly is a good one but modesty isn’t about drawing a line at shoulders and knees. Modesty is a package: Does it fit right, is it wrinkled or have holes in it, is it appropriate for the activity, does it look right on the person, etc.

    I think the church is teaching dangerous messages to our children (boys and girls) about modesty. It objectifies very young girls, teaches unhealthy body images and messages (as if they don’t get that enough already from magazines, movies, and peers), teaches shame, gives unwarranted power for others thoughts and behavior, and gives one more ginormmous reason to judge others based on clothing.

    There are so many bigger problems to talk about but yet the church focuses on modesty. Internet danger, drugs, sex, bullying… but modesty? We are so stuck in the trees that we can’t see the forest and that’s a shame.

  • Alison Moore Smith June 20, 2013, 10:13 am

    lissylu, thanks for responding. I sincerely appreciate your input. IMO this is the best of blogs because conversations that can’t – and probably shouldn’t — happen face-to-face can be had and various viewpoints presented.

    Swimsuits are by their very nature, immodest.

    I don’t agree. As you said, appropriateness of clothing varies with the circumstance. So I don’t agree that the swimsuits are necessarily immodest, given the situation. Just as I don’t think nudity is immodest while showering and having sex, among other things.

    We are talking about swimsuit modesty in an LDS context.

    It’s a swimming pool and it’s comfortable to wear a 2-piece swimsuit (and appropriate).

    Is comfort the criteria we use as LDS women for what we wear? What if I’m more comfortable nude? What if it feels good to me?

    You also say it’s “appropriate.” Since we are speaking here in an LDS context, how do you determine that bikinis are appropriate, given all the counsel to the contrary? As I said in an earlier context, I’m not just randomly making up my own lines here. It’s authoritative.

    I’m not wearing a g-string bikini.

    I did laugh out loud at this. So YOU think a g-string bikini is immodest? Maybe a thong and pasties outfit is going too far? But you gasp at prophetic counsel not to wear bikinis?

    Wearing any kind of swimsuit means you’re going to expose more than you normally would in public.

    lizzylu, I guess your reasoning isn’t reasonable to me. Because you’re going to expose more than usual, you must leap to stripper wear? Because the “sport” of lounging at the pool means you won’t be dressed for church, you simply must go to bra and panties?

    Comfort and it’s appropriate for the venue

    Are you saying that wearing a swimsuit in line with prophetic counsel would be too uncomfortable for you to tolerate and that a one piece or suit that covered your stomach would be INappropriate? I can’t imagine you’d argue either one.

    So, again, what do you gain form ignoring prophetic counsel? Lounging at the pool in a one-piece or more modest swimsuit isn’t inappropriate nor is it uncomfortable. (There is a reason swimmers and divers wear one piece suits. There are fewer “wardrobe malfunctions.”)

    So there is something BESIDES comfort and appropriateness that you are going for here. That’s what I’m asking about.

    What is it you get out of wearing a bikini that you could NOT get from wearing clothing that would align with prophetic counsel. What are the benefits you derive that you believe are worth disregarding prophetic counsel?

    To wear a swimsuit? Because I’m out at a pool. Because I’mswimming. Because I like it. Because it’s comfortable.

    No. Why is it important to you to wear a swimsuit that ignores prophetic counsel? Was there really some confusion about the topic here? The question has never been about wearing swimsuits generally, but wearing bikinis as an LDS woman who has heard prophetic counsel to the contrary.

    They are at a pool. It is appropriate. They like them. There is nothing wrong with it.

    Again, your daughters could be at the pool in appropriate pool clothing that didn’t ignore prophetic counsel. And there IS something wrong with it in an LDS context. So why do you want them to expose themselves this way and ignore counsel? Just because “they like them”?

    As a parent, is “my kids like it” some kind of ultimate determining factor? If it is, then it shifts the discussion significantly. But if not, then it’s irrelevant, because it’s not “the reason.”

    Please remember that we are speaking in an LDS context here. Are you LDS? There is a great deal of authoritative counsel on this issue. So to say there is “nothing wrong with it” in an LDS complex is intellectually dishonest.

    So, why — in spite of all the counsel on modesty given to our youth and in spite of specific counsel about bikinis — do you want your daughters to ignore that counsel?

    Perhaps it’s so that you don’t have to follow it yourself? Perhaps you like the attention they get? Perhaps it’s because you have simply decided that prophetic counsel doesn’t apply to you and/or doesn’t apply at all? Other?

    Given that you ignore the counsel yourself, it’s obvious that you are in a difficult position. It’s hard to tell kids to follow counsel you don’t. (I know from experience. I’m not speaking platitudes here. There are lots of things I don’t do that I should.) But if we’re going to have a real discussion, we have to deal with reality.

    Well along those lines of thinking, we shouldn’t wear swimsuits at all, ever. Because even a one-piece suit means removing most of their clothes in public.

    Again, you’re arguing a beard fallacy. No one has objected to wearing swimsuits at a swimming pool. The discussion — as I think you know — is about the KIND of swimsuit and the AMOUNT of exposure. Bikinis obviously remove MORE than most other suits and remove almost as much as possible without removing everything. When you get to bikinis, you only have a few inches of fabric you’re dealing with, one way or another.

    I’m not a fan of public nudity, although I am not offended by the women I see topless in other parts of the world. It’s definitely not a sexual thing and I think it’s awesome.

    You’re not a fan, but it’s “awesome”?

    I definitely think that culture plays an enormous part in determining what modesty consists of. But our counsel is fairly clear FOR OUR CULTURE and with nothing but a few strips of cloth left — which is what pole dancers wear, so in our culture, it’s still provocative enough to get paid for — there isn’t much further we can go.

    Of course I do!Are you seriously equating a two piece swimsuit with copulating in public? Oh my!

    Equating? Where did I equate the two? I asked if you have a problem with public sexual activity. Why do you have a problem with it?

    Of course I do. You don’t?

    Yes, I see a difference between nudity and touching. But generally speaking I think if I’m willing to show it to the world, I shouldn’t have an enormous problem with the parts I’m showing being touched in front of the world. It’s not private if it’s exposed.

    Also, I’m trying to determine how far you are willing to go with the “it’s appropriate” and “it’s comfortable” and “they like it” mantras. What if I’m COMFORTABLE having sex in public. Some people certainly are. What if I LIKE having sex in public. It is said to occur fairly frequently in Vancouver and San Francisco. So I guess it’s appropriate.
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  • lizzylu June 20, 2013, 12:47 pm

    Swimsuits, by garment standards, are incredibly immodest. Where else can you, by Mormon standards, show your shoulders and have part of your bum hanging out, even in a one-piece swimsuit. Moving on…

    I am definitely a left of center Mormon. A cafeteria Mormon, if you will. Prophetic counsel is counsel and, to be perfectly honest, I truly resent old men telling women how to dress and defining modesty for them. Is that truly revelation coming down from God or is it good advice from old men in Salt Lake City? Well, my opinion is that it’s advice. I think the human body is beautiful and not shameful. Keeping with societal mores, in this country, I would never go nude or topless at a pool or on a beach. I will admit to going topless in Nice one summer. It was really uncomfortable and I put my top back on rather quickly. Shaming girls into believing that they must cover up or a boy will have naughty thoughts is, in my opinion, incredibly unhealthy. Boys and men are going to get turned on by looking at a lamp post. And if they don’t, they need therapy. It’s normal and natural. But they don’t get to act on it.

    I don’t always wear a two-piece and, actually, I don’t think I’d call my 2-piece swimsuits bikinis because they really aren’t skimpy. My girls wear tankinis and 2-pieces and have one-pieces, too. When we head to the pool, they decide what they’re wearing out of whatever is in their drawers. I don’t expect them to wear shorts to their knees and to cover their shoulders. That said, I don’t allow them to wear booty shorts or tops that show breasts either. Since I’m their mom, I decide what is appropriate and not and it goes through my most imperfect “liz-filter” when deciding what to purchase and what to allow them out of the house in.

    Not long ago, our stake had a modesty night for all the girls. One hour and 40 minutes of the girls being told that their bodies should be covered up. It was creepy and bizarre and if there’s another one like that, I’m walking out. To have young returned missionaries and older priesthood leaders telling these girls this stuff is so inappropriate that it makes my head spin.

    I’m all for good dress and grooming and decorum. How we dress communicates to the world who we are and who we want to be. But I do not dry the line in the sand at shoulders and kneecaps as what makes an outfit appropriate or modest.

    I do enjoy the discussion and appreciate not be flamed for it. Thanks for providing a place to discuss!

  • Alison Moore Smith June 20, 2013, 2:29 pm

    lizzylu, thanks for sticking with me. :)

    Swimsuits, by garment standards, are incredibly immodest.

    Not to intentionally quibble with even your opener, but no, they’re not. It sounds like you think “garment standards” means something I don’t think it does. Of course most swimsuits won’t really work with garments. But there is no requirement to wear garments in a pool. To me that’s like saying being naked in a shower is immodest because you couldn’t cover garments up with your nakedness.

    Where else can you, by Mormon standards, show your shoulders and have part of your bum hanging out, even in a one-piece swimsuit.

    Basketball, gymnastics, track. You know, sports that have generally required clothing that doesn’t cover shoulders. However, my bum doesn’t hang out of my suit. Not even part. And it’s not a specifically designed “modest suit.” It’s just off the rack with enough fabric to cover my backside.

    I am definitely a left of center Mormon. A cafeteria Mormon, if you will. Prophetic counsel is counsel…

    That, I think, is the explanation that covers most of it. So try to understand that this site really isn’t a cafeteria Mormon site. That does NOT mean you are not welcome to comment here. Quite to the contrary. I don’t like everything the church does and I don’t like every policy. I’ve written plenty of stuff about that (if you care to see it). And I don’t DO everything the church teaches, not even all the things I really know I should do. But I have always tried to have the site reflect a belief that the LDS church really is God’s church, really run by prophets, whose counsel really is inspired.

    In that context, I understand that you have chosen to ignore this counsel (I’m not trying to use strong verbiage there) because you don’t think it’s very important or consequential or something. But I sincerely don’t believe prophetic counsel can be so easily discarded and so I disagree that it’s not important.

    to be perfectly honest, I truly resent old men telling women how to dress and defining modesty for them.

    It’s incredibly problematic — no matter where you are in life — to dismiss counsel from someone because of their gender and/or age. Really, it’s just ad hominem.

    While I actually do have a problem with individual girls (and women) being required to confess and counsel very personal (even sexual) things with a (usually) married middle-agish man (seriously, I think we need to modify how that works), I don’t think it’s “creepy” to get general counsel from male leaders. I mean, if there is some notion of equality, you can’t refuse to hear what men have to say just because they are men.

    That said, our leaders are from a different era (though the older I get, the less that impacts me). I do think it’s possible that our leaders don’t have all the info that could be helpful. That’s one reason I think women need a larger presence in church councils and decision making arenas. (Does Gender Matter?) Maybe that position should be extended to people of various ages, too. (If you remember Sheri Dew’s “reign” in the general RS presidency, I think helped enormously with the place of single sisters in the church.)

    About six years ago I wrote a post called Trusting the Octogenarians You might find it interesting.

    Is that truly revelation coming down from God or is it good advice from old men in Salt Lake City? Well, my opinion is that it’s advice.

    I understand. I just disagree. That’s not to say that that particular advice won’t change or be modified. (For example, after tankinis were invented, there was an article in the New Era (I think?) that addressed the fact that even though it was technically “2-piece,” it still met the objective of covering our bodies.) But in our current culture bikinis and the like ARE the venue of pole dancers and strippers! That means something.

    Take hair and the general urging for men to have short hair and be clean shaven. Our leaders actually do know that Christ likely had long hair and a beard. They really do. And they know most of the early prophets did, too. They haven’t taken the position they have for missionaries and for church schools, etc., because they are clueless about history or because they think hair is inherently evil. They have done it because of what those symbols have meant in American culture — which is where the church is still headquartered — in recent history.

    Same with tattoos. Even though tattoos in other cultures, for example, Polynesian culture, don’t have negative connotations at all.

    I think the human body is beautiful and not shameful.

    I think this is a false dilemma. I agree the human body is awesome. I think sex is beautiful and awesome and amazing, too. But I don’t do it in public. And it’s not because I feel “shamed” about it and it’s not because I’m embarrassed about it. It’s because it’s private and personal. And I think it’s entirely possible that God intends our bodies to be somewhat private as well. That has nothing to do with shame and/or lack of beauty. (Read her last quote in the OP.)

    I totally agree with you — 100% — we shouldn’t shame girls into covering up. I also agree —100% that they must cover up to control what boys do or that they are somehow responsible for what boys do. I’ve written about that ad nauseum:

    To LDS Seminary Teachers Everywhere

    Modesty: More Than Skin Deep

    And, yes, I think the church has often done a terrible job at teaching modesty. In part I think that’s because they haven’t really figured out a sound discussion about the topic. Even Elder Holland agrees that we should never teach girls they are responsible for boys behavior.

    Elder Holland:

    I’ve heard all my life that it is the young woman who has to assume the responsibility for controlling the limits of intimacy in courtship because a young man cannot. Seldom have I heard any point made on this subject that makes me want to throw up more than that.

    However, it is scientific FACT that men who see scantily clad women tend to objectify them and tend not to see them as a competent, intelligent PEERS. It’s FACT!

    So do we pretend it’s not fact for the sake of doing what we feel like or what is comfortable? Or do we — at very least — arm our daughters with the TRUTH? How does it give our daughters power or equality to lie to them about what happens when we are scantily dressed?

    I appreciate the “imperfect ‘liz-filter.'” My filter is imperfect, too. :) Thanks for taking the time to contribute. You are always welcome here.
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  • lizzylu June 20, 2013, 8:59 pm

    Thanks, Alison! Yes, I’m a cafeteria Mormon but I’m not anti Mormon and I am practicing LDS and go to church every Sunday. True I don’t go to the temple, I do wear tank tops (and 2-piece swimsuits), and I watch rated R movies. And thank you for allowing me to visit and post.

    To be clear: I definitely don’t dismiss counsel simply because of gender. But to here men telling women to dress to the extent that we hear it these days is just, in my opinion, wrong and bizarre and out of place. Raising a daughter who is currenty in YWs is tough for me because there are so many huge issues and challenges going on in the world. And I mean huge, scary, life altering challenges. But yet over and over and over and over again, it’s modesty modesty modesty modesty. What a waste of time. And the result is that these kids become incredibly judgemental of anyone who doesn’t dress in a particular way, or they are judged by others– neither which is OK. Having grown up in a very conservative Mormon household, I never heard modesty preached the way it is now. And I simply don’t get it.

    Second, I’m all for dressing modestly. But immodest doesn’t equal showing a knee or a shoulder. Modesty is a whole package. I may wear sleeveless, but I can tell you that I see all kinds of women wearing garments who dress far more immodestly than the tanks and sleeveless dresses I wear. What happened to teaching correct principles and letting people govern themselves? How about “dress modestly” and modest means drawing undo attention to yourself, and letting it go? It seems to incredibly controling and trivial. So, yes on dressing modestly; no on anyone dictating where the line is drawn.

    Third, men are going to objectify women on some level no matter what. Simply covering up your shoulders isn’t going to stop the ojectification. And, really, as long as they act and behave respectfully, that’s good enough for me. I can’t pretend to know what turns a guy on and neither can anyone else.

    Hope this clarifies how an LDS mother could allow her daughter(s) to wear a 2-piece or wear one herself. Now you’ve at least heard from one LDS mom who does.

  • lizzylu June 20, 2013, 9:00 pm

    Ugh– typos throughout my post. I should read first!

  • Alison Moore Smith June 21, 2013, 12:49 am

    I definitely don’t dismiss counsel simply because of gender. But to here men telling women to dress to the extent that we hear it these days is just, in my opinion, wrong and bizarre and out of place.

    So you’re saying you do NOT dismiss it because they are men, even though you do think it’s “wrong and bizarre and out of place” because they are men? You embrace it and follow it?

    Raising a daughter who is currenty in YWs is tough for me because there are so many huge issues and challenges going on in the world. And I mean huge, scary, life altering challenges. But yet over and over and over and over again, it’s modesty modesty modesty modesty. What a waste of time.

    Of course, I can’ t speak to your ward or the balance in the lessons. But what are the “huge issues” you think they should be discussing instead of modesty? Would you be willing to consider that MAYBE modesty is consequential enough to be meaningful to God?

    And the result is that these kids become incredibly judgemental of anyone who doesn’t dress in a particular way, or they are judged by others– neither which is OK.

    The problems with judgement is that you can’t call it out without being judgmental. :/ I mean, you don’t like kids judging your daughter (or you) for how you dress, but you’re judging them for judging you (and I’d guess you’re daughter knows that). So how does that work?

    I just don’t have a problem with judgment. Not theirs or yours. We can’t function without making judgements and we certainly can’t have a standard without making them. Even if your standards is MODESTY DOES NOT MATTER, you didn’t get there without making a judgement and you didn’t get there without JUDGING that those who think it matters are misguided. Right?

    I’m all for dressing modestly. But immodest doesn’t equal showing a knee or a shoulder.

    We’re doing the beard fallacy again! :)

    Look, I get that you don’t think showing knees or shoulders is immodest. I don’t either. (Even though we actually do pretty much follow the “garment rule” most of the time because it DOES make it easier to transition to being endowed.) But if you’re “all for dressing modestly” then you still have some criteria, some line, some judgement that determines what that MEANS. So it seems odd that you get so bugged at the fact that the church generally has a criteria, a line, a judgement that it teaches as being appropriate — just because it’s not the same as yours.

    Of course you can wear garments and dress immodestly. But the fact that there are OTHER things involved in modesty doesn’t mean it’s unreasonable to discuss covering specific parts, too.

    What happened to teaching correct principles and letting people govern themselves? How about “dress modestly” and modest means drawing undo attention to yourself, and letting it go? It seems to incredibly controling and trivial. So, yes on dressing modestly; no on anyone dictating where the line is drawn.

    Saying “don’t draw undue attention to yourself” isn’t a line-less criteria. And neither is “dress modestly.” The fact that the church has actually given some guidelines as to what that means doesn’t violate the sacred Joseph Smith statement that no one actually thinks is sacred — unless they don’t like a particular guideline the church promotes. ;)

    …men are going to objectify women on some level no matter what.

    Girl, you love that beard! ;)

    Men are going to objectify women, so there’s NOTHING WE CAN DO! Not even teach them about actual scientific research that shows them very practical ways to be treated as an intellectual, human equal?

    To me that’s like saying, “People are going to drive recklessly no matter what we do. So I’m not going to tell my kids not to play in the street.” or “People are going to break into homes no matter what we do. So I’m not going to teach my kids to lock the doors.”

    We’ve got scientific evidence for how brains actually work. Sure, teach men to think differently. But acknowledge and use the truth to benefit your children in the meantime. That is real power.

    Hope this clarifies how an LDS mother could allow her daughter(s) to wear a 2-piece or wear one herself. Now you’ve at least heard from one LDS mom who does.

    Only kind of, sort of. :)

    If we’re just going to the realm of “I go to church pretty much but don’t really take prophetic counsel or church policy too seriously,” well then, yea, I already knew there are lots of Mormons like that. Over half our ward in Boca was totally inactive. I wasn’t under some fantastical impression that all Mormons followed all prophetic counsel. :) But I still don’t know what it is you get out of it that trumps following counsel. I gave some possibilities. There are many others and I don’t think you really addressed that.

    So maybe that simply is the general answer. People who do it are those who don’t really accept the whole gospel/church thing or just do the parts they want or it’s more cultural than spiritual or don’t think prophets are anything but a bunch of “old men” who’ve moved up the ranks or they don’t really believe church ordinances are saving ordinances or something. Maybe that’s really it.

    I admit it’s hard for me to understand that position, no matter which of those angles you pick. It’s a lot of obligation if you don’t really believe it’s that important. The temple, for example. If you don’t think the temple is important, how can the gospel make sense? And if you do think it’s important, how can you NOT go?
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  • lizzylu June 21, 2013, 10:01 am

    Alison:

    Not to parse words. When it comes to modesty, I find it highly inapproprate and strange that older men are telling women (especially young girls) how to dress. Does Christ care if our shorts hit a knee or the sleeves hit a particular length? I think not. If I’m wrong, then so be it. We moved to Utah from California and my teen was surprised when summer arrived and her friends were looking at other girls’ shorts and labeling them “bad girls” if they didn’t hit their knees. My daughter came home afraid to wear half of the clothes in her closet, endless obsessing if she was covered enough.

    Not only does this modesty obsession based on arbitrary (in my opinion) sleeve and short lengths harm girls/women, but it harms boys/men, too. There is an excellent post right now at By Common Consent entitled “Men, Sex and Modesty.” I’d post the link but your site won’t let me. I highly encourage you to read it.

    There is also another excellent post at feministmormonhousewives right now entitled “Undoing Shoulder and Knee Obsession in Mormon Kids.”

    A simple Google search of biggest issues facing kids today include:

    1. Single parent households (poverty, lack of parental guidance, higher pregnancy rates, higher rates of drug/alcohol abuse, neglect)
    2. Drug/alcohol abuse
    3. Access to the Internet and its many dangers
    4. Too much materialism
    5. Violence in schools
    6. Bullying
    7. Teen pregnancy, promiscuity, sex
    8. Obesity
    9. Poverty
    10. Education disparity

    Nowhere do I see modesty. Yes, something extremely immodest can be telling of bigger issues so modesty is of importance. Knees and shoulders are not the definition of modesty. I do not expect my children (any child) to dress as if they are wearning garments. I am not going to dress as if I’m wearing garments because I don’t wear them. That doesn’t make us immodest. Since I’m my children’s mom, not the church or the YW advisor, I have the final say on what is modest. Perfect? No, but neither is what they hear from their YW advisor or SP either. It’s all opinion. Our SP actually told the girls that he doesn’t like watching beach volleyball competitions on TV because of the way the women dress. His wife told the girls that skinny jeans and embellishments on jean pockets are immodest.

    Back to children dressing as if they are wearing garments: I don’t expect them to dress as if they are wearning garments until they do, no more than I expect a child to wear a suit every day (or sister missionary outfits) every day to prepare them for when they may serve a mission. Or to wear business attire now so that when they work in an office setting, it’ll be easier for them to transition to that.

    And lastly, there are countless reasons why people stay active in the LDS church, even if they have unconventional opinions or beliefs. The beauty of the gospel is that we should all feel welcomed in the church regardless.

  • Alison Moore Smith June 22, 2013, 4:29 pm

    When it comes to modesty, I find it highly inapproprate and strange that older men are telling women (especially young girls) how to dress.

    You have made that clear. As I said, I find if problematic that you find it inappropriate for “older men” —namely prophets and apostles — to give general counsel to church members based on their age/gender. (They tell young men how to dress, too).

    My daughter came home afraid to wear half of the clothes in her closet, endless obsessing if she was covered enough.

    As I said, I can’t speak specifically to your California ward climate — some wards are better than others — but I honestly don’t see why she’d NEED to “endlessly obsess.” I have been endowed for nearly 28 years (and I don’t tuck or roll ;)). So, yea, it’s a bit more of a challenge to find clothes that cover my garments than if I could buy clothes with absolutely no defined standard. But I don’t “endlessly obsess” about it. I just look for clothes that work and move on. Don’t you think you could have chosen to help your daughter NOT “endlessly obsess”?

    Not only does this modesty obsession based on arbitrary (in my opinion) sleeve and short lengths harm girls/women

    lizzylu, of COURSE it’s arbitrary. EVER STANDARD is arbitrary. Every single one. Like your standard of not wearing a thong and not copulating in public. This is still a beard fallacy argument. Let’s move on! :)

    I have already read both the posts you recommended. (I try to keep up on what’s going on in the bloggernacle at least in passing.)

    So here’s my question. So what if we undo the “shoulder and knee obsession”? Then you (or FMH or BCC or SOMEONE) will be screaming about undoing the “thigh and cleavage obsession.” And then, when we finally get rid of THAT prudish hyperactivity, they’ll be screaming about the “crotch and boob obsession.”

    All the lines are arbitrary. The church’s, mine, yours, FMH’s, and BCC’s. And the only argument that keeps reappearing is that you like YOUR line better than the church’s line. That doesn’t make yours more reasonable, more appropriate, or more righteous. (Nor the church’s.) And it doesn’t resolve anything.
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  • Alison Moore Smith June 22, 2013, 4:58 pm

    Looking at the list of concerns you presented, let’s look at each one. Surprisingly (because of the church’s actual mission and focus), I think the church does a pretty freaking good job of addressing most of them. But I’d be interested in hearing what you think they should do instead.

    1. Single parent households (poverty, lack of parental guidance, higher pregnancy rates, higher rates of drug/alcohol abuse, neglect)

    The church encourages marriage before sex, staying married, committed, and nurturing marriage, being able to provide for children, not using drugs or alcohol, and taking care of the children you already have. ALL THE TIME.

    They also have an enormous welfare program to help those in need and an employment program as well as training programs to help people have stable work.

    They encourage education.

    What more would you have the church, as an institution do about single parent households in the YOUTH PROGRAM?

    2. Drug/alcohol abuse

    The church has taught the Word of Wisdom so frequently that others freak out and say it’s overemphasized. If you are following the Word of Wisdom and general, related counsel, you aren’t going to be using (or abusing) alcohol or illicit drugs.

    The church also has counseling and rehab type programs.

    What more would you have the church, as an institution do about drug/alcohol abuse in the YOUTH PROGRAM?

    3. Access to the Internet and its many dangers

    Seriously, if I hear one more general conference talk about this, I will puke. We discuss this ad nauseam and the church has support groups and counseling specifically for porn and other related issues.

    What more would you have the church, as an institution do about the internet and it’s dangers in the YOUTH PROGRAM?

    4. Too much materialism

    This has been a theme in church FOREVER. One of the great lessons of the Book of Mormon is just that, materialism, pride, etc.

    5. Violence in schools

    I agree that the church doesn’t address this a ton, other than teaching principles of Christlike behavior that would, if followed, prevent members from being perpetratorsof violence. So that’s at least half of the equation.

    But should the church spend time teaching kids how to avoid being victims of violence in school? Sure, I think it’s important (if you live in a place like that), but I don’t think the church’s role should be that of doing everything important for every person on the planet. (Let’s make Laurels take calculus every Sunday to get their Honor Bee!)

    6. Bullying

    Again, isn’t teaching kids to be Christlike half of the equation here?

    I’ve written about bullying in church, if that interests you.

    7. Teen pregnancy, promiscuity, sex

    Covered again and again and again. This is also one of the topics people complain about being OVER emphasized in church. Although not always addressed in a way that I think is best, it’s certainly addressed. What more would you have the church do?

    8. Obesity

    Um, more fast Sundays?

    9. Poverty

    Again, church welfare, relief, education, employment, training. What more should they do in YW?

    10. Education disparity

    Could you be more specific? In addition to encouragement for people to educate themselves (ANY kid in the US who can actually do the coursework has the ability and resources to go to college if they choose to, and I can debate that into the ground), the perpetual education fund, etc., what more would you have youth programs do?

    Knees and shoulders are not the definition of modesty.

    According to you. Why can’t others (the church institution included) have a more conservative one?

    I do not expect my children (any child) to dress as if they are wearning garments. I am not going to dress as if I’m wearing garments because I don’t wear them.

    So? Sincerely, so you don’t expect them to and you don’t and others do. What does that prove?

    That doesn’t make us immodest.

    And it doesn’t make you modest either. It depends on whose definition you have chosen. And if some choose to use “temple standards” as their modesty standard (as the church generally has), then to THEM, dressing those ways IS immodest, even if it isn’t to YOU.

    And, yea, if you send your kids to church and to YW activities, they are likely to get the CHURCH’s modesty position that is stated over and over and freaking over in official church material.

    And lastly, there are countless reasons why people stay active in the LDS church, even if they have unconventional opinions or beliefs. The beauty of the gospel is that we should all feel welcomed in the church regardless.

    I agree. Mostly.

    I’m not sure what YOU mean, but often when people make statements like that, what they mean is, “I have a right to go to church and no one should ever challenge what I do or say. I should not be opposed, uncomfortable, offended, bothered, ever, at all, over anything.”

    Of course you should be welcomed, loved, included. But not necessarily supported in all your decision, encouraged on every front, or agreed with about your positions.
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  • Happy Valley Mom July 11, 2013, 12:34 pm

    This has been an interesting debate to read. Thank you, ladies.

    I once sat in church and listened to a lovely analogy the speaker called the “Commandment Wall”. It’s basically this: Many of us love to go to the edge of a cliff and look over, maybe lean a bit, dangle a foot over the edge, even dance or jump up and down, just to see if we can do it, without actually falling off. When we continue to “dare” ourselves to see how close we can come to the edge, we are already in danger, and there is a good chance we will indeed, eventually fall off. Instead, let’s build a wall away from the edge of the cliff, and make a commitment not to cross the wall. (Incidentally, those walls are standard at Niagara Falls, The Grand Canyon, and every zoo I’ve ever been to.)

    All the commandments/counsel/advise, even from old men in Salt Lake are the “wall”. Bikini wearing for all the reasons stated above, can be likened to the “cliff”. If I commit to wearing only a one piece suit (or even a two piece that covers like a one piece) at a pool, I am safe from pushing the envelope to g-strings, bikinis, going topless, etc. no matter how “comfortable” that may or may not be.

    I’m glad that science has backed up what they’ve been saying in YW all along. No, we are not responsible for what YM do or think. I am the mother of 3 YM. I am so grateful for those of their YW friends who are modest, so my YM are not forced to “fight” their “natural male” thoughts, feelings and urges all the time. Not only is that smart on the part of the YW, it is kind and insightful too, and shows to me a higher quality of girl I’d like my boys to pursue.

    It’s nice to have a “standard wall” by which to gauge modesty. In our family going out in public, (with the exception of swimming suits and sporting attire where all our “private parts” are perfectly covered), we use the “knees and shoulders” standard. Otherwise, any thing could be considered “modest” as long as you’re not buck naked! Their sleeping and lounging attire at home isn’t always “garment” standard, but at home, we let our kids take that liberty of comfort, where shorts may be mid thigh and tanks are often worn. To some, that may be a “double standard”, I consider it a “happy medium”.

  • Alex November 18, 2013, 4:00 pm

    “Shaming girls into believing that they must cover up or a boy will have naughty thoughts is, in my opinion, incredibly unhealthy. Boys and men are going to get turned on by looking at a lamp post. And if they don’t, they need therapy.” – Lizzylu

    It’s funny that Lizzylu seems to claim that the “old men in Salt Lake City” are out of touch and shouldn’t give counsel on things like modesty for girls when they are old men. Her above comment is hypocritical in that she does the same thing she’s claiming they do to young girls to young boys! Namely, she says ALL boys are a certain way, or should be or they are not normal, or bad in some way.

    “Does Christ care if our shorts hit a knee or the sleeves hit a particular length? I think not. If I’m wrong, then so be it. ” – Lizzylu

    Isn’t this the definition of bigotry?

    Don’t boys have responsibility for what they say and do with the messages they’re sent, and girls have a responsibility for the messages they send? And hasn’t counsel from church leaders always been as happy valley mom pointed out, to stay far from the edge?

  • Eliza November 18, 2013, 6:29 pm

    I for the life of me can\’t figure out why you would like this rhetoric and use it to support your distaste for the Eastland YSA article. IT IS DOING THE SAME THING HE DOES. And it (the Rey video) uses alot of faulty pseudoscience to perpetuate the indignant mormon/christian modesty rhetoric we should be quite ashamed of. Rachel Held Evans wrote a great piece on Q Ideas (the site that hosted Rey’s video) about why it is wrong, google it as I am unable to attach it here. There are also dozens of rebuttals from Mormon feminists that you need to read if you think Rey\’s video is anything lovely, praise worthy, or of good report, as it is none of those things. Her line of thinking should not be applauded, as it does without questions fuel rape culture, with some overpriced bathing suits in the name of preserving dignity.

  • TJ November 26, 2013, 8:58 pm

    I don’t know if someone brought this up, but the study you’re quoting is actually misrepresented.

    From a KSL article one the topic:

    “Many commenters have noted, however, that the images used in the study were headless, and men participating in the study were presented only with the bodies of the women in bikinis. Others argue that although Rey’s presentation has the appearance of an academic lecture, the research she references from an AAAS conference and published in a book, “Envy Up and Contempt Down” by Susan T. Fiske, was not peer reviewed.”

  • Michael in MN December 17, 2013, 3:55 am

    So I’ve been reading through some of the blogs on this site. So one of the many conficts blogged about and commented on seem to be about personal perspectives. Such as talking with your bishop about whatever one needs counsel for forgiveness about(the most recently subject in the spotlight immorality ranging from thinking immoral thoughts to incest (the incest is grounds for excommunication as my biological maternal grandfather found out, but had this not happened I wouldn’t have the opportunities that I had growing up and I would most likely be in prison.) Back to bishops and repentence topics. Breaking the word of wisdom I.e. nicotine, caffeine, alcohol, substance abuse or dependence. Rx abuse. All of these substances are extremely harmful as the medical field proves to us now. Heavenly father revealing this to our dispansation through Joseph Smith shows me as my understanding is this revelation was given after the question was posed. I remember from some where in the scriptures that a slothful servent is commanded in all things (here is where I feel our gift of choice comes into action to the various arguments brought up in this blogs and comments (the rising generation does this bickering too we just name it TROLLING). So I chose not to use discriptive words for a reason when I talk to my bishop about my gross sins. When i say gross I’m talking about both the amount and severity. Taking the words of a prophet in the Book of Mormon (paraphrased as I have been inactive for a decade) don’t hold my imperfections of languge against the testimony. Having many addictions myself I would never wish the pain and destruction on anyone else. That being said I do understand the reality that many of us are in addiction or sin. Why else would these topics keep coming up in general confrence. As for the whole swimming suite-modesty issue/arguments the university study of brain imaging and seeing what areas are most alert (scantily clad pictures lit up a basic area in the brain. True although I didn’t hear an equal test done for women. I am not denying the fact of neuro activity in those areas. So in my teens I was an uncontrolable child and my parents chose to enlist the help of a Dr. Ray who mapped brain waves. Dr. Ray suggested a facility in IL. So I went there, while there I had my brain wave tests to.find a way other than medication to help my behavior. Basic information for brain waves alpha waves are usually highest when you are alert, aand concintrating. Beta or gamma when you sleep. Theta is highest when you are in between waking up and sleeping ( some people have reported figuring out problems that had plagued them while fully alert). During the first was eyes open thinking about something and concintating. Second eyes open nutral observing. Last eyes closed thinking about something. My results were that my theta waves tripled any other wave in all tests. So this was determined as BAD so I had to “play a video game” really just a computer program to measure brain waves. Now I had a staff lady who by the main population would say attractive who sat with me during the “game” sessions. Simply sitting or talking with her while I was being monitored didn’t effect my theta waves. Then one time I recalled an arousing situation with her. Upon thinking about it my waves dipped some. So I found out that the only way I could lower my theta waves low enough was to think of rapping her. I didn’t feel like I.could tell any one about this problem. This went on for months. I did make a vow that I would take myself out before I were to ever act out that. I changed over my thoughts and understanding of sexual intimacy since. I believe as humans we have biological factors that must be accounted for like sexual intimacy. As I have learned from having fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, bipolar type 1, p.t.s.d. I have feelings that will come up like high.anxiety up to suicidal thoughts. Its what I CHOSE to do with these feelings. If someone does not agree with what the prophet says good for the. All I would ask is do what I did and remove yourself and do your best to not bring anyone else down in the church. When I got my girlfriend then(now my wife)pregnant I was using drugs and every thing else. Before my daughter was born I came back to church and made a change back into some church standards. The change was enough to open my wife up to meet with the missionaries. My wife and step daughter were baptized. If the normal missionaries had appoched her before she would have refused them. What I’m trying to get at is stop talking about oppionated judgements as we don’t know the whole situation. If you had a bad experience hold that indevidual accountable not a whole entity.

    P. S. Even if you were in a middle eastern country the burka is a part of their religion as we have garments.

  • rah January 6, 2014, 9:11 pm

    I know this is really late on this thread but I think it is important that bad misrepresentations of science don’t inform people’s belief. While I believe there are many reasons LDS or other women might not choose to wear bikini’s whether it is to align themselves with prophetic counsel, their own comfort, their own standards Jessica’s report of the study she cites is completely wrong. In fact, Allison you will be happy to know that it the study actually aligns pretty well with your general writing on modesty. I wrote a comprehensive review of the actual published version of the study Jessica uses in this video. You can read it here.

    The long and short of it is that the brain and behavior of men who are exposed to women in bikini’s doesn’t objectify them UNLESS the man in question already holds hostile sexist beliefs and attitudes about women. Even men with high levels of Benevolent Sexist beliefs don\’t show the brain patterns or microbehaviors indicative of their brains treating women as objects. So as you have written multiple times Allison what is really driving men\’s objectification behavior is their own attitudes and thoughts. Turns out most decent guys are well equipped to avoid objectifying women, even those in bikinis!

  • Tiffany February 19, 2014, 3:22 pm

    Alison,

    The more I read your blog, the more I adore you. This is all so interesting to me. I have been a member of the church my entire life (I am currently 30-years-old) – I was active and even graduated from seminary; yet I do not recall ever hearing some of the things that I am learning that are being taught today. Yes, we were taught modesty, but it was not treated like a huge issue. We were basically told to be modest in words, actions, thoughts and appearance in order to show Heavenly Father that we respect the bodies/temples that he has given to us and to allow the presence of the Holy Ghost in our lives. That was about it – there were no shoulder/knee guidelines mentioned, and my parents didn’t have fits if I wore tank tops in high school. I think they realized that if they were overbearing, I’d probably push back. In fact, I look back to my prom dresses and they were all spaghetti strap gowns. Oh boy. If only I had known what I was really doing…

    For years, I wore low-cut tops because I suffer from anxiety and claustrophobia. They worked with my garments so I didn’t think it was a problem. I wasn’t trying to be revealing, I was just trying to breathe without a panic attack. I am not really sure what happened but about a year ago, I just had an epiphany that maybe I should wear more highly-cut tops so I have made a special effort to keep any cleavage from potentially showing. It has been a challenge to find shirts that accommodate both my newly found modesty and my anxiety disorder, but I’m learning that it can actually be done by buying shirts that are a size too big so that I do not feel like my neck is being constricted.

    I feel like our society is so overly sexed these days. I find that I am always watching my words carefully so as to not accidentally use a word or phrase that could possibly followed by the “that’s what she said” joke. It’s getting annoying. I think that society and both men and women are confusing beautiful with sexy. I personally feel that modesty is classy and beautiful and being sexy in public is just trashy. I will confess that I think the knee-length shorts are hideous so rather than wearing those, I’ll either opt for pants or a skirt. Think “Banana Republic,” not “Forever 21.” We can still wear decently (but not overly-tight) form-fitting, tailored clothing and appear attractive. Those who have a need to show off their incredibly hot bodies of which they are so proud can still do so by dressing respectfully. As a bonus, according to this study, they can also be taken seriously. Wow!

    As for the one-piece/bikini debate, I will say that neither work for me. One pieces do not have the upper support and are not comfortable. I feel that two pieces, while physically comfortable, are socially awkward for me. So, here’s what I do. I wear a bikini, then cover it with a tank top and some swim shorts. I have no showing stomach and my behind is covered even better than it would be if I were wearing a one-piece.

    I do think that we all have to study out things in our minds and make our own decisions – it’s all about free agency, right? On the other hand, I have found that when it comes to any church standard, if I have ever slightly strayed and/or experimented, I find that I always eventually discover on my own (sometimes the hard way) that the bretheren were, after all, correct.

    Thank you, Alison, for sharing the science. We cannot argue with the facts, we can only choose how to react to them. I personally feel that women have had enough of a battle to fight and if concealing my cleavage will help me to be taken more seriously, by all means, I’ll cover up!

  • Alison Moore Smith February 19, 2014, 6:04 pm

    Tiffany, thank you for the very kind words. I realize that if you read long enough you’ll end up hating me, but, hey, I’ll take blog love when I can get it! :)

    We’re glad to have you here!
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…Parent Delighted by Kids Falling On IceMy Profile

  • arielle May 5, 2014, 3:11 pm

    I was considering joining the church….My good friend is a member and I’ve grown up around LDS my whole life…After all, the gospel IS beautiful. On a whim, I began looking up what would be appropriate swimwear (after all, summer is around the bend!). After reading these blogs I simply cannot BELIEVE my eyes.

    All I see are women basically attacking other women, calling them immoral and doing so in the least loving and caring way. I see the way these women judge each other and pick each other to pieces over something SO SMALL. I mean, honestly, from an outsider’s perspective, I am shocked and appalled at the judgement and uncharitable tone of these comments back and forth.

    Basically, this little taste is completely different than my experience of the faith, charity, sisterhood and kindness that I thought being a church member was all about. I truly believe that outside indicators are not a reliable tell for someone’s relationship with their Savior, and I believe it is God’s place and not man’s to place judgements and pronouncements.

    Even within the first sentences of this post the tone is dripping with condemnation and judgement! It leaves a bitter taste in my mouth and makes me wonder what I’d be signing up for when the first reaction to someone figuring out where their personal modesty guidelines lay is to castigate, browbeat and make someone defend themselves.

    I have never attacked or been attacked by a non-Christian for being uncomfortable wearing shorts, for dressing more modestly. I have NEVER heard snide comments from non-Christians about me wanting to cover up or not letting more skin show. But reading how many women are attacked over the difference between a short sleeve and a capped sleeve?! I saw a blog post encouraging mothers telling other mothers their babies aren’t covered enough?! How is it that the very group that is supposed to be the most loving and caring, that has the bond of sisterhood we all do through Christ–how is it that some women have to live in fear of condemnation from their sisters?! Ugh.

    No thank you.

  • Patrice L May 7, 2014, 12:50 pm

    Arielle, I’m not a Mormon but like to read religious blogs of many denominations and this is one of my favorites. Your comment really doesn’t make sense and I actually think you’re a troll. (I think it’s possible you’re a liberal Mormon or ex-Mormon trying to make a point.) I don’t even think you read this post very carefully, but rather came with an axe to grind.

    Discussing morality is what religious is all about. If you really thought you could join ANY church and then somehow avoid serious discussion about which behaviors are moral and which aren’t as well as how those ideas fit into how we act and what we do, I think you haven’t really thought this through.

    And there is my non-Mormon defense of the Mormons!

  • jennycherie May 7, 2014, 3:22 pm

    “I was considering joining the church….”

    Arielle, I sincerely hope that whatever church you decide to join or not join, that you will make that decision based on what you know to be true and based on the doctrine of that church and on your own prayers and pondering. Those who join a church based on the perfection of its members are soon disappointed.
    jennycherie recently posted…Conquering Divisions In Our MidstMy Profile

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