Modest is NOT Hottest

I want to introduce this topic in the most basic form; Oxford Dictionary. Yes, a dictionary definition could be the most cliché article preface of all time, but there are few things that bring me similar satisfaction (other than peeling off a scab at the perfect stage…but that’s gross).

“Modest: (Of a woman) dressing or behaving so as to avoid impropriety or indecency, especially to avoid attracting sexual attention.”

Notice the first bit of the definition, “Modest: (Of a woman).” This guides us to the conclusion that modesty or “decency” is in the hands of the female. Interesting.

Modesty is taught to girls at some of the youngest stages of their lives. I recall having lessons in church as a teenybopper 12-year-old about staying modest. I was told not to let my shoulders show and to always cover my knees because my body’s a temple and I must respect it. But why must we define respect with a piece of fabric? Since when does wearing a tank top make me lose respect for myself? I’ve pulled an example from the LDS website which may give you an idea of what I was told as a girl.

“If we are unsure about whether our dress or grooming is modest, we should ask ourselves, “Would I feel comfortable with my appearance if I were in the Lord’s presence?””

To be honest, I don’t think Jesus could care less about my clothes, but that’s not the point I’m trying to make. My point is, why is the topic of modesty drilled into girls brains and not into those of young men?

While the concept of modesty does not start nor end with religion, it is hard to ignore the impact the organizations have had over the subject.

likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, 10 but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works” (1 Timothy 2:9-10).

Although braided hair and pearls do not lessen a woman’s modesty today, the principal is the same. Women hold the duty of self-control.

There is this sort of disconnect, gray area if you will, surrounding modesty and gender.

Men can take their shirts off, no problem. Men can lounge the poolside in a speedo letting the nylon carve everything out. When the tables are turned however, the standard is changed. If a women takes her shirt off, she’s promiscuous. When a women wears a bikini, she’s asking for the wrong attention. Obviously.

This image from Harper’s Bazaar was shown to girls in 1868 and illustrated the length a girls’ skirt must be as her age increased. As silly as this may seem to us now, society still holds women to a certain standard, which in my opinion, is restricting and degrading. Setting limitations on what a person can and cannot do with their own body is potentially damaging to anyone, but it was certainly destructive to me. 

I was scared to wear shorts that came up past my knees or dress in a top that showed even the very tips of my shoulders. But the thing was, I liked wearing shorts and tank tops and didn’t feel any less decent while wearing them. But this desire made me feel shame because regardless of how good the clothes made me feel, I was being “immodest” and “disrespectful of my Heavenly Father.” Not only was God ashamed, but I was making it hard for the boys around me to keep pure thoughts. Yep, you read that correctly. I was making it difficult for men to be righteous.

When will we start realizing that women’s clothing does not control the actions of men?

A tank top does not make a person whistle at a passing girl. Shorts do not cause a person to grab a woman’s leg. A bikini does not tell anyone that it is okay to touch her. The only thing responsible for the action is the offender.

As I got older, I started to wear what made me feel comfortable and cute because I shouldn’t have to dress for anyone but myself. I am the owner of my body, my property, my mansion. It doesn’t matter if I don’t have curtains on my windows. It doesn’t matter if my back yard isn’t fenced in. That does not give others the right to enter without permission.

Regulating the “pure thoughts” of men is none of my business. I should not hold the responsibility of how someone might react to me wearing a piece of fabric on my body. They have the agency to think and feel however they would like to when they see a woman’s thigh.

We need to stop teaching girls that in order to get the right attention, to be pure, or to be decent, they must cover their legs, shoulders, chests, and backs. We should be helping girls feel comfortable and proud of everything that they are because if we don’t, we are indirectly teaching them to feel guilty about having a female body. Alternatively, we should be teaching boys to respect a person no matter what they choose to wear.

Incase we need a reminder, humans have legs, humans have breasts and humans all have an ass. And you know what? They are amazing!

It is time to dismiss our fear of the female body and embrace the beauty of it instead.

 

Sincerely,

Abby

 

 

 

 

References:

http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/us/definition/american_english/modest

https://www.lds.org/topics/modesty?lang=eng

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Timothy+2%3A9-10&version=ESV

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:1868-skirt-lengths-girl-ages-Harpers-Bazar

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42 thoughts on “Modest is NOT Hottest

  1. I believe that modestly is an important thing to learn about. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter- Day Saints has a lot more in common with other religions than most people think! Just like when you visit other cultures religious temples and grounds, as a sign of respect, you dress modestly. The LDS religion is the same way. Yes it is taught in lessons to be modest. Modesty is taught young as a way to prepare members for the temple, where you will receive garments(a religious piece of clothing that fits right above the knee and covers the shoulder). Being modest isn’t a bad thing. But you shouldn’t forget the part where young women of the LDS faith are taught over and over again that they are beautiful. That their worth is more than can even be counted. It is not a shaming thing to dress modest, and if there are issues between and leader and a young women, it is ok to speak up and talk about it. Just because the word “Saint” is used in the name does not mean that we clam to be perfect. That is just our goal. I am a firm believer that there is a time and place for all things and that modestly is a choice. I wear tank tops and shorts that come above my knee in the summer. I have dresses that show my back. Nobody can make you dress modest. It is all up to you. Different people have different comfort levels. Just like it was mentioned before with the question that basically asks “would you feel comfortable meeting the Savior with what you have on?”, IT IS A CHOICE. It all comes down to respect. It is asked that you wear modest clothing to all church meetings. But you will not be turned down if you don’t meet the exact criteria. Modesty is up to YOU, just like everything else in the LDS religion, it all comes down to you.

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    1. Typical that a Hinkley would say something like that. Totally ignoring major parts of the article and standing up for what’s taught in Sunday school. Males are rarely taught to dress modestly. No, it may not be a shaming thing to dress modestly, but it sure is when you’re not as far as TBMs are concerned. And don’t get me started about the garments which we are not even supposed to speak about.

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      1. First, you’re ridiculous for discounting what Ms. Honk ley said just because of her name. Gimme a break. Men and boys are taught to dress modestly. There’s is more about hairstyles and looking presentable than wearing short shorts. It’s all the same thing. It’s geared toward girls more because, hello, it’s girls Satan targets. The world says “flaunt your body and show it off, that’s where your worth comes from.” But The LDS church teaches principles that try to help girls discount that lie and realize where their true worth comes from. It’s a sign of respect for your body that is NOT yours, but is more accurately a rental. Show some respect for one of the greatest gifts God has given you. Also, we can talk about garments in the general sense. So don’t know where you got that from. How do you think people her about the “golden underpants?”

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    2. My daughter has been sent home from activities for not meeting the “exact criteria”….. so it DOES happen within the church. As hard as it may seem to believe.
      P.S. my daughter was wearing opaque leggings with a mini skirt on top of them. Not nylons. Not see thru. Actual leggings. WITH AN ADDED LAYER (the skirt) covering her bottom.
      Because the skirt had an appearance of being shorter than garment length she was sent home.

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      1. That’s the kind of crap that makes youth never want to return. Very sad a hitch that teaches of loving others and exemplifying Christ leaves people of all ages questioning every move they make.

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      2. I don’t agree with her being sent home from the activity. Im not saying it’s right or wrong, the whole legging issue. But it’s like a uniform. If your daughters school has a uniform or dress code, you’d make sure she complied. It’s the same with church activities, you should follow the dress standard. Hopefully, you follow The Lord’s dress standard all the time.

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    3. Many good points, however I believe one of the major points is that young men should be held to the same standard and taught COMPLETE responsibility for their thoughts and actions!!

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      1. Young men are taught that it is important to control their thoughts, emotions, and actions just as much as any young woman. I have been on the recieving end of many of these lessons.
        The article indicates or suggests that a Speedo is considered modest while a bikini isn’t. From my 30+ years of experience practising the LDS faith I would whole heartedly say that isn’t true. A Speedo would be discouraged as well.
        The other thing here that seems to be an issue that was partially addressed, but somewhat glossed over is the inequality of dress code. In almost every situation, whether it be work, Casual, or formal the “styles” for men actually are much more modest. Styles for women generally show much more skin. With formal wear the only part visible on a man is his head, the upper part of the neck and his hands. But what about women? Low cut dresses showing cleavage and bare backs. In a business or a casual business setting a man will often wear a Polo or some form of a collard shirt while women go for no collar and a swooping neckline. The societal “norm” in almost every situation allows women to wear less than men. So if women receive extra emphasis or guidance on being modest, is that without basis? AND just because society allows differences in dress code does it mean its right? These are questions that are certainly worthy of thought.

        As for being shameful, or if its right or wrong , I’m not going to be so self righteous that I’m going to tell you what to do or believe. that’s entirely up to you. I personally believe that someday when this life is over we will each come face to face with God and there will be an accounting of all we’ve done in this life including how we have influenced others by our actions. Have we been kind to each other, have my actions influenced others for good or have I been a poor influence. Have I been respectful to others and have I been careful not to cause pain and heartache from unkind words. I Expect to be accountable on all of this and more. Is it possible that we may impact others by the clothes we wear, the way we carry ourselves, the things we say, and the image we choose to portray to others? I suspect the answer is yes. It’s up to each of you, Man and Woman alike, to decide how you will influence society and if that influence is good or bad. Above all else, we must be accountable to ourselves and then be prepared to live with the consequences of the waves we make, be it good or bad.

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    4. While it’s good that the LDS faith teaches that it’s not shameful to dress modestly, I think the author’s problem (and mine) is that it teaches women that it *is* shameful to dress in ways that go against LDS standards of modesty – that it teaches that a woman should feel shame if she’s wearing a tank top or shorts that stop above the knees. Or that it’s shameful to have blue hair or for men to have long hair.

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  2. My favorite thing to bring up when it comes to religion and modesty is if you are going by biblical standards, you must remember “the whole story”. Let’s go all the way back to the first moment a human, man or woman was shamed for being naked. That occurred while in “the garden” when the serpent, who is generally regarded as “the devil” told Adam and Eve that they were naked, and that should make them feel ashamed. So when people in churches bring this up, I like to quip “doing the devil’s work I see.” The example you gave about the LDS church saying “would you be comfortable in the presence of the Lord?” Is perfect. Let’s go back to the garden incident. In the story, God walks into the garden and is looking for Adam and Eve. They finally spoke out and told Him they were hiding. When God asks why, they say “because they were naked, and embarrassed”. Now God’s purported response is key here. He says “who told you that you were naked?” They replied “the serpent”. You can almost see and hear God smacking His own head! Instead of sitting them down and counseling them for 100 years about our natural state as well as nature’s natural state, He says “fine I will make you some clothes”(that is my paraphrasing). You can tell the religious… “the shame was never God’s plan. That was the Devil’s! So if you want to continue the devil’s work of shaming people for how they were created, go right ahead, but you need to really consider who’s side you’re on”. So if I were buck naked in front of God or wearing a miniskirt, which would be odd because I am a dude, I would feel just fine. He created me naked. To further wax theologically, Paul says several times in his letters that he never felt tempted to do anything until there was a law made to forbid it. So one could extrapolate that because religious people are truly afraid of nudity because they are afraid they may be tempted sexually, that they themselves create the conditions that make aberrant and perverse sexual acts possible. Repression and perversion go hand and hand. Trust me, when I say the use of the word perversion is not as most people use it. I view perversion as “unhealthy sexual acts that are an obsession and caused by a person feeling bad or dirty about sex”. The shame manifests in sexual violence sometimes. You can imagine a person being told their whole lives that their natural desires were somehow wrong and evil. Yet they have these desires in their DNA.(We all do.) So they are at constant war with themselves. If you live in a constant state of war, at some point you will crack. That cracking causes people to do some seriously weird stuff. Like planting cameras in women’s restrooms. Or pedophilia(in my opinion that is caused by the repressed subconscious feeling of people who feel that if they got out their “dirty sexuality” with someone who is innocent and that they can control to do whatever they want, it would be better than just say having sex with a consenting adult. How screwed up is that? They feel dirty about normal sex, so they molest kids! Look at the Taliban…they make women cover from head to toe and beat them if they don’t. If you saw the “Kite runner” you know where this is going. Men in Afghanistan during the Taliban rule, would “date” prepubescent boys to have sex with. This was a widespread practice. They would give them gifts and attempt to woo them. There was a great article in the LA times about this. Those they interviewed said “why would I want to be with a “dirty woman” when I can just be with a boy?” Other’s said “I like what I can see. I can’t see women, so I like boys”. Repression is repression is repression. It causes people to become irrational. Again, someone always at war with themselves will eventually develop a form of PTSD. That turns people into numb, feelingless shells of who they really are. They just want the war inside to be over. So they either get angry at how they feel and how it has power over them and rape someone. Or they can go on dangerous and self destructive “sexual benders” where they have unprotected sex with people who are willing to do so with strangers. This isn’t everyone obviously, only those who finally “crack”.
    This cracking is responsible for the astronomical rate of teenage pregnancy in the church. If girls take birth control or boys have contraception with them, they think that would show they were “planning to sin”. So they enevitably do what is natural, and have sex, unprotected and become parents at 16! Our society has so really screwed up paradigms about sexuality. We need to communicate, stop repressing, and for God’s sake, stop doing the Devil’s work by shaming people for doing what just comes natural to them!

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  3. I feel like you have an obsession with sexism. The reason why modesty is something taught to girls is because boys are stimulated visually, not girls. Girls aren’t responsible for impure thoughts from a boy but why make it harder for them to keep their thoughts pure? I’m hoping that you are in counseling of some sorts to deal with all of this.

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    1. Ha! Men and women are both visual creatures… Let’s not give the boys a cop out here. If women weren’t stimulated visually, then why is Magic Mike a movie lol.

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      1. Somewhat maybe so. But it’s much more common for men to be tempted that way.

        Let’s be honest though: most women/girls who dress “immodestly” deep down really are hoping to look sexy. It’s not all innocence like a lot of girls will claim.

        And it’s sad when we think “your eyes, your problems”. Try being married for a while and then ask yourself if we should all do whatever our own self wishes or if we should respect others around us.

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    2. As a woman who was just watching porn this morning, both men and women are “stimulated visually.” There’s a constant double standard within modesty that promotes rape culture. Saying that women have to learn modesty because men are visually stimulated is just like saying she got raped because of what she was wearing. It’s never a victim’s fault that they were raped. The only person at fault is the rapist. If you’re operating under the assumption that men’s thoughts are the fault of women, then every drunk driver is innocent based on the logic of, “well, those people were driving during club hours on a Saturday night, so they probably got hit by that drunk driver because they chose to drive when there could be drunk drivers out.” See how stupid that sounds? Modesty creates a dangerous double standards that teaches young women that if they are attacked, anything and everything they did caused it and it’s their fault. It teaches young men that they aren’t responsible for being a rapist because it was the victim’s fault for doing something that led to that young man not being able to control himself. That’s a garbage lie that we should never be teaching young women because it’s basically devaluing them to nothing but a sex object.

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    3. Not sure about you but, as a woman, I definitely gravitate towards visual myself. Perhaps its been bashed into your head so much that you shouldn’t be stimulated visually, that you have an aversion to it? I see this argument brought up often, but in a way, boys are expected so much to be visual, that instead, theyre are spoken to and treated with some level of sympathy and empathy growing up. They feel theyre not so messed up or wrong, because everyone just sorta ignores it and quietly accepts them to objectify. Young women are not treated this way, instead they’re guilt tripped into thinking they are broken if they show such tendencies.

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    4. Then you must be a saint….I’m sorry, i have been arroused just by looking at someone, because I thought they were gordeous or what not. Dont give us that load of crap.

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    5. And I am hoping YOU are in counseling.
      “Boys are stimulated sexually” is such an outdated statement. And it is sexist. Both genders are stimulated visually and it’s not a girl’s job to help a boy keep his thoughts pure.

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    6. Are you serious? Why is it MY job as a woman to make sure that your thoughts as a man are pure? Shouldnt they just be “pure” anyway? That’s your responsibility, not mine. Can men not take responsibility for their own minds? Are you really that weak? Your argument is honestly ridiculous.

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    7. I almost laughed out loud… no I DID laugh out loud. It is NOt only boys that are visually stimulated…. have you NEVER once said to one of your girlfriends while chatting and see a good looking guy… ” he’s hot, or he’s good looking” I mean heck- before people get married or date someone they (BOTH parties) are USUALLY attracted to the other party…. rather than put the blame on a girl that *heaven forbid* shows a shoulder or a kneecap- why not teach the brethren of the church to control those emotions…. obsession with sexism… oh my lanta! If I wear a tank top or shorts it is because I am comfortable in such- shaming someone is NEVER a Christlike action not is telling them they need therapy for expressing a thought on the subject!!!!

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  4. I 100% agree with the SENTIMENT of this article. But, the sentiment is not grounded in reality.

    For example, I do not feel as though I should put a lock on my front door. A shut door should be enough to designate that I do not want strangers inside my house. The property within the house is mine. Thieves are not welcome.

    That is the SENTIMENT. But, we all put locks on our doors. Why? Because, we all recognize that we cannot control the depravity of some individuals. We recognize that some people are base, and covetous, and selfish. Everybody with a lock on their front door realizes that it makes more sense to have some safeguards in place, and to take precautions, than to leave your house unlocked 24/7.

    You mentioned in your article “It doesn’t matter if I don’t have curtains on my windows. It doesn’t matter if my back yard isn’t fenced in. That does not give others the right to enter without permission.” You are absolutely correct. And yet… if you don’t keep curtains on your windows, you will be more likely to have a peeping tom. If you don’t fence in your yard, you will have more neighborhood dogs crapping all over it. It’s not how it SHOULD be. It’s not fair. But… (you fill in the rest)

    I am a man. I believe most men are good. I am not defending the depravity of men who would assault a woman in such dishonorable ways as to sexually assault them. But, those men exist. And no law or legislation will ever root that depravity out of them.

    So… why not be wise? Put a lock on the door. Put curtains up. Put a fence up. If you don’t want to do any of that, I fully support your right to not do so. Me, and 99% of other men will respect that. But, the thieves (and even the dogs) have a different set of rules that they keep.

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    1. By insinuating that “putting up curtains” will dissuade someone from assault, you are putting responsibility once again in the hands of women. A person who is inclined to assault another person will not be convinced to act otherwise because someone is wearing a sweater instead of a tank top. That kind of rationale is dangerous, blames victims for choices made by another person and continues to propagate the idea that anything but education and reform will bring down the chances of assault.

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  5. My son was recently at a singles ward activity and watched as two girls were sent home to change their clothes – they were wearing yoga pants and t-shirts. Because yoga pants are a turn on? Where does the definition of modesty start and end with this church?

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  6. This is a great article to open a conversation with. You bring up many issues. I don’t have time right now to go into them all, but I would like to address a few of them. I think that you ignore many issues related to modesty and provide a very narrow perspective on the issue. My motivation is not to criticize or make you feel bad. I appreciate your point of view and merely think that shedding some additional light on the issue will bring you and your audience more happiness. I have had to think deeply to myself about this topic. I asked myself the questions: Why did God make laws of chastity? What is the benefit? Why does the Church have standards of modesty? What are the eternal principles at stake that might make modesty make sense?

    I think understanding the ideas that form the foundation of modesty will lead us to more happiness.

    Abby, I’m not in your head, but it seems to me that you have given in to a poisonous idea: that one’s self worth and perception of self value should somehow depend on the way that other people value you or how they value the appearance of your body. I know you are trying to say the opposite, but please let me explain.

    You state that you want to wear clothing that looks “cute.” Apparently, according to you, what is cute includes tank tops, backless dresses and tops, cleavage-revealing tops, and short shorts, because these are the things you are promoting (or at least have a problem with being restricted from). Let’s dig a little deeper into what “cute” means.

    Cuteness can have two definitions. One has to do with aesthetics and what makes something beautiful. The other relates to what is considered attractive to another person, especially of the opposite sex. The two are related but different. Aesthetics is an interesting thing to study. What makes something aesthetically beautiful? Simplicity of lines, complexity of lines, clear demarcations between colors and shapes, blurring of colors, complexity of colors, and uniqueness all come into play. When you see a beautiful sunset or a flower or a close-up picture of a butterfly’s wings, these elements are all involved in making you go googly-eyed and inducing a sense of awe.

    I do not believe looking cute (beautiful) mandates showing more skin so as to be more sexually attractive to the opposite sex. That is only one way of looking attractive. There are other, very well established, ways of looking cute or pretty. I’m sure we could all come up with many. But I believe that you have linked your sense of what is cute, at least partially, to what would be attractive to another person. I base this judgement upon the fact that you are making the point that cultural rules of modesty are hurting your ability to be cute. If you could feel totally cute without being immodest, then why would there be a need to even write the article? The two seem to be linked in your mind.

    This is a very prevalent way of thinking, especially in the last 100 years. Society has programmed our girls and women to think that looking desirable is their pre-eminent role. Such feelings are strongest when we are in our teen and young adult phases. There is a powerful drive to appeal to the opposite sex. There is nothing wrong with that drive UNLESS it is not limited and put into its proper scope.

    So at the same time that you say you want to be free from the judgements of pious Mormon society, you WANT to be judged as physically desirable. So the positive side of judgement is OK, but the negative side is not. Either way, you have fallen prey to basing your personal self-esteem and worth on the fickle opinions of people and things that are not under your control.

    Perhaps, I misspoke on the control issue. Women actually know that they can exert a certain amount of control on the minds of men. In fact, at the same time you say you don’t want to be held accountable for men thinking sexual thoughts, you are, in fact, trying to get them to do that very thing. Why else would someone feel the need to expose parts of their breasts to men? Are you motivated by the need to look aesthetically pleasing by showing more complexity or simplicity of lines, colors, or shapes that the sight of your breasts could accomplish? I doubt it. You understand that doing so gives you the temporary ability to more predictably control the way that men or boys look at you. In your article you clearly shows that you understands the connection. What you REALLY don’t want is to be judged negatively for doing so. You just want the freedom to do it without condemnation or negative judgements. Why?

    It looks to me that you wanted the boost to your self-esteem that getting attention from boys and, controlling their perceptions of your value, would give you. Then, your parents or youth leaders raised problems with your modesty, and you felt shame (guilt is different). But feeling shame is very painful and gives us a motivation to hide and feel bad about ourselves. Nobody likes that feeling. If you had instead felt guilt (the feeling of taking responsibility for our mistakes and wanting to fix them), I doubt you would have the same feelings today about the issue. Because you felt shame, and shame is painful, you have mentally numbed yourself from that pain by convincing yourself that what you are doing should not be considered wrong. Note that this process works whether or not dressing immodestly is a sin or not. The fact that it goes against societal mores and norms is enough to produce that psychological pain (cognitive dissonance).

    Hopefully, that clarifies a little psychology that is going on under the surface for most people as well as some inconsistencies of thought that I noticed in your article.

    I could go point by point through your article and show the weaknesses of your arguments. I could also go into the many reasons why modesty in dress and in actions is so important for our mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health. I will save those for later and just mention two reasons why modesty is important.

    1. Your value is not based on the perceptions of other people. It is not based on your ability to get people to like you. I’m sure you know this at some level, but all of us struggle with truly believing it. Your value is based on several elements of spiritual aesthetics. Your personality and spirit have subtleties of (figurative) color and shape, vast amounts of complex details, beautifully simple aspects, and its own uniqueness that is enough for anyone who really sees it to feel a sense of awe. Your eternal potential is another amazing aspect to your spiritual aesthetics. You have gifts that few other people have. You have beautiful thoughts and ideas. You have the ability to relieve suffering and to make other people feel happier and valuable. All of these things are what make up your attractiveness and beauty. A clear sign of that spiritual aesthetic is the deep respect that your Heavenly Father has for you. You are important to Him. He needs you. You give Him joy. Helping you to be happy helps Him to be happy.

    Anything that tends to make your true value obscured to the minds of others or yourself is something that is the enemy of your true value.

    Yes, your body is beautiful. But we all have aspects of us that are purely animal. One of those aspects is physical attraction. When you use your physical beauty to bring out the animalistic instincts of the opposite sex, you are also obscuring your deeper beauty. The human brain (especially the male human brain) is simply not set up to focus on more than one thing simultaneously. It’s just a fact. What do YOU want people focusing on? Your temporary, physical beauty, or your eternal, spiritual beauty? The happiness and endurance of your most important human relationships rests on what you and they focus on and value.

    2. Human sexuality is a very important and beautiful thing, as is the special emotional bond that it helps to create between a man and woman. Psychologists widely agree that those intimate bonds are very powerful and important for establishing a sense of fulfilment and well-being. They also widely agree that one of the most important aspects of those bonds is that they are intimate. Intimacy means a closeness and a privacy. Intimacy shared with thousands of people is not intimacy. The smaller the circle of participants, the more intimacy is involved. The important aspect of intimacy is that it imparts a sense of value, and that value comes from having something that nobody else has. I think that fact is what is behind most people’s abhorrence of the idea of polygamy. How would you like to share your husband or wife with someone else? Most people wouldn’t. Just like gold or platinum are so valuable because of their scarcity, intimacy between two people creates an ultimate level of scarcity. The intimacy of shared experiences and relationships in a family is one of the reasons why it feels so good to be close to your family members in healthy relationships.

    Having sex with everyone or acting like everyone on the planet is your brother, sister, mother, or father destroys the intimacy of the relationships and cheapens their value. It has been said that he or she that is a friend to everyone is the friend of no one.

    Similarly, showing the private sexual parts of your body to everyone will tend to cheapen their value. If you have something that is precious to you, you don’t let everyone touch it or even look at it. Otherwise, you make it less esteemed by both yourself and others.

    An analogy here may make that principle easier to understand. I am a rock climber, and I have climbed in Yosemite Valley. There is something special about looking at pictures of Yosemite. I get a sense of awe looking at Ansel Adams’ Yosemite photos. But as awe-inspiring as those photos are, there is something more special about actually going there to look at the towers of granite yourself. Even more special is the experience of actually rock climbing up those granite faces. You see details and experience things that not very many people will ever experience when you rock climb there. You notice that glaciers have polished some of the rock so it is as slick as glass. You feel the warmth of the rock radiating at night from the sun of the previous day. You notice that the rock is populated by tiny little red spiders only slightly bigger than period at the end of this sentence. Part of what makes it so special is the feeling of being so fortunate to be one of the few that have experienced it and seen it up close. You wish that everyone could see what you have seen, but at the same time, you know that the uniqueness of your experience would be cheapened by that.

    There are many aspects to your life that operate in the same way. Please take a minute and think of how the value you place on certain things in your life is influenced by their exclusivity and intimacy.

    If you treat your body like seeing it and touching it are a special privilege that few people will ever have, it will make your body seem more special to you. You will feel fortunate to have it. If YOU treat it like that and have special rules that keep the pool of people who have that privilege very exclusive, others will also be forced to treat it in a special way, too. That will help to reinforce one way of you feeling special. The opposite is also true. Allowing a large pool of people to see or touch your body, especially the special sexual parts, will lead you to an empty feeling and a lack of feeling special.

    That is one of the biggest values to having high standards of modesty.

    So I would say that having high modesty standards are not meant to make us feel shame as you claim. They are meant to make us happier by giving us a greater sense of eternal value and intimacy. If they are imposed upon us by others without us agreeing to them, we may very easily feel shame. But the answer is not to abolish modesty to avoid that pain. The answer is to understand how modesty and sexual purity help to make us happier and to choose high standards of modesty of our own free will.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. For someone who says you don’t have time to go into all the issues you sure wrote a lengthy reply. Why do you need a forum to preach on? Why can’t this girl have her opinion without a man lecturing at her?

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      1. The reason I responded is that there are lots of impressionable young people, including my own daughter and her friends, that have read this and are confused about how they feel about the issues. I feel that the other side of issue should be represented, because so often our young people only hear one side, over and over, and it is difficult to make a good choice if you don’t know what the choices are.

        I am not the person who put this out there. Abby is. She has a forum for discussion for a reason. Why is it wrong for me to use it? Yes, she can have her opinion, but so can I. I appreciate that although Abby probably disagrees with me, she allowed my comment to be posted. I think that shows moral courage and fair-mindedness by being open to listening to all sides of an issue. She is a good example of that trait.

        Instead of spending your time making an ad hominem attack against me, perhaps you could respond directly to my reasoning and the principles I brought up. I would love to see a truthful and thoughtful response.

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  7. Yes, thank you!! This is exactly what I have been trying to explain to the adults in my life. Modesty is all fine and dandy if you like dressing modestly, if it makes you feel comfortable and beautiful then go for it! But it really is damaging to those of us who it doesn’t empower when we are bombarded with judgement from those who do support the idea. Modesty does not control a man’s thoughts. My friends and I have experienced it first hand. Men can and many times will still catcall, cop feels, and make unwanted and inappropriate comments about our bodies, even when we were dressed in clothing that is considered modest. No one should feel bad for dressing the way that makes them feel comfortable and empowered, whatever that looks like.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. We live in a day and age where people (especially the youth) believe that they should be able to do whatever they want without feeling guilty or being judged as long as it makes them happy so they rationalize things to make themselves feel better… you’re opinion is so ridiculous (in my opinion) but you do have your free agency to express it… your rant is typical of today’s attitudes… I can do what I want when I want and don’t you say a word about it or it will hurt my feelings and make me feel like I am a lesser member of society. I really could care less if you dress immodestly but please don’t preach about how it’s totally fine because it makes you happy…. it’s not totally fine and we don’t get to say things like this are ok just because it fits into how we live our life.

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    1. C’mon, Joe. Lighten up. How old ARE you? These kids today! Yawn.
      *your opinion
      *could NOT care less
      and the run-on sentences here, oh, my!

      Joe, what makes you right and her wrong?
      What makes you the judge of how people live their lives?

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  9. You bring up a good point that young men aren’t taught the same to cover up their bodies. I feel like young men who mindlessly remove their shirts to show off aren’t being modest at all, and are disrespecting themselves with such an egotistical display.
    The main point I want to make though is that people are responsible for their own thoughts and their own actions. It’s definitely true that I am completely responsible for the way I view others, and as well the responsibility is on me to present myself decently. Our choice in dress is much like our choice in words. I can choose to use explicit language, and the hearer can chose to think explicit thoughts. Ultimately it is the hearer’s responsibility to watch his or her thoughts and it is my responsibility to watch my language. I think we can both agree that using wholesome language is a great standard to live by. Why is this not so apparent with dress standards? Perhaps because when I, myself use vulgar language, I am bringing to my own mind vulgar thoughts. On the other hand, because I am not physically attracted to myself, I have no apparent problem with immodest dress, but other people may see something else. That’s just one idea though.
    One suggestion I have is that instead of matching standards of modesty exhibited by the boys around you, please, please help them to raise their standards! As you suggested, many young men in the church need a reminder that modesty applies to them too! Just help them out, please. Stay modest, and teach them to do the same!

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  10. Oh Abby, reading this article made me very sad.
    Your comment of “I was making it hard for the boys around me to keep pure thoughts. Yep, you read that correctly. I was making it difficult for men to be righteous” is spot on.

    I am the wife of a porn addict who is desperately trying to recover. My husband has a hard time going to places like the gym because of the immodest clothing that is worn there. He has come home crying and frustrated after being triggered by women who choose to wear very little.
    Is this the woman’s fault that she triggered my husband? No. These women have no idea that they are making it very hard for my husbands recovery. However if those women were to have worn modest clothing it would have prevented a frustrating situation for me and my husband in that instance.

    As I am writing this reply to you I am in tears thinking about the struggle my husband faces daily and the pain that he and I often feel from this overwhelming addiction.

    I acknowledge that he is the only that is accountable for his addiction. I know that he is in the situation because of choices he made as a teenager, over half of his life ago BUT the actions of others do affect him.

    Abby, YOU could affect him and as his wife who is desperately trying to help him through this incredibly trying experience I would ask that you reevaluate the role your are currently playing in other peoples lives. Telling women that what they wear won’t affect other people is absolutely wrong!

    Like you said in your article, everyone has free agency but to say that your choices won’t have an impact on others is a lie. I am not trying to offend you or anyone else who might read my reply. I am merely sharing the first hand perspective of someone who desperately wishes that women everywhere knew that the way they dress has a huge impact on men. However infuriating and unfair that may seem, it’s true.

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    1. This is so wrong. It is not other women’s responsibility to dress in a way that doesn’t titillate your husband. Because he has a porn addiction. And coming home crying? There is more to this than a modesty issue. Shame on you for trying to put the blame on others.

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    2. Maybe you should have put out more.
      Maybe you are terrible in bed.
      Obviously, you didn’t do your part as his wife…or he wouldn’t be addicted to porn.

      Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it?
      Don’t blame anyone but your husband.

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      1. If you read her post, that is exactly who she is blaming. She explicitly said in her post that she knows it isn’t, the women’s fault for her husbands thoughts. It however doesn’t change the fact that if the women were dressed more modestly that her husband would be less likely to be triggered. If you truly claim to be a follower of Christ, why would you not want to help your fellow brothers and sisters keep pure thoughts? The “I can do whatever I want as long as it makes me happy” attitude is true. We have nothing forcing us to wear a certain thing, or follow anything that we learn at church. No one is forcing us to abstain from sex outside of marriage, or follow the word of wisdom, or do any of those things. However, if we believe in the teachings of the gospel, we will want do those things. One of our baptismal covenants is to bear on another’s burdens. I feel like modesty can apply here. Not because we should feel a moral obligation on principle, but because we sincerely want to help our fellow man become better. I just want to repeat, if a man has impure thoughts, it is no one’s fault but the mans. But if we belive in the gospel, why not try to help him keep his thoughts clean?

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  11. Great article. I agree that both men and women need to be taught personal accountability and that modesty should NOT be taught as it victim blames and shames women. But I have a few issues with the stance taken in the article that you can wear what makes you feel good without fear of judgement or consequence.

    Firstly. modesty is as you say in the definition – based on “shaming” or victim blaming and that is wrong. and women should NEVER be held responsible for what a man thinks, feels, or does. HOWEVER, I once met a girl who used this same justification for her career as a table dancer (I’m not passing judgement on her career choice) but she was trying to join the LDS church which has pretty strict views on that sort of thing and while she is not responsible or accountable for the men coming and what they thought or did and in a religious sense she will never have to repent for their sins – she IS responsible for her own actions and intentions which were to knowingly and intentionally use her body to arouse her on lookers for money.

    Secondly, people say we shouldn’t be judged for how we “adorn” our bodies (e.g. someone with a nose ring being denied a job). But centuries of human history completely counters this statement. In fact, for every civilization I can think of throughout history, people would intentionally dress themselves to be judged and recognized for who they are OR probably better put, how they dress became a symbol for who they were. Think of soldiers, clothing for rituals in Native American civilizations, clothing for a blacksmith versus a stable boy, a crown and purple for royalty, specific tattoo designs for Hawaiin chiefs. You can argue that this is outdated way of being or thinking and that we are so much more “aware” and open minded these days, but I’d say people are basically the same, and the standards of “adornment” are really the only thing to change.

    To conclude, it is completely paradoxical to say don’t judge me for how I dress and then in another moment condemn anyone or institutions for their strict dress codes because it limits “freedom of expression.” “To Express” implies that there is someone to behold the expression. And because of how intertwined people are with their adornment it stands to reason that even if you are really only dressing for yourself – how you dress does have meaning whether it was intentional or not (e.g. wearing a bathing suit one would assume your swimming not going to the opera). Even today, the brands we wear, tattoos, piercings, etc all are ways of associating and separating ourselves within our own culture. Once again. This does not give anyone justification to treat you poorly or hurt you in any way, but it may mean the employer is in the right with their dress code. As a result of this paradox, this argument does not hold up.

    Obviously, if the standards set by a person or institution are misguided OR unjust then I think it’s great to contest it and raise your concern and so you’re article is wonderful self-expression.

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  12. Too many are responding as if this article is about the LDS faith, directly. The writer touches on the fact she came from that faith but this article is about something entirely different. Please read it again and pay attention and put your faith aside for a moment.
    What’s being said is that society, as a whole, is still to this day, continuing putting the responsibility of modesty upon women. Which is wrong. Period.
    A very well written piece that applies to a big audience in this day and age. Modesty is one thing, but shaming and calling it ‘modesty’, is a whole other ball game.
    Great read, thanks 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I don’t know how often you attend the youth classes for the boys, but it isn’t the free for all you seem to think. Men are also taught to be modest AND respectful to women. I feel the thing we seem to forget is that your Sunday school teacher is a regular member of society who was given a calling to teach and, sadly, some of them take advantage of the situation. If you had a young women’s leader shame you for wearing things that weren’t modest, then that’s on HER and isn’t the standard of the church. Listen to any talk from an Apostle and they are filled with love–even in times of sin. The feelings you have are personal and if you feel hurt it’s because you are letting yourself be hurt. There will be people in all areas of life that will say things that will upset you. The only way to actually live your life is to move forward. I’ve had people (members and nonmembers) say incredibly hurtful things and attack me on deeper levels. I’ve never been one who feels “shamed” by someone and if they try to shame me, I ignore them. So often people perceive the church to be something it actually isn’t because of some Sunday school teacher who didn’t teach doctrine but threw in their own spin. My sister once had a YM leader tell her a good guy would never want to marry a girl who didn’t have her young women medallion and my sister just called the woman out on it saying that wasn’t a fact or doctrine or even remotely accurate. If you want to dress for comfort, go for it. I’ll never look down on you or judge you. But you are incredibly mistaken if you don’t think men aren’t told to be modest and control their thoughts. I always think of it this way (because so many people want Jesus to be a chill bro, which he never was. Hell, one of the reasons he was killed was because he told people they were wrong) if you were invited to a dinner at the White House, how would you dress? You wouldn’t wear your comfort clothes, you’d dress nice. The same should be when you attend church (even though that wasn’t the point of your article).

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