My friend and I got into a discussion this week about modesty and how it’s getting harder and harder to dress fashionably and still cover up. I’ll be the first to admit that even though I love fashion, I often choose to shun the trend. Miniskirts and I were never friends, and I have never owned a two piece swim suit. Even those cute “tankinis” are not in my sphere of ‘cool’. I’ve just never felt comfortable in them. Maybe it was because I was such a tomboy growing up, but showing extra flesh just because I’m a girl has never been appealing.
In the process of discussing modesty my friend mentioned something that I want to discuss. She has recently lost a lot of weight, and for her wearing less is liberating. But I don’t agree with her. I think that no matter your size you owe it to yourself and to God to show respect for yourself by covering up. I despise how the clothing stores seem to think that women only have value for their sex appeal. When my friend feels free to wear skimpy styles with her weight loss it makes me sad. And then I go shopping in the big girl clothes and it seems they think that big girls are supposed to be more naked than the thin ones. I feel so grateful for the encouragement of my parents and the church that helped me stand up for what I felt was right.
When I was a teenager my Dad brought home a surprise. He had stopped by the LDS book store on his way home from work and bought a dozen “Mormon-ads”. These were posters with inspiring sayings and scriptures on them. They were essentially the pre-internet meme. I loved them! And I plastered my walls with them. My absolute favorite one had a bouquet of roses on it. And there in the center of the bouquet, tall and proud, was a daisy. The phrase below read “Be your own kind of beautiful”. And it inspired me daily. It reminded me that being another cookie cutter wasn’t the only way to be beautiful. That if I was true to myself I could stand tall and confident. And that beauty came in so many shapes and sizes.
Being the only girl in a household with 4 boys (and one baby sister) has its challenges. When I was 16 and decided I was going to be cool and “lay out” like the other girls did, I got cat calls from my brothers. And the shouts of “beached whale” and the jeering usually drove me inside well before I got any color. I wasn’t allowed to run around in my underwear like the boys did. And I’ll never forget one morning as I prepared to shovel the walk having my Dad freak out because I was wearing a thermal long sleeve shirt and it “wasn’t a shirt, it was underwear”. He equally objected to my wearing boxer shorts as was the cool thing when I was in high school. So I was used to being singled out and given stricter rules at an early age. It was good preparation for this modesty issue later in my life.
There has been a lot of conversation online about “Modest is hottest” and conversely “Modest is not hottest”. For a long time we tried to encourage each other to dress conservatively by saying that dressing modestly was just as “hot”. The catch phrase became “Modest is hottest”. But the new movement is pointing out that we aren’t looking to be sex idols when we cover up. We are looking to be respected and treated in a way befitting a lady and a daughter of God. We don’t want to be ogled by the masses, at least I don’t. Even when I was “on the market” and wanted to flirt and meet guys, I was very turned off by the big head to toe “checking you out” gestures. But I happen to think that leaving something for the imagination, and dressing in a flattering manner goes a long way toward building up self esteem. And it’s very attractive.
The irony is that as the fashion industry has adopted ever more impossible standards, and as they encourage women to wear less, women feel worse about themselves. I went shopping with a friend last week, and I was saddened by how many shirts were totally transparent. It’s like you’re wearing a hint of a shirt. This layered look annoys me because as a Mom, I’m always being pulled on. I don’t want an extra layer to juggle and keep on straight. And I really don’t want to flash my preschooler a good eye full of cleavage when I hand him his sippy cup. Why hasn’t anyone in the fashion industry realized this? We women don’t live in the bedroom. And there needs to be something to wear the rest of the day. Are you listening to me fashion industry? I hope so!
So ladies, in the interim as the industry catches up with us,We can build our confidence in our worth as we show the world we are wise enough to have functional and attractive outfits. We aren’t looking to be “hot” and slobbered over. We are looking to be respected, looked in the eye, and given the courtesy we should have always been given. We want to be positive examples to the young women who are unaware of just how twisted the media seems to have made womanhood. And we want to support our husbands as they seek to be clean and shun pornography in all its forms. Because let’s admit it, when you are walking down the street dressed like some want us to be- we are just walking porn. And we already know what a plague and a poison pornography is.
One of my favorite looks lately is the maxi skirt. The zig zag pattern is super popular and I think it’s adorable. Even paired with a simple short sleeve shirt its awesome. And it’s totally modest! If you look around there are great outfits when you are selective. So this revolution of ours need not be stressful. I’m happy to be your support if you are wavering. And together we can make the world a better place, and save ourselves the heartache that comes from allowing ourselves to be fed the lies any longer. We are women. We are strong. We make a difference.
Patty thrives on all things creative. You’ll often find her in the garden pretending she is a suburban farmer. She loves meeting new people, and is devoted to her friends and family. In her heart she is a Midwesterner even though life has moved her all over the country. She believes in “blooming where you’re planted” and has found purpose in every place she has been. She has a deep and abiding love for the Savior and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And she loves editing LDS Blogs because it is a constant spiritual uplift. Not many people can say their job builds their witness of the Savior.