The Freedom Modesty Brings

Courtesty LDS Media Library

That title? Not my words. They came from Kaylin Koslosky. This is a short post. I would only like to draw some attention to the Chastity Project and to a post on their site by Kaylin, “I Never Knew a Bikini Could Hide So Much.” Among other things she says:

Modesty veils physical beauty in a world obsessed with it, in order to reveal the inner beauty that is often overlooked. It prevents lust, harmful comparisons, and insecurity and gives rise to confidence and a greater capacity to love yourself and others by recognizing your own worth without needing the affirmation of each person that sees you.

It is hard to turn back once you discover the freedom modesty brings.

Wherever you are at in this journey ask yourself this: What beauty am I revealing to the world, and is it leading me to the love my heart yearns for? But beware! You may be starting down a path of no return.

You do not veil yourself because you believe you are ugly, you veil yourself because you know that you are beautiful.

I was inspired by Kaylin’s wise and courageous words. I hope you are too. 

Read More

Other posts from this blog on modesty:

When Clothes Really Do Make the Girl
A Few Thoughts on Modesty
Different Perspectives on Modesty
Quotes on Modesty
More Quotes on Modesty
Even More Quotes on Modesty

Even More Quotes on Modesty

Salt Lake Temple. Courtesy LDS Media Library.
Salt Lake Temple

Stay on the Path

“Virtue encompasses modesty—in thought, language, dress, and demeanor. And modesty is the foundation stone of chastity. Just as one does not hike trails inhabited by rattlesnakes barefoot, similarly in today’s world it is essential to our very safety to be modest. When we are modest, we show others that we understand our relationship with our Father in Heaven as His daughters. We demonstrate that we love Him and that we will stand as a witness of Him in all things. Being modest lets others know that we ‘cherish virtue’ (‘Dearest Children, God Is Near You,’ Hymns, no. 96).

“Modesty is not a matter of being ‘hip.’ It is a matter of the heart and being holy. It is not about being fashionable. It is about being faithful. It is not about being cool. It is about being chaste and keeping covenants. It is not about being popular, but about being pure. Modesty has everything to do with keeping our footing securely on the path of chastity and virtue. It is clear that virtue is a requirement for exaltation. Mormon helps us understand that both virtue and chastity are “most dear and precious above all things” (Moroni 9:9). We simply cannot afford to be casual or get too close to the edge. That is dangerous ground for any daughter of God to walk.” —Elaine S. Dalton (2007)

A Deep Stake for Modesty

“I know some young women who had questions about modest clothing. To find answers to their questions, they followed this exact pattern: they prayed to Heavenly Father, they studied the scriptures and the words of our latter-day prophets, and they were obedient in living the standard of modesty. As they received answers to their questions, their faith increased and their testimonies were strengthened. I would invite each of you to follow this pattern . . .

“After studying these words, one young woman realized that perhaps some of her clothes were not completely modest. Through prayer and study of the scriptures, she was reminded that she was a disciple of Jesus Christ and that, as His representative, she needed to make some changes. She didn’t want to have anything in her wardrobe that was a temptation, so she went through her closet and drawers and got rid of anything that wasn’t modest. She said, ‘I would be smart if I didn’t even try on anything in stores that I knew I shouldn’t wear. Why be tempted?’ That firm resolve showed the Lord that she respected her body, and she drove down a deep stake for modesty.” —Mary N. Cook (2007)

The Most Pervasively Dangerous Message

“It is, unfortunately, all too easy to illustrate the confusion and distortion of womanhood in contemporary society. Immodest, immoral, intemperate women jam the airwaves, monopolize magazines, and slink across movie screens—all while being celebrated by the world. The Apostle Paul spoke prophetically of ‘perilous times’ that will come in the last days and specifically referenced something that may have seemed particularly perilous to him: ‘silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts’ (2 Timothy 3:1, 6). Popular culture today often makes women look silly, inconsequential, mindless, and powerless. It objectifies them and disrespects them and then suggests that they are able to leave their mark on mankind only by seduction—easily the most pervasively dangerous message the adversary sends to women about themselves.” —M. Russell Ballard (2010)

Modesty Is a Protection

“[Fathers,] you are your daughter’s guardian in more than the legal sense. Be present in your daughter’s life. Let her know your standards, your expectations, your hopes and dreams for her success and happiness. Interview her, get to know her friends and, when the time comes, her boyfriends. Help her understand the importance of education. Help her understand that the principle of modesty is a protection. Help her choose music and media that invite the Spirit and are consistent with her divine identity. Be an active part of her life. And if in her teenage years she should not come home from a date on time, go get her. She will resist and tell you that you have ruined her social life, but she will inwardly know that you love her and that you care enough to be her guardian.” —Elaine S. Dalton (2011)

I’d Finally Found a Church that Teaches Modesty

“I am reminded of a young woman I met named Karigan. She wrote: ‘I’ve been a member of the Church for a little over a year. … For me, when investigating, one sign that this was the true Church came because I felt I’d finally found a church that taught modesty and standards. I’ve seen with my own eyes what happens to people when they disregard commandments and choose the wrong path. I made up my mind, long ago, to live high moral standards. … I feel so blessed to have found the truth and to have been baptized. I am so happy.'” —Ann M. Dibb (2012)

Protect and Cultivate the Moral Force That Is within You

“My plea to women and girls today is to protect and cultivate the moral force that is within you. Preserve that innate virtue and the unique gifts you bring with you into the world. Your intuition is to do good and to be good, and as you follow the Holy Spirit, your moral authority and influence will grow. To the young women I say, don’t lose that moral force even before you have it in full measure. Take particular care that your language is clean, not coarse; that your dress reflects modesty, not vanity; and that your conduct manifests purity, not promiscuity. You cannot lift others to virtue on the one hand if you are entertaining vice on the other.” —D. Todd Christofferson (2013)

Read More

Other posts from this blog on modesty:

When Clothes Really Do Make the Girl
A Few Thoughts on Modesty
Different Perspectives on Modesty
Quotes on Modesty
More Quotes on Modesty

More Quotes on Modesty

Provo Utah Temple. Courtesy LDS Media Library.
Provo Utah Temple

Hold High the Torch

“You may know that I am the mother of seven sons. I know boys! It has been an exciting life at our house! I’ve learned a lot from them and from their friends, both boys and girls, and I could tell you a few of their secrets. Maybe I could just share one and hope that I won’t get in trouble. This is it: boys hate to be embarrassed. I remember the time a young man I know had a date for the prom. He brought her to our house before the dance so we could take pictures. When they got there he came into the kitchen, where I was looking for the camera, and said: ‘Wait until you see my date’s dress. She looks so beautiful!’ This boy had never said anything like that before so I could hardly wait to see what he meant.

“When I saw her I understood; she was lovely. The dress she was wearing was beautiful; I learned that she and her mother had searched everywhere for it. When they finally found this dress, they knew it would be perfect with some added fabric and finishing touches to meet their high standards.

“All their efforts were rewarded because she was absolutely radiant this night, but it was more than the dress that made her shine. It was her quiet confidence. As I looked at her, I was reminded of the scripture, ‘Let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong.’ Where did this confidence that she had come from? I noticed that this young woman could focus on others because she was not worried about how she looked. She had taken care of that detail weeks before. The young man she was with felt comfortable and safe and happy when he was with her because her dress was not revealing. It was modest in every way, and this made her confident and happy. And that’s appealing. He wasn’t embarrassed by her; he was proud of her.

“The kind of young woman who can be a terrific torchbearer has high standards all the time, not just in her prom dress, but every, ordinary day. There are so many of you who are like that, and I salute you tonight. You have made modesty your way of life. It is more than how you dress. It includes at least six things that I can think of: (1) your behavior is decent and modest, and yet you are very fun to be with; (2) your language is never crude but happy and interesting; (3) you are well groomed, and that is appealing; (4) you are focused on developing your talents and achieving your goals, not piercing and tattooing and flaunting your body; (5) you play sports with gusto but never lose control; (6) you don’t seem to care about what the latest pop star wears or does because you have a certain style of your own. In summary, you do not imitate the world’s standards because you know a higher standard. You know who you are, and that puts you at a real advantage. You know that you really are a daughter of Heavenly Father. You know that He knows you and that He loves you; you want to please Him and honor His love for you. You know that even if you make foolish mistakes, He will help you if you turn to Him.” —Margaret D. Nadauld (2002)

Blessing Our Families through Our Covenants

“I once heard a mother say that with all of the evil influences facing her daughters, she had to choose which battles to fight. And so she had chosen not to fight their dress standards. But modesty is a battle worth fighting because it so often affects more serious moral issues. Now, this doesn’t mean that we have to demand that our daughters and sons are covered from neck to ankle, but it does mean that we help them dress in a way that shows they are children of God. Sisters, you are wise and amazing mothers. You don’t need a handbook outlining what is acceptable in dress. Follow the Spirit, and you and your children will know what is right.” —Kathleen H. Hughes (2002)

Stay on the High Road

“Modesty in dress and manner will assist in protecting against temptation. It may be difficult to find modest clothing, but it can be found with enough effort. . . . I do not hesitate to say that you can be attractive without being immodest. You can be refreshing and buoyant and beautiful in your dress and in your behavior. Your appeal to others will come of your personality, which is the sum of your individual characteristics. Be happy. Wear a smile. Have fun. But draw some rigid parameters, a line in the sand, as it were, beyond which you will not go.” —Gordon B. Hinckley (2004)

The Sanctity of the Body

“Modesty is more than a matter of avoiding revealing attire. It describes not only the altitude of hemlines and necklines but the attitude of our hearts. The word modesty means “measured.” It is related to moderate. It implies “decency, and propriety … in thought, language, dress, and behavior” (in Daniel H. Ludlow, ed., Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 5 vols. [1992], 2:932).

“Moderation and appropriateness should govern all of our physical desires. A loving Heavenly Father has given us physical beauties and pleasures ‘both to please the eye and to gladden the heart’ (D&C 59:18), but with this caution: that they are ‘made to be used, with judgment, not to excess, neither by extortion’ (D&C 59:20). My husband used this scripture to teach our children about the law of chastity. He said that the ‘word extortion … literally means to “twist out [or against].” Our use of … the body must not be twisted [against] the divinely ordained purposes for which [it was] given. Physical pleasure is good in its proper time and place, but even then it must not become our god’ (John S. Tanner, “The Body as a Blessing,” Ensign, July 1993, 10).” —Susan W. Tanner (2005)

To Young Women

“For you to fully claim Heavenly Father’s blessings and protection, we ask you to stay true to the standards of the gospel of Jesus Christ and not slavishly follow the whims of fads and fashions. The Church will never deny your moral agency regarding what you should wear and exactly how you should look. But the Church will always declare standards and will always teach principles. As Sister Susan Tanner taught this morning [see above], one of those principles is modesty. In the gospel of Jesus Christ, modesty in appearance is always in fashion. Our standards are not socially negotiable.

“The For the Strength of Youth pamphlet is very clear in its call for young women to avoid clothing that is too tight, too short, or improperly revealing in any manner, including bare midriffs. Parents, please review this booklet with your children. Second only to your love, they need your limits. Young women, choose your clothing the way you would choose your friends—in both cases choose that which improves you and would give you confidence standing in the presence of God. Good friends would never embarrass you, demean you, or exploit you. Neither should your clothing.” —Jeffrey R. Holland (2005)

Read More

Other posts from this blog on modesty:

When Clothes Really Do Make the Girl
A Few Thoughts on Modesty
Different Perspectives on Modesty
Quotes on Modesty
Even More Quotes on Modesty

Quotes on Modesty

Manti Utah Temple. Courtesy LDS Media Library
Manti Utah Temple

A Quality of Mind and Heart

“Modesty in dress is a quality of mind and heart, born of respect for oneself, one’s fellowmen, and the Creator of us all. Modesty reflects an attitude of humility, decency, and propriety. Consistent with these principles and guided by the Holy Spirit, let parents, teachers, and youth discuss the particulars of dress, grooming, and personal appearance, and with free agency accept responsibility and choose the right.”

N. Eldon Tanner (1971)

Forsaking a Great Principle

“I was struck by the lack of self-esteem revealed in the manner by which so many people now clothe themselves in public. To attract attention or in the name of comfort and informality, many have sunk not only to immodesty but to slovenliness. Against their own self-interest, they present themselves to others in the worst possible way. In forsaking the great principle of modesty, society has paid a price in the violation of a greater but related principle—that of chastity. The purveyors of the concept of irresponsible sexual relations that degrade and brutalize the participants have grossly masqueraded and completely missed the purpose of these divine gifts.” —James E. Faust (1981)

A Hallmark

“Young sisters, be modest. Modesty in dress and language and deportment is a true mark of refinement and a hallmark of a virtuous Latter-day Saint woman. Shun the low and the vulgar and the suggestive.” —Ezra Taft Benson (1986)

A Symbol of Modesty

“There is, however, another piece of armor worthy of our consideration. It is the special underclothing known as the temple garment, or garment of the holy priesthood, worn by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who have received their temple endowment. This garment, worn day and night, serves three important purposes: it is a reminder of the sacred covenants made with the Lord in His holy house, a protective covering for the body, and a symbol of the modesty of dress and living that should characterize the lives of all the humble followers of Christ.” —Carlos E. Asay (1997)

I Have Never Felt Better about Myself

“When you walk down the halls at school and see all the other students, do you think to yourself, I am different? You are not better than they are, but your knowledge of and your commitment to the Savior make you different, and that difference can be an advantage, a blessing.
“One of the hardest things for many of you is modesty. How can we apply the spiritual power of our baptism to the principle of modesty? We hope one of the things that makes you different from the world is the way you dress. Marcie Matthews, a Laurel from Chicago, Illinois, shares her story:
“’1998 was a year that I was able to see the results of many Young Women lessons, talks, and advice come into play. I am an average Mormon girl. Being able to keep my life this steady and strong has not been easy. I make goals all the time to help strengthen my testimony and my standards.
“’Recently we had a Mutual activity on the importance of modesty. Every lesson before I felt like I was a modest dresser, but I knew there was still something I could change—my shorts and the length of my skirts. It was the one weakness that I knew I had but had placed far behind in my head. Everyone wore short shorts, Daisy Dukes, and miniskirts, and I had bought mine with my own money. Then I heard the lesson on modesty. I went home wanting to go straight to my closet and throw away everything that was not modest so it wouldn’t be there to tempt me. After, I told my parents. I guess I was looking for them to tell me that there was no problem in the way I dressed and then let me go.
“’Later that night my dad told me he was proud of me and that he would like to buy me a couple of knee-length dresses for church. The next step was to go through all my clothes and give away everything. It was hard for me to part with my favorite skirts and the shorts that I loved so much, but I did. You will never see me in short shorts or short skirts again.
“’I have never felt better about myself. I love being able to walk into the temple and church and feel like I am a child of God and am representing Him … by the clothes that I wear.’
“I challenge every young woman to take this step. It will help you find out who you are and what you stand for. When we have to give up something that is a part of us, the blessings will pour in more than you can imagine.’” —Carol B. Thomas (1999)

The Wellspring of Life

“Grateful daughters of God guard their bodies carefully, for they know they are the wellspring of life and they reverence life. They don’t uncover their bodies to find favor with the world. They walk in modesty to be in favor with their Father in Heaven. For they know He loves them dearly.” —Margaret D. Nadauld (2000)

 Modesty and Femininity Are Hallmarks of Righteous Women

“How will our young women learn to live as women of God unless they see what women of God look like, meaning what we wear, watch, and read; how we fill our time and our minds; how we face temptation and uncertainty; where we find true joy; and why modesty and femininity are hallmarks of righteous women? How will our young men learn to value women of God if we don’t show them the virtue of our virtues?” —Sheri L. Dew (2001)

One Young Man . . . Handed Me This Note

“Recently I spoke to a large group of youth, and one young man after the meeting handed me this note: ‘Please, will you let the women of the Church know how much I appreciate their modesty? I know in our world it is difficult to find modest clothes. But please let them know that it is worth it to me and to the wholesome men they will marry.’” —Ellen W. Smoot (2001)

Read More

Other posts from this blog on modesty:

When Clothes Really Do Make the Girl
A Few Thoughts on Modesty
Different Perspectives on Modesty
More Quotes on Modesty
Even More Quotes on Modesty

Different Perspectives on Modesty

Payson Utah Temple. Courtesy LDS Media Library.
“Ye are the temple of God, and . . . the Spirit of God dwelleth in you.” (1 Cor. 3:16)

I shared some of my feelings on modesty in a recent post. I’d like to follow up by highlighting other perspectives on the subject.

First of all, you can find the standard of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on modesty in the For the Strength of Youth pamphlet:

Your body is sacred. Respect it and do not defile it in any way. Through your dress and appearance, you can show that you know how precious your body is. You can show that you are a disciple of Jesus Christ and that you love Him.

Prophets of God have continually counseled His children to dress modestly. When you are well groomed and modestly dressed, you invite the companionship of the Spirit and you can be a good influence on others. Your dress and grooming influence the way you and others act.

Never lower your standards of dress. Do not use a special occasion as an excuse to be immodest. When you dress immodestly, you send a message that is contrary to your identity as a son or daughter of God. You also send the message that you are using your body to get attention and approval.

Immodest clothing is any clothing that is tight, sheer, or revealing in any other manner. Young women should avoid short shorts and short skirts, shirts that do not cover the stomach, and clothing that does not cover the shoulders or is low-cut in the front or the back. Young men should also maintain modesty in their appearance. Young men and young women should be neat and clean and avoid being extreme or inappropriately casual in clothing, hairstyle, and behavior. They should choose appropriately modest apparel when participating in sports. The fashions of the world will change, but the Lord’s standards will not change. (From “Dress and Appearance“; emphasis added.)

These standards apply equally to boys and girls.

Four Powerful Perspectives

Robert D. Hales. Courtesy LDS Media Library.
Robert D. Hales

Elder Robert D. Hales shared his inspired thoughts in Modesty: Reverence for the Lord in the August 2008 Ensign. You can also listen to it here. I really like this quote from the article:

Modesty is at the center of being pure and chaste, both in thought and deed. Thus, because it guides and influences our thoughts, behavior, and decisions, modesty is at the core of our character. Our clothing is more than just covering for our bodies; it reflects who we are and what we want to be, both here in mortality and in the eternities that will follow. (Emphasis added.)

Carol F. McConkie. Courtesy LDS Media Library.
Carol F. McConkie

Carol McConkie gave a powerful talk at the BYU Women’s Conference in 2013. It appeared in the Ensign in October 2014 as “The Courage to Choose Modesty.” I loved this part:

As we have covenanted to follow the Savior and desire to receive the fulness of the blessings of His Atonement in our lives, there is really only one outfit that matters. Moroni records, “Awake, and arise from the dust, … yea, and put on thy beautiful garments, O daughter of Zion; … that the covenants of the Eternal Father … may be fulfilled” (Moroni 10:31; emphasis added). The beautiful garments are the robes of righteousness, worn by those who have kept their covenants. Are we preparing our children to put on these beautiful garments?

A well thought out article on the subject was posted recently on the Mormon Women Stand blog called “Modesty: Everyone’s Responsibility.” The article emphasized not judging others:

We are all imperfect and in need of repentance over our own weaknesses. Yet, we each carry the responsibility to help one another overcome the problems we face. Kindness, tact, and setting a good example toward others’ choices will go much further than harsh words of judgment.

Last year, I read this thought-provoking post that grew out of a conversation between a husband and a wife about some pretty young joggers. “Countenance Not Cleavage” appears on Colossal Thought. Here’s a key point that spoke to me:

I think it was a hot day when my husband noticed the lightly clad young women out running. So, practical reasons might have inspired their running attire that afternoon.  We will never know. What I do know, is that he remembered it. It was significant enough for him to share what he’d seen. It had a subtle effect on both of us. Let me emphasize this point, it affected us. (Emphasis added.)

The four articles and blog posts I’ve cited here all do a better job than I have on the subject. I highly recommend reading them.

 A Stumbling Block to the Weak

Some wonder if or how our choices affect others. The apostle Paul wrote to the saints in Corinth about their freedom to eat meat that had been sacrificed to idols. To illustrate a point, I’ll apply Paul’s reasoning to those who knowingly and intentionally dress immodestly.

Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak. For if someone with a weak conscience sees you, with all your knowledge, [dressing immodestly], won’t that person be emboldened to [dress immodestly]? So this weak brother or sister, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. When you sin against them in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if what I [wear] causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never [dress immodestly] again, so that I will not cause them to fall. (NIV 1 Corinthians 8:9–13.)

Your choices do influence others. No one is locked into neutral. Let me share again a thought from For the Strength of Youth:

When you are well groomed and modestly dressed, you invite the companionship of the Spirit and you can be a good influence on others. Your dress and grooming influence the way you and others act. (Emphasis added.) 

It’s Hard to Unhook

I’ll mention one last resource, a book: Hooked: New Science on How Casual Sex is Affecting our Children. If you want to protect your children from the world in the last days, it helps to have the reasons why you want to protect them. For many kids, “because I said so,” or “because the scriptures say so,” or even “because the prophet said so,” is not good enough. They want the big picture and the whole story. They yearn for it.

This book gives countless and powerful reasons to do all we can to protect our children and grandchildren from premature sexual involvement. One huge issue it covers: it is very difficult to emotionally unhook from past hookups.

You’ll be glad you read this book. Knowledge and understanding is a potent form of protection. Pass it on.

The Greatest Charity

Finally, I can never say this enough, so I’ll say it again. My purpose is not to judge or to blame. In my mind, such errors carry as heavy of a burden as the errors they decry. I admire these wise words from Marvin J. Ashton:

Perhaps the greatest charity comes when we are kind to each other, when we don’t judge or categorize someone else, when we simply give each other the benefit of the doubt or remain quiet. Charity is accepting someone’s differences, weaknesses, and shortcomings; having patience with someone who has let us down; or resisting the impulse to become offended when someone doesn’t handle something the way we might have hoped. Charity is refusing to take advantage of another’s weakness and being willing to forgive someone who has hurt us. Charity is expecting the best of each other.

A Few Thoughts on Modesty

Courtesy LDS Media Library

I’d like to share a few musings about modest dress. First of all, let me share a definition of the word modesty. The first meaning of the word, according to Merriam-Webster, is “the quality of not being too proud or confident about yourself or your abilities.” I am writing mostly about the second meaning: “the quality of behaving and especially dressing in ways that do not attract sexual attention.”

Modest dress, by the way, applies to both men and women, though this post is addressed to women. I am not, as some might think, “putting something on women.” Try as I may, though, you do influence me, but if that influence comes across to me as negative, I’m not blaming you for it, or for my choices. I need to learn to act independent of the influence of others.

I want to start out by saying you can wear or not wear whatever you want. Your choices are your own. You’re free to choose. God has given you that right. And what you choose does not cause another to make a choice. Our choices influence others, but they don’t force them to make good or bad choices. In other words, I cannot blame my good or bad choices on another, nor can you.

You’re certainly not accountable to me, but you are accountable, to someone. And I am not judging you or blaming you. Seriously, I am not writing this to judge or condemn anyone.

The human body, both female and male, is truly amazing. It’s beautiful, miraculous, complex, and divine—a gift from God. So when I see a woman who is dressed immodestly—and I mean immodestly as in wearing intentionally revealing clothes—I often feel a little sad and sick inside, though I’m not entirely sure why.

You might say, “You don’t have to look at me then.” You’re right. I don’t. And I’ll do my best not to. But sometimes it’s difficult to not get a glimpse of what I don’t want to see. That’s probably my issue, but I don’t know where the balance is between my agency and your agency. Yes, I am responsible for my own thoughts and feelings and actions. You don’t cause them. You do have some influence, however.

Maybe you are dressing this way because you feel more comfortable wearing less clothes in the warmer months. Maybe you want to look and feel cute or in style. Maybe you are making clothes choices innocently, maybe not. I don’t know and I am not judging you. All I know is that, intentional or not, your choice has an influence on me that I must consciously consider. That’s not your fault but it is my reality. I feel sad and somewhat repulsed when you show me way too much of your body. And I don’t think I am alone in my feelings.

Jesus warned men not to look at women to lust after them. It is not always easy for men to obey that counsel. We are visually oriented and have microwavable hormones. It takes determination and practice to live this commandment. Let me ask this, then: is it okay with you to intentionally and knowingly dress in a way that makes it more difficult for someone else to follow Jesus, or is it all just someone else’s problem? Where is the line between you and me? I don’t know. I am asking this question because I don’t have the answer.

Is it your intention that I notice you and give you my attention? Well, maybe not my attention, but the attention of men who you find attractive. I can understand that. We humans not only want attention: it’s essential for our survival. Maybe you’re seeking validation. We all need that too. But there is a better way to get attention and validation than by intentionally exposing your body to others.

I don’t know your real motives. How can I? But I feel a need to explore my own feelings so I can understand them.

I think I feel sad because I feel you’ve forgotten or set aside who you really are and where and to Whom you belong. Maybe you think your body only belongs to you. Of course it belongs to you, but I think it’s more on loan to you, to see what you’ll do with it. You did not create it and you cannot stop it from dying. Someone greater than all of us has ultimate power over it.

What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s. (1 Corinthians 6:19–20; emphasis added.)

Let’s say you have a boyfriend or a husband. Do you think he feels good about you showing so much of your body to anyone that happens to see you? Does that create trust for you in him, the only real cement that glues people together?

Would you like it if your husband or future husband stared at women who dressed immodestly? That would probably make you feel sad and a little sick. Why would you do the same thing to someone else’s husband or future husband?

Young women, please understand that if you dress immodestly, you are magnifying this problem by becoming pornography to some of the men who see you. —Dallin H. Oaks

I’m not trying to judge you or condemn you or hurt you. I’d just like to understand you, your motives, and your intentions because it will help me understand myself.

I can’t really tell, but you seem proud of your body. I think it’s important that we feel good about our bodies and take care of them, but, honestly, I wonder if you are trying to make other women feel jealous of you, like there is some sort of secret competition for attention going on.

I don’t know that for sure. How can I? That’s why I am asking. But you won’t tell me, so I have to guess. But that’s a form of judging. That’s why I’m confused. Those feelings are all I’m left with, though I don’t know why entirely.

Where envying . . . is, there is confusion and every evil work. (James 3:16.)

I would like to make a confession. I do notice when women and girls consciously dress modestly. I admire them for it, especially in this day and age. And I know I am joined by other like-minded women and men in this appreciation.

I am impressed by what feels like self-respect. Sometimes you are persecuted for making this choice, so I feel your intention and strength. I also feel more confident and safe in your presence, less on guard and less vulnerable. I feel like you are not asking me for my eyes: you are asking me for my trust and respect. You’ve got it.

And thank you for not asking me for something that I can’t give you. You have found what you need for yourself, independent of any other person. And you are sending out the message that you know who you are.

I am grateful for you, more than I can say.

P.S. I hope I have made my intention clear. It has been an exploration of unanswered questions. Once again, whatever we choose does not cause another to choose. But our intentions and choices do influence others, for good or ill, and for those intentions and choices, we are accountable to God. I believe that the tender influence of genuine and good women, other than the influence of God Himself, is the greatest force for good in the universe.

When Clothes Really Do Make the Girl

Courtesy LDS Media Library

Yesterday, a sister missionary told me the story of a young woman who grew up in her ward. She was disconnected from the other girls. She dressed “goth” — everything was black, including lipstick. She didn’t want to be with the other young women because she didn’t feel like she fit in.

Then one day, the parents of the sister missionary said to the girl who dressed goth (with the permission of the girl’s parents), “We want to take you shopping. We will pay for your clothes. Do you want to go?” The girl said yes and they went shopping.

Well, the girl picked out a whole new wardrobe, a whole new look. Lots of bright colors. It was fun!

Then something happened. The girl started looking at herself differently. She started feeling differently about herself. She started to attend Young Women. She found a new place in the world—because of the way she chose to dress and because of how that made her feel about herself.

She remained active. Later, she went on a mission. And when she came home, she married in the temple.

Those missionary’s parents. They were guardian angels.

What is it about the clothes we wear and what they say about us? Our clothes—and the lack of them—are often a reflection of what is going on inside. They can also influence what is going on inside, and what goes on outside. It all starts on the inside, though.

I used to interview missionaries when they got home from their missions. Among other things, I’d say to them, “Don’t go shaggy.” Why? Because shaggy is as shaggy does. Shaggy looks invite shaggy behavior.

It’s not about the clothes, really. It’s about how you choose to feel about yourself and the effect it has on you.