How do I explain modesty?

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AmyJ
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Re: How do I explain modesty?

Post by AmyJ » 14 May 2019, 06:52

Modesty is a paradox.

POINT 1:
Modesty is both not caring about what others think (being satisfied with the modest house, ect.) and by dressing/having an appearance that is pleasing to others (requiring thinking about what others want to see).

We teach the dressing/appearance part of the equation first because that is tangible. You can tell your daughter to go back for a sweater, or change - but it is harder to teach how to be modest in thought, not boastful, and thinking about others. I am still working on the other half of the modesty equation (35+ into it)...

POINT 2:
Appearance is a key identifier in where a person stands in the community (for good for ill). Appearance is also a communicator of assumed organization compliance. Our church culture prizes the principle of obedience (which has some good things about it), and it is working on decoupling obedience from individual identity and appearance. Women sometimes wear pants to church without anyone caring. We had a sister put rainbow striping in her hair this past month, and I didn't see anyone give her dirty looks about it (but I could have missed it). Last week my toddler wore a sleeveless dress with a white sweater over it (big look in our primary crowd) and she managed to stain it during sacrament. So, I sent her to nursery sans sweater. The nursery leader pushed back comment-wise about the room temperature, and I explained that her sweater was not usable. I am not sure if the nursery leader subconsciously saw my toddler in violation of the unwritten dress code.

Women became the primary gate-keepers of this modesty function because a) it is executive functioning based on what clothing is available to wear, b) women have a vested interest in protecting young women from sending communications that could led the young women be preyed on, and c) women generally have stronger community networks (hence more to lose or perceived to lose by being shunned by the community). In addition, there are fewer clothing options for males in most community settings, hence less of an executive functioning procurement load, and less options to mis-communicate.

KEY TAKEAWAYS (What I hope to teach):
1. Modesty is mental attitude defined by becoming satisfied and grateful for what you have while maintaining an appearance that shows you thought about the messages you wanted to send the world.

2. Modesty in function should be more important than how it looks (i.e. dress appropriate for the occasion and the message you want to send). Wearing ugly but functional shoes on a hike is more important then wearing cute sandals.

3. I think that couples should strive to teach both aspects of modesty, but that those conversations should include executive functioning responsibility and concept coordination. In my house, i make sure the girls are dressed for church, but my husband makes sure that their looks acceptable.

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DarkJedi
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Re: How do I explain modesty?

Post by DarkJedi » 14 May 2019, 07:07

Roy wrote:
13 May 2019, 12:45
That does not appear to be how the church currently uses and teaches the word. I have noticed sometimes when an author or speaker successfully presents a fairly new or unorthodox view that they tend to do so by weaving it into the tapestry of Mormonism. Rather than saying that the church leadership is wrong on xyz, I have seen speakers and authors selectively quote from scriptures and church leaders to make it seem that this was the message that they had been preaching all along and we just lost sight of the forest for the trees for a moment.
This is true of pretty much everything I do or say. Using home teaching and ministering as an example, before the change I used to talk about home teaching in the context of "love your neighbor." I always thought home teaching was broken, and it clearly was. Then the change came. Ministering is love your neighbor and no checkbox. It's now safe for me to say out loud "Home teaching was broken, ministering is the fix. Ministering is what home teaching was always meant to be." If you do a little search (use the BYU tool), leaders have been talking about ministering for a long time - it was not brand new a year ago.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

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Roy
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Re: How do I explain modesty?

Post by Roy » 14 May 2019, 11:48

Amy, I love the way that you phrase your thoughts.
AmyJ wrote:
14 May 2019, 06:52
Women became the primary gate-keepers of this modesty function because a) it is executive functioning based on what clothing is available to wear, b) women have a vested interest in protecting young women from sending communications that could led the young women be preyed on, and c) women generally have stronger community networks (hence more to lose or perceived to lose by being shunned by the community). In addition, there are fewer clothing options for males in most community settings, hence less of an executive functioning procurement load, and less options to mis-communicate.
I would take a slightly different approach but also building upon what you have written here.

I believe that women are the primary gatekeepers of sexual access. In the world of sexual economics, women have historically used sexual access and exclusive sexual access as a principle bargaining chip. If a woman dresses provocatively, it is traditionally assumed that her barriers to sexual access are low. This then becomes a threat to all the other community women who are trying to fetch large concessions for their own sexual access. Thus, shaming those women who dress "inappropriately" is partly a communal defense mechanism. I believe that mothers emphasize to their daughters to dress and act "modestly" primarily to help them secure high concessions for exclusive sexual access (a.k.a. marriage) and also to help both mother and daughter avoid the communal judgement and shaming (I do believe that there can be some communal judgment and shaming upon a mother whose daughter does not dress according to the modesty norms). I understand that dressing modestly has historically been a way for women to message or telegraph the height of their barriers to sexual access.

I believe in the LDS church the "high concessions for exclusive sexual access (a.k.a. marriage)" takes the form of YSA women holding out for RMs and temple marriage eligibility for suitable marriage partners. I believe that when we strip away all the tangents and sidebars, Modesty is really about sexual economics.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

AmyJ
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Re: How do I explain modesty?

Post by AmyJ » 14 May 2019, 12:54

Roy wrote:
14 May 2019, 11:48
I believe in the LDS church the "high concessions for exclusive sexual access (a.k.a. marriage)" takes the form of YSA women holding out for RMs and temple marriage eligibility for suitable marriage partners. I believe that when we strip away all the tangents and sidebars, Modesty is really about sexual economics.
I agree for modesty in dress - absolutely.

However, I think it is entirely possible to become immodest in thought over the modesty regulations of others.

Roy
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Re: How do I explain modesty?

Post by Roy » 14 May 2019, 13:22

AmyJ wrote:
14 May 2019, 12:54
However, I think it is entirely possible to become immodest in thought over the modesty regulations of others.
:clap: :clap: :clap:
Yes, you have me there! :thumbup:
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

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hawkgrrrl
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Re: How do I explain modesty?

Post by hawkgrrrl » 14 May 2019, 14:15

On Own Now wrote:
13 May 2019, 13:11
On modesty specifically: I wish we didn't have to have a vernacular that referenced female attire in any connotation about "modesty". However, I do believe that this is often an unfair playing field. A man at Church talks about the modesty of his daughter, and wham, sexist 50's-style patriarchal bad-guy... right? Yet, I simply say this. Women and girls are FAR more likely to wear revealing attire than are men and boys. If you're not so sure about that, then look around next time you are at the gym, at the beach, or at a non-LDS wedding/reception/dinner. Is it right or wrong? I have no idea or opinion. My only point is we live in an asymmetrical world.
It's asymmetrical because it's patriarchal. Men are the ones who get to define roles and assess how we value men & women. Women are overvalued for their looks and fertility in a patriarchal society, not for the quality of our ideas or for our achievements in the workplace. We are eye candy. That's why women's clothing is more revealing. It's because the men made the rules. Women would design clothing for comfort if we didn't live in a patriarchal world.

Modesty is not about clothing specifically. Living modestly means living within our means and not being materialistic. Men can be immodest just as much as women in this definition: by buying a flashy car or technology to show off wealth. Modesty is about not boasting.
mod·est
1. unassuming or moderate in the estimation of one's abilities or achievements.
2. (of an amount, rate, or level) relatively moderate, limited, or small.

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On Own Now
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Re: How do I explain modesty?

Post by On Own Now » 14 May 2019, 14:58

hawkgrrrl wrote:
14 May 2019, 14:15
On Own Now wrote:
13 May 2019, 13:11
On modesty specifically: I wish we didn't have to have a vernacular that referenced female attire in any connotation about "modesty". However, I do believe that this is often an unfair playing field. A man at Church talks about the modesty of his daughter, and wham, sexist 50's-style patriarchal bad-guy... right? Yet, I simply say this. Women and girls are FAR more likely to wear revealing attire than are men and boys. If you're not so sure about that, then look around next time you are at the gym, at the beach, or at a non-LDS wedding/reception/dinner. Is it right or wrong? I have no idea or opinion. My only point is we live in an asymmetrical world.
It's asymmetrical because it's patriarchal. Men are the ones who get to define roles and assess how we value men & women. Women are overvalued for their looks and fertility in a patriarchal society, not for the quality of our ideas or for our achievements in the workplace. We are eye candy. That's why women's clothing is more revealing. It's because the men made the rules. Women would design clothing for comfort if we didn't live in a patriarchal world.
I just want to make clear, for the record, that I had no say in developing the style of clothing that women commonly wear today, nor the Church's view of 'modesty'. If it were up to me, I'd never use the word 'modesty' in a way that is related to appearance. I think that because of our asymmetrical world, that falls only on girls and women and I just don't like that kind of differentiation in a spiritual/religious setting. It's an unintended and unnecessary reinforcement of the Church's gender roles.
"Let us therefore no longer pass judgment on one another, but resolve instead never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of another." --Romans 14:13

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DarkJedi
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Re: How do I explain modesty?

Post by DarkJedi » 14 May 2019, 15:17

If it were up to me, I'd never use the word 'modesty' in a way that is related to appearance. I think that because of our asymmetrical world, that falls only on girls and women and I just don't like that kind of differentiation in a spiritual/religious setting. It's an unintended and unnecessary reinforcement of the Church's gender roles.
I agree with this. At the same time we all know that when the subject comes up in priesthood meeting (as it did) we are not talking about the definition of modesty as in a "modest home" or "modest income." We are almost always talking about dress and almost always female dress - although males can be immodest in dress and in thought (I mention the latter because I think it is also understood that modesty in thought is something "we believe"). That's what I have trouble articulating - even the definition of modesty we are talking about is not about dress, it's a state of mind. In my mind it's very much akin to reverence. Primary children are taught that folding their arms and sitting quietly is reverence. Reverent people may fold their arms and sit quietly, but that isn't the reverence - the reverence is in their minds/hearts.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

My Introduction

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On Own Now
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Re: How do I explain modesty?

Post by On Own Now » 14 May 2019, 15:58

DarkJedi wrote:
14 May 2019, 15:17
Reverent people may fold their arms and sit quietly, but that isn't the reverence - the reverence is in their minds/hearts.
Well-said.
"Let us therefore no longer pass judgment on one another, but resolve instead never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of another." --Romans 14:13

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dande48
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Re: How do I explain modesty?

Post by dande48 » 14 May 2019, 19:32

DarkJedi wrote:
14 May 2019, 15:17
Reverent people may fold their arms and sit quietly, but that isn't the reverence - the reverence is in their minds/hearts.
How you choose to carry yourself is usually a pretty good reflection of who you are; Not only that, what you do affects who you are.

What I'd hate to see, is words like "reverence" and "modesty" become so subjective and ambiguous they lose all meaning.
"The whole world is a comedy to those that think, a tragedy to those that feel." - Horace Walpole

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