Can I complain about garments?

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Joni
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Joined: 22 Nov 2013, 08:36

Can I complain about garments?

Post by Joni » 08 May 2015, 07:33

I've been wearing garments since I was 20. I'm 35 now. For a long time they didn't bother me - just went up there on the shelf along with the priesthood ban and Joseph Smith's polygamy and City Creek Mall. Recently, my younger sister (not a member) came to live with us for a little while since she is separating from her husband. She's obviously going through a rough time, and another one of our sisters sent her a Target gift card, which she used to buy some new underthings. For a woman this is a quick and inexpensive pick-me-up. Anyway, I was manning the shopping cart and it struck me all of a sudden how incredibly envious I am of her and of any woman who gets to shop for underwear at a regular store. It seems so very, very wrong that as a faithful, LDS woman, I do not have the right to choose what I wear next to my skin.

Oh sure, I can choose between DriSilque and Carinessa. But compare that to the enormous variety of choices at a store like Target, let alone Victoria's Secret, and you see that the choices offered to us are no choice at all. Most women can choose the color, fabric, cut, and embellishment of the most intimate layer of clothing they wear. They can even choose to wear things that make them feel special or sexy! But because I am a temple-recommend-holding Mormon woman, I will never be able to make that decision for myself. Even the most modest of secular underthings ("granny panties") are a wicked G string compared to garment bottoms. (When the garment video said "they are basically just modest secular underwear" I wonder if they did, in fact, run that statement by any woman.)

What I find even more creepy is the fact that my underwear choices are outsourced to men - God, the First Presidency*, and my bishop. The one man who should have any kind of say into what I wear next to my skin - my husband - actually doesn't get to participate in this process. I'm sure he would like to look at me and see me in something other than baggy undies that turned gray the third time I washed them. I wonder if it's uncomfortable looking at me when things are getting hot and heavy, and knowing that HIS MOTHER is wearing the exact same thing under HER clothes. I mean, if HE were the one choosing, there would probably at least be some lace involved**. And yet, if I were to mention that I was even thinking about not wearing G's anymore, he'd probably file for divorce the same day. Because my husband's love, like God's, is apparently contingent on my having the right things on under my clothes.

Speaking of God - how is it that He does not want to command us in all things, lest we become unprofitable, etc., yet He has an opinion on exactly how many millimeters of my shoulders and thighs should be covered? I suppose it's a little hypocritical for me to complain about the burden garments place on women, when men's garments actually cover more square inches, yet garments seem to represent a different thing for men than they do for women. Women's garments are 'modesty enforcers' in a way that men's are not - it's perfectly fine for my husband's G's to peek out at the neck of a polo shirt (they design the crew neck G's for that very reason) or for the bottoms to be visible when he is wearing loose fitting shorts. Yet my garments must be completely covered at all times, even though I covenanted to no such thing in the temple. It's reasonable to expect me to pile on multiple layers of clothing, even in the summer, even when pregnant, so that the things which cover my nakedness are themselves covered. But no such expectation is made of men.

I've often complained about the LDS tendency to conflate the value of the symbolic object with the thing it symbolizes. We are especially prone to doing this with garments (if they are not magical or mystical in any way, as the newsroom video claims, what's with the whole cutting up and burning ritual?) And even that is a problem. Whenever I put on these worn-out, ill-fitting underclothes that make my shoulders and back break out, I am reminded of the covenants I made in the temple. Things like: giving myself to my husband when we were married and receiving nothing in return; promising to hearken to my husband when he hearkens only to God; and being obliged to hide my face behind a stifling polyester veil before praying in the manner that God deems correct.

Not wearing them isn't an option. And I'm only 35. I've got another 40-50 years of underwear-related cognitive dissonance to look forward to. Oy.

*I've read that the FP gets final approval on any changes to the garment. If that's not the case, please ignore that part of my statement.

**I mean lace that's actually pretty.
Last edited by Joni on 11 May 2015, 12:28, edited 2 times in total.

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SilentDawning
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Joined: 09 May 2010, 19:55

Re: Can I complain about garments?

Post by SilentDawning » 08 May 2015, 08:20

I'm glad not wearing them isn't an option. I was going to say that wearing them is only an issue when you want a TR or attach spiritual importance to them. Since you do attach importance to them, I guess it's a matter of finding counterbalancing reasons for wearing them. I find much of my decisions lately regarding the church are of a cost-benefit nature. Look at the costs of an expected action, and the benefits, and that can help clarify what is important.

In this case, there are obviously some benefits you see in wearing them, hence your commitment to keep wearing them.

What are those benefits?
"It doesn't have to be about the Church (church) all the time!" -- SD

"The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. No price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself."

A man asked Jesus "do all roads lead to you?" Jesus responds,”most roads don’t lead anywhere, but I will travel any road to find you.” Adapted from The Shack, William Young

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mom3
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Re: Can I complain about garments?

Post by mom3 » 08 May 2015, 08:29

Joni- I am running out the door, but we have threads galore on this very topic. No answers. You already touched on the only 2 answers available. As I watched the temperature indicators I wept yesterday. I also watched a fashion show with period correct clothes dating from the sinking of the Titanic to Roaring Twenties. Even the women's modest drawers of the those times didn't have capped sleeves. Your vent is shared by many. And the answers leave you very much alone - depending on your marriage. We hear you.
"I stayed because it was God and Jesus Christ that I wanted to follow and be like, not individual human beings." Chieko Okazaki Dialogue interview

"I am coming to envision a new persona for the Church as humble followers of Jesus Christ....Joseph and his early followers came forth with lots of triumphalist rhetoric, but I think we need a new voice, one of humility, friendship and service. We should teach people to believe in God because it will soften their hearts and make them more willing to serve." - Richard Bushman

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nibbler
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Re: Can I complain about garments?

Post by nibbler » 08 May 2015, 08:29

Don't take this the wrong way, this is a serious subject, I just wanted to say that you brightened my day.
Joni wrote:Even the most modest of secular underthings ("granny panties") are a wicked G string compared to garment bottoms.
:lol:

Hey, what's going on in this thread?
Joni wrote:I wonder if it's uncomfortable looking at me when things are getting hot and heavy, and knowing that HIS MOTHER is wearing the exact same thing under HER clothes.
Image

:angel:
Joni wrote:Speaking of God - how is it that He does not want to command us in all things, lest we become unprofitable, etc., yet He has an opinion on exactly how many millimeters of my shoulders and thighs should be covered?
God may not want to command us in all things but his followers sure seem to have no problem with it.
Joni wrote:Women's garments are 'modesty enforcers' in a way that men's are not - it's perfectly fine for my husband's G's to peek out at the neck of a polo shirt (they design the crew neck G's for that very reason) or for the bottoms to be visible when he is wearing loose fitting shorts. Yet my garments must be completely covered at all times, even though I covenanted to no such thing in the temple. It's reasonable to expect me to pile on multiple layers of clothing, even in the summer, even when pregnant, so that the things which cover my nakedness are themselves covered. But no such expectation is made of men.
I agree that men don't get it near as bad as women get it but men do still get it. I hear "Your covenants are showing." all the time when my bottoms are barely poking out of the bottom of my shorts.
Joni wrote:Not wearing them isn't an option.
I believe I understand the reasoning behind your statement but I believe that we're free to not wear them. It may disappoint our ecclesiastical leaders but often I'm not in the mood for appeasing their insecurities. I'd say that one area where we feel the most compelled to wear the garment is during the TR interview. People whispering at church would also compel us to wear the garment. When we are in the privacy of our own homes the only person that compels us to wear the garment is ourselves. God may or may not have an opinion on the matter but I believe god both values an individual's opinion and takes it into account.

To answer the question, can I complain about garments? Yes. Did I ever tell you about the time where I bought the first run of the extra support G's...
Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.
— Henry David Thoreau

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LookingHard
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Joined: 20 Oct 2014, 12:11

Re: Can I complain about garments?

Post by LookingHard » 08 May 2015, 08:37

I can say that the sisters have more issues with garments. I have seen TONS of issues (yeast infections, yet one more negative body issue, more 'modesty' enforcement) being mentioned by sisters.

If you go to LDSSexuality.com you can read many discussions on garments.

Some people have found that they can answer the recommend question of garment wearing night and day in interesting ways. Some are OK going on date night without garments and even falling asleep after sex without getting back into their garments unless they wake up at night.

Also note that it seems that those sisters going to the temple now are no longer being told that the garment must be the first item you put on. In that you can put a bra on first if that helps at all.

Best of luck.

Joni
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Joined: 22 Nov 2013, 08:36

Re: Can I complain about garments?

Post by Joni » 08 May 2015, 09:29

SilentDawning wrote:
What are those benefits?
I get to stay married. That's pretty much it. :angel:

Oh, and I can hold a temple recommend, which isn't a big deal now but it will matter in 10 - 20 years when my children reach marriage age.

NightSG
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Joined: 09 Feb 2015, 09:35

Re: Can I complain about garments?

Post by NightSG » 08 May 2015, 09:44

LookingHard wrote:Some people have found that they can answer the recommend question of garment wearing night and day in interesting ways. Some are OK going on date night without garments and even falling asleep after sex without getting back into their garments unless they wake up at night.
IMO, if you need a reminder or symbol of your covenants while in bed with your eternal companion, you're too far gone for your drawers to be any help.

Kipper
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Joined: 27 Aug 2012, 07:45

Re: Can I complain about garments?

Post by Kipper » 08 May 2015, 10:02

I decide when I wear my garments. And they are not the first thing that goes on. I think that has been proven not to be a requirement. Some chores would not get done in the heat of the day with layered clothing, in those cases they come off. When my skin is irritated they come off. If I want to enjoy a cool breeze on a hot day blowing thru my t-shirt I will. They like many other things are symbolic not literal or "magical" . I don't loose the meaning every minute I am not wearing garments. YRMV.

Ann
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Joined: 09 Sep 2012, 02:17

Re: Can I complain about garments?

Post by Ann » 08 May 2015, 10:32

Hi, Joni - I identify completely with your frustration.

Related aside to get out of the way first: I was in a sealing a few weeks ago and the sealer told this sweet couple in a roomful of people that they should never take their garments off except to put on clean ones. (I'm not kidding.) I just saw pictures of a different temple-married newlywed couple on their honeymoon. Their hiking clothes did not include garments. Everyone has an opinion....

I won't rant on about the femininity-squashing aspect of them because it's been done. It's a very real thing for a lot of women, myself included. And not because I want to sin by wearing trashy clothes. I wear my garments much less than I used to and my wardrobe is the same. But I feel feminine and comfortable - finally. The attempts to make garments feminine are futile, imo. You can import the finest Belgian lace at $100 a yard and it changes nothing about how I feel wearing the bottom portion of the garment. But that is not saying that I hate them. I don't. I'm willing to wear something the sight of which in the mirror makes me cringe - sometimes - because I recognize other ways in which it is valuable to me and my husband, but not all the time.

An institution can't dictate what something means to me. It explains the symbolism, sets up an expectation, and fosters a culture, but that's as far as it goes. An institution can label me a bad person, but that doesn't make me one. Simply saying that an unwillingness to wear garments 24/7 means that I don't love God and Christ doesn't make it so. I am content with my choices and I don't feel that they are anyone else's business. So I answer, Yes, I wear the garment.

Editing to add: I told my husband how I felt. It wasn't a long, dramatic conversation. I think he was afraid that my not wearing them 24/7 was a prelude to - he didn't know what - something bad for our marriage. As time went by and he realized it wasn't, he was less obviously concerned or interested in when I was wearing them.
"Preachers err by trying to talk people into belief; better they reveal the radiance of their own discovery." - Joseph Campbell

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes." - Marcel Proust

"Therefore they said unto him, How were thine eyes opened? He answered and said unto them, A man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed my eyes...." - John 9:10-11

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Holy Cow
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Re: Can I complain about garments?

Post by Holy Cow » 08 May 2015, 11:19

Good post, Joni. I agree with what others have said. Wearing the garment comes down to what it means to you. If you feel that it represents the covenants you've made and serves as a reminder of the temple for you, then there is value in wearing them. I completely understand the comfort and fit issues, though. When I was still completely TBM, I would sometimes find myself thinking, "It's great that garments serve as a reminder of our covenants, but does that reminder have to come in such an unattractive package?" :D
For me, personally, I stopped wearing the garments around the same time that I stopped believing that the temple covenants/symbols/tokens/rituals/etc. were necessary for our salvation. Again, this is only my personal perspective. I don't believe God would require the temple covenants to return to be with him and our families in heaven (also don't believe in separate kingdoms). So, I found myself feeling hypocritical wearing the garments. I respect that it's meant to be a sacred garment. I didn't feel comfortable wearing something that represented something that I didn't believe in, for the simple fact that for so many people it DOES represent something sacred. I felt like it was almost a mockery for me to be wearing them, and I wasn't comfortable with that. My wife wears her, and I'm completely supportive of that, because she is still completely TBM, so they do hold special meaning to her.
It's all about the specific meaning that they do or do not hold for you, in my opinion.
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