The topic of modesty is often accompanied by groans. However, all three classes discussed modesty this week, and there were no groans to be heard…one class even expressed that it was their favorite lesson ever! Here are some points we discussed that you may wish to discuss further at home.
- The scriptures tell us our bodies our temples. When temples are built, they are built with grandeur, in a way that represents the unique characteristics of their area, and in a way to stand out as a beacon of holiness. They are not hidden away in shame, made to all look the same, or built in a way to minimize their beauty. We discussed that our bodies are gifts from God, and we dress modestly not because we are ashamed of them, but to respect their sacred nature and emphasize their beauty and glory. Like temples, we should make every effort to keep them pure and avoid defiling them.
- The commandments are there for our happiness and to help us draw closer to the Lord as individuals. When we obey the Word of Wisdom, for example, it allows us to maintain our freedom to choose and brings blessings of health and clarity. It also helps us be good examples, but the commandment is there to bless us as individuals through our obedience. Similarly, we dress modestly because doing so brings us blessings and helps us draw closer to the Lord. When we dress in a way that is consistent with our divinity, we feel more empowered and less self-conscious and preoccupied. We are more able to look outward. We are more able to be in-tune with the companionship of the Spirit.
- Dressing modestly helps us to embrace the idea that we are more than just bodies. The world objectifies women by making us feel like we should show off our bodies and focus on appearances. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said, “You are bombarded in movies, television, fashion magazines, and advertisements with the message that looks are everything! The pitch is, ‘If your looks are good enough, your life will be glamorous and you will be happy and popular.’ That kind of pressure is immense in the teenage years, to say nothing of later womanhood. In too many cases too much is being done to the human body to meet just such a fictional (to say nothing of superficial) standard…In terms of preoccupation with self and a fixation on the physical, this is more than social insanity; it is spiritually destructive, and it accounts for much of the unhappiness women, including young women, face in the modern world… One would truly need a great and spacious makeup kit to compete with beauty as portrayed in media all around us.” Ideas like “Modest is Hottest” can further perpetuate the idea that looks are what matters and that we should dress to gain approval from others. Dressing modestly is about the whole soul…the body and the spirit…and being who we are as daughters of God.
- Similarly, we discussed that no matter what we do or how we dress, we cannot control the thoughts and actions of others, nor are we responsible for doing so…everyone has their agency and is responsible for controlling their own thoughts. We could never dress in such a way that would ensure everyone views us the way we want to be viewed. Modesty is for us, first and foremost.
- Modesty differs from dress codes. The Lord’s standard of modesty does not change. The “For the Strength of Youth” pamphlet gives us guidance to help us to apply the principle of modesty to our dress. Dress codes, however, vary greatly from place to place…even among the different campuses of BYU. We may not always agree with individual dress codes, but that should not deter us from seeking to have the blessings of modesty in our lives.
No piece of clothing can compare to the power, strength, confidence, and peace we can feel when we choose to make our outward appearance and actions consistent with who we are. We want those blessings for each of you!
Love, Sister Harris