Still thinking about bodies and how we address them at church and within the context of a faith-filled life, I offer you another piece from the past, Modest about Modesty, from emerita, Courtney Clark Kendrick.
When I moved into this ward I had a neighbor tell me that she thought I’d be the next Young Women’s President.
“No way, “ I countered, “I don’t dress modestly enough.”
To which she replied, “Then it’s about time you start.”
A year later, that calling came and I thought I’d feel a massive spiritual attack to clean out my closet in preparation for a more reserved collection. Conversely, I have felt somewhat of an undertaking to redefine LDS fashion. And right now I am using big words so that you will think I am intelligent—and–undoubtedly right. But truth be told, this is a lonely calling in life. I get a lot of “What in Lucifer’s House are you wearing child?”
Ahh the fine art of dressing up for church. I’d like to think that I give it my full attention (it’s a spiritual gift really.) Before I head out the door, I look in the mirror and ask “Is this lovely or is this sexy?” Because to me, that is the all-important difference. (But what do you do with those of us who feel that nothing is lovelier than feeling sexy? There, I said it.)
I had a remarkable experience at the World Wide Leadership Training a couple weeks ago. There was much to learn and insight given. But I will never forget the beautiful woman in the front row of Elder Holland’s “class” who wore knee high black boots, tights, a short plaid skirt topped off with a black turtleneck. In all my life I had never seen someone from Church HQ in such a semi-hip outfit. It was as though the clouds had departed and the sun shone through “There is room in this church for me and my knee highs boots!” I warmly proclaimed in my head.
I’d like to think that there is also room in this church for pencil skirts, and converted kimono dresses matched with high heels. Ultra-feminine. I mean, if you are going to be a woman, why not go all-out? As someone who was raised in the heart of Mormondom, I have seen enough women hiding underneath floral tents, once claimed as dresses from the Dress Barn. When did modesty mean clothing lines of subtle deviations from men’s clothing wear? Where in the handbook does it recommend jumpers?
How far do we go with modesty? Can we go too far? I mean some of us are one step away from wearing hijab. And part of me would like to teach the youth of the ward that feminine doesn’t need to be hiding all the time. Like my mother always said “A little cleavage never hurt anybody.” (Please don’t tell my mother I just quoted her, she’ll kill me.)
Furthermore, don’t we believe that women’s body, though absolutely sacred, is also virtuous and of good report? Where is the marriage between celebrating a figure and using it for disadvantageous plots?
And most importantly does “one pair of modest earrings” dangle? How far?