Once upon a time there was a ward in the middle of America. In this ward lived a new convert to the church. The first few times she came to church she wore pants. “We’re just glad she’s here!” said all the nice ward members. But after a few months she was still wearing pants. The new member had a good job and took care of herself; nobody could figure out why she wouldn’t wear a skirt. Over a year after her baptism the not-quite-as-new member finally wore a skirt. But from time to time she still wears pants. She lived happily every after anyway. The End.
I am the Relief Society President which means I have to sit up at the front of the room every Sunday. A few weeks ago one of the sweet older sisters came up to me after Relief Society and informed me that she could see straight up my thigh the entire time. I shrugged it off with a laugh because who cares, really. We’re all women. My skirt was below my knees standing up, so it’s not like I was being super immodest or anything.
That’s one of the reasons I don’t really get why we wear skirts. They’re not exactly modest, even though we are raised to think they are the most modest of clothing. Anyone who has sat in junior primary can attest to all the panty views. Between dresses lifted over the heads and girls sitting sprawled on the chair, there are plenty of opportunities to see underwear; these opportunities wouldn’t be there if girls wore pants.
I am left to think that our skirt and dress “regulation” is merely tradition and culture, much like the way men feel they have to wear white shirts even though there is really no rule, except a suggestion for boys who pass the Sacrament. You’ll find plenty of men who don’t have a problem wearing a colored shirt to church but you’ll almost never find a woman with pants on. I may have a rebellious streak but there is NO WAY I would ever wear pants to church. That is pushing the envelope way too much even for me. (Plus, I like to wear skirts.)
There is the argument that we want to look nice for church and for Heavenly Father and skirts are undoubtedly the nicest, most formal women’s wear. But for every sloppy skirt I see at church (ahem, Young Women), there is a much nicer pant option. We all know women at church who look like they rolled out of bed. And we all have seen women wearing pants who look like a million bucks.
I wonder if eventually our skirts-only church will change. Except for the most strict and orthodox of churches (those that require skirts all day, every day), ours is the only one that is 100% skirts at church. At every Christian church I’ve been to, skirts have been optional. I’m not saying this is good or bad or sexist or whatever. I just find it really curious. I wonder if, like other aspects of our church, it will change over time. Meeting times have changed (remember church that was spread into two meetings on Sundays and Relief Society during the weekday at lunch?), temple ceremonies have changed, missionary farewells have changed. Will our church dress be next?