What could be more deceptive than to entice women, young and old, you and me, to be so involved in ourselves, our looks, our clothes, our body shape and size that we lose sight of our divine identity and our ability to change the world through our virtuous influence?(She also mentioned vices for men, and teenagers.) This thought has been a constant in my mind the last few months. Now I have no problem with women looking fashionable but the question comes in...is it in moderation, what examples are we setting, are we focused on keeping covenants, or trying to stretch them to make the more convenient for ourselves.
A few things have brought this to my attention, over the past few months.
- When one of my activity day girls (age 10ish) in my last ward complimented me on a shirt that was low cut. I don't think the compliment was referring to the cut but it made me think what type of example am I setting? I don't want her to see Sister Huntz... and assume it is ok to wear low cut shirts, or anyone to see me for that matter. I vowed to be better after that, I was really embarrassed even the though the girl did not know.
- When I was pregnant with my son, I remember a Relief Society lesson where we watched part of a talk given by Elder Holland. I can't remember anything about it, other than the thought, "If women of the church are concerned with a nip here or tuck there, what are we teaching our daughters?." He actually didn't use that phrase, but it is emblazoned in my mind. How is my self perception of my body going to effect my daughters' body images? I made a goal from that day on to have a healthy body image. The talk is titled, To the Young Women of the Church, but much of it is as relevant to the women of the church. Actually if I was going to recommend only one talk it would be this one over Sister Dalton's. I think the church should print it up on little plastic cards, for all the Young Women to have in their wallets, maybe even for the adult women too. Yes, I love this talk this much. I included the part of the talk I'm referening to at the end of the post, along with another paragraph I liked.
- Lastly, in a Relief Society lesson a few months ago, the teacher mentioned some quote, maybe by Brigham Young, or maybe Joseph Smith, about the daughters of Zion acting like the harlots of Babylon, or something to the effect. The teacher said she thinks one interpretation of that is women dressing immodestly. I started to think about, I thought the teacher had a very good point. Good and bad have come out of that lesson. I am trying to be better about my clothing options, but at the same time, I have started to notice low cut and other revealing clothing on other women who have made the same covenants as me. It quite easy to tell if they have made those covenants when they are trying to push the modesty limit. I would rather not notice, and not feel like I'm judging them. But I have noticed some women who wear very low cut shirts, who have teenager daughters, my question is how do you teach your daughters about modesty, if you are not so keen on following it? Maybe some parents don't care, but personally I don't think I want teenage boys noticing my daughter's immodesty. Plus I would like to hope that other parents are going to teach their teenage daughters about modesty so my teenage son doesn't have to deal with that. I remember a lesson at some point, I can't remember who gave it or where it was but they said it really was not fair to our Aaronic Priesthood holders to dress provocatively, and in all honesty I didn't really understand until I had a husband to explain it bluntly to me. My RS teacher might have misinterpreted it a few months ago, but I have decided to agree with her. I try to often make a mental check on if I'm acting like I'm from Zion or Babylon in my appearance.
In this same vein may I address an even more sensitive subject. I plead with you young women to please be more accepting of yourselves, including your body shape and style, with a little less longing to look like someone else. We are all different. Some are tall, and some are short. Some are round, and some are thin. And almost everyone at some time or other wants to be something they are not! But as one adviser to teenage girls said: “You can’t live your life worrying that the world is staring at you. When you let people’s opinions make you self-conscious you give away your power. … The key to feeling [confident] is to always listen to your inner self—[the real you.]” 8 And in the kingdom of God, the real you is “more precious than rubies.” 9 Every young woman is a child of destiny and every adult woman a powerful force for good. I mention adult women because, sisters, you are our greatest examples and resource for these young women. And if you are obsessing over being a size 2, you won’t be very surprised when your daughter or the Mia Maid in your class does the same and makes herself physically ill trying to accomplish it. We should all be as fit as we can be—that’s good Word of Wisdom doctrine. That means eating right and exercising and helping our bodies function at their optimum strength. We could probably all do better in that regard. But I speak here of optimum health; there is no universal optimum size.But I also like this:
Frankly, the world has been brutal with you in this regard. 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. As one Hollywood actress is reported to have said recently: “We’ve become obsessed with beauty and the fountain of youth. … I’m really saddened by the way women mutilate [themselves] in search of that. I see women [including young women] … pulling this up and tucking that back. It’s like a slippery slope. [You can’t get off of it.] … It’s really insane … what society is doing to women.” 10In 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. And if adults are preoccupied with appearance—tucking and nipping and implanting and remodeling everything that can be remodeled—those pressures and anxieties will certainly seep through to children. At some point the problem becomes what the Book of Mormon called “vain imaginations.” 11 And in secular society both vanity and imagination run wild. One would truly need a great and spacious makeup kit to compete with beauty as portrayed in media all around us.
First of all, I want you to be proud you are a woman. I want you to feel the reality of what that means, to know who you truly are. You are literally a spirit daughter of heavenly parents with a divine nature and an eternal destiny. 1 That surpassing truth should be fixed deep in your soul and be fundamental to every decision you make as you grow into mature womanhood. There could never be a greater authentication of your dignity, your worth, your privileges, and your promise. Your Father in Heaven knows your name and knows your circumstance. He hears your prayers. He knows your hopes and dreams, including your fears and frustrations. And He knows what you can become through faith in Him.
For you to fully claim Heavenly Father’s blessings and protection, we ask you to stay true to the standards of the gospel of Jesus Christ and not slavishly follow the whims of fads and fashions. The Church will never deny your moral agency regarding what you should wear and exactly how you should look. But the Church will always declare standards and will always teach principles. As Sister Susan Tanner taught this morning, one of those principles is modesty. In the gospel of Jesus Christ, modesty in appearance is always in fashion. Our standards are not socially negotiable....Good friends would never embarrass you, demean you, or exploit you. Neither should your clothing.Overall it was a good sabbath. I did attend sacrament meeting, and listen to excellent talks in my opinion about missionary work. Talks that proved:
- Just because someone does appear to have accepted what we are teaching them, does not mean they won't come around at some point.
- People are always watching our example, whether it be good or bad. They will notice the light of Christ in us, that we are ourselves do not see, and be drawn to it.