Friday, December 09, 2011

Modest Extremism

Take a minute to look at this photo.

What do you see? What do you feel? If you are a man, are you stirred to inappropriate feelings because the "skinny jeans" are too tight? If you are a woman, are you rolling your eyes at the lack of tact and dignity presented by these clothes? Are you offended by this outfit in anyway?

...Really? ...

Why not?

I'd like to venture a guess. I'd say it is probably because there is nothing wrong about this outfit. There is nothing immodest about it. It's probably because your thoughts don't immediately turn to wayward, inappropriate thoughts at the sight of a cute, fully-clothed female. And oh, also, because those aren't skinny jeans.

Unfortunately, we live in a world where extremism is all over the place and I would argue, especially within our culture. I attended BYU and saw extremism all the time on campus, but never did it reach the heightened proportions that I have discovered and heard about as is found on the campus of BYU-I. Why is it that people feel it necessary to call out others in self-righteous judgment? Why do these people always land jobs in the testing center? It's so strange to me. The story goes: The girl in the above photo met with her bishop for her calling then headed over to the testing center in the same outfit and was turned away because her pants were "too tight". Now, BYU and BYU-I both have a dress code that limits the clothes you can wear on campus. Mostly they are the obvious: no bare midriffs, no butt cheeks hanging out your shorts. No sleeveless shirts, etc. But from what I can tell, there is nothing too "form-fitting" or again, immodest about this outfit.

If it were me, I'd be outraged.

The whole story can be found in this article here. I'd like to point out my favorite part: the flier.
A flyer was posted by university employees instructing students who felt that “skinny jeans” might be permissible to “go home and prayerfully visit with your Heavenly Father and recommit yourself to being a true disciple.”

It should be noted, that according to the article I linked to above, the flyer was removed a few days later and the school made a statement on their Facebook page that said, "
Wondering if skinny jeans are allowed on campus? They are. BYU-Idaho's longstanding dress & grooming standards promote principles of modesty and restrict formfitting clothing, but skinny jeans are not singled out or prohibited. In addition, the Testing Center issue reported in Scroll has been corrected and is no longer in force.
 ABC News also posted an article on the whole thing. They didn't really find students that had flattering things to say. While generally, I do not think that the dress code at BYU or BYU-I is "ridiculous" as the student quoted said, I do think that there are some who take it to extremes. From what I've read, mostly it stems from guys who probably think that girls at school should be dressed in a shapeless muumuu worn down to our ankles, not to be completely confused with a burqa. (I personally think that these guys need to go talk to their bishops about their porn addictions, because let's get real for a second: if you are completely turned on by the "shape of a girls leg", then you probably have some dirtier things going through your head, stemming from activities taking place in your bedroom. Just sayin'.)

The argument is modesty.

In junior high I owned two tanks tops that I wore to school. They had straps that were at least four or five inches thick and showed *gasp*shock* my shoulders, but that was all. I attended a broadcast with my mom, and the president of the church announced a new For the Strength of Youth pamphlet that encouraged us to not get that second pair of earrings that I had been working up my nerve to ask my mom for, and to not wear any item of clothing that was sleeveless.

Oh the arguments that I put forth! The sarcastic and belligerent comments I made towards my SHOULDER being put down as an object of lust! I hated it! Absolutely. My mom talked me down, told me that showing a little bit of obedience was more important than putting on display of my shoulder. Etc. etc. And for the most part, I have lived without that second pair of earrings. I have worn the Shade and the Downeast tops and put shrugs and cardigans to cover my shoulders. My shorts are all knee length. For a long time, my dresses and skirts were at my ankles. (Now... they might be quite a bit shorter, but in general, are still "modest".) I have no problem with modesty and the general dress code with which we are asked to adhere to. My problem is with those that turn it in to an extremist movement.

One of the quotes from the aforementioned article was from this blog. She talked about a specific Friend article involving a disappointed four year old and her grandmother's gift of a spaghetti strap dress. And she left with this thought,
I don’t want my daughters equating “modesty” with how much skin they choose to reveal or to cover. Sure, I’d like them to be modest, but modesty encompasses so much more than how much leg or cleavage or, okay, shoulder you reveal. Modesty is about attitude, demeanor, dispositions. It’s about moderation. It’s about avoiding extremes. It’s about feeling comfortable in your own skin.
I think that is the principle with which we should judge on what we choose to clothe our bodies with. For those of us not wearing garments, I know we should keep in mind that one day we will be wearing them, and shouldn't need to have to buy a whole new wardrobe for when we do. However, thinking that we need to dress in pioneer dresses or feed sacks is not the answer. And judging girls who choose to be a little more trendy, or whatever, is not up to us.

1 comment:

  1. I get where you're coming from, because I loved sleeveless shirts in high school. And I don't see anything awful about them, either. If I weren't wearing Gs, I'd probably still be wearing sleeveless shirts. Sometimes particular "standards" seem really arbitrary, or excessive.

    And, I didn't see anything wrong with the picture that you posted.

    But actual skinny jeans kind of embarrass me. Skinny jeans remind me of my dad's objection with some of the clothes we sometimes wore in high school---they made us look "melted and poured." It's kind of like the naked scanners at airports: I don't need to see every curve everywhere on your body, thanks.

    My mom got skinny jeans--AWKWARD! A couple of my sisters have skinny jeans, and they had this whole joke about going to buy them. One of my sisters was like "I'm nervous. It's my first time." And my other sister was like, "It's okay, I was nervous my first time too." But the thing is, we've talked about it and they did feel self-conscious when they first started wearing them. (Well, that's because they're revealing.)

    And I'm not into girls, or into pornography. I guess I think modesty is about more than just "feeling comfortable in your own skin." I don't think it's really about judging other people, either. When I see girls wearing skinny jeans, I don't think "what a slut" I just feel like they're showing too much. Kind of like girls wearing bikinis. It doesn't turn me on, or make me think badly about them, I just feel like they're showing too much.


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