I am the mother of three daughters, who are growing up all too quickly. My oldest just turned 12, and as she enters the Young Women program, I realize how much I appreciate the example of righteous women who are helping me to lead and guide her on her journey.
Remember when Hillary Clinton gave her famous “it takes a village” statement? She took a lot of flack for it, and while I’m no Hillary fan, I kind of get it now. As a mom of preteen girls, I DO feel like I need the help of my fellow villagers. Can my husband and I handle this parenting thing on our own? Perhaps. But it is so much easier and nicer when there are many others who are “on our side” and helping us to raise our children in the gospel. I suppose I do have a certain expectation that my sisters in the gospel will have my back as I try to teach my girls right from wrong, set a righteous example, and help them to see the joy in living well.
Which is why I have been pretty disappointed lately in the example of some of the women who surround me. While there are several situations we have experienced where LDS women did things that caused my children to ask some hard questions, what I want to focus on here specifically is the image we are presenting to the world in the way we dress.
I don’t recall a change in the temple recommend interview about wearing your garments. Did it somehow change to, “Do you wear your temple garment except when it’s not convenient, comfortable, or cute?” and I missed it? In the last several months I have seen either in person or in photos, temple endowed women (most of them moms of young children themselves) in strapless ball gowns (for a wedding and formal ball), bikinis, sleeveless tops with miniskirts (for a night out with the girls), short shorts (for walking around I guess?), and tank tops. Honestly, it baffles me a little bit. I mean, it seems so…overt.
I am certainly not saying that I live a perfect life, or that it’s better to hide your transgressions so no one sees them, but it seems so odd to me to post a picture of yourself in such a state on FaceBook or your blog when you know that people you go to church with (and young girls you influence) are going to see it. I have seen dozens of these pictures come and go and have really tried to be nonjudgmental. But really, it kind of stinks to try to teach your daughter the way a faithful LDS woman should dress when some of her examples are obviously…um…not dressing that way.
What is most disappointing to me is that almost all of these women (I am thinking of seven of them right off the top of my head…sorry if you are one of them and are offended by my post) are serving or have recently served in leadership positions with youth either in Primary or Young Women. Do they not think people notice what they are wearing? Is it okay to teach girls about living the gospel and staying worthy to marry in the temple and then go on a cruise and wear a strapless gown to formal night? I’m just a bit befuddled.
I don’t consider myself to be an especially prudish person — I do understand the desire women have to take care of themselves and present themselves well. All of these women take incredible care of themselves and they look absolutely fantastic. They would look just as fantastic in something they could wear their garments in!
I remember so many women I could look up to as I was growing up — they were beautiful, smart, strong, and modest. I wanted to be just like them. Of course this was “back in the day” before FaceBook and before we told the world all our business. Maybe those women I looked up to did the same things but I just never saw it because the technology didn’t exist to share it so easily. Somehow though, I doubt it.
I do feel that there has been a shift in the attitude of some LDS women in recent years — that as long as you are doing it most of the time, it’s okay on special occasions to make an exception. I have to say, that attitude really bothers and scares me. Does that also mean it’s okay to have a little drink here and there, as long as it’s only on a special occasion? How about skimming a little off the books, as long as it’s for a good cause? What about a little flirting with the cute neighbor next door as long as I tell him I’m married while I bat my eyes and girly giggle?
I love these women (some are good friends, some are relatives, and some are former or present ward members) and I am grateful for the other ways in which they do influence my girls for good. I am trying really hard not to judge and to understand why they would do this. As a mom though, I just hate it when I have to tell my daughters, “You can be like Sister Jones in every other way, just don’t dress like her!”
I’m hoping my fellow villagers will step up and put something on.