Monday, September 26, 2011

A thought on modesty

For Strength of Youth:

"Your body is God's sacred creation. Respect it as a gift from God, and do not defile it in any way. Through your dress and appearance you can show the Lord that you know how precious your body is...The way you dress is a reflection of what you are on the inside.

Servants of God have always counseled his children to dress modestly to show respect for him and for themselves. Because the way you dress sends messages about yourself to others and often influences the way you and others act, you should dress in such a way as to bring out the best in yourself and those around you. However, if you wear an immodest bathing suit because it's "the style," it sends a message that you are using your body to get attention and approval, and that modesty is not important."

I believe in modesty. This is an issue I've been taught since I was a little girl and something that's very important to me, especially now that I have two little girls that I have teach these principles to. I believe it's important to respect our bodies by wearing clothes that cover us appropriately. It’s an issue of showing respect not only for ourselves and also for others. It adds to, instead of taking away from, our relationship with those we interact with. When I've come across this scripture it's always been interesting to me:

"and they did not wear costly apparel, yet they were neat and comely."

Alma 1:27

The dictionary definition of "comely" says "goodlooking." I love this! So we can make ourselves attractive while still maintaining a sense of decency and propriety, in spite of the clothing and bathing suit trends of our day. A lesson I learned in regards to this occurred at BYU-Idaho, while I was working at the testing center. At this job it was stressed that we lived up to a professional and modest dress code so that we could maintain a high level of learning and atmosphere within the school. I did my best and always considered myself modest in dress anyway so I didn't give it much thought. After a month or so of working there the manager, an older lady, pulled me aside in her office and asked me to look at how I was dressed. They had a full-length mirror in the office and she turned me around to see myself. She lovingly told me that she felt my shirt was a little on the edge for our standards at the school because it was capped sleeve, somewhat in between sleeveless and a tiny little sleeve. I had never recognized it before. It had never bothered me before until then. I was so embarrassed and went home and cried and thought about it the rest of the night. But she was right. I went back the next day, hugged her, and thanked her for her honesty with me, for teaching me in such a gentle way, and for helping me learn something important that I had missed. I will never forget that lesson. I then went through what I had considered already "modest" clothes and threw out ones that would leave anyone in question as to my dress standard. Throughout the years since I've been so grateful for my experience with that dear lady in the Testing Center.

"It is impossible to expect a child who has been taught to love to dress in the immodest style trends of the day, to then change overnight to an entirely different wardrobe when they enter a Church university or a missionary training center, or when they are married in the temple, or even when they dress for the Sabbath day. Modest, proper styles must be taught almost from birth."

Elder L. Tom Perry (Ensign, Nov. 1988, 75)

Before Kaylee was born Jared and I talked about baby swimsuits. I asked him what he thought of putting our soon to arrive little baby girl in a baby bikini. I don't like bikinis but they're not too bad if it's just on a baby, right? We talked about it and he seemed hesitant. We then wondered that if we let our little girls wear bikinis when they were 6 months, then a year old, then five years old, at what point did we pull them aside and teach them that it was all of a sudden immodest? We thought about it for a while and together we realized, no, it does't matter the age, modesty is modesty. I was so impressed with my younger brother Jason, being about seventeen at the time, when we put Kaylee in a two piece swimsuit around the house for a few minutes. A neighbor had given us a bunch of hand-me downs and we wanted to see what this little two piece looked like on her with her cute big belly poking out. When he walked in the room he looked at her and said "Uh-oh Kristen, you can't let her wear that. It's not modest." I laughed and said we were just playing around but he picked her up, hugged her, and talked to baby Kaylee about modesty. I was so impressed that my younger brother instantly knew and understood something about the principle of modesty, and made a stand for it, even in our own home. As a new mom I have learned repeatedly this counsel: Teach them when they're young.

I have learned again the importance of modesty in our dress and bathing suits while being in Texas, in a state that is sweltering hot a good portion of the year, and makes you wish you could walk around naked sometimes. We have a pool view from our apartment and although it is a beautiful view, it was difficult over the summer to see mostly naked bodies laying out sunbathing and swimming all the time from my own home, especially with Kaylee watching.

President Gordon B. Hinckley

"Of all creations of the Almighty, there is none more beautiful, none more inspiring than a lovely daughter of God who walks in virtue with an understanding of why she should do so, who honors and respects her body as a thing sacred and divine, who cultivates her mind and constantly enlarges the horizon of her understanding, who nurtures her spirit with everlasting truth."

"Our Responsibility to Our Young Women," (Ensign, Sept. 1988, 11)

I believe in the standards of modesty... I love it! I have felt of its protection. I know it’s not popular and I have long since learned to be ok with that. I know it’s inconvenient sometimes, especially in Texas where this weather is just killing me (oh Idaho, I miss you so....). I know it takes some work to find a decent one or two piece swimsuit...been there, done that, will do it again someday. You may or may not think it makes much of a difference to be modest, especially when does. People notice. I notice. I have a husband. I have brothers. I have a dad. I have brother-in-laws. I care about these men in my life. When we dress modestly it helps all of us keep our thoughts where they belong. It helps create a level of respect that ought to always be there.