My daughter sincerely asked me last night if our modest dress standards were arbitrary rules or if they had a purpose. I love it when children bring things up. They learn so much better when it is their idea to talk about something. I explained that outwardly dressing modestly shows and inward respect for the gift of our bodies. We don't need to be flashy or show off our bodies as objects of someone's desires unless that someone is our spouse. Our discussion went very well and I could tell she gained a testimony of this principle. It also helped me confirm to myself truths that I knew but had forgotten.
I love this quote by Emma Watson "I know everyone wants a picture of me in a mini-skirt. But that’s not me. I feel uncomfortable. I’d never go out in a mini-skirt. It’s nothing to do with protecting the Hermione image. I wouldn’t do that. Personally, I don’t actually think it’s even that sexy. What’s sexy about saying, ‘I’m here with my boobs out and a short skirt, have a look at everything I’ve got?’ My idea of sexy is that less is more."
It is interesting to me that she brought this up now because I have recently noticed a serious decline in dress standards among young women that I know to be sweet, valiant girls with generally high standards. I'm not sure how we are collectively slipping when it comes to dress standards but I figured out a few important things as I taught my daughter and she taught me.
First, we forget that the way we treat and dress our bodies can be a reflection of our level of respect and understanding of the divine gift that they are and our purposes for having them.
Second, modest dress can be arbitrary so where do we look for specifics?
For the Strength of Youth
"Immodest clothing is any clothing that is tight, sheer, or
revealing in any other manner. Young women should avoid
short shorts and short skirts, shirts that do not cover the
stomach, and clothing that does not cover the shoulders
or is low-cut in the front or the back."
These types of specifics are so helpful if we haven't gained a testimony yet or have forgotten it. Sometimes just being obedient is good enough until we can understand for ourselves why we are doing things.
We continued our discussion with attitudes. We talked about what would cause someone to want to dress immodestly. She concluded that they either want to fit in to avoid attention or they were seeking the wrong kind of attention. I thought it was interesting and true that we often dress immodestly for opposite reasons. I love children. They make things so clear for me. She is only 9 years old and she already struggles with the peer pressure of dressing immodestly. I know she gets a lot of good attention as a performer and isn't seeking the wrong kind so fitting in may have been the source of her question.
I also realized from our discussions that modest doesn't just mean covering the body, but the word modest means not extreme or flashy. Too much jewelry or a bottom covered in Rhinestones could directly contradict the intent of the word modest if we really think about its definition: The quality of being modest; freedom from vanity, boastfulness, etc.. We learn to avoid "costly apparel" but I find myself spending a lot more on stylish clothing now that I am not 60 pounds overweight. Being glad that I am healthy rather than trying to wear tight or revealing clothes to debut by new body is a difficult pitfall to avoid. Thanks to my daughter, I just realized why I need to avoid it. I'm so blessed to be a mother.