...or so Elder Cox told me when I told him I was struggling with the concept of modest clothing. Modest dress was explained to me as clothing that covers my shoulders, shorts or skirts that go to my knee and all clothing not being too tight. The moment I was told of this, my mind jumped to the cute halter dresses and shorts that I owned. I thought... do I have to throw all these away... but they're so cute! And then I thought... what about all the photos I have framed where I'm wearing stuff that shows my shoulders? Do I have to discard those as well?
Of course, I needed a second opinion. So I asked my female LDS friends. Apparently, this whole modest dress thing is difficult for every LDS girl. And why not? Open up a fashion magazine and guess what? Tube tops. Tank Tops. Tight tops. Spaghetti Straps. Short shorts. Daisy dukes. Lots of shoulders and tons of knees. And not always presented in a slutty way... just nice, fresh and oh so pretty. It's not that I didn't understand why modest dress was important, it's that I stubbornly refused to believe such a change was necessary.
Would my shoulders really lead a male to have impure thoughts?! Would showing my legs really be immodest?! Seriously? ...?! I justified that my shorter shorts were appropriate and my tanks are all conservative. Yet despite disagreeing with the principle, I wanted to be faithful, so I started to live it. And by doing so, I committed to God ... to revere in his guidance and teachings, even if it was a bit hesitant.
I liken it to myself at the age of seven when my mom made me memorize the multiplication table. I muttered under my breath that the calculator could do it for me or I could sit there and add up all the numbers slowly. My mom didn't like that answer and that summer, I learned the multiplication table.
With the whole modesty concept, I first thought - think positive Daisy! At least you have an excuse to go buy new clothes. Who doesn't love a shopping trip, right? Upon doing so, I became even more frustrated and infuriated with the whole modest concept. Modest is not the hottest... because if it were, maybe someone would be selling it somewhere! I glared at my cute summer dresses. Why couldn't you have sleeves?! I wanted to yell. I ignored my work wardrobe (which is all 100% modest), denied my capris any love and hung on to the hope that I would find some really adorable clothing that fit the modest box.
I failed. Big fat "F". I didn't get it. What was I doing wrong? And then... something else dawned on me...an epiphany of sorts...
I really didn't need to go shopping... I just needed to be creative with what I already had.
What prompted this was the reminder that should I ever get married and sealed in a Temple, I would have to have sleeves on my wedding dress. Unlike most girls who envision their wedding down to the detail, the only part I knew was my bridesmaid dresses were going to be a dark purple. I hadn't even thought of my own dress and now I had another limitation. And as shallow and temporal as that was, I was bummed.
Completely discouraged by this entire concept of modesty in clothing, I once again, turned to my female LDS friends for some help. This time, I was reminded that even if it is hard, it's not a big deal and it can be done. I was given some links to a wedding blog for a Mormon wedding coordinator who did a ton of Mormon and non-Mormon weddings. I was blown away. Everyone looks good on their wedding day. The shining smiles, glowing faces and happiness is contagious and always evident. I started to calm down a bit. Then, I studied some of the Temple apporpriate dresses and realized, it''s the person that matters. Kind of like how you're not supposed to judge a book by its cover... it's what's on the inside that counts.. BUT, I rebutt myself... you don't want a book that's torn up and sometimes, that book does sit on the bookshelf as a piece of decor... so, there's a fine balance. And that got me thinking. My faith led me to dress more modestly... but my heart wasn't in it. I thought I was being entirely faithful but really, I was doubtful and hesitant. Knowing this, my heart was moved. I could do this.. entirely - mind and heart committed.
I pondered about what Elder Cox said to me that day. Modest is the hottest. And then I likened it to work clothing ... thought about all the things that had made it so hard for me to do thus far... and it suddenly made sense.
When people dress inappopriately to work, it creates distractions. I try not to judge but when I see a girl wearing a too low shirt or too tight pants to work. Instead, I am 1) distracted by their chest and 2) not paying attention to their words. It's one thing to be put together and look professionally cute... it's another to look like you're about two minutes from the club's VIP table. If I want someone to take me seriously, I need to dress the part.
But even more fascinating to me... is the fact that this one example demonstrated to me why it is so important to follow God and not pick and choose which pieces of advice the prophets provide. A lot of people liken this to being brainwashed and doing whatever you're told.. but similar to my example above, it's not something every faithful person takes upon without thought. It's most often a struggle. For me, it was a retreat from what appeared normal by the world's standards today (which is not always ideal...think about it... nobody locked their doors in the 50's and now....? Censored Sex and the City is now available at 11 PM on regular television.... wow!) but having received blessings from other faithful situations, I knew God had my back. And time after time, being faithful has demonstrated such. It certainly is the case wit modest clothing. Honestly, I don't even really think about it anymore.
I leave you with this. "Modesty is not just cultural. Modesty is a gospel principle that applies to people of all cultures and ages. In fact, modesty is fundamental to being worthy of the Spirit. To be modest is to be humble, and being humble invites the Spirit to be with us." ~Elder Hales
p.s. I avoid immodest clothing by denying it. I won't even look at clothes without sleeves or are too short or tight anymore. Don't even tempt yourself with it. If you can't be cute because of those limitations..... 1) it sucks to be you and 2) you need to work on your creativity.
p.p.s. Basic is beautiful.
p.p.p.s. Modest is hottest