I have six beautiful daughters. They are growing up so fast! I’m a little intimidated about raising them in a world where the likes of Britney Spears, J-Lo, and Madonna are flashed across magazine covers wearing clothing that degrades. THAT IS NOT WHAT I WANT FOR MY DAUGHTERS! Does modesty need to be a thing of the past? I answer an emphatic NO!
The women I sited above are the extremes in immodesty. It is the subtle hints of immodesty here and there – in a McDonald’s Happy Meal toy, Barbie dolls, Disney Princesses – that are a cause of concern for me. It is also increasingly difficult to find modest clothing in stores, even for a four year old!
I was talking to a good friend on Sunday. He is single, 26, a really good man, but very discouraged. “Is it too much to ask a woman to dress modestly? Does she not think enough of herself? The tightness of clothing worn by some women is very disturbing. Why wear anything at all if it’s going to be that tight?”
His questions reminded me of a quote by Dallin H. Oaks. Elder Oaks was initially talking to the men of our church about the evils of pornography but then he added this warning to the women, “And women, please understand that if you dress immodestly, you are magnifying this problem by becoming pornography to some of the men who see you.” (Dallin H. Oaks, “Pornography,” Ensign, May 2005, 87)
Being modest in dress is important to me. I’m trying to teach my daughters that you “choose your clothing the way you would choose your friends—in both cases choose that which improves you and would give you confidence standing in the presence of God. Good friends would never embarrass you, demean you, or exploit you. Neither should your clothing.” (To Young Women by Jefferey R. Holland)
The word modesty means “measured”. It also means:
1. the quality of being modest; freedom from vanity, boastfulness, etc.
|2.||regard for decency of behavior, speech, dress, etc.|
Modesty does not just apply to clothing. It also applies to thought, language, and behavior. In Corinthians we learn “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are” (1 Corinthians 3:16-17) What would happen if we all treated our bodies as temples?
“The result would be a dramatic increase in chastity, modesty, observance of the Word of Wisdom, and a similar decrease in the problems of pornography and abuse, for we would regard the body, like the temple, as a sacred sanctuary of the Spirit. Just as no unclean thing may enter the temple, we would be vigilant to keep impurity of any sort from entering the temple of our bodies.
Likewise, we would keep the outside of our bodily temples looking clean and beautiful to reflect the sacred and holy nature of what is inside, just as the Church does with its temples. We should dress and act in ways that reflect the sacred spirit inside us.” I love that quote from Susan W. Tanner’s talk Sanctity of the Body.
The way we dress is a reflection of what we are on the inside. As a mother I’m trying hard to set a good example for my daughters to follow. I want them to feel good about who they are, to be accepting of themselves, including their body shape. Beyond just the way they dress, I want my daughters to be modest inside, to develop an inner beauty of spirit that glows in their outward appearance. I want them to feel confident as daughters of God.
Our beloved prophet, President Gordon B. Hinckley expressed how I feel perfectly. He said, “Woman is God’s supreme creation. Only after the earth had been formed, after the day had been separated from the night, after the waters had been divided from the land, after vegetation and animal life had been created, and after man had been placed on the earth, was woman created; and only then was the work pronounced complete and good.
Of all the 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)
Oh, how I wish that all women of the world could come to know that for themselves! Can you imagine what a difference it would make in our homes, communities, nations, the world?
I may not be able to affect the world’s view on this issue but I can teach my daughters and son to value modesty. I can teach them that they do not have to follow the immodest fashions of the world in order to feel good about themselves. I can teach them that modesty does matter. It is important.