Monday, August 31, 2009

Modest is Hottest

For some reason, I imagine the 'Modest is Hottest' slogan being coined by a group of wannabe-hip-Nuns, religious fundamentalists, or very large older ladies. No offense Sister Crouser.

Is it just me, or is there a rising creepiness in the attention that we, as a society, are placing on the sexuality of teenage girls? From unnatural interest in Brittany Spears during her teen years, to virginity pledges and now 'Modest is Hottest' clothing being all-the-rage in many Christian groups (including Utah County's primarily-LDS population), I'm becoming concerned with the unintended consequences. Is the message here to cover up to hide from boys, but by dressing like this they'll attract the attention of boys? The whole idea is extremely bizarre. LDS chastity ideals are starting to get pushed to extremes in some areas that may become unhealthy for the sexual maturation of young women.

As an example (and I may get in trouble for this one), our Stake prohibited the wearing of shorts at the Stake-sponsored Young Women's camp this year. This is in the middle of July. And, they made it a point that it was about modesty. Let's get some common-sense and balance in here, please. Not allowing girls to wear shorts in the middle of summer while among other girls is an unbelievably-strict standard to push. Why in the world would wearing shorts among other girls be a modesty issue? On the other hand, shorts weren't an issue at all for any of the Young Men's scout camps this summer.

As LDS members who strongly emphasize chastity, I feel it's very important to pair the chastity talks with frank discussions about sexuality in general to ensure that sex isn't just viewed as a dirty, nasty, sinful, embarrassing act that we save only for the one we truly love. Ideally, of course, these talks should take place in the home.

In a study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, over 14,000 teens were asked different questions about sexuality and sexual activity. Some of the study's findings shocked a lot of people when it was found that teens that had taken a 'virginity pledge' were more likely to engage in higher-risk sex, including oral and anal sex, than the non-pledgers, and were far less likely to use condoms. This highlights a problem of focusing on just one aspect of sexual behavior (abstinence) to the exclusion of well-rounded discussions. When a teen feels that having unprotected anal sex is the answer to remaining a virgin, there's something drastically wrong with our approach to sex education.

As Ward members, I strongly encourage you to be open, honest, and realistic when having age-appropriate discussions about sexuality with your children. Relying on marketing slogans or abstinence-only sex education is simply ineffective and dangerous. It's time to become comfortable with being uncomfortable about sex education in our homes. Let's actively help our children to become the educators among their peers, instead of naive recipients of dangerous information.

And for goodness sake, let those poor Young Women wear shorts at summer camp!


  1. Bishop,

    This article made me so uncomfortable that my palms are all sweaty and now I can barely type my response! I can't believe you are advocating a conversation about anything, other than strict abstinence, in regard to teen sexual activity. Once you start talking about "protection" you are indirectly advocating the inappropriate sexual behavior. I think the best way to force the premarital abstinence philosophy is to push these young ladies into an early marriage with a very young and sexually deprived returned missionary. Our practice of marrying off 17 to 21 year old girls is the perfect solution to controlling inappropriate sexual behavior!


  2. Well said Bishop!! Our Stake did the same thing for our young women last year... Their reasoning wasn't morality though. They were told they could not wear shorts, and made to sign contracts stating as much prior to attending. When they returned though, the Stake President stood in Sacrament meeting and proclaimed..."I issued the commandment to not wear shorts, to test if the Young Women would be obedient to the voice of their Stake President."

    The fact that lightening did not come straight through the roof of the chapel and vaporize the man, is on my evidence list for Atheism having an element of truth to it.

  3. Urban - That's a very strange comment to have been made. I guess I should look on the bright side at my experience...

  4. Monomo - I'm not sure if marrying at such a young age is the perfect solution, but there are very few alternatives.

  5. My God, my God, how much more crazy can this get?

    No, wait, marrying off 17 to 21 year olds eh? I retract my prior comment. Sign me up! Perhaps I could chaperone girls camp next year to scope out my future.

    Urban - Atheism - does make you wonder doesn't it!

  6. There was a study published this year that showed UTAH as having the highest online porn subscriptions in the nation. All of this extreme modesty and sexual repression rears its ugly head in other ways. Modern healthy attitudes toward sexuality actually are more productive than all of the puritanical repressive crap that I was taught as a teenager.

  7. When I was in YW the girls were not allowed to wear shorts to mutual, but the boys were. Even low rider shorts that showed their boxers were ok. The leaders said, "well, if we tell them to change, they won't come to mutual at all." I "protested" by wearing modest, knee length shorts, and was sent home. It probably wasn't the most mature way to get my point across in hindsight, but the double standard still frustrates me to recall.

    I seem to recall a 9recent in the last 2 years) talk or quote by a general authority saying that the "modest is hottest" slogan is inappropriate because it implies that our goal is still to draw attention to bodies/sexuality, where the purpose of modesty is to show respect for ourselves & our Heavenly Father.

    I can't seem to find this reference on Can you help? This is along similar lines to what you are saying in your blog post.

  8. Hi! Speaking of modesty... I thought you might be interested in sharing a fun music video my family and I made about modesty. Here is the link to the video: . My husband and some friends wrote the song as a means to communicating the sensitive subject of modesty to a show choir at the University of Utah's Institute of Religion some years ago. It was a big hit and we feel like it might help young women to get the message. Thanks, enjoy!