17 different women, 36 crazy children, 0 babies in utero
Adventures, Advice and Questions from a group of Mormon women who met in Queens, NY and have now scattered all over the place.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Teaching Modesty to Teens

I have been asked to speak at a YW activity next week about fashion and modesty. Because of my background in fashion, this is not the first time I have spoken on this topic. But still, each time, I sit pondering trying to figure out exactly what to say—What will make the most impact? What will stick in their heads? What will I feel comfortable saying?

Wendysue made a recent comment about working with the YW in her ward:

“We would go over and over all the things they weren't doing quite right (modesty, attitudes, etc.) These girls were going to school every day in a very difficult world. One in particular told a story of when her parents were harping on her about one thing or another and she said, you know what? I wish you could be at school with my and see how good I really am with all that I have to put up with! After that I always tried to congratulate and encourage them in the decisions they were making.”

I think this is a great attitude to have. I don’t want to “come down” on them. They are good girls who try hard to make the right choices. I don’t want to tell them what modesty choices to make because when I was a teenager, I hated being told what to do.

So, here is a list of what I do not want to do:

  • Give a list of modesty do’s and don’ts.
  • Make any girl feel guilty for what she is wearing (or what she has in her closet).
  • Lecture like a parent.
  • Make them feel like they have to be modest because it is what is expected of them (to me this may work for a time, but in the long run, it is a very unstable foundation to base your choices on).

And here is what I would like to do:

  • Empower and inspire them to want to make modest fashion choices.
  • Make sure they know the counsel of the prophet regarding modesty.
  • Talk about the gospel principles that help us make good choices: faith, obedience, testimony
  • Empathize with them-- I know making modest choices can be a sacrafice.
  • Teach them the power of dress - helps not only make more modest choices, but more appropriate and better choices in all situations (job interviews, first day of school, speaking in church, dates--or "hanging out", etc).

Here is where I ask you for your help: Think back to your YW days. What would have been helpful to hear on this topic? What would you have responded to? Do you think my approach is too passive? Or unrealistic? If you have teenage girls, what is the most important message about modesty you would like to see reinforced?


  • I love the idea of teaching them the power of dress--help them see all the different ways they can look and still be modest and appropriately dressed. I would have loved more than "Wear a Sunday dress to an interview", and "Don't wear jeans to the symphony". I think by giving them lots of interesting ideas and choices, you take away some of the frustration about "another modesty talk". And you teach them something they will use for the rest of their lives. Good luck! It sounds like you are an awesome speaker, and I'm kinda jealous of the girls!
    posted by Blogger Keryn at 4/30/2006 09:55:00 PM  

  • I would consider bringing in pictures of women in various forms of dress: everything from 'something kinda immodest but OK to show at church' to 'supreme court robe' (if you could get a picture of a female LDS judge from somewhere, that would be perfect) to a female athlete, to an 'average' woman in jeans, sister missionary, a woman in sloppy clothes, etc., etc. I would ask the girls what message each woman was sending and write those down under the pictures.

    I would then make this clear to them: what they wear sends a message. This they cannot avoid. But what they wear is their choice--meaning that the message they send is their choice. They should decide if what they are wearing is communicating the message they want to send.
    posted by Blogger Julie M. Smith at 4/30/2006 10:15:00 PM  

  • Carrie,
    Your approach sounds great--both in the things you want to avoid saying, and the things you feel are important to include.

    When you say "Make sure they know the counsel of the prophet regarding modesty," are you referring to specific words from Pres. Hinckley, or the counsel given in the latest "For the Strength of Youth" booklet? Or both?

    I don't think what you have planned sounds unrealistic--it sounds exciting! Re the "passive" aspect, Julie's photo idea sounds like an effective way to get the girls involved.
    posted by Blogger RoAnn at 4/30/2006 10:28:00 PM  

  • I got so tired of modesty lessons when I was in YW. There was really only one that helped me, and that was a short explanation from my EFY counselor: "modesty isn't a line drawn on your arm, chest, leg, or back. It's a line drawn on your heart." The "rules" about modesty are usually the focus of these lessons, with the occasional mention of "what you wear sends a message," but if you can help them become converted to the concept of being modest, that will do far more in the long run. They might still "slip up" a lot at first, but the change will be lasting.

    Have the spirit in the room. Talk about following Christ. They are more than capable of deciding what is modest and what isn't in most situations, what they need is a personal decision to follow the principle.

    If your ward is like mine, some girls have the clothing part down, but need some further help in other areas of modesty. Speech and attitude can be modest or inappropriate. Speaking casually of sacred things, for example, can be considered immodest, and lots of teens don't really understand that yet.

    One last thing: try to wear clothing, when you speak, that the girls will see as "pretty." Show them that modest doesn't have to mean frumpy. The last modesty lesson I went to was taught by a woman who stood up and told us about how she had a degree in fasion and clothing design and she KNOWS that the current styles are not just immodest, they don't even look good. She was wearing a dress from the 80's. At that point, she lost credibility with most of the girls. Such an easy mistake to avoid, and so important...
    posted by Anonymous Ariel at 4/30/2006 10:30:00 PM  

  • I hate modesty lessons. I'm 54 and they make me want to wear a belly shirt.

    This is a funny story, also true, I know the people involved, the cop, the mom and the other one.

    This lady brought this beautiful plant into Relief Society and talked about how her son had it in his room and she took care of it and how beautiful it was now. It was on making themselves beautiful or something.

    Then a YW leader borrowed it for her lesson and my friend's husband who is a drug cop wondered why she was walking around the church with a marijuana plant, but he didn't say anything, he figured she knew what she was doing.
    posted by Blogger annegb at 4/30/2006 11:25:00 PM  

  • I am with the rest of you, I hated modesty lessons while in YW! Like annegb it only fuled the fire, making want to go out and find THE shirt or THE skirt that would make my YW leaders cringe. Now a mother of two, picturing my new "I'm a mommy" body in THAT shirt or THAT skirt, makes me cringe.

    I think what most bothered me though was the fact that the leaders were dressed in the frumpiest clothes, and they seemed to want us to dress the same way. Also that it was never quite explained in frank detail as to way we were to dress "modestly". But that this is what we were supposed to do and here were the exact rules..."not past here, or there, not too tight here, and definitly not there" we all have heard it. I was so bugged.

    I remeber being thrown out of a stake dance while in HS because I was wearing a dress that was sleeve-less. This dress had a high neck and came down past my knees,completely modest in my opinion and in my parents opinion who allowed me to leave in the dress, knowing I was going to a stake dance.

    When I arived, I was told I would only be allowed in if I put a t-shirt over my dress. I of course refused and then I was promptley told to leave. I then got snotty and repiled how stupid I thought they all were and how pathedic I thought the boys were if the got "too excited" by seeing my bare shoulders. And I left. (I was a little out spoken in my youth)

    One other occasion at a stake dance I was asked to leave again because of my clothing. This dance was to be a "casual dance" so no church clothing (hooray) But of course no shorts, holy jeans, shirts with labels on them, whatever, not a big deal. So I arrived in my new, way cute black capri's that had just started to make a comeback (this was several years ago). I was told at the front door that I could not be allowed in because I was showing my ankles! Come on my ankles! I pleaded my case and demanded to speak to a priesthood leader. Who then allowed me to enter the dance, because there was in deed nothing immodest with my dress.

    After these experiences when I truley was not trying to raise an eyebrow, I was really turned off by leaders of our YW program in the ward and stake wide. I felt I was dressed appropriatly, but I was accosted for my appearance. So I feel it is very important that we get on these girls levels. And love them and accept them for who they are. I understand that dress is important, but it is much more important that these girls feel accepted and loved, so that they will have the desire to attend church and other YW activities. Instead of choosing the alternate.

    Everyone tends to dress a certain way to reflect who we are inside. This is more so true with teenage girls. "I'm feeling sassy today, I think I'll wear hot pink with matching pink sparkle eyeshadow"... whatever, lets emprace that in our girls. If we are truley teaching our girls that they ARE a daughter of GOD inside, then they will want to reflect that on the outside also. But they will not want to dress a certain way because that is what we are supposed to do! No explination needed "now let's all sing 'Modesty is Always in Style'."

    So back to some ideas. I really like your idea about speaking on the power of dress. That we can be creative, youthful, professional, etc. in our apearance, and also be modest. I also strongly second the idea that modesty is not only a clothing concept but also includes attitude, language, and thoughts.

    And since you are ms. fashion diva, do something fun like a fashion show. But you have to go all out with these girls, so they don't think it's lame. Even make it kinda cheeky involving their mom's dressed in "teen bop" clothes, with a modest twist. But don't tell them mom will be doing the cat walk. Ü I would have been super embarrassed but, I probably would have gotten a great laughed, and had a great memory of my mom trying to "work it".

    So good luck and have fun!
    posted by Anonymous Sarah at 5/01/2006 12:59:00 AM  

  • julie m--I like your idea of the photos but might have rolled my eyes as a yw b/c the images you describe would be fairly obvious. I would be more excited if Carrie brought pictures of a rockin' hot and modest prom ensemble, or a really stylish looking church outfit, an awesome but modest bathing suit, and a sassy sexy but modest date outfit... b/c that is the YW's reality. Even if you are a judge or an athlete those are uniforms/costumes to do a specific job, it's not everyday fashion...and I have a feeling no YW wants to look like a sister missionary...

    Ariel, don't worry the words FRUMPY and the 80's cannot penetrate the fashion forcefield around Carrie. She won't even need to open her mouth before the girls will know she is an "authority" on fashion. Even in her running errands, cleaning the house, planting a garden clothes I feel so fashionably inadequate next to her.

    Carrie, I think that if the girls see you as stylish AND modest and observe the passion in which you tackle this subject, they will respond with wildly modest enthusiasm.
    posted by Blogger Kage at 5/01/2006 04:46:00 AM  

  • Excellent comments.

    Modesty is more than just what you wear. It is also the things you say and your attitude. One can be immodest even if their clothes cover their body. It is most beneficial if you can teach young woman that modesty isn't just covering their chest and tummy, but a whole attitude they have about their body and their self respect.

    Dos and Don'ts are terrible because they don't teach the principles of WHY modesty is important or how it helps us respects ourselves.

    This past sunday we had a talk in our ward about modesty and the speaker made an excellent comment. She placed a red tread on her white shirt for the first 2 mintues of her talk (everyone thought it was there and she didn't notice). Then she pointed to her shoulder and the red string and said "how many of you were focusing on this little, tiny red string instead of what I was saying? why would we ever want what we wear to speak louder than what we are saying?" I thought it was an excellent point, especially in light of the feminist movement. Why did we all fight to get equal rights and respect, only to use our bodies to get what we want?

    Teach that modesty gives us respect; it is an attitude that we take on as we dress, speak, and behave modestly. Girls become empowered when they truly understand this.
    posted by Blogger Sassy at 5/01/2006 07:15:00 AM  

  • I agree with several of the previous commenters. If I were teaching that lesson, I would spend a large amount of time talking about modesty as an attitude, not what you put on your body (though I suppose that can be a small part of the concept.)

    And when you do have to get into the clothing issue, I like the idea of clothes as message carriers. Dressing super sexy is one way to get attention from some people, but I would reinforce that the kind of attention a person gets from such clothing is probably not the kind that will lead to a respect for their great characters, brains, abilities, etc. (This, of course, does not mean that you can't dress fashionably and attractively. I'm all over that.)

    I would also talk about being careful not to judge others who make different clothing choices, however. There are some wonderful, kind, Christian people in the world who dress "immodestly" so I would encourage them to look beyond the surface package.
    posted by Blogger Caroline at 5/01/2006 08:17:00 AM  

  • I Was the YM Pres inmy last ward and was asked to do the "fashion" part of our Standards Night. The YW Presidency asked us to tackle it as they said the girls were probably sick of hearing aboutit from them. I also wanted to make sure that this didn't focus soley on girls wearing provacative clothing, and included the boys in the discussion.

    I focused my talk on how our apperance is a reflection of how we think about ourselves. The main point I hammered over and over was that dressing to Church Standards has everything to do with self-respect. I even played a snippet of Aretha's song for kicks.

    Coming at it from a different angle made a difference and they seemed to like it.
    posted by Blogger Kristian at 5/01/2006 08:45:00 AM  

  • We had a workshop on Fashion for the YW in our stake and the things that worked: having young college students come in and show fashion dos (how to layer, what to do with the shrug, what are accessories), handouts on modest tee and fashion websites, and top ten shopping tips.

    The workshop was part of a series, so they were able to still get the whole discussion on the power of dress and how appearance can impact first impressions.

    Your ideas sound great!
    posted by Blogger Tri Mama at 5/01/2006 08:47:00 AM  

  • We did fashion shows in our young womens. One of our leaders was a fashion buyer for Nordstroms, and so she could borrow clothes from the store. We would make two activities out of it. We would go to Nordstroms and each got a card that said job interview, or prom, or stake dance, or other events. Then we would pick out an outfit to match our event. Then the next activity we would invite all of our parents and the young men and do the fashion show. Everyone in the audience had a list of the things we were supposed to be dressed for. We each modeled our outfit, and while we were on the end of the runway the audience would guess which one we were.

    Anyways, the point of the activity was to teach that the way we dressed sent a message about who we were and that there were certain ways to dress that were appropriate to certain situations.

    Now considering you probably don't have these same resources, you could just ask the girls to come dressed like certain events and do it that way. Or I like Julie's idea about using pictures.

    One last thing. When I was a mia maid we had a lesson about temples. And one of the things mentioned was you don't want to have to buy a whole new wardrobe to fit your garments after you get married. This really stuck with me for some reason. Just the thought of having to spend money on new clothes right after I got married was enough to make me think twice about some of the outfits I wanted to buy.
    posted by Blogger Trivial Mom at 5/01/2006 08:47:00 AM  

  • Keryn- thanks for encouragement.

    Julie M. Smith - I'm glad you brought the idea up of using pictures. I have done something similar before and it has always been successful in making the point without just saying it. Always more effective.

    RoAnn-regarding "making sure they know the counsel of the prophet regarding modesty", this is where I sometimes hit a wall. I would like to stick to quotes that speak to the principle of modesty and less to guideline and rules. The For the Strength of Youth pamphlet has some good points but also gives specific guidelines.

    The honest truth is that I think someone (especially non-garment wearing teens) can still be modest and show their shoulders or wear shorts that are above the knee or even show a sliver of belly when they raise their hand (oh the horror!). Modesty is much more nuanced than lines drawn on a body (which has been brought up by others).

    I don't know if the YW presidency would appreciate me spreading this personal thought. BUt, I am afraid if I read the section from the FTSY the kids will see right through me! So, I was thinking it is better to just steer away from it.

    Ariel - tying modesty to our faith in Christ is something I definitely want to do. If you start at the core, I believe you are helping them build a true foundation for good choices. And, I will leave my Jessica McClintock Gunne Sax dress for another day.

    Annegb - I don't want them to hate me! And thanks for the great random story.

    Sarah- I understand that the church sets crazy(hard to understand) guidelines sometimes. There are dress rules for Girls Camp, Youth Conference, stake dances which tend to be on the more "strict" side of the "What is modest?" meter. And even if I don't agree with the arbitrary lines set, I do think there are blessings that come from obedience in those situations. Also, my night is just part of a YW "fashion series" which I believe is going to end with a fashion show.

    Kage-I am definitely going to find a wide range of photos to talk about. Thanks for backing my fashionability up. You're not so bad yourself!

    Sassy - I love the story about the red thread. I just might have to use that. My dh and I had to give sacrament meeting talks yesterday. He wanted to wear his knit tie (circa 80's) but I bought it vintage for him a few years ago. I told him it makes a statement, but did he really want people spending their energy trying to figure out if he was really wearing a knit tie to church instead of listening to his prepared talk? He didn't wear it.

    I also think making the girls feel in control and empowered is very important because the whole subject of modesty can make women/girls come away feeling "picked on".
    posted by Blogger TftCarrie at 5/01/2006 09:04:00 AM  

  • Caroline,

    I totally see your point and I agree that modesty starts with an attitude. But, my subject is actually Fashion and modesty, so it is going to be hard to stay away from it's connectedness to clothing.

    I think talking about judging is very important. I think kids in the church grow up sometimes thinking that immodesty=bad person. I don't think this judgement is ever correct in making. But everyone send messages with their clothing and we not only need be concious of what we want to say, but how others may interpret our message (based on their own perspective).

    Kristian - Having the boys involved is great. I was involved in joint standards nights a few times where I talked about dress and appearance. I don't think boys hear the modesty message enough. But, it's not really an option for me this time.

    cc-it sounds like our ward is doing something similar.

    Trivial mom - You ward's activity sounds great. It is nice to have those resources. I think the YW went shopping a few weeks ago as an activity and had and LDS fashion model come talk to them about poise and runway walks in preparation for a fashion show at the end of the month. Regarding preparing for the temple, I wholeheartedly agree that a wardrobe change is something that the girls should think about, but I wish they felt that choice was left up to them. The FTSY pamphlet talks about not showing shoulders which to me is not necessarily immodest but it is a way to prepare be a garment wearer. When I was a teen, the shoulder thing wasn't so explicit as it is now. I wore sleeveless shirt in H.S. but knew that once I went through the temple, that would change. That was fine with me and I didn't need years to prepare. But, I did start buying less of them the older I got so I wouldn't have to restock my entire wardrobe (like you said). I am glad I felt like it was my own choice though.
    posted by Blogger TftCarrie at 5/01/2006 09:22:00 AM  

  • Just call me Theatrical Preppy.
    posted by Blogger Kage at 5/01/2006 09:42:00 AM  

  • Wow are there a lot of comments already!

    Here's my input: Do an "What Not to Wear: LDS edition" fashion show. Incorporate things like the suggestion of showing the girls pictures of people and talking about the message/impression that their clothing gives. See if you can't get an assortment of girls (either ahead of time if possible or pick volunteers from the audience) with all the different body types and use them to illustrate the styles that work best for each. Perhaps you could arrange to have the girls bring gently used clothes and, after you've taught them about color, length and all that, they could have a huge clothes swap. I suppose there are too many problems with that last one, but it could be great!

    My point is, the other posters are right. By and large the kids know what is modest and what isn't. What they need to learn is how to be just as eye-catching as their compatriots without being as skin-baring. If you make it about "how to control the message they send" I think they'll be more interested. I mean that. I was totally anti-fashion as a kid because I just didn't get it and was sick of being burned and judged by whether or not I had the "right" shirt. I hated the various fashion-centered YW activities because it felt to me like my leaders were selling out to the forces of cruelty, pain and darkness. If I'd ever had a lesson that focused on what the messages of fasion were and how to use them I would have felt much more in control of things!

    One more thing to bring up. My husband occasionally gets a magazine called "Maxim." It's a man's magazine and while there are elements of it I could do just as well without, I do admit that the articles are intelligent and helpful. They did one special report where they had one of their women writers go to the same bar three times, each time dressed completely differently. I forget the middle outfit but the first was "total party girl" and the last was "librarian". She rated her experiences and in the end said that while the first outfit attracted more guys, the last outfit attracted *better* guys. That's an important aspect of clothes that I think we forget. Today's young people aren't wearing belly-shirts just because they like them. They're wearing them because they believe they make them look attractive. If tomorrow all men found turtle-necks and ankle-length skirts irresistable, you can bet those belly shirts would be out the window fast! So I think if you pointed out that modest clothes tend to attract men who are more intelligent, considerate and just overall more worth dating... well, the girls could draw their own conclusions.
    posted by Anonymous Proud Daughter of Eve at 5/01/2006 11:30:00 AM  

  • I only have one major thing, I'm sure you already know this but it cannot be said enough. Do not tell them that they are responsible for the purity of the young men's thoughts. They are responsible for keeping their own thoughts in line. Out of consideration for them we can wear clothes that don't make the task harder than it needs to be.
    This is especially important for fuller figured girls. There is no hiding the fact that they have breasts, and they don't need to spend all their time worrying about if the boys are looking at their chest and having dirty thoughts, and thinking that it's her fault.
    posted by Blogger Starfoxy at 5/01/2006 11:42:00 AM  

  • I fear these fashion things for the YW turn into "how to shop" for modest clothes. We need to make sure we are not focusing on materialism and trend following ('how to dress cool without wearing spegetting straps') and instead focusing on being ourselves and having a pure heart. It sounds like you have some good ideas, but, I think one of the most important things we need to teach our youth is to be less clothes-obsessed!
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 5/01/2006 11:57:00 AM  

  • I wish the YW leaders had your insight when one of my cousins was figuring-out the world and her place in it. Their response to her admittedly-out-of-bounds appearance convinced her that the Church wasn't where she belonged. 20 years have passed without her return.
    posted by Anonymous manaen at 5/01/2006 12:52:00 PM  

  • I think Julie is on the right track (as usual). The messages our clothing sends depends on the audience.

    If you live in LA, the message a particular outfit sends to an LA audience is naturally different than the message that same outfit would send in colder climates. (I visited UCLA and UC Berkeley with my high school senior daughter on successive weekends last month, and the female students dressed quite differently at the two schools even though by most measures (age, economics, intelligence, values, sexual activity) they are very similar.)

    The same outfit may send a modest or neutral message to your girls' peers at school and yet send an immodest message to leaders at church who have different standards. Likewise, an outfit that sends a message of modesty to church leaders may send a message of outsiderness or strangeness to peers at school.

    One issue to be aware of is the question of whether the purpose of dressing "modestly" is merely to avoid dressing in a way that says that you are more sexually available or risk taking than your peers or if the purpose is to mark yourself as a social and religious outsider who rejects the values of your peers.

    I think most Mormon YW (at least in urban California where I live) buy into the first purpose completely. I think most do not want to send the latter message if they can avoid it, though some do.

    For the most part I think YW in California can send the first message and avoid the second, and they ususally try to take a moderate approach when there are conflicts between the two. I think most active young women understand the audience issue quite well and choose accordingly.

    Prom dresses are a difficult issue because they are so important to girls and there are virtually none (especially in the spring) that meet the FTSOY guidelines. My daughters (and I think girls in our ward generally) choose mainstream prom dresses that neither meet FTSOY guidelines nor are the sexiest dresses at the dance.

    Likewise, my daughters have two types of swimsuits--one for trips to the beach with their friends from school(there are no Mormon boys in their public high school except for their brother) and one for church events (or trips to visit family in Idaho) when the audience includes adults from the church who receive a different message from a two-piece swimsuit than their peers do.

    They wear tank tops and shorts to cheerleading or sports practice, and to school if it is hot, but not to church activities where they understand that there are adults with standards that are different than those of their peers, and who thus might receive a different message from the same outfit.

    Your overall guidelines in your post seem great. You should try to keep in mind that this is an area where some parents (and some girls) and even some wards have have decided that sending the "I'm an outsider" message is the right thing to do, and others take a more "moderate" approach.

    I think you should try to find out from some of the parents and girls currently in YW about what is really going on in your ward with prom dresses, swimsuits, tank tops--i.e, the things that are typically at issue for active Mormon girls--so your presentation isn't out of step with what is going on between the parents and the girls in your particular ward. Good luck.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 5/01/2006 01:08:00 PM  

  • Everyone has had such great things to say! Thank you! Thank you! Reading through them and replying has really helped me to organize, prioritize and add to my thoughts. Please keep the comments coming. I have until Wed night!

    PDoE - thanks for all your suggestions. I was planning to spend time talking about colors, fit, style, smart shopping -- all of these things I also believe tie into the "power of dress" on a different level. I can empathize with your teenage feelings. I grew up in a middle-class family and was by no means poor, but my parents were very frugal-especially when it came to clothes. I never felt like I had the "right" clothes and shopping was nightmarish for me.

    I think part of the reason I became interested in fashion was I became facinated by the psychology of it all.

    Starfoxy- thanks for bringing up that reminder. I don't like to hear things that even allude to such heavy responsibilty of women over men's thoughts.

    "less-clothes obsessed" Anon - I totally understand your point. The world teaches us to be materialistic. We should not go to church and feel like this message is being supported. The honest truth is part of the night will no-doubt turn into "how to shop". But, there has got to be a way I can give advice on smart shopping and modest dressing without advocating "clothing obsessivness". Any ideas?

    Manaen - So sorry to hear about your cousin. Such stories are truly heartbreaking.

    Anonymous Julie Lover - I completely agree with your first statement I stated something similar in my response to Caroline (but in a less clear way maybe):

    Everyone send messages with their clothing and we not only need be concious of what we want to say, but how others may interpret our message (based on their own perspective).

    And I think taking other people's beliefs into consideration before we get dressed helps us be more appropriate and it doesn't mean that we have to lose a sense of ourself. I also believe just like you that geography and generation also play a factor. These are all things that factor into the nuances of modesty. It gets so complicated! But I think most parents and YW leaders want to make it very black and white.

    The issues you bring up about the purpose of modesty I think both play into a larger purpose of modesty but depending on either one by itself can lead to disaster.

    On the topic of prom dresses, I have been thinking about offering the YW a prom dress/babysitting trade deal. I will help them shop for a "modest" prom dress, alter a prom dress to make it more modest, or help make them one in exchange for babysitting. This only works because there are not that many YW in my ward so I might only get taken up on it 1 or 2 times.

    I have spoken with the YW leaders about any concerns they have with the girls modesty and there are no big problems. I get the feeling they want to take a more moderate approach. Which is why I feel comfortable with my approach.

    And just like Anon said, parents have different rules and I don't want to go against that. I would rather be there to inspire and let the parents and YW presidency layout rules. Thanks for akk your thoughts Anon!
    posted by Blogger TftCarrie at 5/01/2006 01:50:00 PM  

  • I am in the YW Presidency in our ward. I was thinking of doing an activity where we take the girls shopping for modest clothing (different outfits) but on a budget - at H&M or Forever 21 or both. The girls seem very excited about the prospect of shopping and learning about modesty (other than wedding dresses) and about bargain shopping (since most teenagers can't spend $100 on a pair of jeans).
    Also, I recently went shopping with one of the YW and her mom and was surprised about our (the mom and I) differences about modesty - such as wearing a thong, wearing sleeveless shirts, the definition of too tight clothing. So if you plan of talking about certain types of clothing, I would definitely check with parents to see what their rules are.
    I think the idea of discussing how to be fashionable yet modest is very important. Being modest doesn't mean that you have to look Amish or like a pioneer or even frumpy. A lot of girls need direction and help in figuring out how to alter trends to be modest.
    Good luck with your presentation. Sounds like you have a lot of great points already to make.
    posted by Blogger Elise at 5/01/2006 03:54:00 PM  

  • Without reading all the comments -- and I apologize for that -- I wanted to tell you that I did a similar talk last year. I just got up with a whiteboard and marker and asked the girls to tell me what makes it difficult to dress modestly. They had a significant list, but I had some ideas prepared, also. Then we went through and for each idea, we talked about eternal truths and specific practices to help them overcome that challenge. This seemed to work really well and made it very interactive and solution-oriented.

    We followed up that same evening with a very hip, cute young mom in our ward showing her creative ideas for modest and fashionable dress.

    The next week we had a "modesty mall" activity in a local department store where a member of our ward was a manager. The girls were divided into teams of 3 and had to find three modest outfits -- one school outfit, one casual outfit and one dressy outfit. The lowest-priced total was the winner. The store was very cooperative and even rang up our "purchases" so we could count the clearance discounts the girls found.
    posted by Blogger Ana at 5/01/2006 04:04:00 PM  

  • yes, you may hate the modesty lessons, or you may love them...they are still being given because they are very much needed! And based on current fashions, modesty lessons will continue to be given. I think that when is is presented in a way such as a gentle reminder, or given is such a way to show that there are modest alternatives (ie:shade, modby, down east, etc) and still be in fashion, it can be very possitive.
    posted by Anonymous Beanie at 5/01/2006 08:34:00 PM  

  • Teaching them basics is always good - layering, camisoles under too short shirts, nice-fitting tees under shirts that may be transparent. Giving them tips on where to find good quality, good-priced basics - to which they can add their own style to on top. You know what I mean?

    Although, this is probably too late to find - a popular guy's perspective (that the girls look up to) on modesty would be nice. Jared (my DH - yay I can finally say that now), ever since we started dating, has always been so supportive of me wearing modest clothing. He always told me that I stood out - because I dressed modestly, but still cool. I sent a different message than most girls in CA, and it was something that he respected, and also loved it since I was a good example to his nieces. His nieces always say they think of me when shopping and what I would wear (which is weird since I feel like I have no style at all and hate shopping). I guess DH's little brother always brought girls home who dressed pretty skimpy and they never really got the respect that I got. Anyways, a guy's perspective might help girls to realize that guys will respect you for what you wear and still think youre attractive and cool. I think a lot of girls probably want to wear immodest clothes to fit in and to get boys attention.
    posted by Blogger tamrobot at 5/02/2006 08:48:00 AM  

  • Why not put in a little plug for sewing skills while you're at it? If you're doing the prom dress trade, it fits in even more. I think that YW today associate "home-made" clothing with looks they wouldn't be caught dead in. But in fact, having the skills to sew or alter your clothing can help you to wear trendy clothes but stay true to your budget and personal modesty guidelines. (Can't even count how many hemlines I've adjusted on skirts to keep them "in style" as they lines go up and down... Or patches I've added to the inside of ripped jeans so that it doesn't show skin... I'm sure you have much better examples)
    posted by Blogger marian at 5/02/2006 11:27:00 AM  

  • Well, this is a no-brainer...so I guess my comment is for "shock value" only....but don't tell the girls that if they dress immodestly they might get raped.

    When I first entered YWs as a Beehive...first Sunday of the month lesson...my YWs president told this really dramatic story about a friend she had in high school who was walking home from a party late at night, wearing immodest clothing, and a stranger grabbed her and raped her. There were lots of tears from our leaders and the other girls...I just sat there pretty shell-shocked if I remember correctly. It worked though...for at least a couple of years, I screened my clothes really closely to make sure I was always well-covered, lest I get raped! Then I grew up, came to my senses, and realized how very wrong that approach was....in so many ways!!!

    Even now, when I am home visiting my mom and we attend my old home ward, I want to corner that lady and shake her and ask her what the hell she was thinking!!!
    posted by Blogger Jen at 5/02/2006 06:07:00 PM  

  • Here's an idea that you may want to try in the future, since you're short on time:


    This was our ward's YM/YW activity last night & it was a great success!
    posted by Blogger Michelle at 5/04/2006 02:34:00 PM  

  • Hi, I am a Muslim Sunday School teacher and I have to teach a lesson on Modesty to middle school girls. I loved your ideas, especially the red thread one and the one about showing different pictures. Also, I completely agree with the fact that the speaker has to dress modestly yet fashionably, not in a frumpy way. Thanks for all your ideas. I love how people of faith...any faith...share the same fundamental values.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 10/01/2011 10:28:00 PM  

  • There is a very distinct and pronounced Bible verse for modesty:
    1Timothy 2.9 If you study the meanings of the words in the original Greek the Apostle Paul was commanding (thru the inspired Word of God) that ALL Christian women need to wear long covering like clothes that are both modest and discreet.

    Please check out www.scriptureblogger.com if you like sound doctrine.
    Robrt and Sally Kilpatrick
    posted by Anonymous Robrt Kilpatrick at 5/18/2014 04:03:00 AM  

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