One of my friends was asked to give a modesty lesson to the Young Women in her ward. (No-Mo translation: Give a speech to the female youth of the congregation on dressing appropriately.)
She asked me for tips (Because I teach High Schoolers, I'm a teen whisperer...)and I wasn't very helpful. At all. She asked me if I remembered any good modesty lessons from my youth, and, even though I had a bunch of great YW leaders growing up, I don't remember any modesty lessons that really stirred my soul. Let's face it, it's hard to feel spiritual about long shorts and one piece swimsuits.
Furthermore, while the cynic in me could not identify any awesome lessons, I could identify some that fell into the following categories:
Let's start with the beginning.
a. Unnecessary: I was never one to wear bum-cheek-hanging-out-the-back shorts, or boobalicious prom gowns. I'd nod and smile, and maybe read an excerpt from the Strength of Youth (No Mo translation: A teen handbook that helps you end up on a mission/not knocked up), and leave totally unaffected.
I just don't feel the spirit when I'm being told what not to do. I mean, I'll not do it, but I probably won't experience a great spiritual awakening every time I buy a besleeved formal dress.
I imagine a lot of youth feel the same way. Teach me about how to receive answers to prayers, and you just might impact me. Teach me not to look like Katy Perry and I will nod and smile. I wasn't going to dress like that. Still won't. Thanks.
Plus, give an already modest girl too many lessons on Modesty, and it might turn into....
b. Offensive. Sometimes, after the billionth lesson on SLEEVES SLEEVES SLEEVES, I'd start to get a little annoyed. Do you think I'm secretly slutty? Dumb? On the verge of a sexual rebellion? I get it. SLEEVES.
Even worse though, are the horror-story lessons from Mormon mythology. The lessons about how it's important to dress modestly, because if you don't, a boy might look at you! And think lustful thoughts! And when he gets addicted to porn and can't go on a mission IT WILL BE ALL YOUR FAULT.
Because teaching girls that their god-given bodies are evil is a GREAT way to bring them closer to Heavenly Father.
And lastly, there were those lessons that were just...
c. Ineffective. I've already covered the fact that I've never owned a pair of daisy dukes. But I knew girls who did, and I'm pretty sure their Laurel leader telling them not to did jack squat after the lesson ended. Why? Because it isn't the Laurel leader buying their clothes/ letting them out of the house. If their parents think tank tops and short skirts are okay, (and these could even be, gasp, good parents,) then the girl is going to wear them. Especially when modesty, despite the guidelines in the Strength of Youth, still harbors a whole lot of gray.
What does it mean to cover the shoulders? Don't tank tops cover the shoulder? Or, if you're like one of my friend's parents, does covering the shoulder mean only t-shirt style sleeves and beyond? (Seriously. Girl was not even allowed a cap sleeve.) If Sally down-the-street thinks tanks are okay, is she immodest just because her Laurel Leader has made a business sewing sleeves onto spaghetti strap cocktail dresses?
Can't we just talk about Jesus at church?
Apparently not. So, e-audience, you tell me.
How do we teach our girls to be modest?
(Or, if you have tips on What Not to Say/Horror Stories from Your Youth, I would be happy to hear those too. I'm nothing if not equal opportunity.)