Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Modest is...

Let's face it: not a whole lot actually rhymes with the word modest. There are plenty of near rhymes but only a handful of true rhymes, none of which are really any better than the cringe-worthy slogan, "Modest is Hottest." The good news is that we don't have to have a cutesy slogan for church activities! Strange, but true. 

Alliteration is also optional. 

Still, some of modest's rhymes are fun to stick in that blank. Like bodice. "Modest is Bodice" for some reason makes me laugh. Anyway...

That was the title of Rachel's activity at church today: Modest is Hottest.

I sighed just as heavily typing that as I did when I read it because I believe there is so much wrong with teaching our little girls (she's ten years old!) about modesty this way. I believe that modesty is important, sure, but I don't believe modest has anything to do with "hotness" and I certainly don't believe that I should be introducing "hotness" as a goal/standard/ideal when my daughter—who is still a child—is considering what to wear.

So we held a preemptive family night lesson to discuss what modesty means, largely drawing from this, this, and this (we didn't do the Doctor Who paper doll adventure but we did read the talk, look at the pictures, and discussed modesty in dress and behaviour at length). To quote from one of those links, "Phrases like 'Modest is Hottest' introduce ideas about sexuality that are not appropriate for eight year olds," or ten year olds. 

Also, in my opinion, pronouncing any superlative trait as "modest" is a little antithetical to the very idea of modesty. When we are dressing modestly we should not be seeking to be the "hottest," nor should we be hoping that good boys will find modestly-dressed women "sexy" (yes, the word "sexy" was used multiple times over the course of the evening, which I found entirely inappropriate (though I am in favour of sexual education, I do not want my children to be told to dress or act "sexy"). 

So Rachel and I had a little chat on the way home from the activity as well—reemphasizing that modesty is about respecting yourself and others. It's about respecting the body that Heavenly Father gave to you, neither flaunting it nor hiding it. And while dressing attractively is fine—we want our appearance to be pleasant—dressing sexy is not a goal.

We talked about modesty in different cultures (although we consider ourselves modest dressers, we did, in fact, change our wardrobe when we lived in the Middle East to reflect their idea of modesty), we talked about how modesty changes depending on the activity (a swimming suit works great at the pool but isn't acceptable at school), we talked about how the idea of modesty has morphed over time, we talked about how we don't use our idea of modest dress to pass judgement on how others dress themselves, and we talked about how modesty has a lot more to do with attitude and behaviour than it will ever have to do with the exact length of your shorts.

Then we talked about what Rachel wanted to wear for her "Modest is Hottest" fashion show. We joked about pulling out the niqab and hijab we have in storage but that was just a joke (we're still trying to make friends in this ward). Rachel quickly decided on her soccer uniform, which includes shorts that are technically immodest (according to the "to your knee" rule). However, her soccer uniform is perfectly modest...for soccer. And BYU teams often wear uniforms that could be deemed "immodest" by the standards in the "For the Strength of Youth" pamphlet (which is for youth, not children, by the way).

So, this is how she modified her form:

Instead of "Modest is Hottest" she decided her paper could be titled, "Modesty Shows Spiritual Maturity."

The next two questions were easy: her name and age.

Then, instead of "Modest is hottest for my outfit because..." Rachel said, "My outfit is acceptable for the occasion because...I won't get too hot, [it offers a] larger range of movement, [and it] protects shins and feet."

Describing her outfit was also easy: soccer jersey, cleats/running shoes, shinguards, knee-high socks, shorts.

Although the activity wasn't presented in a way I would have liked (and though I took issue with many of the things said—because we don't dress modestly to "be sexy" to "good boys" and to prevent "bad boys" from giving us unwanted attention), they did read Rachel's paper as she wrote it while she was modelling her outfit on the "runway."

The girls seemed to have (some) fun—we had girls in pyjamas, girls in Sunday best, girls in school clothes, and Rachel ready for soccer, so it was a good mix of outfits—and I was happy that it opened up an opportunity to discuss the idea of modesty with our children.

But—for the love!—can we drop the "modest is hottest" thing?


  1. I so love this!!!!!!! I'm sorry that the activity was presented that way, but I love how you discussed it with rachel.

  2. What the heck???? Modest is Hottest, the Doctrine of Brigham Young? But for realsies why did they keep using the word sexy...ugh.

  3. Broadest. That rhymes with modest. However, broadest is a superlative, and not. Modest is unassuming, humble, unpretentious, unshowy, unflashy, moderate, unexceptional. So nothing -est is modest by definition.