In the fourth grade, someone started a rumor that I didn’t wear underpants. It was mocking and teasing and typical of fourth graders, but for me it was devastating–suggesting that I was an alien of sorts, completely out of touch with decorum, or that I was so immodest or poor that I’d go to school without panties.
There finally came a time when everyone but one boy (who happened to be in my ward) had gone to recess. The boy and I remained in the classroom momentarily with our teacher, Mrs. Stratton. He was a shy boy, and not given to shouting accusations like some others. But he was faced with a sort of litmus test of his masculinity or of his adherance to the unspoken fourth grade rules that you tease until someone with more authority (and it must be another fourth grader) calls it off.
“You don’t wear underpants,” he said. I think that might have been the only sentence he had ever spoken to me.
“I do too!” I answered. I was near tears. My whole identity was being challenged, and I had already found myself ostracized from the fourth graders. Someone had explained why I didn’t fit in, using a two page list of my faults, starting with my red hair. But this “no underpants” accusation hit a new low.
“No you don’t.”
The teacher was straightening books and didn’t look up, but certainly she could hear this argument.
“Prove it,” he said.
I hesitated. I could either let the rumors persist or I could do the unthinkable: Lift my dress and show him–a BOY–my panties.
I did it. I lifted my dress quickly and then swept it back down. “See? I do!”
Leaving quickly, he said, “No you don’t.”
Even at the price of my utter humiliation, I couldn’t stop the rumor.
Okay, fourth graders of the world and the church, have you decided for sure that Ann Romney wasn’t wearing garments when she appeared on some late night show? Too much knee for you? Or how about that short-sleeved inauguration dress she wore? Did she adjust her garments–something specifically counseled against in temple recommend interviews–to accommodate fashion?
I do not wear garments when I work out. Unlike ideal women, I actually sweat. I see other women at my Provo gym who clearly do wear their garments under their workout clothes, and I hope that they are more focused on their routines than on what I’m wearing.
Years ago, I dated a non-LDS divorced man. He told me several reasons why he could never imagine joining the Mormon Church. For one thing, a neighbor had announced to him and his wife that they wanted their children to play only with Mormons. For another, when his wife tried on some clothes at a department store, she heard one clerk say to another, “She’s not wearing garments.” That kind of self-righteousness was just too much for him.
Do you care whether or not Sister Romney wears her garments night and day? Do you think it’s your business? Is it okay for Gladys Knight to perform in a strapless gown? Should we insist that our unendowed sisters–including children–wear sleeves?
Our Relief Society gossip just made the headlines. How do you feel about that?