Leggings, Modesty, and EFY

EFY book cover (1991) To the left is the cover of the official EFY inspirational talks book from 1991. It consists of the title, Feeling Great, Doing Right, Hanging Tough, in 80’s-tastic font design, and a photo of an exuberant young woman doing a sort of cheerleaderish jump for joy [1].

What I noticed immediately when I saw this image was the presence of leggings. It was remarkable to me because I have recently observed some controversy in the LDS community surrounding leggings and modesty.

Now, I have to assume that whatever makes the cover of an EFY book is pretty much the definition of acceptable modesty in the church at the time the book was made. There is also evidence that care was taken in making sure the 1991 image reflected modest dress for the time. Note that the girl has some kind of leotard/bodysuit on under her t-shirt, so that her midriff remains covered even when jumping with arms raised. In 1991, leggings under short shorts were completely acceptable in terms of modesty.

Today, however, we have Deseret Book (who published the EFY book who own the rights to the EFY book above [3]) including on their LDS Living website a blog post questioning whether leggings are modest. Ashley Bardsley writes,

So, are leggings modest when you wear a shirt or dress that is a little too short with them? Are they modest when wearing a mini-skirt? I mean, if you weren’t wearing them you would be left with just a mini-skirt which isn’t modest . . . to me.

Her post includes several reader polls on the modesty of leggings, one of them asking, “Do you think leggings are modest when worn under a mini skirt or shorts that fall above the knee?” Just 22% of the respondents said yes, leggings with shorts are modest. Forty percent said it depends and 39% said no, they are not modest [2].

The questioning of leggings’ modesty is not limited to unscientifically-measured opinion. EFY’s current dress and grooming guidelines explicitly prohibit wearing of leggings under shorts or skirts that would otherwise be unacceptably short, exactly as they were in the 1991 photo:

Please also be aware that the wearing of “leggings” does not allow for any exceptions to the Especially for Youth Dress and Appearance policy.

So, in twenty years, something that was so unquestionably acceptable that it could be used as an EFY book cover photo is now prohibited at EFY, and considered immodest or questionably modest by 79% of LDS Living readers.

I don’t find it remarkable or ominous that rules change over time. Especially for something like clothing choices, the societal context matters, and that is certainly changing over time. What I find amusing is that we often attribute the perceived increasing in gap between our modesty and the world’s immodesty to the world’s increasing immodesty and general corrosion of morals. But here we have an example of our standards actually becoming starkly more stringent over time.

[1] FYI, that isn’t a mysterious ghost alien claw grabbing the top of her head, that is just the residue of a sticker.
[2] These poll results come even after members of the Feminist Mormon Housewives group on Facebook encouraged each other to go sway the polls towards not condemning leggings.
[3] Post Updated. Thanks, Pubilius, whose comment alerted me to the fact that this book was published by Bookcraft, not Deseret Book. At the time of publication (1991), Bookcraft was a publishing arm of the church responsible for youth-related titles, among other things. Bookcraft has now been consolidated into Deseret Book.


  1. “Leggings” are not considered appropriate for “Sunday or Best Dress” at EFY.” I’m shocked that leggings aren’t considered part of Sunday dress. Guess they’ll have to wear their denim skirts and sandals while the men pass out from multiple full-length layers + noose (er, tie).

  2. I can’t imagine anyone looking at the girl on that cover and thinking her dress is immodest and inappropriate.

  3. I can’t imagine anyone would look at that cover and think it’s appropriate for Sunday or best dress.

  4. I mean, if you weren’t wearing them you would be left with just a mini-skirt which isn’t modest

    Since when was the absence of an article of clothing an indication of whether it’s modest?

  5. I can’t view the picture, but well done, Cynthia.

    It sickens me how often Mormons make such a big deal over minutia. Too many of us would have made a much better Puritan.

  6. Ben and Paul, you’re reading the wrong sentence of those two sentences. For completeness, I copied both sentences regarding leggings, however the second one is the one that applies to her outfit. It is saying that you can’t wear shorts or skirts that are shorter than knee length, and throw leggings underneath, and call it modest. That’s exactly what was done in the photo.

    I guess I’ll just delete that first sentence to avoid further confusion, since this Sunday Best thing is a silly tangent for us to get stuck on.

  7. When that girl lifts up her arms, her midriff shows.

  8. “Are they modest when wearing a mini-skirt? I mean, if you weren’t wearing them you would be left with just a mini-skirt which isn’t modest . . . to me.”

    So what about the phenomenon of the “modest tank top” which is so prevalent in the Mormon culture?

  9. “Do you think leggings are modest when worn under a mini skirt or shorts that fall above the knee?”

    Wait, so we’re wearing leggings under *shorts* now? As in, two pants-like articles of clothing being worn at the same time? I’m less concerned about the modesty here than I am about the absurdity of it.

  10. I think there’s a difference between general modesty and “Sunday or Best Dress.” I wouldn’t consider the outfit on the cover (shorts and athletic shoes) to be construed as Sunday or Best Dress. I’ve never had any actual or peripheral attendance at EFY so I don’t know if the standard has changed to expect Sunday/Best Dress all the time.
    That said, I agree that our standards have become more stringent over time. Photos from the 50s often show prom or Gold and Green Ball dresses that are strapless.

  11. Charlene, see my previous comment. You are looking at the wrong sentence. The second one is the one that applies and it has nothing to do with Sunday/Best dress. I’ve deleted the extraneous Sunday thing to avoid further confusion. If people want to see the entire thing in context, click the link.

  12. Jessie – that’s a great point. It’s the exact same concept. This whole “no legggings” rule went into effect when i was at BYU and the reasoning behind it (I think) was that leggings where too tight to be considered modest. I almost ALWAYS wear a shade shirt under my other shirt(s) because I couldn’t wear most of my clothes without my garments peaking out. My shade shirts are the exact same tightness as my leggings. So this doesn’t make sense.

  13. I think what the woman in the photo is wearing is a leotard, not leggings. I say this because it seems to cover her under her too-short t-shirt, too.

    All of that said, Cynthia, you’re right: the rules have changed.

  14. On a somewhat related note, I’m going to go ahead and assume this letter is satire, and say that it is super hilarious. Hats off to you, Jeremy, for getting satire published in the Daily Universe:

    There is one problem on campus that is frequently overlooked. This problem has caused many potential Honor Code violations, relaxed standards and, if left unchecked, may lead to further decay in our moral principles. This problem is the wearing of shorts on campus.

    Although shorts have become commonplace in society, they lead to detraction from the learning environment that BYU is striving to provide. They may lower our body heat, but is wearing shorts really worth lowering your personal standards? Our dress should reflect the moral commitment of the university.

    Do we need to have a lower standard than BYU-Idaho? No, we need to abolish the wearing of all shorts on campus.

    Jeremy Hindman
    Baker City, Ore.

  15. .

    I just realized that if I weren’t wearing my pants, I would be immodest.

    No more pants for me!

  16. Romney / Huntsman 2012 says:

    So does this mean that jeggings and jorts are completely out of the question?

  17. @mmiles, Let’s just be thankful that she is wearing that black bodysuit underneath, sparing us the moral decay that would have accompanied seeing her midriff skin.

  18. john willis says:

    In another 20 years will the only modest dress for women be the full lenght pastel skirts and blouses worn by the FLDS women of Colorado City???

  19. @R/H’12: Indeed it does. So say the LDS Living readers, who are 79%/21% against on the question, “Are “jeggings” modest when worn by themselves?”

    @john willis: That will be great for skin cancer rates!

  20. Romney / Huntsman 2012 says:

    I just have to say that posting that 1991 EFY cover is cruel to both the poor girl on it and the folks who run EFY. Truth be told, I think we all looked just as ridiculous in ’91.

  21. Since when does BCC frown on silly tangents? The rules have changed!

    Also, underneath all my clothes, I’m completely naked.

  22. @Jessie & Ingrid: Ha! I didn’t think about it in those terms, but you’re absolutely right that there is a funny double standard there on leggings vs shade shirts. In fact, the EFY guidelines endorse making otherwise immodest outfits modest via shade shirt just as explicitly as they condemn it via leggings:

    Blouses must be modest in fit, extend below the waistline, and be long enough to cover the stomach and lower back, especially when bending over or raising hands or arms. If blouses do not meet the approved length, undershirts must be worn to assure modesty.

    @Elle: Alas, good taste is not required per the EFY guidelines.

  23. LOL, Ben S. We have indeed become starkly more stringent. But it only took us 20 minutes, not 20 years.

  24. Mark Brown says:

    Cynthia, I realize that we aren’t talking about Sunday dress, but this is a fun coincidence: Less than 10 minutes ago I waved at the sister missionaries as they walked down the street, and niticed they were both wearing leggings. Then I came in the door, booted up BCC, and saw your post. How ’bout that?

  25. Does anyone have a copy of the EFY dress standards of, say, 2000? I’m pretty sure the rules weren’t that stringent when my kids started going about 10 years ago.

    I wish I knew what constructive purpose all these nitpicky rules serve.

  26. Well, if you can’t beat em, join em. I might as well delve into the Sunday/Best dress thing. I get that the potential for faux pas when combining leggings and Sunday/Best dress is pretty high, but I don’t think success is so impossible that it should be banned. Are any of these looks more casual than anything you see on a given Sunday, or, for that matter, in the sample photos provided at the EFY guidelines links?

  27. Why do I love these modesty-run-amok postings so much? I think I enjoy feeling morally superior (don’t post about forgiveness!), and modesty nitpickers are an easy target. Of course, I’d never wear leggings with short skirts, and didn’t even when I was a teenaged ballerina in the 80s. (After looking at the odd angle of my knock knees in the floor-to-ceiling mirrors of the dance studio I was only too grateful to be able to explain my leg-contour-concealing jeans and skirts with “I’m Mormon.” I just wish the Church would tell us skinny jeans are the work of Satan–which they are!–so I can at least always be in style within Utah’s borders.)

    Of course, I just revealed my too-great focus on appearance and style, which is the soul of immodesty, so….I give up. I’m going to go read my scriptures in a chador.

    Oh, and Jessie has a good point. Unless, of course, seeing the shape of the lower thigh is significantly more alluring than seeing the shape of the shoulder. Men?

  28. If I take my pants off I’m left in my underwear. That would probably be immodest. So, what can I wear to that is modest?

  29. A shade tee under a low-cut tank conceals more than just shoulders.

  30. As the world gets worser, it’s important we become more repressive … I mean, modest.

  31. (I should add that I have nothing against leggings or Shade tees. Just pointing out a double standard.)

  32. If wearing a tight t-shirt under a spaghetti strap dress is OK, then so is wearing leggings under a skirt/pair of shorts. I see both examples most weeks at church and personally, I think the leggings look better than a t-shirt under spaghetti straps.

    There’s no way I would have gotten through high school in the 90s without opaque black tights.

  33. “These aren’t leggings. They’re TIGHTS.”

  34. Immodestly Revealing + Immodestly Tight = Modesty

    On a related note, could a man wear tights under a pair of shorts and still comply with the BYU-Idaho Honor Code?

  35. Jessie#29–True. I wear Downeast Outfitters “shade” shirts, but I rarely use them under low-cut tops (just under tops with too-short capped sleeves) because I dislike the dickey look or anything like unto it. Also, the uni-bosom shelf silhouette created in the chestal area by the thick D.O. undershirt fabrics I find pretty unflattering–something akin to an ACE bandage wrap–(tight in an unalluring way). But of course I’m not a man. They’re likely less picky about such things. So…..I agree. Tight undershirts should be in the same category as leggings.

  36. Steve Evans says:

    I don’t think a man could wear a pair of tights under short-shorts and comply with any code, be it honor or fashion or fire.

  37. I mean, if you weren’t wearing them you would be left with just a mini-skirt which isn’t modest

    There’s only one answer to the problem of using some articles of clothing to mitigate the immodesty of other articles of clothing, and that is one-piece jumpsuits. Prison-style.

  38. Rebecca J, you’re forgetting the burqua.

  39. One-piece jumpsuits: also Temple-style and Beastie-Boys-style. See, not so bad when you put the right spin on it.

  40. As a part of my job, I just sent a copy of that book to a prison in Kansas. So you know.

  41. “could a man wear tights under a pair of shorts and still comply with the BYU-Idaho Honor Code?”

    Does he shave his legs? Cause if he shaves his legs, I’ve got no real problem with it. Or, maybe I do. I can’t really tell.
    I’m blown hither and thither by every wind of doctrine.
    Another important question: is he part of the ballet troupe? Because ballet changes everything, in my mind.

  42. Threadjack, but I got that book from my grandparents for my 12th birthday. It was my first exposure to anything EFY related. I remember thinking that her outfit was just weird, and the book also contained a talk extolling the virtue of not kissing before marriage. Those two factors have led me to shun anything related to EFY.

  43. Cynthia, the burqa is only a modest option if you are wearing a one-piece jumpsuit underneath it.

  44. I just wasted an hour of my life reading every single comment on that LDS Living post about leggings, and it makes me want to go out and buy a dozen pairs in every color so that I can wear leggings every day, especially Sunday… just to make people upset.

    As a Laurel advisor, I get SO ANGRY when people harp about modesty. IF THE GIRLS ARE COMING TO CHURCH AND MUTUAL ACTIVITIES, WHO THE *BLEEP* CARES WHAT THEY ARE WEARING! AT LEAST THEY ARE ATTENDING AND NOT OUT GETTING PREGNANT! (Sorry to yell like that. This topic makes my blood boil.)

    Geez, if people are going to have sex, they will do it in turtlenecks just as easily as sleeveless shirts and leggings. We need to help people find Christ and have a desire to follow Him… that will keep people from “sinning” much more effectively than policing their wardrobes and counting the steps they take on the Sabbath.

  45. Or…wait…the burqa is only a modest option if you’re wearing nothing underneath it. I think. I’m so confused.

  46. #44: No one has ever had sex while wearing a turtleneck. Ever.

  47. So are tights acceptable then? Or is there even a difference? Because I’m just going to start calling my leggings tights and assume that I can wear them wherever I please.

  48. #44 Amen. :)

  49. GST, if people have done it with garments still on, they’ve done it in turtlenecks…. even a turtleneck is sexier than G’s!

  50. Rebecca, if you were to take off your burka, you would be left with just the prison jumpsuit on, which is modest, therefore burkas are acceptable if worn over a prison jumpsuit. Skipping the jumpsuit would leave you naked under the burka, and that would be immodest. Shame on you for putting comfort above modesty, you jezebel! I hope you are never allowed to teach the Young Women in your ward! And don’t forget the pantyhose under the jumpsuit, but over your garments.

  51. “I just wasted an hour of my life reading every single comment on that LDS Living post about leggings, and it makes me want to go out and buy a dozen pairs in every color so that I can wear leggings every day, especially Sunday… just to make people upset.”

    Becky Fail Davis, we should be friends.

    gst #46, my husband looks great in a turtleneck. To continue that thought would be TMI, but consider yourself contradicted.

  52. Beck Fail Davis is full of win.

  53. Do those EFY “modesty” rules apply to athletic activities? So all athletic shorts have to reach their knees?

    Well, so much for beach volleyball!

  54. And, in that LDS Living article, I just saw this great line:

    “I have seen some leggings pulled off very tastefully.”

    Now, this is when things start to get interesting! Let’s start pulling off those leggings–but make sure you do it tastefully!

  55. Romney / Huntsman 2012 says:

    @gst actually in the 70s it was required to have a turtleneck to get any play

    @Becky Fails Davis yes I have heard rumors of “lights off , garments on” Mormons

  56. So I went over there and read the comments.

    Oh, those darned first-world problems. Whatcha gonna do?

  57. You know there is only one real answer to dealing with the worlds wretched dissent into ever more lurid and immodest clothing. Modesty Meditation. Since the world will make sure that no matter who you are or where you go you will be exposed to leggings, or shorts, or tank tops we can only control whether we “see” the immodesty. Therefore I propose that every Sunday YM and EQ lessons set aside 10-15 minutes for Modesty Meditation where we carefully and systematically learn to train our natural male minds to fail to notice immodest clothing. We could do exercises like projecting imaginary clothing onto unacceptably clad women. Learn the sharpen the speed at which we look away and develop our will power to always “look them in the eye” no matter their fashion. Maybe we could do some version of aversion therapy so that modest really will become hottest! We can’t control women’s dress standards as well as we can control our own minds. Then we will never have to worry about leggings again!

  58. Thomas Parkin, you’re in great form today! Keep it up–I keep laughing harder with every comment of yours. :)

  59. I respecfully descent. Which I suppose is better than being disrespectfully indecent.

  60. And I’ll add an amen to #44 too!

  61. Kevin Barney says:

    I think EFY needs to come up with a rule against Dick Van Dyke era Mary Tyler Moore capri pants. Man, those things were hot!

  62. Lamplighter says:

    #44, BCoW (hope I have the acronym right)

  63. Echoing 62: B-cow on comment 44.

  64. a) The book in question was published by privately-owned Bookcraft, not Church-owned Deseret Book.
    b) “[O]fficial EFY souvenir book”? Since when does EFY have an official souvenir book?
    c) Those aren’t leggings; those are bike shorts.
    d) Photographers can’t be trusted to get things right. Witness: https://events.byu.edu/system/files/Murder%20Mystery%20Show%20Poster.png
    e) All of the above.

  65. As the Miamaid advisor in my ward, I say a big fat amen to #44 also. I was going to nominate it for BCoW but by the time I got down here to the end it was already taken care so another vote here.

  66. “I just realized that if I weren’t wearing my pants, I would be immodest.”

    My underwear is modest. Therefore, I may keep my pants on.

  67. Of course there is a double standard regarding the dress and grooming standards at BYU. Nothing about those “standards” are standard; they are very much arbitrary.

    And, in regard to wearing leggings under skirts and t-shirts under tank tops, both are in poor fashion taste and should never be worn by anyone.

  68. Interesting notes, publius.

    All the years that I went to EFY in the early 1990s, we were sent home with a tape of music, a poster for our walls, a tshirt, and a book of best talks for the year, just like this one. A nice way to hit teens in four of the most key areas for messaging. (at least at that time–now you’d need to involve Facebook and iTunes)

    For Deseret Book as the publisher, I was going off this listing at Barnes and Noble:

    Full Product Details
    ISBN-10: 0884947971
    ISBN-13: 9780884947974
    Format: Paperback pp
    Publisher: Deseret Book Company
    Publication Date: 09/28/1991
    Age Range: Young Adult

    But that may be in error as I now see others listing it as Bookcraft.

  69. “gst #46, my husband looks great in a turtleneck. To continue that thought would be TMI, but consider yourself contradicted.”

    Melissa, you’re right. We SHOULD be friends!

  70. As an aside, I would like to note that on the European continent, wearing leggings under skirts and shorts has become wildly popular. Are Mormon “faux modest” fashion trends rubbing off on the rest of the world? Or have Mormon kids been infected by an insidious European morality trojan?

  71. On a completely random note, I had a YW leader lecture an entire class of Beehives that we weren’t being modest unless: we all wore bras, dawned good smelling deodorant, and wore makeup to church! WTH?

  72. This conversation is the funniest thing I’ve read today. You are all awesome.

    I have to admit that I think leggings worn AS pants look very silly. I really cannot understand, though, why leggings under skirts would be considered unacceptable when the Shade shirts are practically sacred wardrobe pieces now. Good old arbitrary nonsensical rules… what would we do without them?

  73. Cynthia, DB bought Bookcraft in 1999.

  74. I’ve asked myself about the leggings thing, but mostly where it concerns church. Is it really a dress if I’m wearing leggings? I don’t know. I’ve only done it once and I felt unsure.

  75. Tangential story with some sort of relevance: the other day, my wife was downtown, we had lunch, then went back to the university where I teach. And a student walked by wearing a t-shirt and . . . tights. And not thick tights or leggings or anything (and, for that matter, not a long t-shirt), just tights. I’m still not sure if I should forgive my wife for having me see that, and

    isn’t allowing women to wear leggings just putting us on the slippery slope to this?!?!?[fn]

    [fn] That last part should be all-caps, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it.

  76. (I should say, about blaming my wife, she told me to look, I turned around, so it’s her fault that I ever saw the be-tighted girl.)

  77. (Don’t put *angry* tone of voice here – more *ludicrous* or *how ridiculous is this going to get by the time people begin to believe in freedom of choice* tone.)

    I’m a bit lost here. Since when is it anyone’s business but my own (and my daughters’) if they or I wear leggings under our clothing? What the heck is wrong with leggings? Shall we ban tights, as well? How about green shirts or red jeans (maybe they don’t make red jeans anymore).

    I’m with #47 – wear leggings and call them tights.

    How about we, as a church, let people make their own clothing choices? (gasp*)

    This has gotten beyond ridiculous. The last time one of my kids got an invite to EFY and I read the requirements, I knew that kid wouldn’t go. One can approach God naked, or in rags, so why must one dress in certain prescribed ways when going into the presence of humans who pretend they are going to bring one to Christ? I expect they mean well, but perhaps they ought to read the scriptures a bit more to understand what is really important.

  78. Michelle, I know what you mean–but I don’t think that wearing leggings underneath changes the nature of whatever you’re wearing over it. (Of course, if your discomfort is because they make you feel like you’re essentially wearing pants with a dress, we could also ask the question of why there’s anything wrong with a woman wearing pants to church… But that’s a totally different issue. :) )

    Excluding jeggings, I see two classifications of leggings, or two reasons to wear them: for warmth, or as an accessory. In either case, if that’s a style you like, then I see no reason why you should question it for church.

  79. Two questions:
    1) Does this apply to dudes? and
    2) Does that mean that they’ve had to cancel every EFY session in Europe?

  80. I am a convert and have never, ever understood the LDS hang up with modesty. These comments are hilarious! I never really thought about being immodest at the ward wearing leggings to “lengthen” an outfit. I also will admit that I don’t wear garments. Please don’t tell my bishop.

  81. The following was written by a 9-year-old girl and appeared in Friend in 2009:

    “I had a friend who was a really nice girl, but she didn’t wear modest clothes. One day she was wearing a really short skirt. I decided to talk to her and find out why. At recess, I asked her why she was wearing a short skirt. She said she thought it was cute, and she didn’t have a longer skirt. I told her that short skirts aren’t modest and she could wear leggings under her skirt. The next day when my friend walked into class, I was surprised! She was wearing leggings under her skirt. I am glad I could help my friend be modest.”

    Trying To Be LIke Jesus

  82. Amazing, Eric. I guess this adorable 9-year-old’s missionary efforts won’t extend to bringing her friend with her to EFY when the time comes, because that friend would be turned away at the door….

  83. Sharee Hughes says:

    This has been a really interesting (and humorous) disussion. I, for one, would never consider wearing leggings or tights (what is the difference anyway?–would someone enlighten me) because I am too old and am overweight. I have never thought it immodest for a young girl to wear them under a skirt. But I saw a grown woman wearing tights to church with a short skirt and thought it inappropriate church wear. I think we show our respect for our Heavenly Father by wearing dress clothes to church, not anything casual at all (I don’t even like to see denim skirts). However, it is not our place to judge. It is better to go to church wearing something someone else thinks inappropriate than not go at all. This is as bad as the discussion in Kathy Kidd’s column in Meridian some time ago about whether or not girls should wear their prom dresses to church. I’d rather see a girl in a pretty prom dress than in a skirt made by taking apart a pair of jeans. But it really is all in the eye of the beholder. And I’m sure God looks at what is in the heart, not what is on the body.

  84. oh dear. i am a grown woman, live in utah, and have been wearing skirts and dresses with trousers under for years. to church. i generally do like the colors to be the same, and fabrics the same, but if i wore my red trousers with a black skirt over, who cares. i like to sit comfortably at church and so i wear trousers under. Sometimes i tuck these trousers into boots, and sometimes i don’t. i also wear an invisible purple hat. No one has ever been upset, and i don’t really care if they were. Becky Fail Davis, I am so with you, and we need to have hot chocolate. i realize this is not particularly haute fashion. i am comfy, I am worshipping and no one sees france. when maxi dresses become more available, i will probably buy a few, and may still wear trousers under. i readily admit i love a man in a kilt – i wonder what scottish guys wear at church – leggings and tights? i think not. God loves me, and He loves men that wear colored shirts, the girls in prom dresses, pants or denim skirts or tights/leggings and all the kilt-wearing boys.

  85. Eric (81), that’s horrifying. Seems to me Jesus spent a lot more time talking about self-righteousness than about modesty. And not for want of opportunity–prostitutes probably didn’t dress particularly modestly back in the day…

  86. Would Jesus wear leggings? I rest my case.

  87. I nominate #86 for the best comment thingie.

  88. I’m a gym rat, and I wear leggings with a long t-shirt (an XL that falls to the bottom of my butt) to aerobics class and then to the grocery store and whatever other errand. I also prefer that attire for bicycling, because the leggings do not get caught in the gears.

    They are exercise-thickness leggings and not thin tights, but still.

  89. @madhousewife Jesus wears a dress.

  90. In all the pictures I’ve seen, the dress was of an appropriate length.

  91. I take it yoga pants haven’t reached BYU yet?

  92. Wait, that one comment sparked a new question. What is the status quo for wearing prom dresses Sunday to church?

  93. Jennifer P. says:

    I’ve been a faithful member all my life, served a mission, love the Lord… I also have bright blue bangs on my head, wear leggins under my skirts, it’s also cold in the winter. I will stay true to myself and as long as the Lord and I are good no one’s opinion to me matters. I have been to EFY, it was awesome, I could never live in Utah or attend BYU, too stiff, and I love my men with beards! I won’t let my faithful, temple recommend holding, sweet husband shave. When other members start worrying about what others wear or look like they have too much time on their hands and it’s destructive to everyone. We need more bikers with leather at church, let’s mix it up.

  94. Standards are called standards because they are just that, they don’t change.

    The white sticker residue looks exactly like a big white bow in her hair which just made the whole outfit perfect. Thanks for the flashback!

  95. Love the post, love the comments!

    Mine: Apparently the Church does not have an official statement on leggings (correct me if I’m wrong and BYU-I does not count) so the LDS Living statement is, again, just a weird cultural phenomenon of a few taking something too far. I wonder how many of the good folks supporting that modesty position (if their poll is correct, there are lots) condemn the Mormon fundamentalists for taking and using their own interpretation of marriage?

  96. Kevin Barney says:

    Our youth speaker spoke on his experience at EFY, so I leaned over and whispered to my wife the gist of the OP. She pointed to a little girl, a toddler maybe three years old, a couple of pews in front and to the left of us, who was wearing leggings. The little harlot.

  97. I definitely would not consider this an example of LDS standards becoming “starkly more stringent.” However, it should come as no surprise that as moral decay increases generally, the Church is forced, so to speak, to more clearly outline the boundaries of acceptable behavior. And as members of the Church increasingly seek to rebel against those boundaries to maintain similarity with society in general, it makes sense that the boundaries might become slightly more stringent.

  98. Karmen, I don’t know what you mean by “official statement” from “the Church.” What would it take to be an “official statement,” in your view? Would it have to be an Official Declaration #3 at the end of the next version of the D&C?

    Is EFY (all locations, not just BYU-I) run by the church or not? I think the official EFY dress and grooming standards, while not on the level of, say, words in the temple or in scripture, are certainly more official than just “a few” or “a weird cultural phenomenon.”

  99. @Ryan:
    “And as members of the Church increasingly seek to rebel against those boundaries to maintain similarity with society in general, it makes sense that the boundaries might become slightly more stringent.”

    I guess it’s just not obvious to me why that “makes sense.” Wouldn’t it make sense to just keep the same boundaries while the world is changing?

  100. Cynthia L.,

    >Wouldn’t it make sense to just keep the same boundaries while the world is changing?<

    In many cases, yes. However, in others it may require a harsher guideline as people take advantage – for lack of a better term – of ambiguity or "looser" standards. The example that comes to mind is earrings for women and long hair for men. The Church didn't have an official position until members needed them to have one by failing to appropriately regulate their own behavior. Once we as members fail to live up to the spirit of the law, the letter of the law must then be explicitly spelled out, at times more stringently than what would have been tolerated originally.

    Also, my understanding on the leggings issue is that to the degree there is an "official" position, women can wear leggings but the skirt still must come to the knees.

  101. That could maybe make sense for some things. But I don’t recall ever seeing an EFY book with a sweet looking girl on the cover who was wearing 5 earrings, even before that was spelled out. In this case, you are essentially saying that the “members” who “failed[ed] to appropriately regulate their own behavior” include makers of EFY books. It just doesn’t seem to fit the model of what you are describing, unless even the EFY-book-making “elect” were apostate in 1991.

    “Also, my understanding on the leggings issue is that to the degree there is an “official” position, women can wear leggings but the skirt still must come to the knees.”

    Right, exactly. But that’s exactly what is NOT happening in the 1991 photo.

  102. No, what I’m saying is that if we appropriately regulated ourselves, we might have been able to get away with fantastic pink shorts that didn’t reach to the knee as long as we wore leggings. Since we apparently cannot appropriately self-regulate, harsher standards are imposed and what was once permissible – since there was no need for a strict standard and leggings certainly fit within the ambiguous gray area of what is “modest” and what is not – the cover you found was created by the non-apostate elect.

    You may not have seen an EFY book cover with a woman with 5 earrings. But I saw many women with many earrings at BYU happily in compliance with the Honor Code. Then the hands off policy was abused, so a stricter standard was implemented.

  103. Ryan,

    “The Church didn’t have an official position until members needed them to have one by failing to appropriately regulate their own behavior.”

    I don’t think that failure to self-regulate is the reason at all for additional grooming and/or clothing style standards. I think the new standards are more of a reaction to some fashion trends in society that are too much of a shock for leaders largely in their 70s and 80s.

  104. @102: Ah, ok, that does make more sense, thanks for the follow-up. Still not sure I agree with that model of how it went down, but I think I understand your point now.

  105. Women of all ages and body types have been wearing leggings/tights under skirts for several years now. The US is always a decade or more behind European fashion.

    I would like to see more kilt wearing men in bikers leathers too (but no turtle necks shirts – personal preference). If I see them at church, well that’s bonus and is likely to increase my attendance rate.

    My son is 1st assistant to the bishop in my ward his hair is 31 inches long last time the girls in his Sunday school class measured it.

    I was at BYU during the eighties – that was the time for men in tights on campus and not just in my ballet class – the fashion was for short, quite snug, “exercise shorts” in a variety of bright colors and patterns.

    Right now I know I am modest because I am alone.

  106. O.K. to clarify – when I say I am modest because I am alone I do not mean alone in the world, cipher in the snow kind of alone. I mean as I sit here at my computer at this moment in time there is no one else in the room with me. If no one can see the woman typing (this post instead of her term paper) on her computer does anyone know what is under the burka or even if there is a burka?

    Which presents a question – if modesty simply a social construction, wouldn’t it expression(s) change as the frameworks that define social order shift? Modesty* the concept is the unchanging standard; modesty* the expression defines itself within and in reaction to fluxing social constructs.

    * note the use of upper case and lower case M is intentional

  107. Hedges about the law are just that – impediments to get to the law, built by people who are concerned about letting themselves and others get too close to the law. That provides protection, but it also comes with chains. Worse, the hedges start to be seen as the law.

    Pres. Uchtdorf last year didn’t use the phrase “hedge about the law”, but his talk “Of Things That Matter Most” addressed the concept.


  108. Ryan,

    I suspect the grooming issues like earrings and the like have less to do with moral decay or the straying of members and more to do with the church hiring a PR firm to try to help them improve their image.

  109. a woman who loves to wear leggings... says:

    …without shorts or a miniskirt, nonetheless!

    several things seem worth noting:

    (1) as a woman, i find myself completely unwilling to allow what i consider to be sorely misconceived (and even irresponsible) attitudes towards women’s bodies dictate what i wear each day. i love my body, and i’ve never regretted making my own decisions about how i chose to present it. that being said, this doesn’t come without a cost. most mormons aren’t lying when they tell you that people will respect you less for dressing immodestly: it just so happens that they are the ones who will respect you less. in that sense, the things that little girls are told in yw aren’t lies, but more like self-fulfilling prophecies.

    (2) it would be dishonest for me to say that i always chose to dress the way i do for comfort. sure, leggings are comfortable, but i also think i look pretty good wearing them. i think lots of men agree. but here’s the thing i think is so important for young girls to be taught: just because you’re comfortable with your body and your sexuality doesn’t make you a whore.

    (3) we need to teach girls how to be comfortable in their own skin and love their bodies. this kind of micro-managing of women’s appearances is exactly the opposite of what is needed in a world so preoccupied with telling women how they need to look. moreover, we need to stop conditioning girls (and boys!) into thinking that human sexuality is bad. tell them to wait until marriage to have sex, sure. when you’re made to feel ashamed of your sexuality your whole life, that not only makes for a really bad wedding night, it makes for a life filled with shame.

  110. Hemi–nah. Any PR firm worth their fee would have told them that micromanaging members’ grooming practices was going to make them look cultish and weird.

  111. Kristine
    i admit that is probably wishful thinking on my part

  112. @46–I have. They’re called “quickies”

    @93 and 109–AMEN.

  113. Oh wow!! I have to say I’m shocked at some of the comments on this thread. I’m no prude, but I’m thinking there are different standards around the world for modesty in the church. The EFY dress code is ‘AWESOME’, as it teaches our youth to treat their bodies as sacred and with respect. When parents, and youth leaders try to keep up with the clothing trends by telling the youth its okay to dress how they feel so long as they are coming to church, they are also teaching it is okay to obey only those commandments and /or church policies they feel comfortable with.

    The ‘Political Correct’ adage of being in tune with your sexuality skims a very fine line.

    For me – a short dress and leggings at church is inappropriate.

  114. At the risk of seeming a little (O.K. a lot) rude may I say to #113 and others with a similar view: MYOB. If you don’t think a short dress and leggings are appropriate for church, then don’t wear them.

  115. #114 – it wasn’t my intention to upset you and I apologise if you were. I was merely reiterating part of the ‘For the Strength of Youth’ pamphlet (endorsed by a Living Prophet), which says

    “Your body is God’s sacred creation. Respect it as a gift from God, and do not defile it in any way. Through your dress and appearance, you can show the Lord that you know how precious your body is. You can show that you are a disciple of Jesus Christ’.

    It also says that immodest clothing includes ‘tight clothing, short shorts and skirts and other revealing attire’.

    That being said, I don’t think there is anything wrong with the picture at the beginning of this thread. She looks more like she’s attending a sports activity (note the shoes) than a church meeting, in which case leggings are definitely appropriate.

  116. Diana, I’m curious how you resolve these two seemingly conflicting opinions, both of which you hold/expressed:

    1: “That being said, I don’t think there is anything wrong with the picture at the beginning of this thread.”

    2: “The EFY dress code is ‘AWESOME’, as it teaches our youth to treat their bodies as sacred and with respect. When parents, and youth leaders try to keep up with the clothing trends by telling the youth its okay to dress how they feel so long as they are coming to church, they are also teaching it is okay to obey only those commandments and /or church policies they feel comfortable with.”

    It sounds like you are telling people it’s ok to dress in a way that is against the current EFY dress code. The EFY dress code says no leggings (not just for the fancy/church dress occasions, but even for the “sports activity” portions), yet you say there’s nothing wrong with it. Do you think your opinion that the book outfit is fine, if shared with youth, would indirectly teach them that it is okay to obey only those commandments/policies that make sense to you?

  117. When I made the first comment, I was thinking of the Sunday ‘short-skirt-and-leggings’ debate which I don’t think is appropriate.

    The EFY handbook refers to leggings as:

    “Leggings” are not considered appropriate for “Sunday or Best Dress” at EFY. Please also be aware that the wearing of “leggings” does not allow for any exceptions to the Especially for Youth Dress and Appearance policy.”

    This statement talks about ‘Sunday or Best Dress’ but does not specifically mention sports activities. Although, on reflection, the ‘does not allow for any exceptions to the EFY Dress and Appearance policy’ might just take that in to consideration.

    If this is the case, then I stand corrected and would need to recant that statement.

  118. Thanks for the follow-up!

    For what it’s worth, I don’t think you need to “recant” your statement that you personally don’t have a problem with the book photo outfit. I think members can feel free to have opinions on aesthetics that are different from whatever the current EFY policy happens to be on some small details, even if they like and support the EFY guidelines generally. Being a true disciple doesn’t mean not having your own opinions! And anyway EFY policy is not like eternal doctrine, even though it may be very useful for its purpose of keeping an orderly, happy week for the youth.

  119. And speaking of BYU-Idaho:


    When I first saw the article, I thought it was satire. But I guess not.

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