Freckles in April: Dress Appropriately Please

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Dress Appropriately Please



My husband is still a believing Mormon (along with most of our friends) so I've still sort of got one foot in the church, even though I officially resigned over a year ago. I attend church with my family every other week but generally eschew other activities unless they're geared toward my kids. Last month, though, I noticed a new announcement in the bulletin. The stake organized a running and walking club and the first meeting was the following Saturday. "That's a fun idea," I said as I showed it to Aaron.

I'm always looking for ways to get more cardio in and I seriously considered joining the group heading out that weekend.

Until I got the email.

Aaron forwarded the information from the stake when it showed up in his inbox and it looked fine. All cardio and fitness levels welcome. Here's where we're meeting and the time. This is the route. Bring your own water.

Oh and: dress appropriately please.

dress. appropriately. please.

I guess I've been out of the church long enough now that an adult man telling other adults how to dress struck me as incredibly off-putting. That used to feel normal but now it has effectively snuffed out my interest in the running club. I just don't care to have my clothing policed while I'm running.

Or ever, really.

As a private institution the LDS church has every right to dictate what people can or cannot wear to events. But something to keep in mind: would you rather someone show up in a tank top...

...or not at all?



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20 comments:

  1. I obviously haven't seen the email so I have no opinion on the actual correct interpretation, but couldn't have been a "dress appropriately for the activity we will be doing" type comment? As in, good running shoes, athletic gear instead of jeans, comfortable tops, etc? It just sounds like what I send my young women before we went ice skating to remind them to dress warm...

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    1. It did cross my mind that it could have been a simple reminder to wear clothing appropriate for the activity. But I've gotten a handful of emails from the stake since then and all include a reminder to "dress appropriately please," regardless of the activity. I'm wondering if that's just something this stake has chosen to focus on?

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  2. Don't worry, they don't actually want you there. Remember, church leadership said that feminists are an enemy.

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  3. After reading your post I started reading all your posts categorised as "losing my religion". I find it really interesting. I'm not religious at all (allthough I was baptised as a baby) and know little about the LDS church but I'm an atheist for exactly the same reasons why you have turned your back on your church. I do not judge people for being religious and accept that it brings joy to believe in something greater but I feel The Church does not accept me (and millions of others) and judges me for not believing and that is just wrong.

    Also I can imagine how such a comment about appropiate clothes would put you off.

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    1. Yes to everything you said. I'm totally on board with religion if it's what brings someone joy! But my support ends where judgment begins. If religion leads someone to try and prevent someone else from making choices for themselves, that's where my support ends.

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  4. In high school, my boyfriend was LDS. I'm Catholic and the first time I attended a sacrament meeting with him and his family, I wore pants. You would have thought the devil himself had walked into that meeting because the bishop personally took my boyfriend's father aside and pointedly told him I needed to dress appropriately if I wanted to visit again. And take out my second piercing in my ears. I was 16 years old.

    Needless to say, I never converted, was broken up with because I joined the Army (that made me not marriage material as I was told), and married a liberal Arab Catholic man who rejoices when we wear jeans to Mass. :)

    I get you.

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    1. "I joined the Army (that made me not marriage material as I was told), and married a liberal Arab Catholic man who rejoices when we wear jeans to Mass. :)"

      You. freaking. go. girl.

      I almost included a similar story to yours in my post but ultimately didn't because it's not mine to tell. But a friend's teenage daughter recently went to church in the best dress she had (it hit a few inches above the knee but otherwise kept her covered) and was told by an adult male that she needed to dress more appropriately if she wanted to come to church. The daughter was SO embarrassed and never wants to go back.

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    2. Stories like this frustrate and sadden me. But I have to add in the caveat that not all congregations are like this. I tend to hear about this thing where there are large pockets of concentrated LDS communities where the culture is allowed to grow like this, irrespective of the doctrine. When I lived in Milwaukee, we were just happy to see people in our little inner city branch on Sunday...usually attending in jeans and hoodies in the winter and strapless tops/short skirts in the summer. And who flippin' cared?!?!? None of us. And then just last week in Colorado we went to do youth baptisms and this cute girl who just moved in and is currently in abject poverty was able to come in her sleeveless and short dress, her only one (although we are currently finding some more clothes for her entire family right now since they only have about 2 outfits apiece). And I was so proud that none of the other youth reacted at all and none of the old workers in the temple batted an eye. Everyone was just glad she could make it. So...you win some and lose some, I guess...

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  5. I'm not LDS, but I grew up Protestant in the South- you dress up for church. No mandate, just a cultural thing. I live in WA now, attend a church in the same denomination (Lutheran, ELCA), and it's much less structured. There is always an older woman in a fancy "Easter hat" and like, 20 people wearing Seahawks jerseys- and I totally love it. Our denomination is really trying to push a "come as you are" approach to church and church activities and it's definitely working. I tend to dress up because (and this is the same reasoning my mother gave to me growing up) in my mind, it's about respecting God. I could care less what someone's rules are and I certainly don't care if someone else shows up in jeans. Probably wearing jeans to our Lenten service tonight bc I'm 35 weeks pregnant and have limited options! All this to say, I totally agree. Showing up is more important than what you look like. Sorry your occasional church doesn't view it that way.

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  6. Oh dear! I sat through a Relief Society lesson once where a majority of the women present harped on members that wear tank tops to work out in. There were lots of comments about how wearing garments while working out wasn't bad at all and all I could think was "what kind of exercise do you do?!" Maybe if you're leisurely walking. One lady said she would rather be spiritually fit than physically fit! Anyways, my husband and I made the decision to leave the church at the beginning of this year after several years of struggling with different doctrines/practices and feeling guilty because we felt like we had to be exclusive to the world around us because of our religion. It was terrifying and hard at first - especially because we have 4 kids that were pretty confused - but we are in such a good place as a family now! And now I don't have to feel like a bad person because I wear a tank top while running a half marathon, hahaha

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  7. Ugh. I wish everyone could be in my ward/stake. And I'm really glad I don't live in certain pockets of Mormondom.

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    1. Seriiously, girl. We're getting ready to move to UT in May and I'm just bracing myself. It's not about the culture for me, it's the doctrine. I know what I know and if I'm living it to the best of my ability, that's what counts.

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  8. As someone who left the faith I grew up in, I just want to commend you for your efforts to still engage for the sake of your family. I wonder if I would be as gracious and strong under these conditions as you are? I can't imagine walking back into a church every other week at this point in my life. I admire you!

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  9. Ugh. That frustrates me too. It's another part of the reason I am so reluctant to leave the ward I am in. I've found t he greatest, most Christlike ward in the church I think. Very open to discussing the things people are struggling with, and very welcoming to all who choose to come. It is pretty amazing. A little sceeered to leave.

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  10. I'm in a very similar boat. My husband is still active, my children attend with him. There was a swimming activity. This is copied and pasted from the invitation: "Bathing suits should be modest: No revealing tops or bare midriffs for women/girls, and no tight fitting suits for men/boys."
    Needless to say we didn't go. I can't understand that swimming makes my shoulders, legs and back OK but heaven forbid anyone see my belly button? Body image issues because of so called "modesty" is on my list of reasons why I'm in therapy.

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    1. "So guys' belly buttons are ok to see, but not womens'? Eff that."
      That has been my conclusion to the whole "bikini debate" amongst my fellow mormon women in the blogging world a few years back. I grew up thinking bikinis were the worst thing you could wear and now I question why it's acceptable in mormon culture for men to be completely topless while swimming?? I couldn't care less about who's wearing what to the pool/beach now.

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  11. I'm European and if a notice like that shows up in an invitation for a walk, this would mean: wear walking shoes instead of high heels and maybe long sleeves if you go to a mosquito-infested swamp or something.
    I totally get you, anyone with a mind of their own should be able to choose what he or she is wearing, adapted for the purpose of that activity.

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  12. "would you rather someone show up in a tank top...or not at all?"

    Nailed it.

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  13. This is so interesting...There was a previous comment about "Pockets of Mormondom", and I am so curious about that. I am in a very liberal area of Southern California. Our ward has exercise groups, and we all come in tank tops and tiny shorts--because we are going to get freakin' sweaty. We have a large group of female members who only ever wear pants, and they are always embraced. I love the quote from a bishop that said, "The best smell in Sacrament is cigarette smoke, because those are the people who need to be in Sacrament." I often wonder about how my life would be different if I grew up around a lot of judgy members, instead of our tiny, open ward.

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