Guest post by Desiree Chavez
I recently went to the temple to do some baptisms for my friend’s family. Instead of feeling the peace of the temple or focusing on connecting with the Spirit, I spent my time over thinking the length of my dress. I noticed other girls or woman at the temple all wore dresses which were at least a bit over their knees. Mine barely touched just above the knee. With an anxious whisper, I leaned over to my guy friend to ask, “is my dress too short?” Automatically giving me a quizzical look he replied with, “You’re fine. Don’t even worry about it.” Once the temple workers came in the waiting room to escort us, I instinctively started to pull my dress down as we stood up. As if the dress would magically grow a couple inches longer. I was worried about receiving glances at the length of my dress because I wasn’t modest enough in the House of the Lord.
I noticed that as my time progressed in becoming more familiar with Mormon culture, I started to become more obsessed with the clothes I was wearing and if it was covering me up enough. I would try on different dresses on Sunday morning and the first thing I’d check for is to see if they were long enough.
I also found that with time passing, the gap between the worlds I lived in was becoming wider. Like one foot was in my life pre-convert and the other was in post-convert and as the gap became wider, I was forced to do the splits: something I didn’t work up to. I’d have friends who say, “Why do you dress like that? You’re so sexually repressed.” And on the other side of the spectrum, I’d have people tell me, “You skirt length is a little too short here. You probably can wear that out with friends but not here at church”. In my mind I was thinking, “I just wear what I feel comfortable in. Some days I just throw on sweats and other days I dress all girly and attractive for my own sake.”
The emphasis I want to make with this picture is that, one can’t judge a person by the length of whatever they are wearing. You never know the circumstances. I believe that while assessing a situation, one must take everything in context. For example. What if a woman chose to wear her dress down to her ankles because she has swollen ankles? Or what if a girl is wearing a short skirt because she deals with sexual abuse at home. Or what if she is wearing a cute skirt to not tempt those poor Mormon boys but to just enjoy her own female sexuality. Or what if a girl chose to wear what she’s wearing because she just wants to wear it. It really can be as simple as that.
While I personally do believe that dressing modestly is my best way to represent how I’m confident in myself and don’t feel the need to show off my goods, I still have no right to make an assumption about somebody’s character because of what they wear.
I also want to raise awareness in how girls in general overthink about their bodies. Our bodies are a beautiful gift given to us from our loving Heavenly Father. Not something we should be ashamed of. Or something we should hide.
The length of my dress/skirt does not define me. What defines me is how I attempt, to the best of my abilities, to show Christ like love to everybody in my life, no matter who they are.