another modesty post -- apologies in advance

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Fifi de la Vergne
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another modesty post -- apologies in advance

Post by Fifi de la Vergne » Wed Jun 13, 2018 10:17 am

I'm sick of the topic, I really am. On the other hand, I have a 17-year-old daughter and we are in the thick of it. And I don't have all the answers: in truth I find myself pretty conflicted.

DH decided about a year ago that without me supporting him he couldn't police DD's clothing anymore. Consequently, she has adapted a very "worldly" wardrobe: short shorts, cold shoulders, a bikini. She's a reasonably pretty girl with an attractive figure, and she gets noticed. This drives her dad nuts. The thing is I myself don't like it when he tells me that he's overheard our neighbors talking about her after she's been out mowing the lawn! I talked to her 20-year-old brother for his perspective, which is that she's not dressing provocatively whatever that means and for whatever it's worth. She dresses like most other 17-year-old girls who aren't mormon.

I have these long conversations with myself where I just go in circles. I've seen men leer at women who were wearing something short or sheer or otherwise "revealing" and it made me sick and mad inside. I've also been catcalled and heard myself commented on (this would be many many years ago) in situations where I was not dressed "immodestly" and I felt sick and angry then too.

I don't think DD is dressing for attention. I don't know that she thinks about it -- except when she dresses up to go to a dance with her boyfriend. She hated the knee length shorts and the ugly tops she felt stuck with when we struggled to find her stuff that fit with mormon standards. She is happier and feels much better about herself now that she can dress normally. I don't want to undermine her new-found confidence -- but am I exposing her to attention by not talking to her about the kind of attention she may be getting?

Another thing that bugs me: I can't tell from DH's comments if he actually feels the men who made the remarks are wrong for saying them or if he thinks DD is wrong for stirring them up. I did ask him if he had said anything to our neighbors and of course he hadn't. :(

As long as this post is, I've deleted over half of what I wrote. I hate the conflict with DH. I hate the idea of older men leering at my daughter. I hate the idea of telling her that to be safe from those leers she needs to wear unfashionable, ugly clothes (and I don't believe it anyway).

I'm interested in thoughts from both the men and women on this forum. Does anyone feel like they navigated this reasonably successfully?
Joy is the emotional expression of the courageous Yes to one's own true being.

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Jeffret
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Re: another modesty post -- apologies in advance

Post by Jeffret » Wed Jun 13, 2018 11:09 am

I'd suggest to relax and not worry about it. Easier said than done, I know. If she's 17 she's probably already pretty aware of the issues. Awareness is one thing. She probably just doesn't prioritize some of them as high as you do. Or as your husband does. Or she's more concerned or interested in other things.

One of our daughters grew up in gymnastics. We called the gym her home away from home. She's got the athlete's thin build though she's average height -- tall for a gymnast. She learned to be comfortable in leotards so she kind of carried that over to her daily clothing choices. In the summer she'll wear tight tank tops and short shorts. But she doesn't do it to be provocative. We had some Mormon parents mention to us how they wished their girls dressed as modestly as ours. The difference is that she wasn't doing it to attract sexual attention, unlike their daughters who followed the Mormon rules to the letter but not the spirit.

Our younger daughter has a very different build -- definitely full figured. She chooses to dress very differently. I know she's been aware of many of the issues that concern you since her tweens.
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Re: another modesty post -- apologies in advance

Post by Red Ryder » Wed Jun 13, 2018 11:34 am

I have a DD the same age and have come to a reasonably healthy place with this from a father's perspective. Probably by realizing a few universal themes that are constant and evident from a nature/nurture perspective. First, understand that biology and sexual attraction dictates men and women ogling each other. It's in our genes. It's how we begin the selection and mating practice that ensures the continuation of our species. Regardless of attire, humans will be attracted to each other.

Second, I realized that I would rather raise my daughter to be mentally healthy and confident with her self esteem rather than fight fashion trends that will come and go or she'll grow out of. What does it do to her psyche if her own father is constantly harping on her to dress modestly?

Your husband's attitude is immature and only enforces rather than educates. Ask your husband if he thinks it is better to spend your emotional energy fighting or educating? Educating your teen is an investment in HER that develops character that she will carry with her into adulthood. The Gardner vs Carpenter analogy used on the other thread is a perfect example.

(Note: I started to write out all of things we focus on teaching our daughter (no means no, etc. but don't think that's necessary to make my point.)

Let's focus on a few things you've said:
She dresses like most other 17-year-old girls who aren't mormon.
This Kids will be kids and are a product of their generation. Eventually she will grow out of (both figuratively and literally) of most of her clothing choices. One of the funniest things we like to do with our daughter is to point out the old lady/grandma that still dresses like a 17 year old with her saggy ass cheeks and droopy boobs hanging out. It always gets a laugh and look of disgust from our daughter but also makes her aware that some things just aren't meant for grown ups.
I don't think DD is dressing for attention. I don't know that she thinks about it.
<snip>
She is happier and feels much better about herself now that she can dress normally. I don't want to undermine her new-found confidence -- but am I exposing her to attention by not talking to her about the kind of attention she may be getting?
You can't be "exposing" her to attention that you yourself can't control. If you dress her in a burka she's still going to get attention. Teach her that there is an appropriate time and place for certain outfits such as a job. My daughter works retail and since getting her job her wardrobe has changed dramatically. she now buys clothes that she knows she can wear to work because she spends more time working than just hanging out. That's part of growing up.

It sucks being a parent because we feel so inadequate and there's a lot of stuff kids need to learn as they grow up. That comes with time and a ton of love. Fife, if your daughter has you as her mother for the rest of her life she will be just fine! You're doing your best!
Those who do not move do not notice their chains. —Rosa Luxemburg

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Mormorrisey
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Re: another modesty post -- apologies in advance

Post by Mormorrisey » Wed Jun 13, 2018 12:47 pm

No need to apologize, these are important ideas.

And I've struggled with this too as a Dad with daughters. I've always told my kids that what they wear should express themselves, but also to be careful of becoming an object - not that it's their responsibility for boys' thoughts, I think that's horrible shaming in Mormon culture, but not to objectify themselves either. It's a balancing act to me between these ideas.

And I have to be honest, this is where Sis M. shines, and I give her all the credit in the world, how we avoided the ofttimes painful battleground that is modesty and clothing. You see, when my wife was growing up, she had Mormon Nazi parents who forced modesty upon her, and she wore long dresses to high school. Instead of inflicting this upon her children, she ensured that while they dressed modestly, they would also follow the latest fashions as much as possible, and as our budget allowed, which was always tight. This entailed hours and days of searching for the best outfits - she went over and above the call of duty, learning some sewing skills so she could buy fashionable clothes and alter them just a bit, so they would fit her rather low bar of "modesty." Honestly, because my wife was willing to do this, clothes were not a battleground, but an opportunity for my wife and daughters to grow closer together. I'm honestly in awe on how she pulled this off.

But that's what it took, and it wasn't easy, especially as I would groan at our clothing budget! But Sis M. managed to appease all of us, my cheapness, my daughters weren't objectified, but they were confident and looked good in the clothes they wore. And some even looked a little sketchy to me, a little tight sometimes, but my goodness I couldn't complain that they hit the middle way between real revealing clothing and the stupid Mormon layers. I honestly have a lot of appreciation on how my wife dealt with this challenging topic. I don't know if this helps, but that's my experience.
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MerrieMiss
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Re: another modesty post -- apologies in advance

Post by MerrieMiss » Wed Jun 13, 2018 3:23 pm

I don’t have a lot in the way of advice. I have all boys and they’re still young – if anything, I’ll be having a similar battle with my husband in a few years over the other “M” word. And I am not looking forward to that – hopefully there’s enough time before then that we can come to a more mutually agreeable opinion on the subject.

I understand the going around in circles about it. There is a balancing act in dressing for one’s self and understanding that what one wears does send a message – I think in our excitement to dislike so much about the church the truth of that is often lost. I do not know how one helps a youth understand that. Sometimes I notice there are plenty of adults who don’t seem to understand it. And making a young girl wear frumpy clothing really does terrible things to her dignity and self-respect. I think that sends a message and often makes such girls/women targets for men/boys who will treat them poorly.

When I was a teen, shorts and sleeveless shirts were okay – things have definitely become more strict since then. However, there were a few times my dad and I argued over my clothes and the family still has some good laughs over the ridiculous arguments my dad and I had. There was one time when he crossed the line and made a poor parenting choice. He regretted it within the hour, and although he’s the stoic type and rarely apologizes, he did something enormously kind right then and there which I appreciated at the time, and I appreciate even more as a parent and adult. Sometimes as a parent you get frustrated, angry, scared and act out impulsively in ways you later regret. What was beneficial in that particular interaction was that even though we had the argument (in which he won the battle, but not the war), he softened and we had a very positive interaction to help mitigate any damage done (which made it more a of a mutual win-win situation for both of us). Mistakes will be made on both sides, but hopefully love and understanding always come through.
The true opposite of order is not disorder but freedom. Most profoundly, the true opposite of control is not chaos but self-control. -Jay Griffiths

Thoughtful
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Re: another modesty post -- apologies in advance

Post by Thoughtful » Wed Jun 13, 2018 10:51 pm

Timely thread for me, I'm in a similar conundrum with my DD. A male relative told Spouseman that our daughter is giving his sons bad thoughts. Spouseman told him to butt out and teach his boys to take responsibility for their own behavior instead of blaming a younger girl.

Anyhow, my daughter has been dressing fairly provacatively. She has modified appropriate clothing to make it more provocative. She is doing it, along with several other behaviors that are concerning, to rebel a little and has even said that "everyone makes mistakes, so it's OK if I do it too (on purpose)" And yes, she said the "on purpose" part. I have been emphasizing for several years now that her responsibility is to dress appropriately for the activities she attends. Volleyball booty shorts are appropriate in a volleyball game, swimsuit on the beach--but if you're diving you don't want something that's going to come off when you dive in, etc. However, for school, she is expected to follow the dress code. She's expected to be reasonable about what she is wearing relative to where she is going. She is not getting it, at all. Spouseman and I are fairly progressive, open minded, and rational about parenting. She's determined to rebel anyway it seems like, and I do feel like the clothing she is choosing is trying to be fairly sexualized and isn't appropriate for the activities she is choosing. I feel like having hemline rules is actually a lot easier than trying to teach a teenager to thoughtfully choose her clothing with regard to how she feels in an activity. Her language has been similarly inappropriate. She says she is joking, but says things for shock and awe that imply things about her behavior that are not true. Since she seems to be seeking a lot of attention, we are working on ignoring what we can ignore and plugging in additional attention for what she is doing right.

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Re: another modesty post -- apologies in advance

Post by Reuben » Thu Jun 14, 2018 1:43 pm

Thoughtful wrote:
Wed Jun 13, 2018 10:51 pm
I feel like having hemline rules is actually a lot easier than trying to teach a teenager to thoughtfully choose her clothing with regard to how she feels in an activity.
Any chance she would better observe the rules if it were easier for her to determine whether she was breaking them?
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Fifi de la Vergne
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Re: another modesty post -- apologies in advance

Post by Fifi de la Vergne » Thu Jun 14, 2018 2:00 pm

One of the weird dynamics (or I don't know, maybe not so unusual) is that DH gets really wound up about things like this, and then I feel like the sky is caving in, or the apocalypse is imminent or something. (I learned recently that this is called low distress tolerance.) Anyway, it's so helpful to get input from outsiders who have a healthier perspective.
Mormorrisey wrote:
Wed Jun 13, 2018 12:47 pm
And I have to be honest, this is where Sis M. shines, and I give her all the credit in the world, how we avoided the ofttimes painful battleground that is modesty and clothing. You see, when my wife was growing up, she had Mormon Nazi parents who forced modesty upon her, and she wore long dresses to high school. Instead of inflicting this upon her children, she ensured that while they dressed modestly, they would also follow the latest fashions as much as possible, and as our budget allowed, which was always tight. This entailed hours and days of searching for the best outfits - she went over and above the call of duty, learning some sewing skills so she could buy fashionable clothes and alter them just a bit, so they would fit her rather low bar of "modesty." Honestly, because my wife was willing to do this, clothes were not a battleground, but an opportunity for my wife and daughters to grow closer together. I'm honestly in awe on how she pulled this off.
Mormorissey, I'm glad you appreciate what an amazing wife you have. :D That's totally impressive, and I would never be able to make it work -- even though I sew!
Red Ryder wrote:
Wed Jun 13, 2018 11:34 am
I have a DD the same age and have come to a reasonably healthy place with this from a father's perspective. Probably by realizing a few universal themes that are constant and evident from a nature/nurture perspective. First, understand that biology and sexual attraction dictates men and women ogling each other. It's in our genes. It's how we begin the selection and mating practice that ensures the continuation of our species. Regardless of attire, humans will be attracted to each other.

Second, I realized that I would rather raise my daughter to be mentally healthy and confident with her self esteem rather than fight fashion trends that will come and go or she'll grow out of. What does it do to her psyche if her own father is constantly harping on her to dress modestly?
<snip>
You can't be "exposing" her to attention that you yourself can't control. If you dress her in a burka she's still going to get attention. Teach her that there is an appropriate time and place for certain outfits such as a job. My daughter works retail and since getting her job her wardrobe has changed dramatically. she now buys clothes that she knows she can wear to work because she spends more time working than just hanging out. That's part of growing up.
I always appreciate your comments, RR. Sometimes I just need to lighten up. Everything you said struck me as true -- and she outgrew the blue hair and EMO stage, so it's reasonable to believe that she will continue to mature.
Joy is the emotional expression of the courageous Yes to one's own true being.

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Fifi de la Vergne
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Re: another modesty post -- apologies in advance

Post by Fifi de la Vergne » Thu Jun 14, 2018 2:15 pm

MerrieMiss wrote:
Wed Jun 13, 2018 3:23 pm
There is a balancing act in dressing for one’s self and understanding that what one wears does send a message – I think in our excitement to dislike so much about the church the truth of that is often lost. I do not know how one helps a youth understand that. Sometimes I notice there are plenty of adults who don’t seem to understand it. And making a young girl wear frumpy clothing really does terrible things to her dignity and self-respect. I think that sends a message and often makes such girls/women targets for men/boys who will treat them poorly.
This is why I circle around and around -- clothing choices do send a message and somehow we need to teach that without shaming or framing it as a morality issue. Like so many other things in life, it's about balance.
Thoughtful wrote:
Wed Jun 13, 2018 10:51 pm
Timely thread for me, I'm in a similar conundrum with my DD. A male relative told Spouseman that our daughter is giving his sons bad thoughts. Spouseman told him to butt out and teach his boys to take responsibility for their own behavior instead of blaming a younger girl.
Oof. I think your husband's advice was spot-on.
Jeffret wrote:
Wed Jun 13, 2018 11:09 am
I'd suggest to relax and not worry about it. Easier said than done, I know. If she's 17 she's probably already pretty aware of the issues. Awareness is one thing. She probably just doesn't prioritize some of them as high as you do. Or as your husband does. Or she's more concerned or interested in other things.
I think you're probably right. It only becomes a problem for her when her dad gets on her case.
Joy is the emotional expression of the courageous Yes to one's own true being.

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Re: another modesty post -- apologies in advance

Post by foolmeonce » Thu Jun 14, 2018 2:29 pm

As a dad of a very pretty 14 year old girl, I struggle with this myself. When we transitioned, DD was a nervous introvert looking forward turning 12 and going to the temple, and eventually getting married there as soon as she could. ::shudder::

My personal big concession on pulling the temple away from her a mere 10 months before she could finally go, was to support her in as much as I could in all other areas. Once we left, she immediately blew past the Mormon dress code boundaries and started wearing make up and sporting sleeveless shirts. As a recovering Mormon dad, this was hard because "if I let her get away with this, then she'll eventually ::blah blah blah blah::." I worked through it by doing a lot of smiling, telling her that she looked nice, keeping my thoughts on modestly and appropriate dress for girls to myself, and being VERY thankful that our whole family was transitioning. In that context, female dress code was a relatively small deal, and one that I'm not really qualified for anyway, so I've turned the department over 100% to my wife (as if it were mine to turn over in the first place. HA!)

Three years later, she's more confident, outgoing, and healthy than she's ever been, and I have a much better relationship with her than I ever would have had in the Church. She's now VERY conscientious of her appearance, and fits in well with other kids her age. I don't love everything she wears, I really didn't like seeing her in a 2 piece bathing suit, but I don't know how much of that comes from my Mormon upbringing and how much of it comes from just being a dad. Either way, I support her and let her grow into her own woman.
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Re: another modesty post -- apologies in advance

Post by RubinHighlander » Thu Jun 14, 2018 3:35 pm

Fifi de la Vergne wrote:
Wed Jun 13, 2018 10:17 am
I'm sick of the topic, I really am. On the other hand, I have a 17-year-old daughter and we are in the thick of it. And I don't have all the answers: in truth I find myself pretty conflicted.
Amen to this! But since we've been out of the church it hasn't been much easier. We can't bring ourselves to let our 16 yo walk out the door looking trashy or showing a bunch of cleavage. Yes the standards have relaxed a bit from the church days, but DD is a knock out with DD on the top, so it's already difficult for her to not get a lot of attention, even with normal cloths. Although she still tries to push the boundaries sometimes, she's also become smarter and realized that the attention getting clothing is not worth the drama and unwanted attention it draws at school. She's learned about drama the hard way and has been through enough crap, especially in Jr. High., that she makes and effort to dress down for high school now...most of the time.

For the last prom we found a great dress that was sleeveless, lots of back exposure, but not too low. There were a number of TBM friends posting pics of their daughters prom dresses on Instagram and there were some that we would not have let our DD ware.

I realize at that age it's difficult not to want attention and recognition for your looks. I'm so looking forward to when the public school days are over; 2 more years!
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Reuben
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Re: another modesty post -- apologies in advance

Post by Reuben » Thu Jun 14, 2018 5:08 pm

Fifi de la Vergne wrote:
Thu Jun 14, 2018 2:15 pm
This is why I circle around and around -- clothing choices do send a message and somehow we need to teach that without shaming or framing it as a morality issue. Like so many other things in life, it's about balance.
I've been wondering about this, too. Here's what I've got so far as instructions for my kids.

1. Clothing choice is about how people regard you. Decide what you want people to know about you, and then dress to say that.

2. If someone has sexy thoughts about you, that's totally normal and up to them to deal with.

3. There's nothing universal about which skin is okay to show, except that humans everywhere tend to cover their privates in public. So choose what you want to say with your clothing based on the local culture's norms for the activity you're doing.

In support of #2, we've managed to teach against thought-action equivalence to the point where our kids don't regard any thoughts as sinful. I'm hoping this removes the motivation to take responsibility for others' thoughts.

In support of #3, I've got a great (and true) story about an anthropologist who lived with African natives. The native men wore only a penis sheath tied on with a string. Once, when the men went swimming, he finally decided to strip down, and then jumped in with them. They were mortified because he was naked.
Not all those who wander are lost.

Thoughtful
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Re: another modesty post -- apologies in advance

Post by Thoughtful » Sun Jun 17, 2018 9:04 am

Reuben wrote:
Thu Jun 14, 2018 1:43 pm
Any chance she would better observe the rules if it were easier for her to determine whether she was breaking them?
I think that since I wrote my original reply on a particularly rough day, things have improved. One positive was her medical doctor actually confronted some of her cognitive distortions, the shock and awe comments, and reinforced what we've been saying (about other behaviour, aside from clothing). Sometimes hearing it from someone else helps. It wasn't planned and we didn't put him up to it, but I was grateful he said something.

Additionally, I'm meeting with her therapist next week to discuss some other factors playing in here. We are focusing on improving her communication and problem solving skills (I want my kids to be able to think critically instead of just how a list of rules)-- this week we've been just discussing a variety of outfits and letting her express her perspective on what kinds of things are coveyed with particular clothing or language choices.

Thoughtful
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Re: another modesty post -- apologies in advance

Post by Thoughtful » Sun Jun 17, 2018 9:07 am

RubinHighlander wrote:
Thu Jun 14, 2018 3:35 pm
Fifi de la Vergne wrote:
Wed Jun 13, 2018 10:17 am
I'm sick of the topic, I really am. On the other hand, I have a 17-year-old daughter and we are in the thick of it. And I don't have all the answers: in truth I find myself pretty conflicted.
Amen to this! But since we've been out of the church it hasn't been much easier. We can't bring ourselves to let our 16 yo walk out the door looking trashy or showing a bunch of cleavage. Yes the standards have relaxed a bit from the church days, but DD is a knock out with DD on the top, so it's already difficult for her to not get a lot of attention, even with normal cloths. Although she still tries to push the boundaries sometimes, she's also become smarter and realized that the attention getting clothing is not worth the drama and unwanted attention it draws at school. She's learned about drama the hard way and has been through enough crap, especially in Jr. High., that she makes and effort to dress down for high school now...most of the time.

For the last prom we found a great dress that was sleeveless, lots of back exposure, but not too low. There were a number of TBM friends posting pics of their daughters prom dresses on Instagram and there were some that we would not have let our DD ware.

I realize at that age it's difficult not to want attention and recognition for your looks. I'm so looking forward to when the public school days are over; 2 more years!
foolmeonce wrote:
Thu Jun 14, 2018 2:29 pm
As a dad of a very pretty 14 year old girl, I struggle with this myself. When we transitioned, DD was a nervous introvert looking forward turning 12 and going to the temple, and eventually getting married there as soon as she could. ::shudder::

My personal big concession on pulling the temple away from her a mere 10 months before she could finally go, was to support her in as much as I could in all other areas. Once we left, she immediately blew past the Mormon dress code boundaries and started wearing make up and sporting sleeveless shirts. As a recovering Mormon dad, this was hard because "if I let her get away with this, then she'll eventually ::blah blah blah blah::." I worked through it by doing a lot of smiling, telling her that she looked nice, keeping my thoughts on modestly and appropriate dress for girls to myself, and being VERY thankful that our whole family was transitioning. In that context, female dress code was a relatively small deal, and one that I'm not really qualified for anyway, so I've turned the department over 100% to my wife (as if it were mine to turn over in the first place. HA!)

Three years later, she's more confident, outgoing, and healthy than she's ever been, and I have a much better relationship with her than I ever would have had in the Church. She's now VERY conscientious of her appearance, and fits in well with other kids her age. I don't love everything she wears, I really didn't like seeing her in a 2 piece bathing suit, but I don't know how much of that comes from my Mormon upbringing and how much of it comes from just being a dad. Either way, I support her and let her grow into her own woman.
Thanks folks, these responses help me feel like I'm on the right track and it will work out, with patience and consistency.

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