Response to Previous Post

This is my fifth semester here at BYU, and this is the first modesty note I’ve received.  For the most part, BYU men are the most respectful, sweet guys who as a whole are pretty good at controlling their own thoughts.  The periodicals guy was an exception.

HOWEVER, this modesty policing is not an isolated incident.  I’ve heard too many stories (always from girls) of invasive notes calling them out for borderline dress code infractions. 

Was my shirt immodest?  Maybe technically (although I maintain that it’s not).  Did my wearing it merit a humiliating note?  Absolutely not.

I love both LDS doctrine and (for the most part) LDS culture.  I have no problem with the modesty standards either- I just feel that the enforcement of modesty is sometimes a little overzealous and one-sided. Also, I want to point out that unnecessary modesty shaming happens everywhere, not just in Utah.

To the people who suggest that the man was just looking innocently: He was gaping with a kind of slack-jawed transfixion I thought only existed in movies.  It took several moments for me to even be able to make eye contact because he was so focused.
 
Some have commented that my shirt is inappropriately sheer. I disagree. I have worn this shirt a lot in the 2 years since I’ve gotten it, and I have never once noticed it being see-through. You would have to be focused pretty hard on my chest to see anything. Besides, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a guy’s garments through his shirt. And you know what I do in this situation? I look away. Take note, people.

Something many people may not know is that breast size fluctuates greatly (up to one or two cup sizes) depending on hormone levels, and this change can happen quickly. A shirt that is modest in the morning can become scandalous by afternoon. If you see a girl busting out of her top, assume that her estrogen spiked unexpectedly. (Or that she just gained some weight and hasn’t had the time or can’t afford to buy a new wardrobe, or that clothing stores don’t offer sizes that sufficiently cover her, or ideally that her body is none of your darn business.)

I chose to remain anonymous.  Because of this, some have insinuated that I am not actually a BYU student.  Here is a photo of the blue shirt (don’t mind the ink smudge) with my BYU ID:

Image

 

And here is a closeup on the ID: (note that it says “Student” beneath my covered picture)

 

Image

I’m new to Photoshop, but I blocked out my ID number. It says “Student” and that it will expire in 2016.

I

 

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17 thoughts on “Response to Previous Post

  1. Just wanted to let you know that I enjoyed your previous post, and feel almost embarrassed that I had never thought of the course of action suggested in the post. Being a graduate from BYU, 2002 and 2013, have seen how many young men see women as the holders of the morality for both men and women. I have talked to some that when the come out of Utah Valley and see a women without sleeves or with a shorter skirt already think less of them. At what point do these men forget that all women are daughters of God, regardless of what they wear.
    Thank you for putting the burden back on the guy looking down your shirt, and more on the guy looking down on you. Hope you have a wonderful experience at BYU, it really is a great place. Especially if it continues to have people like you.

  2. I can’t stay silent .. I just want you to know I agree with you 100% it is so sad to me that these women even are defending the men who are puting blame and shame on the women who in their eyes are tempting them. Ridiculous! It is sad that in our church our parents tend to focus on oh don’t dress like that the boys will look at you. When we should be saying dress to respect yourself. And treat it as a temple. Done. Simple as that. But we shame our girls into thinking if we dress a certain way then we’ll get into trouble with boys. And then it’s like giving these boys permission to put the responsibility on us if they have a bad thought. Pathetic . Take responsibility for your thoughts! What we wear is not forcing you too have bad thoughts. I am with you. And I defend you.
    I was just talking to my husband and he even said he was taught that way. Always heard girls to dress modestly for boys. That always irked me as a teenager. For good reason

  3. Just so ya know, you can kind of see your student ID # in the first photo of the ID with your shirt. Granted, it is a bit blurry, but you can kind of see it. If you blocked out your ID # in your second photo, you might want to do so in the second.

    Feel free to delete this comment. I respect your desire to remain anonymous, so I thought I would give you a heads-up in case this is something that you forgot.

  4. “To the people who suggest that the man was just looking innocently: He was gaping with a kind of slack-jawed transfixion I thought only existed in movies. It took several moments for me to even be able to make eye contact because he was so focused.”

    I’m one of those “people who suggest that the man was just looking innocently” and if you had mentioned the “slack-jawed transfixion” in your previous post, I’m sorry I missed it. Staring at a woman like that isn’t appropriate. I agree that as men we need to be better at controlling where we allow our eyes and thoughts to wander. If someone had a problem with how you dressed, which doesn’t seem inappropriate, because of how someone else is re-acting, maybe they should have passed the note to the person who was being inappropriate.

  5. I know its only half a picture, but you look like you have that good look behind the lens. You ever done modeling? Email me, I’m interested thelooksagency@gmail.com. I’m Eric, obviously we eventually need to see the face haha… entertaining story as well

  6. My daughter just finished her first semester at BYU, and if she’s received one of those little bombs she hasn’t mentioned it – but I’m sure she will. She is outspoken, smart, and not afraid to discuss things that some of her hyper-Molly acquaintances are embarrassed by (like the existence of secondary sex characteristics). We raised her to be a strong and independent daughter of God, not anyone’s paper doll. I hope she does exactly what you’re suggesting and calls people out on their passive-aggressive nonsense.

    By the way, I like your blouse. Out here in my area, that’s practically a nun’s habit. 😉

  7. I just posted on your previous article suggesting that the guy may have been an innocent admirer before finding this article. I now have greater understanding of your frustration…. Unless he was staring through you off into space without paying attention to exactly what he was actually looking at. O.o I would be totally embarrassed over such a misunderstanding.

    Not that I’m trying to excuse this guy. There’s no excuse for him to intentionally stare at your chest in such a way. I will gently suggest again that both men and women have their own responsibilities when it comes to modesty. A man should know that eventually (in our day, frequently) a woman will pass by who doesn’t have the same standards of modesty that he should be looking for in a girl and it will be up to him to look away and remain strong. Women have their own role by not contributing to the problem by not wearing inappropriate clothing, acknowledging that men, even great men of God, can be strongly attacked by the temptation that comes with immodesty. Neither side ought to place the entirety of the blame on the other,

    I reiterate that I find nothing immodest about your shirt.

  8. I wanted to come back and say, it was pretty brave of you to post anything, including a picture, and invite comment from the internet at large.

    I want to reiterate, men need to guard their eyes. It is their job to fight their own lust.

    You were not very kind about the young man in question or the woman who wrote the note.

    If you had had toilet paper hanging out of your jeans, would you have wanted someone to tell you? I know women often need to take friends with them to buy jeans because you just cannot tell how your butt REALLY looks unless you have an honest second observer looking at the full-on from the back. Possibly this girl was trying to be that honest friend. OR she was concern-trolling, which would be very unkind of her.

    But you are asking us to assume the worst of the note-writing girl and the young man, and you keep reiterating that we must think the best of you–that the shirt is perfectly modest, that you are perfectly modest, that if your chest or cleavage or visible yellow bra shows through, that’s NOT YOUR FAULT, and if it were, nobody is supposed to look at it. You are asking us to give you the benefit of the doubt that you are not extending to others. You sound very sensitive to the quality of the gaze of the young man, but you refuse to be sensitive to what other people think of your shirt.

    Let me ask you this: what if the girl in question, instead of writing a fairly kind note, rolled her eyes and got up in a huff? What if the young man, instead of staring, had quickly covered his eyes, hastily grabbed his books while averting his gaze, and quickly moved to another table where he wouldn’t have to look at you? What would you have thought, felt, or done then?

    I feel bad for guys. I’m a girl, and I’m not bi or lesbian, but if a nice-looking girl shows a little too much skin, even I find myself looking. Listen, that’s how the fashion industry wants it. That’s how standard shirts are sewn. The assumption is that we want to show off our breasts and attract attention. Even if that’s not where your heart was, that is where your breasts were. The shirt is not horrendous; I have seen far worse; as far as modesty goes it’s a B-. And I should add, besides your visible yellow bra, you have a tan line that directs the eye directly down your cleavage. I’m not saying you did it on purpose, or that you’re some siren temptress trying to ensnare hapless young men to gawk at your chest. But it’s there, and now you know, and the question is, now that you know how it affects other people, what are you going to do with that knowledge?

    Stores and businesses know that for every 10 customers they lose, one customer will give them a reason why they’ve left. It is possible that this incident was that 10% event, but that you might be showing a little too much other times, too, but nobody said anything? The young men who would notice would sure as heck not say anything; look at the two-minute hate the guy you posted about got. I know that as a girl, I can tell a guy, “Hey, put a shirt on!” but guys are not permitted to say, “Whoa, could you maybe cover up a little more?” without being lambasted as some controlling, irresponsible pervert.

    You have just told us about an incident where a young man was caught looking way too long and too hard, and where a girl noticed and noticed your shirt and wrote you a note. I know you feel embarrassed and angry, and I understand; confrontations like that upset me, too. But you missed something important: two total strangers just agreed that your shirt shows too much.

    If you know you have breasts that fluctuate due to hormones then it is your responsibility to handle that. You have the responsibility to wear a layering shirt, or a scarf, or a cute jacket over your suddenly swollen chest, or have bigger shirts that allow for constant fluctuation, or to not wear that shirt on big-breasted days, or you have the responsibility to handle people looking at the skin showing out your shirt. If I see someone with their breasts showing out their shirt, or their butt showing out their pants, I know sometimes it’s because maybe they just put on some weight and can’t afford bigger clothes.

    It’s funny that you mention control. I will say it again: You are the boss of you. You can totally wear whatever shirt you like. However, you are not the boss of other people. They have just as much freedom over their bodies as you do. They can put their eyes where they like. You might want to reexamine your double standard, where you feel you should be able to define what modest is for everyone around you and hold them to that standard (“My shirt is modest so you shouldn’t ogle!”) and yet refuse to be held to anyone else’s standard of modesty.

    If I were the girl writing the note, I would do it with the assumption that you were a girl who was sweet and very nice-looking who was unaware of how you looked in that shirt. My brief impression of you is that you are a smart, feisty person who knows how good you look in your shirt, and you don’t care how other people feel about it. Well, okay then. You know how your shirt looks, and you don’t care. So, why should we care if someone looked, and you didn’t like it? Maybe he knows he was ogling, and doesn’t care how it affects you. You have just as much right to tell him how to behave as he has to tell you, that is, none.

    You do have the opportunity to influence others, though, in what you wear. If you don’t want to be ogled, you may have to change how or when you wear that shirt. No, it’s not fair. You probably really like that shirt. On a smaller-breasted woman, without a bright yellow bra and tan lines, it probably would look pretty blah. OTOH, maybe those other girls would like to look effortlessly great in a basic long-sleeve tee, the way you are able to do. Life isn’t fair, princess. Anyone who tells you anything else is just selling something.

    • This note has me shaking my head. The small minded ignorance is difficult for me to accept.
      Really? Over a shirt?
      Had the girl rolled her eyes and walked away in a huff, or had the guy turned and lowered his eyes in shame, that would have been preferable. They crossed a line when they felt they had a right to tell NYIU how she should be dressed, whether by ogling or by note writing. That right there violates everything Christ has taught. The biggest mistake Mormon’s make is judging others. They do it constantly, for asinine things.
      I am not LDS, I am Catholic. My religion doesn’t ask me to dress a certain way. However I live here in the Salt Lake valley. If I wear a tank top during some of our 100+ degree summer days, and walk past a Mormon guy in the mall, am I now responsible for whatever thoughts he may have? What about when he walks past Victoria’s Secret? Is Adriana Lima now a sinner for making this guy think “impure thoughts?” Or maybe the mall is off limits because their might be temptation there?? Ugh.
      Honestly, some folks need to get a grip. Put that energy into volunteering at a homeless shelter, or learning about Judaism, or Buddhism, or God forbid, Catholicism. All far older, wiser, and much larger religions. It would do good to see that not everything Mormon is absolute, there are quite a few schools of thought out there. All Jesus cares about is you living your best, most honest, most loving life. Without judgement of any of His children.

  9. I am a 3rd year, male student at BYU. The only thing I criticize you on is your opening statement of, ” For the most part, BYU men are the most respectful, sweet guys who as a whole are pretty good at controlling their own thoughts.” In reality, a good faction of the men (and women) at BYU are some of the most judgmental, entitled, hypocritical people I have ever had the displeasure of meeting. To all of those who have judged you on this post, these are my words to them: YOU ALL are at more odds with the teachings and nature of the gospel than any kind of modesty issue. As long as your feet are planted firmly on the ground and you aren’t being translated, you should really think before you cast such judgement. And to the coward who wrote the note: just know that only at a place like BYU could you get away with something like this without getting your face kicked in. I can only hope that people who exemplify love and compassion start to dominate the numbers at BYU, in contrast to the many who represent the opposite ideals of hatred and unwarranted criticism. Worry about making yourself a better person, instead of picking on a girl who wore a COMPLETELY appropriate outfit. I am imperfect as well, but you will never catch me dropping an anonymous judgement on someone’s lap and walking away. If I were you (referring to the girl who wore the shirt), I would buy different colors of the same shirt and wear one everyday.

  10. To the person who just wrote (RB), I am embarrassed to be a part of the same faith that you are a part of. You are judgmental and callous- I acknowledge that you have your freedom of speech, but to act like you know about the situation based on what was written is pathetic. You weren’t there and seeing a picture does not equate to having sufficient knowledge about it. There are so many, TOO many, judgmental people at BYU and in the church in general. What did the girl who delivered the note think she would accomplish? RB- you would probably say that she was trying to help her fellow sister in the gospel to “see the light” and be modest. I would say that she was being a self-righteous, pompous person who easily points out the flaws in others before ever looking inward at her own imperfect self. It was not that girl’s place to go up to the girl who was “dressed immodestly.” It is solely the right of a just, fair God to place any judgment on her, NOT anyone else’s.

    “Let me ask you this: what if the girl in question, instead of writing a fairly kind note, rolled her eyes and got up in a huff? What if the young man, instead of staring, had quickly covered his eyes, hastily grabbed his books while averting his gaze, and quickly moved to another table where he wouldn’t have to look at you? What would you have thought, felt, or done then?” To this I say, WHO THE HECK CARES IF THOSE PEOPLE LEFT AND INDICATED THEY DIDN’T APPROVE OF WHAT THE GIRL WAS WEARING???? If those people had a problem, they could have dealt with it in their own way. They could have placed their unfair judgments and looked down on her all they wanted. It is both of their rights to do that, but the moment the writer of the note started infringing on the rights of the “immodest girl” (I put quotes around the phrase because I couldn’t disagree more about her shirt being immodest) by essentially telling her she was doing something wrong, she was overstepping her bounds.

    “My brief impression of you is that you are a smart, feisty person who knows how good you look in your shirt, and you don’t care how other people feel about it. Well, okay then. You know how your shirt looks, and you don’t care. So, why should we care if someone looked, and you didn’t like it?” JUDGE MUCH?!?! You don’t know this girl at all, yet you are making accusations about what her personality is like and portraying her as being cocky (“you know you look good”). You are telling her that she doesn’t care- how in the world do you even KNOW that? I rejoice in the fact that you are not God and thus, will not be the one in charge of judging the human race. After not even meeting someone, you seem to have a pretty clear idea of who they are at their core.

    “Life isn’t fair, princess. Anyone who tells you anything else is just selling something.” You are so condescending. It’s a good thing you use your keyboard and computer screen as a safety net to hide behind while you say rude comments. Say the things you say and write the things you write, but do not for one second, expect another person to sit back and take it. People in Happy Valley may, but BYU is comprised of LDS people from all over this country/world and MANY of them do not take kindly to the kind of self-righteousness the girl was delivered in a note. MANY people will stand up for themselves and will use their agency to call out the cowards and put them in their place.

  11. Really, the shirt is too sheer. If you can see the color of your bra through a shirt, you should be wearing an undershirt or at least a flesh colored bra. Yeah, it’s not your job to keep people from looking. But people have a tendency to look at things they know are “off.” Like a slightly see through shirt with a brightly colored bra underneath.

  12. I just want to point out that this isn’t a “mormon culture” issue so much as it is a “morons with no social skills” issue (speaking as an active mormon). Idiots who can’t be polite, mind their own business, or appropriately address problems, even real ones, are evenly distributed throughout the population. This is just one of the ways that Mormon morons show their social ineptness. I’m not a girl, but if the same had happened to me, I would have been amused more than offended. Two cents.

  13. I’ve enjoyed your posts so far; thanks for the enlightenment!

    That you maintain your shirt as modest is opinion. Technicality is rule, and opinion is not, nor should it be used as logic. “Was my shirt immodest? Maybe technically (although I maintain that it’s not).”
    I’m thankful for women like you looking out for general modesty and virtue in men and women. The breeze blows in both directions though; asking a man to change his behavior in sexual thought (which is a natural feeling as long as it’s in the bounds of marriage, though not appropriate if not so) is the same as asking a women to change her thought/choice of dress and grooming. Such is an acth of virtue through modesty. By expecting others to ‘look away’ or to ‘just not focus on it’ is ignorance trying to mask the real issue of modesty itself, in exchange for looking “sexy”. Is not “sexy” the exact word from which its derivative comes– Sex? It’s the same issue as women wearing leggings as pants: it’s not appropriate, no matter how we write it off.

    I can’t bring a cake in a partially-covered box to class and scold others for staring at it. 😀

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