Modesty Reflects Discipleship, Commitment, Leaders Say

  By Sarah Jane Weaver, Church News assistant editor

  • 27 March 2013

Members of the auxiliary presidencies say teaching modesty starts in the home and at a young age. Mothers set an example, but fathers and priesthood leaders can also encourage modesty. 

Article Highlights

  • LDS women should have standards of beauty and dress distinct and different from the world.
  • Teaching modesty starts in the home and is a reflection of our discipleship and inner commitment to the Savior.
  • Knowing that we are children of God affects how we dress and talk and our relationship with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.

“[Modesty] is a condition of the heart. It is an outward manifestation of an inner knowledge and commitment. It is an expression that we understand our identity as daughters of God.” —Elaine S. Dalton, Young Women general president

In a world where movie stars, pop culture, and reality television are defining standards of beauty and dress, Latter-day Saint women should be distinct and different, say general auxiliary leaders of the Church.

The way Latter-day Saint women dress reflects an “outward understanding of an inward commitment,” said Sister Elaine S. Dalton, Young Women general president. Instead of drawing a “line in the sand” regarding what young women should or should not wear, Sister Dalton said it is time that Latter-day Saints draw “a line in their heart. It is believing your body is a temple for your spirit.”

Sister Dalton wants young women to focus on who they are rather than what they look like. “Modesty is often talked of in terms of dress and appearance, but modesty encompasses much more than the outward appearance,” said Sister Dalton. “It is a condition of the heart. It is an outward manifestation of an inner knowledge and commitment. It is an expression that we understand our identity as daughters of God. It is an expression that we know what He expects us to do. It is a declaration of our covenant keeping. A question in the For the Strength of Youth booklet really is the question each of us must consider: “Am I living the way the Lord wants me to live?”

It is important that young people live in a way that they can have the companionship of the Holy Ghost, she said, so they can process the media messages that bombard them and sort good messages and examples from false ones. “Modesty helps [us] qualify for the companionship of the Holy Ghost,” she said. “We should become sensitive to how we feel in certain clothes.”

She wants Latter-day Saint young women to come to know they “are precious.”  “Our message is ‘Love who you are. You don’t need to be like the world. You matter. You are important,’” she said.

Teaching modesty starts in the home and is a reflection of our discipleship, said Sister Linda K. Burton, Relief Society general president. “If we are really deeply converted to the principle of modesty, then it influences not only what we choose to wear but also what we say or view or read. Modest Latter-day Saint women view themselves as ‘distinct and different in happy ways’ from the ways of the world.”

Sister Burton said it is important for parents to teach their children how it feels to have the Holy Ghost and how to respond to feelings He gives them—particularly regarding choices about modesty. “Teach the why,” advised Sister Burton. “The reason why we do these things is we want to be with and become like our Heavenly Father. You can show you are disciples of Jesus Christ and that you love Him by how you treat your body.”

In a world where movie stars, pop culture, and reality television are defining standards of beauty and dress, Latter-day Saint women should be distinct and different, say general auxiliary leaders of the Church.

She urges parents to help their children learn to make good choices. “Sometimes they will make mistakes. But we can help them learn from those mistakes,” she said. “We need to help connect the dots from what we believe to what we do,” said Sister Burton. “We need to ask, ‘What would Jesus do?’ and then answer, ‘I do only things that please Him.’ Modesty surely pleases the Lord. But it requires courage.”

Sister Rosemary M. Wixom said children learn in Primary a strong message of identity: “I am a child of God.” It is time, she added, to start talking about the responsibilities that come with that knowledge. “Because you are a child of God, then what? With that comes the answer: ‘It is how I dress, it is how I talk, it is my relationship with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Because I am a child of God I will reflect His will in all I do.” Sister Wixom emphasized that Church members cannot delegate to the media the teaching of modesty to their children. “Dressing modestly can be a creative challenge,” she added. “But young women today are up to it.”