When Modesty is a Matter of Life & Death

She may be drowning, but at least she’s modest.

I hate modesty posts.  This is my first modesty post.  I appreciate how it is a big issue with some people, and I think the church often goes overboard, but it’s just not that interesting of a topic to me.  However, I want to share with you a situation that happened with my sister just a few weeks ago.

First a little background.  I have 3 sisters, all 3 very active, temple married, good Mormon girls.  Older two have served in RS presidencies, (one passed away from a brain tumor.)  Third sister just was released as Young Women’s President.  Her ward is a fairly poor ward in Davis County (about 20 min north of Salt Lake City), with lots of inactive young men and women.  It’s all she can do to get these inactive girls to come to church, and she has put in a lot of effort to do that.  Now comes Girl’s Camp, and since the stake is in charge, they make the (stupid) rule that all swimsuits must be covered by a t-shirt, all in the name of modesty.  Mind you there are no boys around, because it is GIRLS CAMP.  No boys allowed, except for the obligatory bishopric/stake presidency members.

My sister is sitting on the beach with one of her counselors and the Stake Young Women’s president.  They notice a girl who seems to be struggling in the water a bit, probably due to this stupid t-shirt that makes it even harder to swim.  They are looking on concerned, and the counselor is a life guard and she thinks it’s probably time to do a water rescue.  Instinctively, she attempts to pull off her shirt to do a rescue swim, and the Stake YW President tells her not to take off the t-shirt in the name of modesty.  Who cares if this young girl dies (or the rescuer) because they are literally drowning in modesty?

If I were in that situation, I think I would not have held my composure and yelled “F-U, I’m saving this girl’s life.”  Feel free to release me after I save this girl’s life.  I mean really, this is a safety issue.  Everyone knows it’s not a good idea to swim with your clothes on, as you get waterlogged and it is much more difficult to swim.  This is especially true if you are trying to save a drowning victim who is likely panicking and thrashing around.  I’m no lifeguard, but jeez, isn’t this common sense?

Now the girl was alright.  No rescue was needed, but my Hell, this is a stupid, and potentially life threatening rule of modest stupidity.  Or to rephrase, this is SEVERE, LIFE-THREATENING STUPIDITY, there’s nothing modest about this t-shirt rule.  It needs to go yesterday.  No a decade ago.  No it should never have been implemented anywhere, at any time.  It’s stupid and serves no worthy purpose.  If you’re going to do a swimming activity, wear a bathing suit without a t-shirt.  Dress appropriately for the activity or don’t allow swimming at all, because people’s lives are potentially at stake.

It seems like common sense, but as Mark Twain once said, “Common sense isn’t always common.”  Modesty should not be an impediment to saving a person’s life.  This is beyond ludicrous.  Please tell me that this kind of stupidity only happens in Utah.  Thoughts?

4 comments on “When Modesty is a Matter of Life & Death

  1. It wasn’t a rule in Idaho when our daughters were in YW. Since all our children competed in USS Swimming on a team & were certified Lifeguards employed by the local pool, being told to wear a t-shirt while swimming would not have flown. Period. Lifeguarding certification manuals would have been pulled out & quoted.

  2. Maybe these certification manuals should be required reading for YW and Stake Presidencies!

  3. Unfortunately, I don’t believe that will help. Perhaps another significant factor was that the stake president at the time was a lawyer.

    However, when a young woman drowns, & her family sues the Church, then the policy will change, because there was a death. In our society, it seems that the cross walk is not justified until a child dies, & the family sues. I don’t believe this will change churchwide until someone sues over a death, and perhaps not even then. look how long it took for Scouting policy to change to two deep leadership, even with multiple lawsuits.

    Policies do vary from stake to stake. One of our daughters, now a physician, was a YW leader at camp in her ward, the year they did a stake camp in southern Washington state. They announced at one of the meetings, a week or so before the camp (insufficient time to make an appointment & get said note) that all girls must participate in their assigned hikes unless they had a note from their physician excusing them. She took a prescription pad with her, & did end up writing notes for several girls. The leaders were told they also had to hike unless they had a note; she was 34 weeks pregnant, & her response was “That’s cute – no.” They told her she had to give up her cellphone & she said, “So if one of the girls gets hurt, or falls off a cliff & I need to call in an airlift, I have to hike back to camp first with one of you, so we can unlock the phones, & then call it in well past the Golden Hour? Absolutely not. That is compromised care.” There was some push back, & she pointed out that they wanted her in camp BECAUSE she was a doc. When you choose the doc, you get all of the doc – you don’t get to decide which parts of the doc you take.

  4. Your post reminds me of my own from a few years ago: https://bycommonconsent.com/2013/09/09/drowning-in-modesty-guidelines-at-girls-camp/

    As I mentioned to you elsewhere, the EFY my daughter recently attended had the girls so convinced that they were harlots if they wear shorts that she was sadly planning to never wear them again, even though we were packing to go hiking in the hot summer, and even though we live in AZ where temperatures were averaging between 110 and 115 at the time. These requirements are made by people who are either 1) completely ignorant of health issues, or 2) who literally don’t care because they are so busy trying to demonstrate their superior commitment to righteousness. IMO, they are incredibly foolish and vain people.

    I also recently spoke with the women at Beehive Clothing who were explaining new fabrics and styles that are coming out. I asked about breathability because this is a huge problem in AZ. One of the women said, “Yeah, these aren’t really made for places with extreme temperatures.” I know this to be true from personal experience, and yet, the “requirement” to wear them continues to be ratcheted up. AZ is a place with a fairly high percentage of Mormons. Why are the health needs of women in AZ so completely off the radar? Perhaps because no women have any decision making power and our input is only for “the family.” Nobody cares or understands that these choices pose serious health risks for women.

    What I told my daughter was “YOU matter.” What I think she heard, though, is “My mom is going to hell.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: