On Modesty and Hotness



Ah, the modesty blog post du jour. This one comes by way of Natasha Craig: "Modest is NOT Hottest"  (She argues the opposite. See what she did there? Gotcha!)

For the sake of brevity, I'm just going to gloss over how incredibly subjective modesty and hotness are. Suffice it to say that definitions vary from person to person and culture to culture. Her assumption that the LDS version is best ("keeping your shorts long and necklines high", etc) is not okay.
The guy you are going to want to be with, the guy who will treat you the way you deserve to be treated, is not going to be found with that mini skirt and low cut neckline. Because a guy like that will be saving his eyes only for you and because he is saving his eyes only for you, he will avoid people who make that very hard for him.
This perpeuates the harmful narrative that men are defined by and have no control over their sexual impulses. That there are "good" men and "bad" men and you can tell the difference based on who they're attracted to. It teaches that men cannot be held accountable for their thoughts and actions because c'mon! Ladies. Look at you! Walking sex all around them!

Bullcrap. This is degrading to men and it simultaneously objectifies women. I understand her intentions are benign, but associating worth with appearance is simply wrong. A woman's integrity and self-respect are not determined by how much or how little there is to see. I especially hate Natasha's closing line: "He will want you to be hot... only for him." This makes a woman's sexuality sound like a possession! You know who else thinks like this? Jihadists.

Instead of lecturing women on how to dress, teach them how to love themselves and others. Instead of telling men to avoid immodestly dressed women, teach them how to love themselves and others. Modesty isn't the issue. Sexuality is. The discussion needs to center on developing healthy attitudes vis–à–vis sex and relationships, but we use modesty as a cop-out because it's less awkward to talk about.

I'm getting really tired of people trying to morally justify judging others. The other day I met a woman with short blue hair. She had piercings all over her face and huge breasts on display in a skimpy summer dress. As we got to talking, she told me that not too long ago, a stranger approached her, gave her a Book of Mormon, and walked away saying "You look like you need this". What the heck? I only met this woman in passing, but she was friendly and kind.

I'm not stupid. I get that how we dress sends messages. But modesty shouldn't be a weeding-out tactic. It will not keep a woman safe from "bad" men. If we claim to be decent people, it is our responsibility to reject those harmful, shaming messages. One of the best General Conference talks in recent years was given by President Uchtdorf:
This topic of judging others could actually be taught in a two-word sermon: Stop it! 
Seriously. Stop it. Stop telling others how to dress. Stop telling others how to look. Stop telling others how to meet your arbitrary definition of "modesty". Just freaking love them and be done with it.


  1. I have read the blog post of which you speak, and now I have read yours. I actually find myself agreeing with both. Ms. Craig is right to call out the idiotic statement of "modest is hottest" which has become some kind of pseudo-doctrine in Young Women (and Young Men) conversations across the Church. The statement is a paradox, for it speaks of the "hotness" of a woman being about her looks, which presumes this should be where her value and identity is. In other words, being "hot" is not the goal! You (Kristi) are right to point out that modesty (in the clothing/appearance context) is extremely subjective. But the etymology of the slang "hotness" in its very core about looks, appearance, and sexual appeal. By and large society has placed way too much value on looks. "So what," you might say, "a woman should be able to dress the way she wants." Everything we do, or say, or wear, etc. has a consequence--some good, some bad, some big, some small. The reality is the more transparent a woman's clothes are, the tighter a woman's clothes are, and the more skin a woman shows feeds a vicious cycle (yes, this could even applied to men), where a woman wants more attention and so she will dress to draw eyes on her, going for the shock factor. This issue has two sides: female and male (i.e., how do women see themselves, and how do men see women?) It seems that Ms. Craig's blog post was about the introspective female side. It would be interesting to hear men's side (that is, how and to what extent men's views of a woman's looks/appearance contribute to the problem). There is a lot of wisdom here: "Instead of lecturing women on how to dress, teach them how to love themselves and others...The discussion needs to center on developing healthy attitudes vis–à–vis sex and relationships, but we use modesty as a cop-out because it's less awkward to talk about." I also completely agree with you (Kristi) Pres. Uchtdorf's statement about rooting out judging, and whoever handed this woman you met a Book of Mormon because "she looked like she needed it" is incredibly immature in sharing the light of Christ.

  2. Kristi, this was spot on. Thank you!

    @Andrew, I mostly agree with your response. My only exception would be that it _does not matter_ how transparent, tight, or revealing a woman's clothes are. Men's thoughts are not women's responsibility, they are his and his alone. Period. It doesn't matter if she's dressing for shock, for comfort, or whatever other reason. Her reasons/motives are completely up to her. It is up to us, as men, to treat women as people no matter what their wardrobe selection.


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