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Hi there! Welcome to my corner of the internets. I'm a 26 year old therapist, photographer, and shop owner currently living in Seattle, Washington. My online spaces are educational and lifestyle accounts dedicated to educating, engaging, and empowering women through digital art, home design, and travel.... with a touch of humor and personality sprinkled throughout. Stay a while!

Ask A Mormon-ish Girl: Part 2 - The Garment Edition

Sunday, October 25, 2020

 Good morning and happy Sunday! 

    We're back for another "Ask A Mormon-ish Girl" post! For anyone new, this is a series where I talk about my feelings on religion, being member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (aka "Mormon"), and reconciling all of this with democrat/liberal values. My goal of these posts is to help you know you're not alone with your questions and concerns AND to actually talk about them and create some conversation past "just have faith and it will work out". Overall, I believe in imperfect relationships, both with people and institutions. This series documents my very imperfect relationship with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  

    (P.S. Check out the first post I did last week to read my answers to the questions: "What things do you struggle with in the church?", "What things keep you in the church?", and "Do you feel like you are welcome in the Mormon community?" And, please subscribe via email (on the right if you're on a desktop and on the bottom if you're on a phone) to be notified of future posts!)

    If you don't see your question answered this week, please keep submitting it! I will get to all of them eventually! Every Sunday I post a question box on my Instagram (@emmycoletti) and I will save it in the highlight "Ask A Mormon-ish Girl". If your question is too long (or you don't have Instagram), feel free to email me instead at emmycoletti@gmail.com

    Without further ado, let's get into this week's questions! And, as always, these are just my thoughts on various church topics. The official church policies may differ. I also reserve the right to change my mind on any of the following upon receiving new information. 

(If you are not familiar with what a "Mormon" is, please refer directly to the church's website here. There's lots of misinformation about us/what we practice and believe, so go to the right source to get your questions answered. And if you're really curious about Mormons, I'd suggest meeting with some of our missionaries. They are in most places in the world and are usually either a cute elderly couple or cute little 18 year old girls/boys. They spend 2 years studying these things, so the answers they can give you about Mormons are going to be a lot better than what I could. You literally just fill out this form and they will contact you! I think our missionaries are so cute haha but I'm biased.)

So, LOTS of questions this week about garments haha! 

"How do you feel about garments?" 

I, as you could guess, have a lot of feelings about garments. I will try to keep this organized.

It will come as little surprise to most of you that I have a certain... concerns with garments. Concisely:  

        1. The person who I have to discuss my garment wearing with is a man/member of the bishopric.

        2. The lack of comfortable female garment options.

        3.  Modesty policing.

        4. The changes in garment lengths over time.

        5. They are a symbol of a commitment, not the commitment itself. 

    1. Ok, let's start off with the bishop interview. No offense to men, but they have zero idea of what it's like to be a female who wears garments. First of all, I have seen both men and women's garments, and the comfort level between the two is NOT the same. Men's clothes are usually loose and their garments are pretty loose as well. Their garment waist line isn't that much higher than where normal underwear would hit them. However, even the new "low rise" garments hit me a good 4 inches higher than where a normal pair of underwear would. Which brings me to my main reason why it's hard to talk to men about garments: we have lady issues and they do not
    If you've had a period, you know about the bloating, the cramps, and the overall icks. The absolute LAST thing my bloated, crampy stomach needs is anything tight on it. Like I said, the new "lower" waistline hits my belly button, and the older waistline comes up to my boobs (no, seriously, it does lol). Not to mention the difficulties of wearing pads or pantyliners. These are intricate and intimate difficulties women experience, and maybe it's just me, but this level of detail with a member of my bishopric is not going to be a comfortable conversation for either of us lol. I will end this section by saying I have heard of many bishops being very understanding to women who experience yeast infections and not wearing garments (because it is a medical issue) and I appreciate that. I would love to see that same compassion and empathy extended to periods as well. (Granted I have never tried having this conversation with a bishopric member, so maybe the empathy is already there.)

    2. My second call for improvement would be on the comfort. I'm not even talking changing lengths here. Have any of you tried the "airism" shirts from Uniqlo? They are amazing. So light, so breathable. A fabric like this in a garment top would be so much easier to wear in the heat and increase women's comfort immensely. Similarly, a garment bottom made from an extremely stretchy, seamless option would also be so helpful. Us women have much variation in our bodies. The garment bottom right now covers our: thighs, hips, and stomach. That's a lot of areas that vary in size woman to woman! Victoria's Secret has many of these "seamless" and no show panty options. Ideally, the church could get their hands on a similar material and it would go miles for creating more comfortable garments. And, since I'm here, I would also suggest a lower waistline (although a stretchy, seamless option would make a high waistline a lot more bearable). Regular women's underwear comes *maybe* 3-4 inches above the crotch line and this lets our tummies breath, bloat, eat a good meal, etc, as compared to the not-as-stretchy and tight-waistband state of garments currently. I know there probably cost concerns with some of the above, but women's comfort should also be a concern. And if this many women are complaining about the same things, I feel we are deserving of the price tag. 

    3. Modesty policing. There's a few elements to this. 

    The first is the cultural taboo of having your garments show. I don't know if this was just a Utah thing or not, but the expectation seemed to be "Wear your garments, but don't let anyone see them." This is a really stressful thing to have to always be conscious of and can shake the confidence a bit. I eventually started wearing like a spandex/slipshort underneath all my dresses, but then we are back to the comfort issue of having two layers underneath a dress/skirt. 

    Second, it's interesting to me that garment lengths change with the mainstream fashion over the years. Imagine if we still had long sleeve, long leg, and one piece garments lol. So, I'm grateful they have been shortened, but I dislike that they are still partially "encouraging modesty". As women, we are constantly told out worth is determined by our looks. Modesty culture is tricky, because it can be very triggering to a lot of us who have had to overcome the feelings of shame with our bodies create by a sexist and patriarchal culture. Overcoming body image issues is a challenge, and one we are often working on our whole lives. Garments at their meaning aren't at all about modesty. They are a symbol of a commitment made with God. And it's sad to me that this symbol of a commitment has gotten intertwined to such a high degree with modest concerns, which in turn steers women away from wearing a garment they perhaps would have otherwise. 

    (Also, I just have to add this in here. Weddings rings are also a symbol of a commitment, right? I mean, you promise to stay faithful to your spouse and the ring is a symbol to communicate to you/the world that commitment you made. However, men have no problem taking their rings off in the name of "comfort". I realize that a marriage commitment and religious commitment have different levels of seriousness in some people's minds, but it's just a comparison I like to draw for any men criticizing women for not wearing garments due to comfort while sitting there ringless for the same concerns hahaha. Sexism is a system that allows men the same comforts it denies from women.) 

    Third, the amount of modesty policing with garments drives me insane. I say this having been on both sides. I have been the person who discussed whether or not someone was wearing their garments/still identified as Mormon, as well as been the person whose garment wearing was being discussed. And honestly, both sides are just icky. To have people judge you and passively criticize your choices is... unsavory, to say the least lol. And it says a lot more about the gossiper than the one not wearing their garments. 

    It's honestly just... so offensive haha. I don't know how else to say it. I've heard the term "salvation by surveillance" before and I have to giggle because that's exactly what it feels like. We watch members of our faith for any sign that they are doing "wrong" because it somehow makes us feel "holier than thou"... or... I mean I honestly don't know why we do it. But, we do. And mostly to women. What other people do is none of our business. Especially in this case. You can't assume someone left the church if they aren't wearing garments. You can't assume someone is a great member if they are wearing garments. So, it's just honestly none of our business and I hope we have all grown up enough that we are done discussing what underwear someone else is or isn't wearing. 

"Do you believe wearing garments is a commandment?" 

    I mean, it's not one of the 10 commandments lol. I did a quick search and couldn't find that language on the church website when it came to garments. I don't know what defines a commandment, but I do think we are asked to wear them and it is a part of the temple recommend questions. However, they have changed the wording from "do you wear them day and night" to "do you wear them as instructed in the temple" and to my knowledge/memory, the temple didn't provide a whole ton of detail. I am fuzzy on details and could be wrong about this! Feel free to drop resources in the comments if you have them. 

"Do we get punished or miss out on blessings for not wearing garments? I hate them." 

    Once again, I don't know what the official church policy is on this, so these are just my thoughts. I believe in a God that wants me to be happy and do good things for other people. I sometimes feel like religion is selfish. We get so caught up in the "checklist" to get into heaven and on what is going on with ourselves. Sure, these things are probably taken into consideration. However, I think a lot of others are as well. If I do get "punished" for not wearing garments, I hope I am also rewarded for all the things I do that aren't on the Mormon "checklist": Loving and being kind and inclusive to everyone, no matter their race or sexual or gender identity. Advocating for the marginalized and using my power and privilege to help create a more comfortable society for them. Donating my money to causes that further and equitable society for everyone.... etc. 

    I mean... you can *on paper* be an amazing member of the church: Read your scriptures, pray every night, wear your garments, go to the temple, have a church calling, etc... and still treat people like crap, elect racist leaders who are exclusive and demeaning, gossip about people and spread lies, not serve anyone in your neighborhood (and a religious "visit" doesn't count as service lol), etc. 

    Being religious is not synonymous with being a good person. And that's something that I always try to keep in mind. 

Your Mormon-ish Internet Friend,
Emmy Coletti


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