Sunday, February 13, 2011

Slice of Humble Pie

For Christmas this year I received the most beautiful dress from my in-laws.  It's a silk, floral piece from Anthropologie and when I opened it I was enraptured.  I almost wanted to put in on display it my room it was so pretty.  The only problem was that when I tried it on for the first time it was a little short.  No cheeks were being exposed or were on the verge of being exposed and in fact when I sat down the hem covered my knee due to the fullness, but it was probably an inch above the standards of modesty for my church (exposed G's in other words). I was torn. It was so lovely! Also, a lot of the girls on the Mormon blogs I follow wear short dresses or tunics.  They just throw tights or leggings underneath and call it good.  I tried it on with tights and I thought the problem was solved. 

Fast forward to a Sunday in January.  As I was getting dressed for church in the morning I threw on the yellow dress and did a few twirls in the mirror.  Tights on? Check! Ready to go! Since being released from our nursery calling, where every Sabbath meant flats, and older below-the-knee skirts to avoid exposure, sore feet, and stains from snot, play dough, etc. I had been reveling in the freedom of wearing some nicer attire.  I then thought about my new calling: teaching Young Women.  Though this affords me the opportunity to ditch the dowdiness every week, I started thinking about how I would look in front of my girls.  Yes, I was clean and neat, but was the length of my dress going to cause problems? Was it going to be a distraction? Would I be showing 12-15 year olds a little too much when I went to hang a picture on the chalk board?

Then a sudden flash back came from my teenage years.  I was at Horton Plaza mall in downtown San Diego with my mom.  We were shopping for school clothes.  Abercrombie was the hot store to shop at and I had to have a certain light pink, beaded trim strappy tank top.  A fight ensued.  My mom was strongly opposed to the top.  I started giving lip about how I had seen ladies who were members of the church wearing tank tops with a cardigan over it or the older girls who went to church wearing similar tops sans cardigan around school. I also thought about how my sister reacted when a girl in our ward, a very active girl, had been the probably one of the dirtiest dancers at her high school prom.  Do as I say, not as  I do? I don't know if that really works.  I put the dress away and vowed to return it the next week.

Two weeks later the dress was still hanging in my closet.  I saw a picture from a fashion blog where a similar shift dress was being worn.  It was a little longer, but it was exactly as I had planned to wear it.  "See, it's so cute! I have to keep it! I'll never be able to find one like this again." I showed the picture to John, but he didn't agree. "Yours is shorter than that.  Remember what you said a few weeks ago? Remember how you said it was too short to wear to Young Women? If it's too short for church, where are you going to feel comfortable wearing it?"  He had a good point, but I have a rebellious nature and we went back and forth about it. I also wanted to keep this lovely piece because it was a gift from my mother-in-law and I wanted to show her how much I liked it.  I tried it on again and made John take a bunch of pictures.  I considered sending them to sisters and sister-in-laws for back up. In church the next day I was still whispering during sacrament meeting, "Do you really think I should return it? What if I just tell you no?"

That Sunday one of the other Young Women leaders was giving the lesson.  The topic was on becoming a teacher.  One of the points that was made was that we don't have to be a qualified teacher to help people learn.  Sometimes our strongest lesson are given through example.  The question was asked, "What are some ways you feel you can teach by example?" One of the girls raised her hand and told about how she had just gone to the Sweet Hearts dance at the high school the night before.  She said she was surprised to see that even in an area where there were so many members of the LDS church where people had the same standards, there were so many sleeveless and short dresses.  She put her hand down on her leg and said, "A lot of them where up to here." I felt a shock of guilt.  That was the length of my dress.  Each girl then went on to say how modesty was important to them and how they tried to be modest themselves.

So, that is it.  The dress is going back.  I admitted my defeat  to John as well as the lesson learned from the girls I was supposed to lead. I stand very much corrected. I am so impressed by the Young Women in my ward.  They are so good and so kind. They are not self righteous or condescending.  They are friendly and inclusive. Some days after dealing with kids in the classroom I come home a little discouraged in my outlook of the future of society, but these girls always lift me up and remind that there is so much goodness in the world.

9 comments:

holtkamp said...

oh mel, i'm so proud of you! :) you are a great example to the youth you interact with. no matter what dress you have on, you will be stylish, classy and graceful.

i too, am so impressed with the LDS youth - they seem much better than we were! the youth in our ward as always talking about 'how they were reading scriptures with their friends the other day' etc.

Kerstin said...

The youth in your ward are awesome. I really, truly miss them all. I would love if you let them know that.

One thing that I have been surprised of recently is how girls and women seem to think that super-tight leggings are the same as pants. They aren't.

Keep being awesome!

Kali said...

Oh melinda! I loved this post!! You are awesome. I too am in YW and it def. keeps me on my toes as far as example is concerned. Kinda neat how sometimes the girls' can be the example/teacher. I am not going to lie though, I want to see you in your beautiful dress...;)

The Mulberry Girl said...

I can understand where you would be torn. I love that you still took pictures in it. I hope you don't feel discouraged or sad about returning it. And that you can use this as a great excuse in shopping for a replacement that is just as pretty!

Emily said...

If you haven't already returned it, can you let the hem out? Some dresses have a few extra inches tucked in the hem. . . .

Melinda said...

Thanks guys! I hope it didn't sound patronizing. I just felt that I'd hypocrite I would be if I taught one thing and did the opposite. @Emily, The hem is tiny, I wish it were larger.@Kali, here is a link to the dress, it's the second one:
http://melandjohn.blogspot.com/2010/11/forest.html

Anne said...

Sometimes it's hard being a grown up! Your girls are so lucky to have you as a leader!

Emily said...

That's too bad! Would it look weird with a strip of lace/satin/silk attached to the bottom like a thicker hem? Guess it would help if I've seen it. . . .

beckie said...

Being in YW is tough but a good reminder. Modesty was always my nemesis and still is sometimes. But you know, being honest with the YW is helpful too sometimes. I wasn't afraid to tell them the things I struggled with (when appropriate), that makes them feel like you can understand them and they are not alone.
And ditto what everyone already said, you are always very well put together, anthro dress or not.

Want another "test?" Just wait until you're driving in a car with the YW and listening to the radio...