LDS Living gave two thumbs up to Zooey Deschanel's evening wear. Deschanel was nominated in the category of Best Actress in a TV Series/Musical or Comedy, but the award went to comedienne Amy Poehler, who also co-hosted the awards ceremony.

LDS Living gave two thumbs up to Zooey Deschanel’s evening wear. Deschanel was nominated in the category of Best Actress in a TV Series/Musical or Comedy, but the award went to comedienne Amy Poehler, who also co-hosted the awards ceremony. Screenshot courtesy of YouTube

Today in LDS Living magazine is a headline article about “15 Modest Golden Globes Dresses,” a gallery of red-carpet fashion from last night’s awards ceremony.

You can scroll through the photos here as stars like Helen Mirren, Emma Thompson, Caitlin Fitzgerald, and Julia Roberts prove they can be drop-dead gorgeous while leaving something to the imagination. As the staff writers put it:

Sometimes it can feel like “modest fashion” is a walking oxymoron. But this year at the Golden Globes, stars proved that you don’t have to bare all to be bold. We tip our hats to these modest, fashionable celebs that graced the runway yesterday at the Golden Globes.

On the one hand, I think LDS Living is to be congratulated for resisting the catty shaming of TMZ and other sites, whose list of women who received the fashion stamp of approval is balanced by an equally long litany of fashion disasters. For example, Fox News says that Girls writer Lena Dunham “continues to struggle with choosing silhouettes that flatter her body type . . . no wonder she opts to go nude so often on set.” And the UK Telegraph lambastes Jennifer Lawrence’s “disastrous Dior,” which “erred on the side of comfy cotton and did her no favours whatsoever.”

So, you might say that LDS Living offers a positive take on what the staff writers see as Hollywood’s notorious skin-baring. They resist the temptation to publicly call out the women they see as immodest, preferring instead to focus on what is lovely and of good report.

On the other hand, it’s ironic that anyone ever be publicly lauded for “modesty,” since such attention undermines the very point of the virtue. The true meaning of the word modesty is about self-effacement and humility, not whether a woman’s shoulders are sporting cap sleeves.

Jennifer Lawrence, who won in the Best Supporting Actress category for "American Hustle" but did not receive the Mormon Stamp of Approval for her strapless gown.

Jennifer Lawrence won in the Best Supporting Actress category for “American Hustle” but did not receive the Mormon Stamp of Approval for her strapless gown. (YouTube)

Moreover, the magazine does absolutely nothing to challenge the culture of objectifying women, their bodies, and their clothes. Articles like “15 Modest Golden Globe Dresses” don’t explore what women do, say, or contribute to society. In fact, this article (unlike even the snide Telegraph gallery) does not so much as tell us who was nominated last night, or who won the awards.

The women pictured in LDS Living are not directors, professional actors, singers, writers, or producers; they are bodies. And the one life-and-death choice those bodies are permitted to make is how they will clothe themselves.

And we, their Mormon critics, serve notice with each evaluation that we will stand as judges of women’s bodies and choices at all times, and in all things, and in all places.

19 Comments

  1. Jana Riess

    Yes, definitely some body-hugging fashions there. Is the rule that as long as skin isn’t showing, something is modest?

    But what really bothers me is the fashion parade without any reference to what these women have actually accomplished. Some of these women are absolutely brilliant. And yet it all comes down to a yay or nay because of their clothing? What is that even about?

  2. I think what bothers me is that these women aren’t LDS. Why are we holding them to standards they don’t even accept for themselves? Modesty is so arbitrary – hopefully these women are wearing dresses that make themselves comfortable, so they very well could be “modest” in their minds. Who are we to tell them that their idea of right and wrong is wrong? Doing so by extension is telling them that their entire beliefs system is wrong; which Mormons might believe, but hopefully have more tact than to actually say so.

    • Its typical of every conservative faith.

      No respect for how others live and the God given belief that everyone should do as they do. There is something selfish and arrogant behind the idea that if one does not believe in doing something due to religious belief, nobody else should either.

    • trytoseeitmyway

      Um, “we” aren’t holding “these women” to any standards. Maybe you missed the point. LDS Living (a publication that doesn’t have to speak for “us”) is saying that it is possible to dress fashionably while still doing so modestly, and then illustrating that with examples from the non-Mormons popular culture. Hope that helps.

      And, Jana, I can’t understand why that would not be a fair or legitimate subject for a magazine article, without necessarily including all the other stuff that you think would have to be included. (“Articles like “15 Modest Golden Globe Dresses” don’t explore what women do, say, or contribute to society.”) Sometimes a light article is is just a light article, you know? Try not to be so judgmental.

  3. Religion truly poisons everything! Some will find this article amusing but it is deeply disgusting.

    These women should not be compelled to follow ancient barbaric notions of what is proper! This is not freedom.

    If there is a culture war underway, it is imperative that we all see to it that the religious bullies must not win it.

  4. Jana Riess

    Check out this absolutely brilliant satire of the Mormon modesty rhetoric surrounding the Golden Globes. From the blog Zelophehad’s Daughters:

    http://zelophehadsdaughters.com/2014/01/13/six-modest-outfits-from-the-golden-globes/

  5. Excellent points, Jana. The whole night is the height of immodesty (in a more general sense). The LDS Living article just highlights how objectifying and small-minded it is to judge modesty–and people–by this narrow little yardstick.

  6. Obviously, modesty is more than just what we wear. But I know as a teen I loved to see examples of dresses that I could wear and look beautiful (just look) as well. Could we give the staff writer the benefit of the doubt-I mean, could the article have been a simple fashion piece that just provided some ideas on how some of those prom and homecoming dresses might be altered to fit within our standards of modesty? I totally understand that we should be using a better standard of modesty-but sometimes it’s nice to get ideas how to wear/find clothing that works.

  7. And it’s doubtful any of these women (pictured in the LDS Living article) wore those gorgeous gowns for the purposes assigned them by the article. Seriously, “these modest, fashionable celebs that graced the runway . . .”will be wearing whatever the industry moves toward next year. Sleeves are apparently IN this season! Hurray for Mormondom.

    Also, Helen Mirren can do no wrong, fashion-wise. Look at that gown.

  8. This is a bit much. The article was about fashion, not a coverage of the accomplishments of women. Do I think there should be more articles about accomplished women? Sure. But take the LDS Living piece for what it was….a fashion puff piece. I understand the anti-”modesty” sentiment, and I agree with much of it–but I don’t see the article holding the celebrities to a modesty standard nor discussing how these women are all of a sudden virtuous solely because they covered their shoulders this one night.

    The title of this post is also hyperbole meant to be inflammatory. No one was policing the celebrities. If that were the case, we would have a play-by-play of all of the over-exposing clothing, shaming the women for making those choices. It just wasn’t the case. Lets save the outrage for something real.

    • Julia,
      I agree with you. I don’t think the LDS Living article was the least but malicious; which, made Jana’s post feel a little bit like a tabloid article. If nothing else, I think the title is a cheap attention ploy. I wouldn’t call it news. It’s also irresponsible to refrain from mentioning that LDS Living is not affiliated with the LDS church and on no way represents the organization.
      -F.W. Willis

  9. Oh brother. Sometimes those of us who would rather keep our sleeves on and our midriff covered for special occasions feel like the only options we have are Grandma’s sequined mumu or a frilly cape. If there is something being designed in “the real world” that I could actually wear without a yard and a half of alterations, I think I might like to see that. It’s window shopping, plain and simple.

    Overwrought is the word that comes to mind for this post.

  10. This article was just showing the top 15 picks of a few women and whats wrong with that. It is what it is. I didn’t know an article on fashion had to have a complete bio of the person featured in each photo and what they have accomplished.

    After quickly scanning the photos on LDSLiving for their picks of modest is hottest I was rewarded with a small photo and link to their “Ultimate Guide: Modest Swimwear 2013″ where it put most of what was worn on the red carpet to shame.

    My favorite is the “JC Penney, Trimshaper Twist-front” on sale right now for $56. Wowzers!

  11. Michael White

    You’re reading too much into this. This wasn’t an article at all. It was three paragraphs that set up a series of photos identifying fashionable-yet-modest gowns. In that context, what exactly would you have had them say about the women’s accomplishments?

  1. […] The Mormon Modesty Police Go to the Golden Globes (Jana Riess, Flunking Sainthood)– “Moreover, the magazine does absolutely nothing to challenge the culture of objectifying women, their bodies, and their clothes. Articles like “15 Modest Golden Globe Dresses” don’t explore what women do, say, or contribute to society. In fact, this article (unlike even the snide Telegraph gallery) does not so much as tell us who was nominated last night, or who won the awards.  The women pictured in LDS Living are not directors, professional actors, singers, writers, or producers; they are bodies. And the one life-and-death choice those bodies are permitted to make is how they will clothe themselves.” […]

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