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.
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.