Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Mormon Mention: Zoe Fishman

I don't do Mormon Mentions all that often, so let me explain what this feature is all about.  As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (commonly known as the LDS or Mormon Church), I'm naturally interested in how my religion is portrayed in the media.  So, every time I see my church mentioned in a book written by someone who is not of my faith, I mention it here, along with my thoughts on whatever the author has said.  It's my chance to clear up misconceptions, add an insider's perspective, and, often, just laugh at my sometimes crazy Mormon culture.

If you're not into this kind of post, feel free to skip it.  If you are, read on ...

This Mormon Mention comes from Saving Ruth by Zoe Fishman, an adult novel about a Jewish woman trying to conceal her eating disorder from her family and friends.  Toward the end of the book, she's at the beach with a date and is nervous about wearing her swimsuit in front of him.  Here's what happens:

He put his arm around me and pulled me to him.  I was keenly aware of his bare chest pressing against my tank top.  There was only so much longer that I could keep my shirt on without feeling like a Mormon (225).


This one made me laugh because it's so true, especially for people like me who are conservative even for Mormons!  Here's why, though:  LDS kids are taught from the time they are tiny that their bodies are temples— sacred gifts from God—and should be treated as such.  This is why we're told not to drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes, get tattoos, take illegal drugs or sleep around.  It's also why we're taught to dress modestly.  Boys and girls as well as men and women are encouraged not to wear clothing that is tight or revealing.  Swimsuits are allowed, of course, although it's suggested that we choose the most modest styles we can find.  It's not like you'd get excommunicated for strutting around in a bikini or wearing something slinky for an evening out, it's just very much discouraged.  Don't get me wrong—we're not required to drape ourselves in ugly, old-fashioned clothing that hides everything from our necks to our ankles.  Not at all.  We're just counseled to dress ourselves in clothes that are modest.

Now, you might be thinking that you've never heard of a notion so ridiculously prudish and outdated.  To that, I say, go inside any public school in this country and take a look at what kids are wearing.  Despite "rigid" dress codes, you'll see girls as young as 11 or 12 in skin-tight jeans, low-cut tops and teeny, tiny shorts.  Guys aren't as bad, but still, you can't walk through the halls without getting a flash of somebody's boxer-clad behind looming above a pair of saggy jeans.  Doesn't it bother you just a little bit that so many kids are strolling through the corridors looking like they belong on a street corner in Vegas?  And that's at school!  Worst of all, their parents let them out the door looking like that.  It's frightening.

Because of the whole modesty issue, I think LDS women are even more self-conscious than most about revealing their bodies in public.  Or maybe it's just me?  I don't think so, but you never know.  Regardless, I appreciate modest dress, especially here in blazing hot Arizona where people like to strut around wearing next to nothing.  I say, leave something (or how about everything?) to the imagination.  Please!

Whether you agree that "Modest is Hottest" or think the whole idea is rubbish of the vilest sort, it explains why the main character in the novel feels like a prudish Mormon (not that there's anything wrong with that, of course).

So, y'all, what are your thoughts on the subject?

2 comments:

  1. This is a great post! Well said.

    ReplyDelete
  2. ohhh I'm so glad you did a Mormon Mention because I read one the other day in the book Afterwards by Rosamund Lupton.
    "Oh,you know, has a friend of a friend who's been murdered or has married a Mormon with 7 wives already or gotten the bridesmaid pregnant at his own wedding. I'm not sure if that was the Mormon."

    I was so proud to have Mormons mentioned along with polygamists and a murder victim.

    ReplyDelete

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