Is Modesty Narcissistic?

There is such a thing as narcissistic immodesty. But I think we see enough of slut-shaming and people who are obnoxiously self-serving that there’s no point discussing the difference here.

What I would like to get at is the idea of modesty defined as cloth covering socially defined bits of skin.

Perhaps my ability to remember having an LDS mindset is slipping away from me, but I can’t help but feel there’s something pretty narcissistic about assuming that God gives a toss about what you wear on your body. Presumably if some all-knowing deity decided to say to himself “Oi, I fink I’ll make some blokes and birds wot can worship meself” it seems likely that he knows what you look like naked. It seems even more likely that he isn’t too impressed with the silly getups we put on to make ourselves feel important. Really. Take a look. Do you really think an all-knowing, all-powerful deity is impressed with any of the following?

What seems more likely? That God is desperately concerned with what we put on our bodies, or that our own vanity and squeamishness about sex has produced some pretty outlandish solutions to appease this invisible false god called Modesty? Religious-based dress codes serve one of two purposes: to make some fat-headed man look important, or to keep women under control by concealing their bodies like valuables in a safe. Both stem from the same narcissistic idea: “Everyone is looking at me. If they are not, they should be so they will know I’m important.” Robes of pomp and circumstance are no less narcissistic than Islamic burqas and LDS garments, which can easily be mistaken for clothing that encourages anonymity. All non-functional ceremonial clothing serves only to identify a person as being different. Better. Chosen. In the know. Definitely not like the rest of the rabble.

“Ah, but you forgot,” the people of the book will say. “God was the first fashion designer. Those fig leaves were so last July. What’s really in for this Fall is animal skins.”

My only answer is this: do you really think God was serious? Can’t you recognise a good joke when you see one? Frankly if I had to work with two gullible gits like Adam and Eve I’d have one last go at them before they got sacked from their jobs as groundskeepers. And I know I’d do it by making them think they had to wear something silly on the way out the door.

Just . . . give it some thought.

The breaking point

Yesterday my parents coerced my younger sister into not getting on a plane to come visit me for the weekend. I bought the ticket so we could have some fun bonding time, which we so rarely get with her busy university schedule.

As soon as my parents heard about it they became irrationally obsessed with stopping the trip. There is a church activity this weekend, they say, and your sister has to be at it. Clearly the event will stand or fall on whether or not she is there to slice the green jell-o. My sister had made arrangements with the organisers to have someone else manage the jell-o and punch in her stead. My sister may still live at home, but she is an adult. She made arrangements with the other adults to whom she was obligated, and all parties were satisfied. Why are my parents, who are not members of the singles ward, micromanaging an event in which they have no part?

The night before the flight, I received an angry call from both of my parents, blaming me for ruining the church party and their dinner plans because “they had to deal with this.”

My mum said it was important for my sister to attend because she “needed to be taught a lesson about being so selfish.” I fail to see the selfishness in periodically missing a church event to spend time with a family member. My mum seems to define “selfish” as “a person who does not do exactly what I tell them to do.” That definition seems terribly . . . selfish.

She said my sister could come another time. I asked her when. “Later,” I was told.

That’s when I hit the breaking point. I am sick to the teeth of this abuse.

“It seems like every time I ask to have either [redacted] or [redacted] for a visit, you come up with some reason why they can’t.”

I didn’t say it in an angry or sad tone. I stated it as fact. Because it’s true. My parents are manipulative and bullying and will only allow me to interact with my siblings in an environment they are allowed to control. I don’t know what they believe I am going to do to my sisters. In their twisted view of the world where anything outside the Church they worship is a threat, they probably believe that not only will I force feed them the sinful custard that is apostasy, but I’ll also take them to shoot up heroin while being gang-banged a tattoo parlour. They can’t conceive of a visit in which we talk about school, pop culture, and life in general whilst having nice meals and going shopping.

Mum laid into the usual guilt trip, how this was affecting her health, and how sick she was to be surrounded by selfish people, but for the first time it all just plinked off of me like broken arrows failing to penetrate armour. Her rubbish didn’t make it far enough to stab me the way it usually does.

She concluded with “do what you want” and hung up on me.

They went on to bully my sister so much that she did not even call me to let me know that she didn’t get on the plane. I heard from her later in the day, and we worked out some coping mechanisms for the near future. My parents have refused to fund any portion of her education because she didn’t want to go to BYU. Evil rebel. She will move away soon, and I plan to help her financially as much as I can.

This was the breaking point. I need to have no contact with them for a while, if only so that I can send a very clear message that their childish threats, guilt trips, and outright lies no longer have any power over me. I am not a bad person, and I am not to blame when they become upset because I refuse to conform to their unreasonable demands.