Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Moral Quandry of Underwear, or, The LDS Propensity to Judge

I like to sit in the back of class. The middle row, to be exact. I’ve been this way ever since I’ve gotten into college. Why? I like being in the back because it allows me to fully see everything, while still being a bit anti-social. Yesterday in class, I saw something that made me really wonder about our perspectives as Mormons, and where the true sin lies.

Participating as I am wont to do, and watching the recent advertising plan being passed around class, my eyes spotted a bit of flesh on a derriere. Now, don’t think of me as a pervert. I don’t go around staring at the behind of every female that walks by, except for Ashley. And I like being caught staring. Yet on BYU-Idaho campus, seeing flesh other than the normal areas (arms and head) catches anyone’s eye. We don’t see a lot of things out of the ordinary here, and seeing a girl with a thin piece of underwear is definatley out of the ordinary.

Yet seeing this, and my ensuing thought process, caused me to step back and ask questions. At first I thought “I can’t believe her. Why would she wear something like that? That’s kind of…*insert word here*…” Yet I caught myself, and here my mind went a’wandering as we discussed surveys in my Media Research class.

Was she doing anything “wrong”? Should we judge a person by their underwear, and not the content of their character? I noticed myself judging this female, thinking about her status as a church member, if she was one of those “rebellious” students at BYU-Idaho that I so desperately want to talk to.

A few things:

1. She was leaning forward just a bit, and I could barely see said fabric.
2. She wasn’t showing it off. As a matter of fact, 2 minutes later she pulled her shirt down to cover.
3. She was wearing tighter pants, so that might have played a factor.

Now I know this is petty. I know there will be 2 polarizing issues. “Brandt, it’s underwear, who cares,” compared to “It’s inappropriate.” I actually talked with Ashley about this yesterday, and she chose the second argument. I told her “What if she wanted to feel good about herself?”

“Well you can find other ways to feel good about yourself than wearing underwear that’s MADE to entice”

“But she wasn’t enticing – it was something she actually covered up, instead of showed off”

“Well what if your daughter wore them? Would you accept the fact that they were ‘just because of panty lines?’”
“Absolutely not. I will make sure she wears grandma-panties until she’s 27 because I know how guys think.”

Well, even after that conversation, I still can’t say that I made a decision on how I feel about that. Part of me automatically makes a judgment. I start questioning things about her, her character, etc. I blame that on the environment that we’re in, and also attribute it to the prudence we have in the Church (which isn’t a bad thing). But then, I’m also torn. I didn’t think there was anything wrong with it. Should I be judging her based on her underwear? Is that right? It’s UNDERWEAR. It’s not meant to be seen. I wouldn’t be thinking about any of this if I hadn’t seen her.

Here’s my conclusion. IT’S UNDERWEAR. If I hadn’t seen that tiny slip of fabric, I wouldn’t be thinking these things. It’s a personal, private thing. She might be a bit more promiscuous, but who am I to judge. The biggest thing for me is she wasn’t showing it off. Now, if she were (and there are those that do), we would probably have a difference of opinion. But our propensity as LDS to judge another LDS is just astonishing. I’m no saint. If my thoughts were to be broadcast in sacrament meeting of what I really thought, I would probably be the victim of yet another car accident. However, our judgmental nature, in my humble opinion, is killing us.


Hildedeor said...

How interesting. When I first heard about this underwear post, I was a little skeptical as to it's validity. The subtitle helped alot. :)

As to judgment: There comes a time when judgment becomes necessary. Some things are "black" on the "black and white" scale. Where does underwear fit into that scale? Good question. I would probably look at the motives for why the underwear was worn. Many problems can have different manifestations, but similar cores. Why would someone buy, much less wear, inappropriate clothing?

Judging others is sometimes necessary. The tricky aspect of judgment is judging others fairly. "When you take the measure of a man, take the full measure."

Paul H said...

I'm having a hard time seeing the debate here.I agree that as members we have a propensity to judge other members harshly (which is the craziest thing if you think about it), but we're talking about underwear and what that says about you as a person?

Those who know me know that my big thing is "Call it what it is." I just don't see the correlation between what type of underwear you choose and who you are. Maybe I'm off here, but I'm under the impression that many girls who choose to wear thongs do so for comfort reasons.

However, assuming the worst...that this girl goes out with her boyfriend every night and they get all freaky does that give me the right to think less of her as a person? If anything it gives me a responsibility to love her more.

It's not my job to decide the worth of someone (and I'm sure as heck glad it's not). I agree that judging others is sometimes necessary but I sometimes think we have absolutely the opposite reaction than we should. Instead of running from someone we should embrace them and hope that our example will benefit them at some point.

But just to be clear, it's incredibly shallow and short-sided to form an opinion because of someone's underwear choice. (To others how strange are endowed members underwear?)

brandt said...

Paul -

I agree with you. Like I said at the end, it's underwear. We really need to work on judging someone for what they wear. I wouldn't have thought anything of that situation if I hadn't seen her wearing that.

It's a private, personal thing. I'm making the point that it's almost the culture that we have sometimes to jump to a judgment automatically about a person completely based on their clothing...