LDS officials apparently have a problem with seeing naked shoulders and upper arms, but only when it comes to female members. That’s even true for 7-year-old girls.
A photo in the June 2012 LDS Church News, illustrating an article about serving in the Primary, the Mormon children’s program, showed a young Salt Lake City girl sitting on the lap of an adult woman. The girl was wearing a sundress with wide straps.
When the same photo was republished recently on the official LDS website, however, the girl’s dress now had a white T-shirt under it.
The altered image falls in line with a policy laid out by the church for all pictures submitted for publication in church magazines or online.
"Because of the need to present women and girls modestly, regardless of age, please avoid submitting photos of them in sleeveless tops and dresses or short skirts," the policy on LDS photo standards says.
To Cynthia Bailey Lee, a Mormon and computer science lecturer at the University of California in San Diego, the fact that the modesty requirement applies only to females is troubling.
She posted the two photos on a Mormon blog, bycommonconsent. com.
"The policy is not simply a matter of preparing saints of all ages for eventual [temple] garment-appropriate wardrobe in an evenhanded sort of way," Lee wrote in an email. "This is singling out females as requiring ‘modesty,’ saying that female bodies are objects of a sexual nature in a way that male bodies are not, and — most disturbingly — saying that sexual nature applies to toddler girls’ bodies. All ages."
The church’s pamphlet, For the Strength of Youth, which is aimed at both genders, says young women should avoid various immodest attire, including "clothing that does not cover the shoulders."
Why are bare-chested men any less modest — by Mormon standards — than bare-shouldered girls, Lee wonders. Shouldn’t those depictions of muscle-bound Book of Mormon heroes be, well, covered up? And what about BYU basketball players and their naked shoulders?
Peggy Fletcher Stack