Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Booooobs. Yeah I said it.

This post has been months in the making. And you know what? Those months of pondering haven’t made me feel any more prepared to write this. But here it goes anyway. Because I need to spew this forth somewhere. It’s been in my brain soggying it up for too long.

It has to do with modesty and what it is. It has to do with women’s rights and what those are. It has to do with my inner (or not so inner) feminist. It has to do with church. And it has to do with BOOBS (do you hate that word? Sorry. I hear that a lot of people do. I kind of love it.).

Way back when I was newly pregnant (with Pixie) but didn’t know I was newly pregnant, I got called to meet with the bishop. Thinking I may be getting a new calling or being asked to speak in Sacrament meeting or some other routine reason for a meeting with the Bishop, I was totally and completely gobsmacked (all these words I’ve never used before are just all of a sudden coming out of the wordwork – there’s another one! – to play!).

“I’ve called you in because it seems that you have become pornography to some of the men in our ward.”

Woh. Just how do you respond to that?

You ask yourself “seriously?,” your inner feminist becomes enraged, you feel embarrassed, (but you never let on any of those things to your Bishop), and then of all the responses you could show, you deem it most appropriate to cry and tell your Bishop your chest measurements and lament having a big chest (seriously, I never would have guessed this would be a tidbit of information I felt it was necessary to share with my Bishop…).

That’s how.

I consider myself a fairly modest person. I kind of hate that word, because really, what is modesty? I feel like modesty is more about your attitude than your dress, but I may be alone in this thinking because it seems like to some in my ward modest=frumpy.

But as I was saying, I do consider myself fairly modest. I went to BYU, so even before I started wearing garments, I did all those “modest” things: skirts and shorts “To Zee Knee,” shoulders covered (because, really, bare shoulders are very, very sexy), I always raise my arms in front of the mirror in the morning to make sure none of that tummy is showing (even more now that I’ve had 2 kids)…

But here’s the thing. I have humungous knockers. I mean, they’re big even when I’m not pregnant or breastfeeding, but since I’ve been either pregnant or nursing (or both) for the past 4 years, they have been quite an impressive size for quite some time. In addition to that, I am tall and (okay I will admit it even though I don’t necessarily believe it) mostly slim. I do have a figure. I guess it’s pretty nice (clothed, anyway).

And here’s the other thing: I’m 27, not 57. I like to dress like I am 27, not 57.

So with my big bagoonzas and slim figure, I can do one of two of things: 1) I can buy things in my size, and have my shirts fit slightly tight over my boobies, or 2) I can buy things large enough to not be tight on my boobies and-

Oh, wait. No I can’t. There exists not a size that isn’t tight on my boobies. Not even my grandma’s old muumuus that I inherited (okay, picked through her closet for because they are just so

After this incident, I looked around at church and noticed that every woman in my ward dresses at least as “immodestly” as I do. It’s just that no one that I noticed has quite the same proportions as I do. Most of the women are small-busted. Some have large breasts but are also more “plus-size.”

Also, at the time, I was the ward chorister (I asked to be released because of this issue), so I was standing and (in a very saucy and suggestive manner, of course) leading the music in front of the congregation every Sunday. This put me more in the spotlight for the pervs of the ward, I guess.

It just still infuriates me (over a year later). The whole thing infuriates me. The way the Bishop handled it infuriates me. What business did he have telling me that? Putting the responsibility for 2 men’s sins on my head. How dare he?

It made me feel so uncomfortable. Not only having this kind of conversation with my Bishop, but also just knowing that there are 2 men who are looking at me in that way, every Sunday, where I go to be edified and uplifted.

Why would the Bishop tell me this?

Am I to be held responsible for the thoughts of others? Should I feel self-conscious at church every Sunday, wondering if what I’m wearing is “schoolmarmy” enough to not put those kinds of thoughts into anyone’s heads? Is it fair for me to look at every man in the congregation and wonder if he is one of those who stares at me? Should I have let it go by now, and not still feel this way?


Heatherlady said...

Wow. I really can't believe your bishop would tell you that. I don't think it is ever fair to make women feel like they are the reason men can't control themselves. If it really was such a big problem he should have found a MUCH better way to go about it than that. Rough. I'm sorry. This is one of those times when you really have to remember that the church is true, even if the people aren't, and that if you met the prophet, Joseph Smith or Christ they definitely wouldn't be looking at your chest.

Thanks for your kind comments on my blog by the way. Nice to meet you.

diane26 said...

That seems kind of the not right way to handle that. I have big boobies too, in fact my mom's usual greeting is "nice cleavage" so I think I can understand your upset. I might have mentioned that its not my problem that those men are prone to inappropriate thoughts and perhaps they should be the ones in there talk to the Bishop and not me. Heavens! Its not like you got up to lead the music in pasties.

Cat said...

Thanks, Heather and Rachel, for the comments.

What really bothers me, still, is that he even told me in the first place. He acknowledged that my clothes weren't the problem, but the men were the problem, and that it was just because I was standing in front of the congregation every Sunday on display that made it an issue at all. I don't know why it bothers me so much. I just think he should have just released me from being the ward chorister, and not told me why, because I feel like I shouldn't be wondering every time I talk to someone in the ward if they are one of the men who was having a problem looking at me...

I've been trying to find a picture to show how I don't dress like a hoochie or anything (I don't even show cleavage, which is nearly impossible!), but it seems that (like most moms) I am always on the other side of the camera...

I don't know. I should just let it go.

-A said...

I completely expected this post to be about nursing (not sure why, I just did) and was jarred by the turn it took. Even now days after having read it, I'm not even sure what to think.

I certainly feel it's not fair to have thrown such information at you and alter your view of any given male member of the ward.

At the same time, being infuriated with the 2 unknown men of the ward for having inappropriate thoughts isn't entirely fair either. Those 2 are at least willing enough to own up to their problem that they were willing to tell the Bishop. They have exhibited at least a modest interest in overcoming their particular vice and sought the Bishop's help in helping them.

That said, it's not fair for their problem to have interfered in your life to such a degree as to make you suspicious of all the ward brethren. Pornography isn't fair and the problem is real. But it's not just a problem of a few people. It's a problem society, in general, has created.

Cat said...

Alison, thanks for the comment. I wasn't sure I wanted to post this on the chance that you might read it, since you are personally acquainted with the bishop and the ward. But I needed to get it out.

I hope I didn't sound like I was making light of the seriousness of pornography. I recognize that it is a serious issue and that even the most spiritual of men may struggle with it. I also recognize that even without trying to, women may incite impure thoughts in men, and that I, as a woman, need to be mindful of the struggles of others, even though it is not necessarily my "responsibility."

I don't feel infuriated with the 2 men of the ward. I recognize their strength and humility and am appreciative that they are trying to repent. What was infuriating to me was that I was made *aware* of their problems. I just don't think that is appropriate or fair, to themselves or to me. I just was bothered that I was told so specifically that basically I was causing these men to sin...

I don't know. I'm not making myself clear. I just feel like it should have been handled better. I honestly think if the issue was just that I was leading the music and "on display," the bishop should have quietly released me, with no explaination given (or needed). If he really did have an issue with my dress, he could have addressed the issue in a more respectful, and discreet, way, by saying something like, "Because you are up in front of the congregation every Sunday, be mindful of what you are wearing." No specifics given, no information about men in the ward personally.

Maybe I'm being petty. It just upset me.

I'm basically over it, but still struggle to get dressed every day, because of how hard it is to modestly dress a large bust in something other than t-shirts and sweatshirts...

Fig said...

Well, if it makes you feel any better, my blood is now boiling.

BOTTOM LINE: Modesty is about respecting and revering the body. Modesty is NOT about protecting the minds of fragile men. It is every individual's responsibility to control his or her own thoughts, regardless of his or her environment. Another person's thoughts are NOT your responsibility.

As for this bishop and/or these men referring to you as "pornography" - I cannot even believe that. Pornography is material meant to sexually stimulate. Your body, in your church clothes, is not pornography.

The bishop should never have said a single word to you about it. His job is to work with the men who are having problems controlling their thoughts, not police your breasts.

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