Huzzah! Another question submitted via the Ask Me Anything form! This question was asked anonymously, and it has to do with the practice of wearing garments, special underwear worn by most active Latter-day Saints. Here’s the question:
I moved to louisiana last summer, from utah. Big culture change and a LOT less lds people. It took me less than 24 hours to realize how HOT, MUGGY, HUMID, SWEATY, etc the summers are here. I mean really. Anyhoo, to get to my question, I quickly noticed maybe only half of the members in the ward actually wore garments during the summer (it’s just one of those things you can’t help but notice! haha). At first I was a little taken aback but after experiencing the nasty weather myself, I have to say I ditched them a few times as well. It only took being outside for 5 minutes before being drenched in sweat. I never wore them to outdoor events in the summer, it was almost unbearable. advice???
For any non-Mormons out there reading this, let me add a little bit of background info. For most Mormons, any decision to wear or not wear garments is not made lightly. Mormons don’t just choose to wear garments, they covenant to wear them day and night at all times for the rest of their lives. Picking and choosing when to wear them is frowned upon, and choosing not to wear them for any reason other than something like swimming or sports is forbidden. A decision to not wear garments for aesthetic or comfort reasons (i.e. it’s hot and they make you sweat) is seen by many members of the church as a pretty big deal. If one were to be the rumor-spreading type, this would be cause to start saying, “pssst… Did you see that Sister So-and-So isn’t wearing her garments so she can wear that low-cut shirt?! OMG she’s not keeping her covenants! Naughty!” So when Anonymous notices that half the Mormons in her congregation in Louisiana aren’t wearing garments, presumably just because it’s hot, well, it’s kind of a big deal in Mormondom.
So the first thing y’all have learned about Mormons is that we all walk around trying to guess what kind of underwear everyone else is wearing. When we see a dude wearing shorts above the knee, uh oh. naughty. Woman with a sleeveless shirt? OMG sky is falling!
Ok, Anonymous, so what should you do when it’s super-hot outside and wearing an extra t-shirt or long underwear just makes things worse? Well, I think you’ve got 6 options
- Move to Canada – well, it would solve your immediate problem, right? so give that some thought.
- Never go outside – If you never leave the air conditioning, you’re set. As a bonus, this will give you plenty of excuses to order delivery for dinner and sit around reading my blog.
- Try different fabrics – The church is not completely deaf to complaints from members of the church who need more breathable materials. They offer garments (note to non-Mormons: yes, you have to buy the garments via mailorder from Salt Lake City) in a number of different cuts and fabrics. Let’s be serious, though… this ain’t gonna solve your problems.
- Deal with it – You could just be a good Mormon and wear your garments like you promised you would and the Lord will bless you for it. At least you won’t retain any water weight since you’ll sweat it all out, right?
- Pretend to be exercising – LOOPHOLE WIN – since exercising is definitely one of the approved reasons to not wear the garments, just tell yourself you’re always exercising. It will be pretty believable since you’ll be sweating so much. Plus you can get away with wearing even less. Shirtless or sports bra and jogging shorts not a problem.
- Don’t wear them – So I guess this is what your peers seem to be doing – if it’s uncomfortable to wear them, they just don’t do it. Problem solved. The down side, I guess, is that you might feel like you aren’t “keeping your covenants” (and you’ll sweat like a pig anyway).
Ok, Anonymous, now I’m gonna be honest with you. I might be reading into your question a little bit, but it almost sounds like you’re looking for me to justify your decision to not wear garments whenever it gets uncomfortable. Ok, go ahead. I don’t care. If you don’t wanna wear them, then don’t wear them. You’re a adult, right? Choose your own underwear already.
Here’s the important thing to keep in mind about garments. They aren’t actually magical underwear or anything. They’re symbolic (and the good thing about spiritual symbolism is that they can be symbolic of whatever you want them to be symbolic of). And if wearing them is causing you to form a negative association towards garments or towards whatever you’ve decided they symbolize, then they aren’t serving their symbolic purpose and you may as well not wear them anyway.
My recommendation is that you decide what garments symbolize to you, and then decide to let something else provide that symbolism at times when you choose not to wear the garments. I’m thinking maybe a necklace, ring, or bracelet that you can keep with you no matter where you go.
Ok peeps. Got any more questions?