Toe Cleavage!!!

I used to work for a department of BYU that printed annual academic calendars and took them around to other campus offices. One year, as I recapped here, (seriously, go read it, I had a super fun workplace) there was this big kerfuffle about the group of smiling multicultural people featured on the calendar. After we'd already delivered them, someone (I do not know who, but they must have had power) complained about the immodestly dressed models. Next thing we knew, the calendars had been Photoshopped, reprinted, and then we had to go redeliver them, throw away the originals, and not actually tell people why they were getting a new calendar. I think we were told to say that one of the dates was wrong or something.

The changes? A little girl had sleeves added to her sundress and the skirt lengthened. The white tank top peeking out beneath a woman's v-necked necked shirt was colored to match her shirt lest people think this woman was running around flashing garments. The same woman was wearing open-toed sandals and her toes were colored in because her toe cleavage was offensive.

Nuts, right? Except I think some of those Overzealous Immodesty Police may have ended up over at the Ensign magazine. Take a look at what Heather over at Doves & Serpents just noticed when she compared this Carl Heinrich Bloch painting as printed in the Ensign to its original. (I'll wait while you read her description of the changes.) They didn't just remove the wings, they also made the angels robes more modest (and also: ugly).

Does anybody else think that maybe we are going a little bit nuts about the modesty, here? Why insult an artist by choosing to use his work but then removing everything that does not reflect our own current religious or cultural standards? If that's the new rule for art, I'm sure there are plenty of crappy painters out there who would be willing to paint religious scenes and be sure to put Shade shirts and close-toed shoes on everyone and make sure all the guys are clean-shaven with really short hair.

Also. Sorry to be crass, here, but do we really think some teenage boy is going to take the Ensign into the bathroom with him and then blame the church for putting angel porn right in front of him like that? Really?

I suddenly feel like I'm in the middle of a Weekend Update: Really?!? segment with Seth Meyers. (Note: Does anybody else have a total crush on Seth or is it just me? It should be allowed, look at how modestly dressed he is here. Assuming, of course, that he's wearing pants.)


Sarah said... [reply]

Ha! I remember the toe cleavage calendars. I still tell people about that. Congrats on the job and move, btw!

Jessica said... [reply]

I have no words.

It's funny too, because the Church's focus on "modesty" is relatively recent. A review of Church films from the 50s-60s will reveal a plethora of young women wearing (gasp!) sleeveless dresses. Which I assume were provided by the costume department at the LDS Motion Picture studio. Which wasn't even the LDSMPS at the time, but a film studio run by BYU.

I think we're getting a little too extravagant (read: immodest) in our attempts to prevent exposure of the innocent masses to the provocative female shoulder.

Señora H-B said... [reply]

Ah, toe cleavage.... The bane of your former place of employment and BYU-Idaho (well, I guess their ban is on flip-flops). I think Jessica's comment is spot-on. It's gotten a little (a lot) out of hand. Who knew my shoulders could provoke such salacious thoughts?

Nemesis said... [reply]

Exactly, Senora. Or, you know, the shoulders of a three-year-old girl.

Emily said... [reply]

Huh. That seems weird to me that they would do that. What about Our Lord and Savior's clothing? He's showing a lot more than the girls are. Just saying.

I guess I think either the art is okay as it is, or it isn't. If it isn't, use different art. If it is ok, don't edit it. It kind of seems disrespectful of artists to edit their work.

Desmama said... [reply]

Yeah, I'm kind of thinking the same thing--if the painting in its original form isn't okay, then don't use it. Don't modify it.

Also? Don't even get me started on omitting angel wings. My MIL hacks all the angel wings off her (numerous) nativity sets and it makes me crazy. "It's a symbol!" I want to tell her. Why is it okay to sing about angel wings in our hymns ("They bend on hov'ring wing") but somehow seeing the wings is a doctrinal no-no. I don't get it.

Brandi said... [reply]

First, I'm still laughing about "Angel porn."

Second, I have the best bishop EVER (no, really. EVER.) He addressed the congregation and explained that there is a difference between modest clothing and clothing that can be worn with garments. Namely, just because something couldn't be worn with the garment doesn't mean that it's immodest. He said that modesty ultimately comes down to us respecting ourselves and our bodies and remembering that we're children of God.
He ALSO reminded everyone that modesty doesn't just mean covering up. it mostly means not dressing or acting in way that is deliberately showy--that modesty is really more of a synonym for humbleness and meekness.
ALSO ALSO, he emphasized that everyone is responsible for his or her own thoughts and what someone else is wearing does not lessen one's own accountability for those thoughts.
It also helps that we live way out "In The Mission Field" (AKA, Tennessee). If flip flops were banned, the chapel would be empty every Sunday.

Lady Susan said... [reply]

I just have to say that I agree with what has already been stated. I am rather appalled and offended. Seriously? Don't go messing with a classic painting.

Ariana said... [reply]

I researched the covers of Ensign magazines, and I see NO such cover (angel porn one)! What year and month was this? Sounds like somebody making stuff up and spreading it around to make the church look dumb.

Nemesis said... [reply]

Ariana, it wasn't on the cover. It was on page 54 of the December 2011 Ensign. The crazy thing is that the article is about a family's powerful experience of seeing the original (un-censored) painting in Denmark. They saw the painting, had a spiritual experience, but someone thought the painting should be changed before going into the magazine.

Bebe McGooch said... [reply]

This is just downright bizarre.

I'm trying to think that maybe there's too much confusion on what can be worn with the garment, or perhaps that too many people who are endowed but don't wear their garments are claiming ignorance? I don't understand what's going on here.

My sister recently had a member in her RS presidency released because although the sister was endowed, she was not wearing her garments. The RS president assumed that the sister probably just didn't understand how and when the garment should be worn, and just needed an explanation. But the sister flat out said, "I like to wear certain clothes that can't be worn with garments. You might not understand because you don't dress 'young' like I do."

It was strange to me that the president really believed it was an issue of ignorance, and not just a choice that the sister was making. That's the only thing I can extrapolate from this horribly photoshopping of a Bloch painting--some powers that be really believe that there must be a lot of confusion. Bless their hearts for thinking that good of people, I guess.

Bebe McGooch said... [reply]

I'd still like to see an original as well. Will search out a copy of this Ensign, since the link you provided doesn't reveal the image.

Scully said... [reply]

Wow. That seems so very wrong to do to a beautiful piece of art work. I find it interesting that halos are okay but wings aren't. Both are symbolic. Also, ditto on Seth Meyers.

Nemesis said... [reply]

Bebe, while not agreeing with the idea of removing your temple garments, I'm not sure why that constitutes automatic release from callings. Was there more to it?

Kristi said... [reply]

"Assuming, of course, that he's wearing pants." Ha! I snorted out loud at that line. Thanks. :)

I never understood why the dress code at IS was so important. I rebelled in my choice of socks, and still blame my employment at BYU for my sock fetish. Although, to be honest, I enjoy my sock collection, so I can't complain too loudly.

CAW said... [reply]

You've said it all so I don't have much to add except to say enough. This weird micromanaging by the church about things that, in my opinion, do not matter has got to stop. I'm getting to the point where I don't trust a lot of what we, as church members, are told by the good old boys club.

Ok, bitter rant done. :)

Liz Johnson said... [reply]

Yeah, messing with an artist's painting really bothers me. And the overemphasis on modesty has gotten beyond crazy... can we please move on to something else? Maybe we could become obsessed with charity and volunteering in our communities? It would be SO MUCH MORE PRODUCTIVE.

Audrey said... [reply]

Amen to all of this!

Once upon a time when I taught a class at BYU, I gave a homework assignment from the course workbook that was illustrated with a Baroque painting of Adam and Eve, who were represented with the traditional fig leaves. When I collected the homework, at least 50% of the students had drawn clothes on Adam and Eve. One had cut out the picture entirely, another covered it up with a post-it note, and another came up to me after class and told me he was shocked that I assigned homework with an immodest picture on it. You can't make this stuff up, people!

There are terrible atrocities happening daily all over the world, and we are choosing to be offended by and take a stand against artistic semi-nudity in a workbook? Really? Let's put aside the righteous indignation and channel our energies toward making the world a better place for EVERYONE, not just a better place for my sensitive little eyes while I'm doing my homework.

Christina said... [reply]

Okay, so as an Art History major, I was a little miffed that the painting was changed, but I also thought, "Well, I can see how if this is something that goes with an article explaining certain church doctrines or in some other contexts, it might make sense to have it conform with the 'official stance.'" However, now that I've read the comments and the article is about someone having a spiritual experience with the ORIGINAL PAINTING, good grief!!!! That's like me saying that I was converted by seeing the Y on the mountain but then the picture really showed a U.

Audra said... [reply]

Love the Seth comment. Though I must say I LOVE Stefan the most! Favorite character ever!

And this whole post cracked me up.

Oh, and by the way I still read all your stuff. Just life is nuts so I rarely comment unless you mention SNL which I then have to tell you about my weird Stefan thing.

Bridget said... [reply]

Wow, that is ridiculous.

beckyww said... [reply]

Hey there - Not related to your current post, but when I read this in Brad's Deals - I thought of you! One Year of Urban Farm Magazine $4.50

Today only, a one year subscription (6 issues) to Urban Farm Magazine drops from $15 to $4.50 with our code BRADSDEALS at DiscountMags. This magazine focuses on how to garden in cities and suburbs and includes gardening basics, instructions on preserving and freezing, and more. Please note that only a one year subscription is available. This deal won't last, so act fast!

mj said... [reply]

Agreed. Ridiculous to mess with a classic painting.

I'm going to go find my December issue (I think I saw the toddler ripping it to shreds recently). Then I just might write a letter.

mj said... [reply]

Rats, I could only find back to January 2012 in my house.

I wanted to also say that I don't get why every female in the church all the way down to babies is suddenly expected to wear temple-ready clothing. I remember being pretty proud of myself that I found such a stylish and modest dress for my senior prom in 1996 despite the fact that it was sleeveless. I guess maybe it's a backlash against pre-teen Victoria Secret wear and the like. I don't think there's anything wrong with being extra-modest if you want to, but I hate the thought of someone being shunned at church or "Mormon Prom" (or gasp that actual prom in Provo?) because their mom can't sew and they can't afford to shop at LDS bridal or whatever online.

Bebe McGooch said... [reply]

Hey Nem, just saw your question. I really don't know if there was more to the issue, but I assume that to be in the RS presidency, you must be temple worthy, and not wearing the garment doesn't coincide with that.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...