For about a year and a half, I regularly went mountain biking while wearing a skirt. Why would I wear such an inappropriate costume for biking? I was a Mormon missionary.
Modesty was a problem for me during my missionary days. Skirts flap around Marilyn Monroe-style on a bike.
Skirt damage was another issue. I shopped for skirts carefully: not so straight that I couldn’t pedal, but not so wide that the fabric would get caught in the gears—at least, not usually. Eventually, there would come the day when I would hit a pothole and my skirt would fly into the gears anyway, which would shred it to pieces or hopelessly stain it with oil.
To avoid exposing myself or destroying my clothes, sometimes I applied the adult diaper method to my skirts, wrapping them around my legs and pinning them. I’ll bet that was the dignified look Church Headquarters was going for when they set up the dress code. Anyhow, it wasn’t a full-proof solution.
I never wanted to give up my missionary bike. Bikes are good for missionary work; they get you from place to place faster than walking but keep you outdoors where you can meet people. As a bonus, biking creates a refreshing breeze that feels so good when the weather is hot.
However, bikes and skirts are clearly a bad combination, so what is a woman to do? Fortunately, just recently (in the late 1800’s), our foremothers discovered a brilliant new technology to address this problem: ladies’ pants.
Hurray! With pants, a woman can look modest, professional and even conservative, yet she can ride her bike with ease. We should get some of these wonder garments for our beloved sister missionaries.
As an added bonus, dressing sister missionaries in pants would help clear up the common misconception that Mormonism is a repressive fundamentalist sect that requires women to wear dresses all the time. We Mormons have plenty of real female repression issues; we don’t need to advertize others that don’t exist.
But isn’t there some sort of commandment about how missionaries must wear dresses? Wouldn’t it require a revelation from God to change the missionary dress code?
In Doctrine and Covenants 42:6 we read: “And ye shall go forth in the power of my Spirit, preaching my gospel, two by two, whilst wearing pretty skirts.”
Just kidding. There actually isn’t any doctrinal mandate that requires missionaries to wear skirts. (I bet you elders are relieved. Most of you wouldn’t look good in skirts.)
It appears that God decided to let us use some agency on this one…or common sense.
What would it take for common sense to prevail over the missionary dress code? Perhaps Church Headquarters just needs an opportunity to walk a mile in a sister missionary’s shoes, or rather, bike a mile in a sister missionary’s skirt. There are some beautiful biking trails in the foothills surrounding Church Headquarters. I would invite everyone there, especially the brethren, to put on a skirt and go for a bike ride.
When you get back, let’s chat about the missionary dress code.