You Probably Think This Post is About You
When I was about 11 years old, I owned a few necklaces, a couple of bracelets, a CTR ring and probably another ring, and had just gotten my first anklet. I though wearing them was fun and dressy and every Sunday, I made sure I had a necklace, a bracelet for each wrist, my rings, and my anklet on when I went to Church. It was my Sunday best and I loved it.
One Sunday in my primary class, we read this scripture in 2 Nephi 13:
17 Therefore the Lord will smite with a scab the crown of the head of the daughters of Zion, and the Lord will discover their secret parts.
18 In that day the Lord will take away the bravery of their tinkling ornaments, and cauls, and round tires like the moon;
19 The chains and the bracelets, and the mufflers;
20 The bonnets, and the ornaments of the legs, and the headbands, and the tablets, and the ear-rings;
21 The rings, and nose jewels;
22 The changeable suits of apparel, and the mantles, and the wimples, and the crisping-pins;
23 The glasses, and the fine linen, and hoods, and the veils.
24 And it shall come to pass, instead of sweet smell there shall be stink; and instead of a girdle, a rent; and instead of well set hair, baldness; and instead of a stomacher, a girding of sackcloth; burning instead of beauty.
And in the corner of the room, I heard one of the boys in my class tell another boy, “Like Heather.”
After that I stopped wearing any jewelry to church. I don’t remember what the lesson was on, but I did know I was the kind of person that God destroyed. I had been shamed by my peers and they had the scriptures available to prove they were right in doing so. I stopped wearing the things that made me happy. Part of me is mad at those boys for shaming me. And part of me knows that they were right a little bit: some of the reason I wore the jewelry was vanity.
I think about this every year when Mormon fashion sites blog about the “modest” styles on the red carpet and all the subsequent comments about how really no “red carpet” dress could be considered “modest” because of the price tag. But dressing up is fun, I think to myself, and I can’t fault the celebrities for that. I feel like we are the little boys in my primary class, whispering to each other, and judging and shaming.
I thought about it a couple weeks ago when my oldest, who is 8, wore multiple bracelets and her necklace to church. Will she get vanity-shamed from a primary lesson as well? Do I say something to her before we go to church? Or do I let her wear what she wants and risk it?
I’m wondering whether or not other people discuss vanity with their kids. Is there a way to do it without shaming or judgment- either making the kid feel bad or by pointing out “other” people who demonstrate vanity? Have you dealt with kids being shamed for vanity? Have you been that kid yourself?