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From Grubbies to Spiritual Guidance: Dress Standards in the “For the Strength of Youth” Over the Years

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In October 2022, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced an extensive update to its “For the Strength of Youth” guide. Initially published in 1964, the guide was designed to help youth of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints understand and apply both gospel principles and standards set forth by leaders. The pamphlet has undergone a number of changes over ten editions. One significant section that has been updated throughout the years focuses on dress and grooming. Below, we take a closer look at these changes.

1965 Edition

1965 For the Strength of Youth booklet | | rexburgstandardjournal.com

The original 1965 edition focuses primarily on dress standards. Other sections include good grooming, acceptable dancing, and clean living. This edition states:

Church standards regarding the appropriateness of dress should be a constant guide to the youth of the Church wherever they are so they will always be comfortable, knowing they are within the real of good taste. 

It is difficult to make an over-all statement concerning modest standards of dress, because modest cannot be determined by inches or fit since that which looks modest on one person may not be so on another. 

Whether youth are at school, attending a sacrament or other church meeting, dance, athletic, or sports-camp activity, at home or away, church standards require young men and women to be appropriately dressed. Modesty is a protection for the youth of the Church and is one of the Lord’s ways to help them live lean, wholesome lives. 

Girls should dress to enhance their natural beauty and femininity. Clothes should be comfortable and attractive without calling attention to a person’s body; for example, skirts should be long enough to cover the kneecap, and they should not be too tight fitting. Dresses should not be cut extremely low at the top. Strapless dresses and spaghetti straps are not acceptable either on sundresses or evening dresses. Few girls or women ever look well in backless or strapless dresses. Such styles often make the figure look ungainly and large, or they show the bony structures of the body. 

When at home working in the yard, hiking, traveling to the mountains, camping, or participating in active sports, girls or women may appropriately wear slacks. However, they should not be too tight. Pedal pushers, knee-knockers, bermudas, capris, or any pants which reach just above the knee are acceptable. Of course, those who have been through the temple are expected to wear clothing of appropriate style. Pants for young women are not desirable attire for shopping, at school, in the library, in cafeterias or restaurants. Any apparel that suggests a house robe should not be worn in public but only in one’s home or apartment. Tight-fitting sweaters and figure-hugging clothes of any kind are not appropriate LDS dress. 

Bathing suits which immodestly expose the body, such as bikinis and those with bare midriffs, should never be worn. Swim suits are fashioned for a particular purpose and should not be worn as casual dress for summer, but should be worn only for swimming. While traveling to and from the beach or swimming pools, young men and women should be fully dressed or at least their swimming suits should be covered with outer clothing. 

Int is not appropriate for young men to wear extremely tight-fitting pants. When driving around in cars, working in the yard or elsewhere, they should wear appropriate trousers and shirts. Shorts may be worn during actual participation in active sports. Young men should always dress appropriately for the place and the occasion. For special school or church dances, they should wear a suit with a dress shirt and tie, but never tennis shoes or “T” shirts. Sports jackets or dressy sweaters are appropriate apparel for the more casual dances. 

Shorts or athletic costumes of any kind should not be worn in the chapels of our Church. Wisdom and good judgment should be used in choosing appropriate clothes which are in good taste. 

Girls should always try to look feminine in their dress. They should not dress like boys or try to give a masculine appearance. Dress often determines their actions. “Grubbies” are inappropriate in public for everyone.  A “real lady” doe snot go out in public, to the market, or to shops with her hair in curlers. 

Women’s hair is much more becoming and flattering in a lovely, natural hair-do. Young men’s hair should not be too long. Extreme hair styles are equally poor taste for young men as well as for young women. 

1990 Edition

For the Strength of Youth (1990) by Vintage LDS - Issuu

The 1990 edition was greatly expanded compared to previous iterations. Sister Ardeth G. Kapp, General Young Women’s President, said, “The title For the Strength of Youth is not new. It was previously published in 1965, under the direction of the First Presidency. But because of the trend toward immorality and other ills in society, and also because of the expansion of the Church into new geographical areas over the years, a more comprehensive, more explicit statement of Church standards was needed.”

Servants of God have always counseled his children to dress modestly to show respect for him and for themselves. Because the way you dress sends messages about yourself to others and often influences the way you and others act, you should dress in such a way as to bring out the best in yourself and those around you. However, if you wear an immodest bathing suit because its “the style,” it sends a message that you are using your body to get attention and approval, and that modesty is not important. 

Immodest clothing includes short shorts, tight pants, and other revealing attire. Young women should refrain from wearing off-the-shoulder, low-cut, or revealing clothes. Young men should similarly maintain modesty in their dress. All should avoid tight-fitting or revealing clothes and extremes in clothing and appearance. 

As Latter-day Saint youth, you can also show respect for the Lord and yourselves by dressing appropriately for Church meetings and activities, whether on Sunday or during the week. If you are not sure what’s appropriate, ask for guidelines from your parents, advisers, and bishop. 

2001 Edition

In 2001, the pamphlet was again expanded. It went from 19 pages to 44 pages.

Your body is God’s sacred creation. Respect it as a gift from God, and do not defile it in any way. Through your dress and appearance, you can show the Lord that you know how precious your body is. YOu can show that you are a disciple of Jesus Christ. 

Prophets of God have always counseled His children to dress modestly. The way you dress is a reflection of what you are on the inside. Your dress and grooming send messages about you to others and influence the way you and others act. When you are well groomed and modestly dressed, you invite the companionship of the Spirit and can exercise a good influence on those around you. 

Never lower your dress standards for any occasion. Doing so sends the message that you are using your body to get attention and approval and that modest is important only when it is convenient. 

Immodest clothing includes short shorts and skirts, tight clothing, shirts that do not cover the stomach, and other revealing attire. Young women should wear clothing that covers the shoulder and avoid clothing that is low-cut in the front or the back or revealing in any other manner. Young men should also maintain modesty in their appearance. All should avoid extremes in clothing, appearance, and hairstyle. Always be neat and clean and avoid being sloppy or inappropriately casual in dress, grooming, and manners. Ask yourself, “Would I feel comfortable with my appearance if I were in the Lord’s presence?”

Someday you will receive your endowment in the temple. Your dress and behavior should help you prepare for that sacred time. 

Do not disfigure yourself with tattoos or body piercings. If girls or women desire to have their ears pierced, they are encouraged to wear only one pair of modest earrings. 

Show respect for the Lord and for yourself by dressing appropriately for Church meetings and activities, whether on Sunday or during the week. If you are not sure what is appropriate, ask your parents or leaders for help. 

2011 Edition

Young Women General President Elaine S. Dalton said of the 2011 edition, “For the Strength of Youth has been revised to address the issues youth face today; to teach them the doctrine behind the standards and the promised blessings of obedience.

Your body is sacred. Respect it and do not defile it in any way. Through your dress and appearance, you can show that you know how precious your body is. You can show that you are a disciple of Jesus Christ and that you love Him. 

Prophets of God have continually counseled His children to dress modestly. when you are well groomed and modestly dressed, you invite the companionship of the Spirit and you can be a good influence on others. Your dress and grooming influence the way you and others act. 

Never lower your standards of dress. Do not use a special occasion as an excuse to be immodest. When you dress immodestly, you send a message that is contrary to your identity as a son or daughter of God. You also send the message that you are using your body to get attention and approval. 

Immodest clothing is any clothing that is tight, sheer, or revealing in any other manner. Young women should avoid short shorts and short skirts, shirts that do not cover the stomach, and clothing that does not cover the shoulders or is low-cut in the front or the back. Young men should also maintain modesty in their appearance. Young men and young women should be neat and clean and avoid being extreme or inappropriately casual in clothing, hairstyle, and behavior. They should choose appropriately modest apparel when participating in sports. The fashions of the world will change, but the Lord’s standards will not change. 

Do not disfigure yourself with tattoos or body piercings. Young women, if you desire to have your ears pierced, wear only one pair of earrings. 

Show respect for the Lord and yourself by dressing appropriately for Church meetings and activities. This is especially important when attending sacrament services. Young men should dress with dignity when officiating in the ordinance of the sacrament. 

If you are not sure what is appropriate to wear, study the words of the prophets, pray for guidance, and ask your parents or leaders for help. Your dress and appearance now will help you prepare for the time when you will go to the temple to make sacred covenants with God. Ask yourself, “Would I feel comfortable with my appearance if I were in the Lord’s presence?” 

2022 Edition

 

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf introduced a vastly different approach to the “For the Strength of Youth” in October 2022. He said, “For the Strength of Youth focuses on the foundation for your choices. It focuses on values, principles, and doctrine instead of every specific behavior. I suppose the guide could give you long lists of clothes you shouldn’t wear, words you shouldn’t say, and movies you shouldn’t watch. But would that really be helpful in a global church? Would such an approach truly prepare you for a lifetime of Christlike living?”

Treat your body—and others’ bodies—with respect. As you make decisions about your clothing, hairstyle, and appearance, ask yourself, “Am I honoring my body as a sacred gift from God?” Heavenly Father wants us to see each other for who we really are: not just physical bodies but His beloved children with a divine destiny. Avoid styles that emphasize or draw inappropriate attention to your physical body instead of who you are as a child of God with an eternal future. Let moral cleanliness and love for God guide your choices. Seek counsel from your parents.

Your respect for yourself and others will increase as you honor your body through your behavior, appearance, and dress.

What is the Lord’s standard on dress, grooming, tattoos, and piercings? The Lord’s standard is for you to honor the sacredness of your body, even when that means being different from the world. Let this truth and the Spirit be your guide as you make decisions—especially decisions that have lasting effects on your body. Be wise and faithful, and seek counsel from your parents and leaders.

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Aleah Ingram
Aleah Ingram
Aleah is a graduate of Southern Virginia University, where she studied English, Creative Writing, and Dance. She now works full time as a marketing and product manager, writer, and editor. Aleah served a mission in California and loves baking, Lang Leav poetry, Gaynor Minden pointe shoes, and Bollywood movies.

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