The Ethics Of Clothing – How To Dress For Polygamy
Posted by Cate on July 3, 2008
So, you’re down with the No Sweat shoes, you don’t wear fur and you like buying fashions that are ‘refashioned’ or ‘upcycled’ as all the entrepreneurs are calling it. Clothing that is made by small businesses, not factories with a nod to history. Well, you now have another option.
Women from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) have released their own fashion line and online shop. You may recall the FLDS, a polygamous sect in Texas where over 400 children and teens were taken into custody The children were taken into custody after someone called a hot line claiming to be a pregnant, abused teenage wife. Officials said girls were being “groomed” to accept sex with their middle-aged “spiritual husbands” as soon as they hit puberty and boys were being indoctrinated to perpetuate the cycle of abuse, but disturbingly no arrests have been made.
So what kind of fashions might they provide?
According to The Age:
The austere dresses with long-sleeves and high collars, loose-fitting pants, long-johns and modest blouses worn by members of the sect are reminiscent of 19th century American pioneers and highlighted the sect’s isolation.
They are starting with children’s and babieswear. The website is painfully slow to load, but news media reports a significant interest in the clothing as it is ‘modest’ and well made. A lot of feminists (myself included) are horrified by some of the ‘tweens’ fashions out there. From tiny bras and g- strings to t shirts like these from Jay Jay’s:
(which promoted a campaign at Australian Women Online).
Doing a quick internet search, there appears to be quite a fashion line in Mormon clothing. Some examples:
You can get these from Modest by Design which has the slogan “Clothing your father would approve of” (No, I’m not joking).
I don’t think there is anything intrinsically wrong with choosing clothing which is based on styles which correspond with your personal ethic. Loads of women prefer long skirt and jeans to short skirts. And many of us would like to be judged on our actions not our appearances. But by ‘supporting’ the clothing of the NDLS are we helping women create their own enterprise (which may one day help them to leave the religious sect) or are we in fact, providing money for the containment of more young girls to one day become polygamous brides? Has children’s clothing become so sexualised that a counter-culture can be the only solution rather than a moral code by designers (and retailers) which governs how children are clothed? Or would this inpinge too much on personal choice?
I don’t have any answers, but I’ve plenty to think about.