If you go to LDS.org and search "modesty," you'll find this page which discusses the concept in great depth. In sum, it's "an attitude of propriety and decency in dress, grooming, language, and behavior. If we are modest, we do not draw undue attention to ourselves. Instead, we seek to "glorify God in [our] body, and in [our] spirit" (1 Corinthians 6:20).
So, now you know.
In the pictured note, the anonymous male asserts "many people come to [BYU] because they feel safe, morally as well as physically ...." By saying this, I feel he is implying that dressing modestly is for the benefit of others -- people will feel morally at-risk if we show too much skin! People might lust after us and be tempted to act out sexually if they see cleavage, or a thigh, or a shoulder! While these may indeed be consequences of immodest dress, they are not the reasons we cover our bodies. The purpose of modesty has already been made clear: we dress and behave modestly to show respect for God and ourselves.
Unfortunately, this young man is not alone in his line of thinking, and it saddens me to see this attitude so prevalent among Church members. Whatever happened to personal accountability? What happened to fleeing from the face of temptation?
I'm familiar with two scripture stories that address this concept. Let's go there.
King David was a righteous man and a revered king. One night he noticed a woman, Bathsheba, bathing on the roof. Rather than look away, he lusted after her, got her pregnant and then had her husband Uriah killed to hide the sin.
If we dress modestly because it prevents others from being tempted, then Bathsheba is at fault here. Right? Well, no ... that doesn't make any sense. Bathsheba was just bathing. Maybe she knew she was being watched, maybe she didn't. In any case, it was David who took the first step toward sin. It was David who allowed his thought to become an action.
Then, there was Joseph, who was sold into slavery in Egypt. He became the head slave of Potiphar, captain of the guard. One day, Potiphar's wife attempted to seduce Joseph, even ripping his clothing off. In the face of this temptation, Joseph risked his position and his livelihood and RAN. Angered that he wouldn't sleep with her, Potiphar's wife accused Joseph of trying to rape her. He was then imprisoned over the accusation (but later found favor with the Pharaoh, so it all worked out).
If anything, David had it waaaaay easier -- he didn't have his boss's wife threatening him and tearing his clothes off -- but despite all that, Jospeh refused to "sin against God" when push came to shove.
Who do we, as Latter-day Saints, aspire to be like? David, or Joseph? Who do we want our sons to emulate?
And what do we want to teach our daughters? That the boys and men they associate with can't control their thoughts so we shouldn't tempt them with our collar bones? Or that God has given us these miraculous bodies and that we should respect Him in the way we choose to present ourselves?
I choose the second way.
Yes, as a Latter-day Saint, I have made a formal commitment in the temple to wear shorts, skirts and dresses that come to my knee-cap and and shirts with sleeves. I don't show my cleavage (not that I have any, let's be honest) and I keep my midriff covered (not that it's a temptation to show it off). But this is my commitment. Others have made the same one, sure, but it will be up to them to keep it how they see fit. And I'm glad! For one thing, I don't have the energy or time to go around making sure everyone is properly covered. And beside that, it's just not my place. It's not anyone's place to judge others by what they wear.
Not to mention, what would Jesus do? I know the question is trite, but it's usually very applicable. What would Jesus do if he saw a woman who wasn't dressed according to standards she had agreed to? My guess is, He wouldn't see that at all. He'd see a daughter of God. He'd smile at her, ask her how she was doing. He would minister unto her. He would teach her of His gospel and invite her to follow Him. He would love her.
Girls (including Bubby): dress modestly. But don't do it because others might look at you in a lustful or derogatory way. Do it because you love your body and are grateful for it. Do it because you love your Heavenly Father and want to respect and "glorify" Him. Do it because you are a daughter of God.
And boys (including Smush): be respectful to women and to yourselves. Appreciate others' beauty, but don't do what King David did. Instead, when you are tempted, or if someone's outfit makes you uncomfortable, look away. Change the channel. Close the browser window. You can do it, and I know you can, because you are a son of God.
Fellow Saints: Let's have faith in each other. Let's be respectful. Let's not debase each other into sex objects or animals with no self-control. Let's remember Jesus' example in how to treat others.
And please, let's STOP giving BYU a bad reputation with our weird notes and passive-aggressive self-righteousness! I'm so over it.