Bikini begone: What modesty at the beach means for Mormons, Muslims, Orthodox Jews, nuns

Summer is in full swing. For many of us, that means trips to the pool or the beach to cool off from the summer sun. So what are the options for people — women in particular — whose religion dictates modest dress? Deciding what to wear in the water as a conservative or plain clothes dresser varies by religion, and among individuals within a faith. Here are some of the general rules and practices of some major faiths.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints provides guidelines regarding women’s bikinis sale in an official document, “Handbook 2: Administering the Church,” available on the church website. According to the Utah-based faith, adult Mormons are required to wear special garments, a type of underwear that covers the shoulders and upper thigh, once they participate in sacred ordinances in an LDS temple. However, Section 21.1.42 of “Handbook 2” states that the garments may be removed for swimming. Nevertheless, Mormon women are encouraged to buy swimsuits that uphold the church’s general standard of modesty. While this does not mean their suits have to cover as much as the garments would, they generally
are expected to cover midriffs and to wear bottoms with sufficient coverage. This allows Mormon women, if they so choose, to wear fairly modern one piece suits and tankinis. Some unofficial LDS sites, such as LDS Living, publish swimwear guides to help girls find fashionable, modest suits.

Britain’s advertising regulator, reacting to these ads and similar ones, announced Tuesday that new rules would be developed to ban advertising that promotes gender stereotypes or denigrates people who do not conform to them; sexually objectifies women; or promotes unhealthy body images.

The regulator, the Advertising Standards Authority, released a report, titled “Depictions, Perceptions and Harm,” asking whether existing regulations address “the potential for harm or offense arising from the inclusion of gender stereotypes in ads.”

The answer, the report found, is no. The agency found that stereotypes could “restrict the choices, aspirations and opportunities” of ad viewers, especially girls and teenagers who are figuring out their identities and goals.

“Our review shows that specific forms of gender stereotypes in ads can contribute to harm for adults and children,” said Ella Smillie, the lead author of the report. “Such portrayals can limit how people see themselves, how others see them, and limit the life decisions they take.”

The Committee of Advertising Practice, which sets British advertising standards, in consultation with the industry, will develop new standards, starting later this year. The Advertising Standards Authority, an independent body, will then enforce those rules.

It said the ad showed women in a ‘gym setting’ and that the dancers wore swimwear and gym clothes and that the dancing ‘featured moves regularly performed during dance warm-ups, yoga, pilates, and other forms of exercise’.

It said the close-ups of women’s bikinis sale were used to ‘illustrate’ how its products would give users a ‘smooth bikini line’ and that it did not believe the ad was offensive of socially irresponsible.