For the Strength of Youth (1966)

March 13, 2007    By: Matt W. @ 9:44 pm   Category: Modesty,Mormon Culture/Practices


This past weekend I spent some time with my Wife’s Grandfather and he offered me the opportunity to rummage through his old books and take anything I am interested in. I don’t pass up such opportunities, and came away with a good bunch of books, including a 1930’s Adult Sunday School Manual, A 1955 Youth Sunday School Manual (Which I will post on soon, as it is amazing), a 1968 Church Handbook of Instructions, and a 1966 For the Strength of Youth Pamphlet.

Today I thought it would be fun to share the pamphlet with you.

It is 16 pages long, as compared with the current editions 44 pages, and has the following sections:

· Message from the first Presidency (1 page)
· LDS Standards (1 Paragraph)
· Dress (2 ½ pages)
· Ill Fitting Clothes, Curlers, Hair Fashions (1 page)
· Good Grooming (1 paragraph)
· Propriety in All Things (1 and 1/3 pages)
· Dating (2 pages)
· Acceptable Dancing (3 and 2/3 pages)
· Literature, TV, Entertainment (1 paragraph)
· Clean Living (1 page)

Compare that with the modern lineup:

· Message from the First Presidency
· Agency and Accountability
· Gratitude
· Education
· Family
· Friends
· Dress and Appearance
· Entertainment and the Media
· Music and Dancing
· Language
· Dating
· Sexual Purity
· Repentance
· Honesty
· Sabbath Day Observance
· Tithes and Offerings
· Physical Health
· Service to Others
· Go Forward with Faith
· The Living Christ: The Testimony of the Apostles
· The Family: A Proclamation to the World

Here are some gems from the 1966 edition:
1. Members of the church should be good dancers and not contortionists… Emphasis should be placed on smooth styling and clever footwork.

2. A real lady does not go out in public, to the market, or to the shops with her hair in curlers.

3. Girls should dress to enhance their natural beauty and femininity. Clothes should be comfortable and attractive without calling attention to a person’s body; 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.

4. Any apparel that suggests a house robe should not be worn in public but only in one’s home or apartment.

Here are some gems(on similar topics) from the 2001 edition:

1. 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?”

2. Dancing can be fun and can provide an opportunity to meet new people. However, it too can be misused. When dancing, avoid full body contact with your partner. Do not use positions or moves that are suggestive of sexual behavior. Plan and attend dances where dress, grooming, lighting, lyrics, and music contribute to a wholesome atmosphere where the Spirit of the Lord may be present

Sadly, neither curlers nor clever footwork made the current edition.


  1. Members of the church should be good dancers and not contortionists…

    Doh! Does that mean my killer version of the robot is out??

    Comment by Geoff J — March 13, 2007 @ 10:09 pm

  2. Well there goes half my wardrobe! Oh how I love those outfits that resemble house robes. So comfy!

    Comment by Kristen J — March 13, 2007 @ 10:09 pm

  3. few girls or women ever look well in backless or strapless dresses

    I like the way this is advice is based on the fact that most girls won’t look good (er…well) in a strapless dress rather than there being some sort of inherent problem with it. Does that mean it is okay to wear a strapless dress if you happen to be hot? In the opinion of this reporter, almost certainly yes.

    To make one real point, I think our leaders (being that they look to teenagers to be well into their 100s) should avoid basing their counsel on their ideas of what looks good (i.e. tattoos are ugly so you shouldn’t get one). They might be right, and I happen to agree with them on that one that tattoos are generally a bad idea, but base the argument on something else. As if I care at 16 that my mode of dress or grooming is appealing to a 90 year old. Tell me I’ll regret it some day, tell me I will go to hell, anything, just don’t try to convince I should care that you don’t like my fashion sense.

    Comment by Jacob J — March 14, 2007 @ 12:44 am

  4. It is an incredibly fun thing to rummage through old books and this is a fun post. 1968 was a good year for the CHI.

    Comment by J. Stapley — March 14, 2007 @ 8:43 am

  5. I hope to do a post or two on the CHI at some point.(It is interesting in that it shows a lot of the pre-technology bueracracy of the Church, and because it contains the short lived ban of women from prayer in Sacrament Meeting, which is a topic of research I hope to get to someday.) Before that, I really want to do take some time to talk about the merits of the Sunday School Manual by Obert C. Tanner (Whose life, by Mormon Standards, was an extremely compelling tragedy, in the shakespearian sense.)

    Comment by Matt W. — March 14, 2007 @ 9:21 am

  6. I would live in sweats if I could.

    Comment by Susan M — March 14, 2007 @ 10:13 am

  7. Doh! Does that mean my killer version of the robot is out??

    It’s approved as long as you maintain good posture (avoid crouching, slumping, or backbends) and leave out excessive body jerking and hip and shoulder shaking.

    Also approved: the waltz, fox trot, chacha, rhumba, tango, samba, swing, and folk dancing.

    Disapproved: the twist, the chicken scratch, the stomp, the pony, the fug, the monkey, the jerk, and the swim.

    Comment by Justin — March 14, 2007 @ 3:21 pm

  8. Rumor has it Brigham banned the waltz. Justin, can you confirm or deny? I just don’t want to tell people they are safe dancing the waltz if it might carry some historical taint.

    Comment by Jacob J — March 15, 2007 @ 9:26 am

  9. Justin: As ever, I am impressed. (I have to admit it took a while for me to figure out who Justin Butterfield was. Now I wonder who he is)

    Comment by Matt W. — March 15, 2007 @ 10:21 am

  10. The enigmatic Justin knows all…

    Comment by Geoff J — March 15, 2007 @ 10:24 am

  11. 2. A “real lady” does not go out in public, to the market, or to the shops with her hair in curlers.

    I would laugh my butt off if I saw anyone wearing curlers these days.

    Comment by Spencer J — March 15, 2007 @ 12:10 pm

  12. The waltz carries some taint. I believe BY tended to disapprove of round dancing, and some LDS communities tried banning all round dancing in response to his counsel. But it was impossible to stamp out entirely.

    Shortly after BY’s death in 1877, a Deseret News article commented regarding round dancing: “There has been among all correct feeling people a strong prejudice against them, as they tend, though not always intentionally so, to demoralize our youth, and operate prejudicially to those innocent enjoyments which ought to characterize the recreation of the Latter-day Saints. We do not wish to be too restrictive in relation to these matters, but would recommend there be not more than one or two permitted in an evening.”

    The waltz still drew criticism in the 1880s and 1890s. The January 1887 Contributor stated: “The waltz has been called by an author, who created considerable excitement at the time his book appeared, the dance of death, and, indeed, the manner in which it is conducted, the disgusting familiarity which some dancers presume that it authorizes, and the moral laxity which submits to its abuse, are the most prominent reasons given by our people, as well as the world, for the suppression of the round dancing habit.”

    Dancing Among the Mormons

    Comment by Justin — March 15, 2007 @ 12:10 pm

  13. Backless dresses, eh?
    I’ve always thought my back was one of my better features, too bad that option is out. ;)
    The “clever footwork” and waltz discussion is interesting in light of BYU’s world famous ballroom dancing program. (what, do they have 4 teams?) It’s interesting how things change so much in such a short time.
    Any guesses what our grandchildren will say about our standards in the next 50 years?

    Comment by jessawhy — March 16, 2007 @ 5:42 pm

  14. That is SO awesome! I was actually talking about the old Young Women manuals in Young Women’s today — thanks for giving me something to quote.

    Doh! Does that mean my killer version of the robot is out??

    Ha ha, I love it!

    Comment by Kat!e — September 30, 2007 @ 11:26 am

  15. We chuckle at the antiquity of some statements and seem to feel that over time certain customs change and become acceptable.
    Dancing styles have changed, and what once would have been considered outrageous and vulgar is now the standard fare at any Stake sponsored dance.
    Elvis was edited on the Ed Sullivan Show. He gyrated too much, so they only shot his number from the waist up. We giggle at such a notion now when we see the dance styles of any MTV generation band or super star.
    But, my question is…Is there a point at which we do cross an “unacceptable” line when it comes to dancing? Or is it just a matter of time before the sexual movements and ultra-close contacts of today are also accepted as normal and permissible?

    Comment by Mary — September 30, 2007 @ 8:43 pm

  16. Mary,

    In my experience, it always turns out that there are unacceptable lines to be crossed–all morality it not relative to one’s culture. The phenomenon you describe with Elvis seems to me to rely on the fact that we put up “hedges.” God tells Eve not to eat of the fruit and before you can blink she has expanded this to say that she must not even touch the fruit. We put up a series of hedges around the law and sometimes someone knocks one down, but in the end there must actually be some things that are sins per se, or else there is nothing to put a hedge around and the whole thing is a sham.

    Comment by Jacob J — September 30, 2007 @ 9:06 pm

  17. Dear all, as a mormon I can’t help but laugh at some of your comments. Just to clear a few things up…we are not supposed to get tattoos, not because they think they look bad, but because our body is a temple. Please tell me you do not draw on our temples! As for strapless dresses or anything without sleves, it isn’t because they look bad either. It’s a matter of being modest. Keeping other’s minds clean and pure instead of wandering. But, thanx for the laugh, it was pleasant.

    Comment by Danielle — November 26, 2007 @ 5:51 pm

  18. Danielle,

    It is true that President Hinckley consistently uses the doctrine of our bodies being temples as a rational against tattoos. (We do hang artwork in the temples, but I guess that doesn’t count.) However, you said the counsel is not because they think tattoos look bad. On the contrary, Pres. Hinckley said this in the October 2000 general conference:

    It is sad and regrettable that some young men and women have their bodies tattooed. What do they hope to gain by this painful process? Is there “anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy” (A of F 1:13) in having unseemly so-called art impregnated into the skin to be carried throughout life, all the way down to old age and death? They must be counseled to shun it. They must be warned to avoid it. The time will come that they will regret it but will have no escape from the constant reminder of their foolishness except through another costly and painful procedure.

    I submit that it is an uncomely thing, and yet a common thing, to see young men with ears pierced for earrings, not for one pair only, but for several.

    They have no respect for their appearance. Do they think it clever or attractive to so adorn themselves?

    I submit it is not adornment. It is making ugly that which was attractive. Not only are ears pierced, but other parts of the body as well, even the tongue. It is absurd. (whole talk here, all italics mine)

    As I said, I agree with the counsel, I just worry that the message above is not persuasive to teenagers who simply disagree about whether or not it is attractive and couldn’t care less if the prophet agrees with their fashion sense. I like the angle about “you will regret it” since I think that is quite frequently the case.

    Comment by Jacob J — November 26, 2007 @ 6:52 pm

  19. Jacob,
    I enjoy your views. You’re right, Pres. Hinckley does think that tattoos are ugly. But, why? Because they just don’t look good…probably, but more so that they drive away the spirit because they are a taint to our temples (bodies).

    Comment by Danielle — November 28, 2007 @ 3:26 pm

  20. If the theological reason behind no tattoos is the “take care of our temple (body) because failing to do so drives away the spirit” argument then I think our church leaders are delinquent in their duties. Have you seen how many fat Mormons there are? If failing to take good care of our bodies drives away the spirit then how do all those fat and even obese Mormons ever feel the spirit?

    Disclaimer — I don’t actually think being fat drives away the spirit but I also don’t buy the blanket “take care of our temple (body) because failing to do so drives away the spirit” argument.

    Comment by Geoff J — November 28, 2007 @ 4:02 pm

  21. I haven’t laughed so much in ages – thanks guys for your extraordinarily talented responses. We can laugh – but the Lord’s standards are His standards and one day we will understand why. In the meantime, get out those curlers,find your best backless top and dance (the robot or the worm) like no ones watching!!! (In your room)

    Comment by Leigh — February 19, 2008 @ 2:14 am

  22. Hi! I thought you might be interested in seeing a fun music video my family and I made about modesty. Here is the link to the video: . My husband and some friends wrote the song as a means to communicating the sensitive subject of modesty to a show choir at the University of Utah’s Institute of Religion some years ago. It was a big hit and we feel like it might help young women to get the message. Thanks, enjoy!


    Comment by Brittany — October 5, 2010 @ 2:28 pm