Earlier this week we reported on some softly revised dress and grooming standards for Mormon missionaries that allowed for sunglasses and wide-brimmed hats. That stuff practically flew under the radar.
Now, however, the Mormon Newsroom has released a lengthy article describing revised dress standards aimed squarely at preventing missionaries from contracting mosquito-borne diseases, like Zika, Dengue Fever, and Chikungunya,
Now for the Elders, this pretty much means sticking to long-sleeve shirts, but for Sisters, this means—and this is wild by Mormon standards—encouragement to wear dress slacks instead of dresses if societal standards permit it.
From the Newsroom:
In the 230 missions, or roughly half of the Church’s missions, where there is significant risk of mosquito-borne diseases, missionaries are strongly encouraged to wear clothing that covers exposed skin, especially arms and legs. Sister missionaries serving in the affected missions are encouraged to wear full-length dress slacks during proselyting activities. They will continue to wear skirts or dresses when attending the temple and during Sunday worship services, conferences and baptismal services. In areas where it is not acceptable for women (including sister missionaries) to wear dress slacks, they are encouraged to wear long skirts to protect themselves from mosquito bites.
Sorry #WearPantstoChurch Day folks: It ain’t happening, even with this.
To be clear, these guidelines only stand during the wet season, when mosquitoes get extra saucy and pose a more serious threat. If pants are not culturally acceptable, Sisters are encouraged to wear long dresses and make every possible effort to keep skin covered.
But wow, 230 missions. That’s huge. As you might imagine, the missions span the globe, though are concentrated in warmer, more humid climes.
On top of the sartorial changes, the Church will now cover the cost for various insecticide solutions and DEET-based repellants for all missionaries worldwide.
Coupled with the announcement, the First Presidency stated:
We will continue to monitor and evaluate the spread of these diseases and, where needed, make adjustments in these guidelines, giving highest priority to missionary health and safety,” said the statement from the First Presidency. “We continue to recommend that missionaries avoid stagnant and standing water, where possible, particularly around residential areas and in their apartments.
So if you were stoked about sunglasses because you serve in a hot and sunny place, you can now be both happy and sad: Happy because Salt Lake is looking out for your health; sad because you’re stuck wearing long-sleeved shirts, jackets, and pants in gross weather. Tradeoffs.