Perhaps you were perusing the Mormon bloggersphere today, or flipping through Facebook, and you might have seen the WILD announcement: “ALL SISTER MISSIONARIES CAN NOW WEAR PANTS FOREVER!”
Take, for example, award-winning journalist, Peggy Fletcher Stack:
Sadly, this isn’t quite accurate, even if today the Mormon Newsroom did announce expanded freedom for sister missionaries to wear pants, even if they’ve been able to do so in a limited capacity for two years.
Some might forget that in 2016, the Church announced that sister missionaries in zika-prone areas could wear pants as appropriate, and for the purpose of safety. At the time, that included 230 of the Church’s missions, and sisters could wear pants during typical proselytizing activities while reverting to dresses for church or temple attendance. And the guidelines only applied during the wet (i.e. mosquito-happy) season.
Today’s announcement, however, does open up this choice for sister missionaries in all 407 missions of the Church. Sister Bonnie. H Condon, Young Women general president and member of the Missionary Executive Council, explained that “There are a lot of vector-borne diseases because of mosquitoes and ticks and fleas…. This helps the sisters to prevent any of those bites or at least minimize them.”
However, now sisters in colder climates have the option to wear pants just to stay warm, which is awesome. Many of you ladies who served missions in such climates surely remember the fact that you practically wore pants underneath your dresses as you trudged through the snow. Hooray for practicality!
Sisters will still be required to wear dresses to church, temple, and baptismal services.
President Cordon also stressed that “This is truly optional.” Sisters can choose to do what they wish. What remains to be seen is if mission presidents will require companionships to match in appearance, much as some presidents deemed that if one Elder wore a short-sleeve shirt, his companion had to do the same.
Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, who heads up the Missionary Council, reminded us that dress and grooming standards do, in fact, evolve:
“Adjustment to the missionary dress and grooming standards have changed over time since the beginning of the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ in 1830 and will continue to do so in the future.
“As we adapt these standards, we always carefully consider the dignity of the missionary calling to represent Jesus Christ, the safety, security, and health of our beloved missionaries, and the cultural sensitivities of the places where they serve.”
The “cultural sensitivities” clause is quite interesting. Sure, sister missionaries serving stateside will, for the most part, be in the minority if they pant it up, but abroad, it’s almost the norm. When in Rome. No, literally, like, this will be super normal in Rome.
Check out the video below to see President Cordon speak at greater length about the change.
And just for fun, make sure to click that Newsroom link and look at the photo album, where you will not see any Sisters actually wearing pants. And the thumbnail above was taken two years ago. Basically, we have no official proof that Sisters have ever actually worn pants. Share your proof in the comments below and sound off on your thoughts on this change.