This time Nathalie wears a miniskirt. On Sunday, in Church. In spite of last week’s interview. In spite of the one the month before. And other months. For quite some time the matter had been about her bare midriff. Now the miniskirt.
Parents of the other young women are concerned. Impact on their brood. Nathalie is a rebel. Defiance is her motto. It has been said again and again in leadership meetings. Fortunately, the other girls in our small branch still blend in. They work on their Young Women’s program. And the young men seem to keep their distance.
Talks and lessons mention modesty. Women need to treasure their bodies because they are sacred. Do not feed the immoral thoughts boys cannot control. There are ways to look pretty while still wearing modest clothing. The whole branch knows for whom the words are meant. But does Nathalie understand? Does she even listen? People glance at her. Furtive, worried, troubled.
No, the individual interviews are not helping. On the contrary. After the midriff, now the miniskirt. Why such an unwillingness to cope with standards so easy to follow?
Talk to Nathalie’s mother? In view of the challenge the girl represents, I must from time to time. But whenever I ask the mother into my office, she is the one talking to me, the branch president. About her ex-husband, the amount of her alimony, some challenges with health insurance, the cost of her apartment, always her own needs. Trying to focus the conversation on Nathalie hardly triggers a response.
But now the miniskirt.
- Nathalie, why do you continue to dress that way?
This time I ask the question directly, with a stern face. She is seated across my desk in the tiny office. She pauses, gauging me. Finally, her assessment brings a prudent smile on her lips. I feel uneasy. Then, with gentle maturity:
- If I dress the way you want me to, will you still talk to my mom from time to time? She needs it.