Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes

“Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes,” New Era, Nov. 2009, 38–39

Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes

A children’s song taught one young woman what it means to dress modestly.

One year the young women in my ward participated in an interesting experiment related to dressing modestly. Here’s an account of one young woman who learned about this gospel principle and applied it to her life.

Anna Larsen* was excited that her turn to shop for clothes had finally come. Sister Jensen, her Laurel adviser, had taken each girl in the class shopping to learn a modesty lesson. Anna wasn’t sure what to expect.

When they arrived at the store, Sister Jensen asked Anna to pick out three outfits. As they walked to the dressing room, Sister Jensen said, “After you’ve put on an outfit, come out. Be prepared to have your eyes opened.”

Intrigued by her leader’s directions, Anna put on the sleeveless button-down shirt and hip-hugging skirt. When she walked out, Sister Jensen motioned her to the mirrors. “Now we’re going to play a game.”

“I doubt the clerks would be happy with me playing in their clothes before I’ve bought them,” Anna said.

Sister Jensen laughed and shook her head. “We’re going to play ‘Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes.’”

Anna looked skeptical.

“I’m serious,” Sister Jensen said. “Let’s start with your head.”

Anna put her hands on her head and saw her shirt pull up, baring her skin. “Oops,” she gasped, tugging it back down.

Sister Jensen put Anna’s hands back up. “That’s part of the game. You see how much your shirt lifts up? Now try shoulders,” Sister Jensen said.

When Anna dropped her hands to her shoulders she noticed even more showing inside the armholes. She also saw the shirt straining at the buttons.

“Now bend over and touch your knees and toes,” Sister Jensen advised.

Between her shirt and skirt was a two-inch gap. “Wow,” Anna said.

“I know,” Sister Jensen said. “Now, go try on the next outfit.”

After repeating the game twice more, Anna’s mood dimmed. None of her outfits had completely passed the “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes” test.

“Don’t worry,” Sister Jensen said. “There’s hope. You just have to know how to put things together.” For the next hour Sister Jensen showed Anna how to layer different clothes to make them modest and stylish. She then challenged Anna to look through her closet and see if any changes needed to be made.

Later that night Anna looked at the mess on her bed. It had been overwhelming trying everything on to see what was modest or immodest. With a sigh she picked up one particular pile and carried it to her mom.

“Mom, I was wondering if I could donate these clothes.”

“Sure, honey. Why?” her mom replied.

Anna smiled. “Have you ever played ‘Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes’?”

Illustration by Dilleen Marsh