Not everyone is attached to the idea of preserving clothes. Lindsay Perez, 24, who lives in Salt Lake City, suffered from persistent urinary tract infections which she said were made worse by her clothing. She now leaves them out at night and after taking a shower.
If she had a choice, she said, she would prefer to wear a cross necklace or ring – popular among young church members – with the letters CTR, a reference to the motto “Choose the right,” a reminder to make ethical choices. . “There are so many different ways of reminding myself of what I promised,” Ms. Perez said. “I don’t need it to go through my underwear.”
In the church’s private Facebook groups for women, she said, clothing is a constant topic of discussion, with some women hoping for improvements and others defending the clothing as it is. But few women feel comfortable approaching male leaders to discuss bodily fluids, infections, and sexual intimacy.
“People are afraid to be brutally honest, to say, ‘This isn’t working for me. It doesn’t bring me closer to Christ, it gives me urinary tract infections, ”Ms. Perez said.
Open discussion is also thorny as clothing is frequently the target of mockery from strangers. When church member Mitt Romney ran for president in 2012, he was ridiculed by some mainstream commentators for wearing “magic underwear.”
This kind of ridicule is “extremely painful,” said Jana Riess, senior columnist for Religion News Service who writes about the church and who conducted the 2016 poll with a colleague.
This is especially hurtful because the clothes symbolize a deep spiritual connection with God. “One of the nicest things about them is that they’re underwear,” Ms. Riess said. “It expresses my conviction that there is no part of my messy humanity that is not loved by God.”