“Authentic polygamist prairie dresses” for sale

“Authentic polygamist prairie dresses” for sale July 2, 2008

As someone who attempts to be a conscious consumer and avoids supporting clothing corporations that violate labor rights in their manufacturing facilities in the developing world, I am quite displeased–to say the least–with how the media has made fun of women from the FLDS community in the past couple of days. It turns out that the women from the FLDS community are making and selling clothes for children. You can find them at their website FLDSdress.com. They do have beautiful clothes and after all they are made in the USA!

Criticism coming from an MSNBC News correspondent was rather condescending: “Just in time for back-to-school shopping: authentic polygamist prairie dresses.” Another read: “Now you, too, can dress like a polygamist!” NPR followed with a short and similar “smart” remark yesterday during Morning Edition, which was rather disappointing. During the raid in which CPS authorities took 400+ children from the polygamist ranch, I wondered what was the obsession Nancy Grace and the media in general had with this case. I think it had to do much more than with a concern for how unfairly these children were being taken away from their parents. I think it had a lot to do with how these women and children lived and clothed differently than most of us.

Personally, I crochet and hope to be proficient enough on the sewing machine one day so I can make a few clothes for my own children. It may become necessary at some point, who knows? My fellow coworkers always tell me how frustrated they have become with the clothes that are for sale for young girls. I even experienced the same frustration with latest fashion trends while shopping for a wedding dress. All of them were strapless with low cuts. I could not find a modest dress that could fit my budget, so I had to add sleeves to the one I bought and thank goodness it turned out beautiful. But it was so hard to find a beautiful and modest wedding gown that was, at the same time, cheap. Ironically enough, when you search on the internet for “modest wedding dress”, the website “Latter Day Bride” comes up and they indeed have beautiful gowns.

One may not necessarily like or buy the “prairie dress” for one’s daughter or for oneself, for that matter, especially if you live in hot and humid Houston like we do! But I still think the criticism toward these women is rather cheap. The effort to revive modesty by these women should be recognized and that is what truly matters. So, kudos to the FLDS women who put their labor and love in these beautiful clothes and remind us of what it means to be modest, because we definitely need the reminder.

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  • One may not necessarily like or buy the “prairie dress” for one’s daughter or for oneself, for that matter, especially if you live in hot and humid Houston like we do! But I still think the criticism toward these women is rather cheap. The effort to revive modesty by these women should be recognized and that is what truly matters.

    Agreed — would they make fun of the Amish?

  • Good night, John Boy.

    Well *#@! me running. Only in America, only in America. Look modest before the leader impregnates you. I’m a lot more scared of a cult than of boobs. Sure, the showing thong is rather garish, a fashion crime, but that’s a passing fad. My favorite are the good Catholic men who have to ‘control their lust’ every time a hot chica walks by and therefore want to burqafy them. Take heart, she’d never indulge your ‘lust’ you anyway 😛

    Want classy, fashionable women’s clothes? “Lauren” by Ralph Lauren.

    Btw, I have seen people dressed similar to that at TLMs. Mother and 5 daughters, like organ pipes, cut from the same cloth. I call them the Catholic Amish. Of course the irony is that they’d never look sexy or ‘seductive’ anyway, regardless of the kind of clothes. Too.much.time.on.hands.

  • I won’t be as offensive as Gerald is, Katerina. But I’m having trouble seeing a group of women who unflinchingly share sexual privileges with their husband with other women as particularly “modest.” I wonder how that fits into their views of modesty?

  • I must add my voice to the chorus of skepticism here, Katerina. The dresses are not really an expression of modesty – more like a uniform of subservience.

  • M.Z. Forrest

    Well Katerina, I still love you in a non-polygamous sort of way. Sometimes a dress is just a dress. Some folks also don’t consciously make every choice in thier life in a curiosity over whether the choice will conform with the perception of their sex life.

  • I don’t agree with their polygamist practices and abuse of children in some cases, of course. In their website they also say that their dress encourages modesty and neatness. The latter I’m not too sure about in the sense that it comes across as rigorist. Either way, I was just disgusted with how people made fun of how they dressed and the fact that they are selling their clothes. That kind of criticism went beyond whatever went on inside their community.

  • Nobody is as offensive as I am 😉

    The pity about these outfits is that because of the pastel colors they aren’t really suitable for historical re-enactments.

    I found a Catholic ‘modesty’ store online once. They were selling, snort giggle, BONNETS. Same pastel stuff, plus flowery patterns. “Look, we’re not harsh, we have pretty colors.”

    In my estimation, a girl forced into those monstrosities is quite likely to completely freak out at 16. It’s good that at least we don’t have ‘honor killings’ over dress. Well, maybe in SSPX ;o)

    One can dress unlike Britney Spears without looking like a lunatic, obviously. It’s not a matter of morals, it’s a matter of taste. Nordstroms, Saks have great fashionable clothes. Thong popping out doesn’t exactly scream “Rhodes scholar”. Neither do ultra-baggy pants. It’s just that men have nothing to show off (well, there was the era of the cod piece. Heh. And men in tiny speedos.)

    In conclusion, it’s always the wrong people who worry.

  • I think you should look at the actual website and see the things that these women make. Not everything is like those dresses pictured above. I, personally, would not make my daughters were those same exact dresses, but there are a lot of things in the FLDS website like overalls for babies and sleepwear that don’t look from a century ago and you can find in regular department stores. Especially the sleepwear for babies you can find at very expensive baby stores.

    Again, my point is that one can rightly have an opinion about what went on at the polygamist ranch, but the criticisms of these women just for making clothes and selling them is just cheap.

  • The underwear is straight out of the Wild West. It should come with chewing tobacco and a spittoon. LOL. Sweet when it’s 100 degrees outside. I’m guessing the sight of silk or lace panties would kill them on the spot. What an odd combo of promiscuity and prudery. “Oh, Jedediah ! Your chaste ways make me feel all pure !” said his girl Friday. It has not come down to us what his girl Monday said.


    The teen girl dresses are really something

    If you’ve always wanted to be murdered in your sleep, make your daughter wear it to school =o)

    Nietzsche is right – religion always comes with rules/restrictions about clothes, diet and sex.

  • I’m guessing the sight of silk or lace panties would kill them on the spot.

    You do understand that the clothes are for children and not women right?

  • c matt

    I am the last person that should be making fashion comments, but these clothes are no more ridiculous than the gangsta/slut fashion so popular these days. In fact, they are far less ridiculous.

    And like the guy jogging around the park with his shirt off and a belly the size of a beach ball is not anything to laugh at. Well, laugh at or puke over.

  • The women dress just like that. And teenage girls need panties, too – Not full-length cotton underwear 1849 gold rush edition 😛

    That makes the regular Mormon temple underwear downright risque =D

    I come from a country with topless spas, lakes etc. We had shower commercials with topless women 20 years ago on network, state-run, tv. Violence is censored at times in Europe in American movies, whereas the Euro versions of American movies have longer sex scenes 🙂 Europe’s porn industry also pales in comparison to the American one. From what I understand, Latin American countries aren’t exactly known for prudery either.

  • Hopefully this is not TMI, but I didn’t wear “silk or lace panties” when I was little or a teenager, for that matter. There are by far more comfortable fabrics than those!

    these clothes are no more ridiculous than the gangsta/slut fashion so popular these days. In fact, they are far less ridiculous.

    I agree :-/

  • Latin American countries aren’t exactly known for prudery either.

    Actually, no they’re not. For the most part, at least.

  • ben

    Grow up already Gerald.

  • Morning’s Minion

    Gerald is actually making somewhat of a good point. I think it is far worse for children to be exposed to a sexualized culture than a violent one. I cannot understand the furore over that Janet Jackson thing, while nobody seems to care about the games, TV shows, and movies that kids watch– where a person taking the life of another person with a gun is not only acceptable, but “cool”.

    That said, I think we have a real problem with the sexualization of children’s clothing. And why young women want to look likes hookers is beyond me. But I have less problem with nakedness in a non-sexual way, such as co-ed public baths in Japan, or co-ed saunas in Europe– it’s all civil and above board, and in some sense healthier.

  • Jimmy Mac
  • Lol @ Jimmy Mac

    Thank you, Minion (!) 🙂

    i tend to see things not as moral or immoral but rather intelligent vs dumb. Making mini-strippers out of girls is stupid – what kind of a role model is that ? Same goes for all that insipid Disney Hannah Montana dreck. But, one can definitely be very fashionable without looking cheap. Beware of extremes. The burqa and the Britney outfits are two sides of the same coin, just like a chastity-obsession is to sex-addiction.

    Have a Cabernet Sauvignon and relax. No one was ever killed by a boob :o) (Well, except in that Woody Allen movie with the giant boob) If you can’t stand the sight of cleavage, move to Saudi Arabia. I do think ‘rad trads’ would be very happy Muslim fundamentalists. Why be half-assed ? Forget the Prairie dress, full-on burqa, baby !

    To use one of Henry’s favorite terms – it’s all so Gnostic.

  • G Alkon


    Why the tendency to defend or at least sympathize with the polygamists, but the dismissal of adopted children of gay couples as those with whom your own children “could not really be friends” (as you said in a previous post)?

    It is not clear to me how polygamy is more in accord with “natural law,” or less of an offense to the common good, than being gay.

    Maybe that’s a cheap shot. But the talk about gays among otherwise thoughtful Catholics at this blog is, for me, deeply disturbing.

    I understand that there can be no “gay marriage.” I understand that only heterosexual love ordered toward procreation is capable of sacramental incorporation into God’s love. I understand this and accept it.

    But the Catholic Church is not exercising useful pastoral care by using the “objective disorder” designation — it is inviting homophobia and self-congratulatory stupidity.

  • G Alkon

    And I know you’re not in any sense accepting polygamy —

    my point is that there is a tonal and attitudinal difference here that is revealing of something un-thought in your attitude towards gays —

    and this would be addressed to M.Z. too —

    I get the problems with “rights” language in reference to claims of gays in the Church.

    I get that “gays are fine and just like heteros” is stupid

    I get that “whatever floats your boat” doesn’t cut it

    but there is animosity towards gays in the standard Catholic retrenchment into “objective disorder” talk — and it’s destructive

  • M.Z. Forrest

    It is not clear to me how polygamy is more in accord with “natural law,” or less of an offense to the common good, than being gay.

    That is where we disagree.

  • ben

    G Alkon,

    Not to speak for Katerina here, but I would imagine that she would naturally be opposed to allowing polygamists to adopt children. There is a difference between taking somone’s biological children away and not allowing them to adopt.

    Furthermore, although polygamy is certainly a mortal sin, and is certainly un-natural, the church has long taught that there are various degrees of un-natural activity. The fact that polygamists activity can naturally generate children and homosexual activity cannot illustrates this principle. But both are mortal sins.


    I think most reasonable people see the connection between our sexually perverse society and the prevalance of abortion. Abortion is the leading cause of death in our country. Perverse media causes more actual violence to more innocent people than violent media does.

  • Katerina

    This post has nothing to do with polygamy.

  • Btw, can someone tell me where one can find the fabled ‘natural law’ ? Is there a website ? 😛

    G Alkon, you’re welcome on my new, totally ‘pro-Sodomite’ blog ;o) It’s difficult to blame Catholics for their condemnation of homosexuality, I mean it’s part of the package, with the Pope leading the way. He didn’t write those awful two letters for nothing. Two weeks after reading them, I quit my “Catholic blog”.

  • Katerina

    t’s difficult to blame Catholics for their condemnation of homosexuality, I mean it’s part of the package, with the Pope leading the way.

    Didn’t your profile at some point say: “What did you say about the Pope?”

  • ben

    Yes, there is a website!


  • Aw come on now, how can it be natural law if somebody wrote it 🙂

  • G Alkon

    “This post has nothing to do with polygamy.”

    Not an answer to my questions.

    “That is where we disagree.” OK. Explain.

    It seems like there is a preference not to engage on this issue. And I am truly sorry about that.

    I can’t know the consciences of Catholics that engage in standard — that is to say, rote and unthinking, and therefore actually DIS-respectful — appeals to church teaching on homosexuality. But my conscience tells me clearly that I can understand and respect the church teaching, and also see that there is more work to be done here; that there are ways to talk about the disgusting perversion of sexuality in popular culture, the need to to preserve the sacrament of marriage, and ALSO not lump all gays in with all of that, not lump all gays together, etc. There are ways, in other words, to engage respectfully with church teaching, without using it as a way of covering your eyes so as to simplify your life.

    Conscience NATURALLY places objective teaching into question — WITHOUT necessarily rejecting it, without questioning the authority of the church. It is NATURAL to voice conscientious questions, even to question the accuracy of church teaching in certain areas — WITHOUT immediately advocating disobedience, etc.

    This has happened and will happen again. You might note, for example, the experience of the fathers of Vatican II, de Lubac and Congar and others who were quite clearly (subtly) questioning church teaching (without disobeying it). They suffered for their conscientious thinking, and they helped to shape the church that today you are so ostensibly loyal to.

    What I am saying has nothing at all to do with trivial “cafeteria Catholic” b.s. — I am acknowledging the truth embodied — imperfectly, as it is and MUST be on this earth — in the church’s teaching on homosexuality. And I am asking you and others to think with me on this.

  • ben

    G. Alkon,

    First, there is normal marital activity, which the Church teaches as good an natural. She celebrates it as good procreative activity ordered towards the kingdom of god.

    Now there are a multitude of ways of deviating from this good standard, most of which are mortally sinful. However, it should not be difficult to see that some of these are lesser evils and divates from the standard in fewer ways than others. For example, even though fornication is a mortal sin, it is surley less of an evil for an engaged couple to engage in this sin than for a married father of many children to visit a prostitute. Would you not agree?

    There are various and different kinds of perversion, and some are worse than others because they bring us farther from the good natural state.

    I don’t want to get into details here because it is a public forum, but if you want a resource with more detail pick up and older moral theology manual, the kind designed to prepare priests for what they would hear in the confessional. This will treat these varius sins, and specifically tell why each is wrong and will also explain why some are more grave than others.

  • hey, go crazy and pick up a medieval penitential ! Notice the ‘older’ moral theology manual 🙂

    mortally sinful, deviate, fornication, perversion, disordered – The GOOD NEWS, baby! It’s like one is 5 minutes away from cutting off one’s testicles and waiting for the spaceship (btw, in early Christianity, it was quite common for men to self-castrate – literal ‘eunuchs for the kingdom’.

    This old school Catholicism makes the Jehovah’s Witnesses look like debauching hedonists. Welp, I’ve seen enough, I don’t wanna see no more. I feel with you, Uta.

  • Tim F.

    So did Gerald of “The Closed Cafeteria” recently renounce his recently acquired Catholic faith? Man, the internet is a fascinating and bizarre place.

  • Major e longinquo reverentia

  • Oh, I get it. Gerald A. Naus is the fabled Cafeteria dude. I have to compliment you. You went for a couple of years putting on an act and then lost it in the most spectacular manner. So how is the new persona doing for your traffic?

    As far as the dresses go, I think they’re kind of nice. If a woman wants to wear them, I think they might make a nice addition to their wardrobe. An added advantage is that every guy they meet will not think they’re an open invitation fir sexual activity, and guys might have time to concentrate on their heart and soul.

    Not necessarily a bad thing.

  • A guy who thinks a particular kind of clothing is an ‘invitation’ is obviously a moron. Of which there are of course plenty. This makes it sound like women’s bodies somehow ‘attack’ men.

  • Mark DeFrancisis

    Tony likes insults, I see.

    Poor Tony sounds like the type of guy who’s afraid to read the newspaper, lest he come across a Macy’s ad with a woman in a ‘provocative dress’. You know, it may foster in him, he fears, a rationalization to go out and rape and pillage.

  • david

    I really enjoyed Alice Von Hidebrand’s ‘The Privilege of Being a Woman’

    Ya’ll should check it out.

  • Mike

    I must add my voice to the chorus of skepticism here, Katerina. The dresses are not really an expression of modesty – more like a uniform of subservience.

    Exactly right.

  • Gayle

    Little House on the Prairie – that would be a better representation but these dresses do not represent that. They do however represent a rather bleak time in the lives of these women and children. The women are still in the subservient mindset to feel compelled to continue creating and selling (putting themselves out there) for others. I could think of a few other institutions where uniforms are compulsory – it denotes compliance, elitism, cliques, etc. in schools, on the job, and in some religious sects. Not necessarily to reduce sexuality but none the less it is always a form of control. Even in our society, our dress codes often dictate which “class” we belong to.

    I agree with Katerina about media directing their mockery at the women. Their mockery should be directed at the men for shaping and controlling these womens’ lives to think, act and dress the way they do. The uniformity of these dresses clearly mark subservience towards men. Let’s encourage women everywhere to be free rather than mock them for where they have come from.