I find the results of this question extremely illuminating about the complex and varying meanings that garments hold. In my research, I wanted to specifically address physical intimacy and sexuality, because it is frequently brought up in garment conversations, both online and in my personal experience. If there is any negative impact on body image from wearing garments, I knew it would likely crossover into intimate relationships and sexual functioning.
Body image is integrally tied to sexuality and has been well documented in studies. In addition to the health effects of negative body image, poor sexual functioning has been found to be associated with women who suffer from body dissatisfaction, with a negative impact on intimate relationships. (Weaver et al, 2006) In conjunction with those findings, the results of a 2018 study on body image and relationship quality indicate that “within individuals, a more positive body image was linked to higher perceived romantic relationship quality through greater sexual satisfaction.” (van den Brink et al, 2018)
While there are many LDS urban legends about people who believe that it is more righteous to keep garments on during sexual activity (and even some early journal entries of LDS members who claim that this was a practice), most LDS adults do not question that this is a time when garments can come off. However, 56% of participants report that garments have a negative impact on physical intimacy. That number is staggering considering that garments are not worn during sex. When we look at just active LDS women, the number drops to 40%, which is still a very significant portion of the population.
Comments submitted with this question indicate that garments have been tied to messaging about modesty that starts in adolescence (and sometimes earlier) for LDS girls which transmits certain messages about bodies. The main messaging of the church right now is that garments are a reminder of temple covenants, but research and historical record shows that garments hold a number of different and complex meanings that become part of how church members relate to their bodies. This is a topic that will be covered extensively in later posts, but for now, here is the data breakdown:
Active LDS women:
Weaver, A. D., & Byers, E. S. (2006). The Relationships Among Body Image, Body Mass Index, Exercise, and Sexual Functioning in Heterosexual Women. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 30(4), 333–339. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1471-6402.2006.00308.x
van den Brink, F., Vollmann, M., Smeets, M. A. M., Hessen, D. J., & Woertman, L. (2018). Relationships Between Body Image, Sexual Satisfaction, and Relationship Quality in Romantic Couples. Journal of Family Psychology, 32(4), 466–474. https://doi.org/10.1037/fam0000407