Yeah, when women are shamed for being too sexual it's always secretly their fault, amiright?
In all seriousness, though, your question reflects a broader cultural problem. Frequently, when these kinds of situations occur, people tend to assume that the woman is overreacting, exaggerating, or outright lying, and doing it all for attention. Now, I'm not saying that women never do any of these things; I just think it's problematic when women are automatically assumed to be doing these things.
To be perfectly frank, I'm not sure how it is that you've never encountered ridiculous immodesty controversies in Mormon culture before. In researching this question, I came up with a ton of examples that support the idea that this is actually fairly common, although the decision to put it on the Internet may be less common. I think that's part of why the story spread so fast; a lot of people identified with what happened.
First, I tried to look up the original posts on Twitter and BYU Memes, because I was a freshman and I remember it happening. I distinctly remember the BYU Memes page being filled with controversy regarding whether or not her outfit was, in fact, immodest. I remember being surprised by the number of people who agreed that the outfit was immodest and thought that the girl was completely in the wrong for wearing that. Unfortunately, finding posts from almost four years ago is kind of difficult.
However, I will point out that even the article you quoted mentioned negative feedback about the outfit she's wearing in the picture; specifically, someone commented, "Sweetie, I think it's because your cleavage is showing."
That gave me the idea to look up other articles, to see what other people thought at the time. Unfortunately, I didn't organize which comment came from which article very well, so I'm just going to tell you which sources I found and then list a selection of comments.
Salt Lake Tribune
Modern Mormon Men
By Common Consent
This first one isn't exactly a comment, but 6% of voters on The Blaze thought her outfit was provocative. This is 6% of the general population, not just 6% of Utah Mormons.
She looks very cute, but her dress is too short by BYU standards - skirts, dresses, and shorts must be knee-length or longer, and hers is above the knee. Leggings or not, I imagine that's what he took exception to, and possibly the low-ish neckline. Not overly flashy for the general population, but perhaps too immodest for the university dress code. She agreed to the rules, she should follow them.
"The girls in question AGREED to abide by the Honor Code. Why should they get a Get Out of Jail Free card just because we can't actually see their whole chest? The rule set about by this private university was that the students (including guys) dress modestly. If those girls want to dress like they don't belong to our church, then they have loads and loads of OTHER universities they can choose from, which have much more relaxed standards."
"Has anyone really taken a look at Brittany Molina's outfit and saw that the boy might have a point? Look at the top of her dress, it is pretty low cut and v-neck. When she bends over, I guarantee there is quite a bit of visible cleavage. And her dress is above the knees. So when she sits down, her dress resembles a miniskirt. Yes, it's not super immodest when she's standing, but no one stands all the time. Her outfit needs to be modest even when she bends over or sits down. Her opaque tights do not make up for her short dress. Opaque tights are not pants. They are skin tight tights (hence the name "tights"). And as for Rachel Vermillion, those jeans do look tight. And tight jeans often show off the wearer's underwear line. Also, let's keep in mind that all of the buildings on the BYU and BYU-I campuses are dedicated buildings. Let's remember to whom they are dedicated."
"The point is this: How we dress affects how people react to us. It also demonstrates where our heart and spirit really desire to be." Robert D. Hales. [...] It's easier for a woman to dress modestly than for a man to control his thoughts."
"I know the guy who wrote the note. We were roommates last year. I would recognize that handwriting anywhere, and I know that he studies in the Tanner Building where this girl was studying, according to the original post on Facebook. He’s an idiot. He also doesn’t believe women should have the right to vote. (If they’re doing as the Lord commands and staying home, and if they’re doing what the Lord commands and being of one heart and one mind with their husband [who incidentally belongs to the Constitution Party], then there’s no need for them to vote because their husband can handle the affairs outside the home. It’s the system God ordained, don’t you argue with me you follower of Satan, you!) The best part is that he probably made some sort of lewd remark about the girl (either to himself or to a friend), then wrote the note anonymously and gave it to her, without any idea of the hypocrisy of it all. And he probably felt super righteous for doing it, too, and anybody who questions his methods or motives is simply questioning God. After all, the Honor Code was written by God. Goodness I hated living with him."
"As female faculty at BYU, I have experienced more than one reprimand of this sort in the form of student ratings. Since I am comfortable wearing every single one of my cardigans to both church and the temple, I do not understand how they can affect someone’s ability to learn in my classroom. People will take away whatever they want from every situation. If you look for evil in everything around you, you will find it. I cannot help it if a student or two find my cardigans sexy…nor do I care too awful much, because it is their problem.
*as a side note, students have also suggested I go home to my family, where I belong…*sigh*"
"THE SAME THING HAPPENED TO ME. Only different. I was at BYU-Idaho and I got an e-mail from some chick who found me on stalkernet while I was off-track and lived 1500 miles away. It said that I was currently in a class with her boyfriend (untrue, I didn’t have any classes) and that my dress was having a negative effect on him because I wore short shirts (also untrue, short shirts bug me). She insisted it made it hard for him to concentrate in class – in other words, her bf had little to no self-control, and he blamed women for it. And complained to his girlfriend about his inability to control himself? Sigh. An unfortunately common fallacy in the LDS church."
"Although I don’t think that most students at BYU are this stupid, the general feeling of the note is very common around campus. I’m a graduate student in a science department at BYU. Many of the students share a common office area in a certain place in the building. I was doing some work in the office when the subject of this note came up. My ears perked up immediately as four male graduate students started discussing this. They are, for the most part, your typical BYU students so I wanted to hear what they had to say. They all agreed that this guy was out of line for saying anything to this girl. It was so rude of him! One person insisted that it had to be a joke. Ok, so far so good. Until, the conversation took a slight turn into what was and wasn’t appropriate for women to wear on-campus. They all agreed that leggings and a short skirt was not acceptable. One student said he was bothered to go into the department office to talk to the student receptionist because her shirts were a little low cut and he could see just a little bit of cleavage (I go up to this office all the time and I’ve never noticed this before). He didn’t want to come to campus and be exposed to breasts! How dare she! The only breasts he wants to see are his wife’s. One other student said, “Just think of seeing her breasts as a perk.” I was shocked and had no clue what to say. Actually, I chickened out. I didn’t know what to do! I have to work with these male students all the time. I didn’t want to burn any bridges especially over a conversation that was happening on the other side of the room. I guess I can now confirm that, even though I feel my body may be dressed modestly, others may not agree and may be judging me on my appearance. I completely agree with the OP. The HC fetishizes girls on-campus and as a result we are creating an unsafe environment. I would appreciate some advice on how to speak and approach this topic with my colleagues if it ever comes up again."
"I went to a YW volleyball practice once and I mentioned to one of the leaders my surprise at how only 2 girls were wearing shorts and the rest were wearing jeans. She said, “Yeah, we keep talking to them about it, but we can’t get them to dress modestly.” I was shocked. This is absolutely not how modesty worked when I was in YW and that was only 14 years ago. When did youth rules become more strict than garment rules?"
‘“Leggings and tights do not compensate for too short of a dress,” Sorensen said, later adding, “I’ve had this conversation with a lot of guys before. If the girls won’t follow the Honor Code and no one is enforcing it, is it really so wrong for him to take matters into his own hands? Many guys I’ve talked to say that it’s disrespectful and distracting when girls refuse to follow the Honor Code.”’
So, just from comments on articles about the issue, a few things seem clear. First of all, a substantial subset of the population believed that the outfit in the photo was immodest (the neckline was too low/the skirt was too short). Therefore, even if she did change into a different outfit, apparently this "more modest" outfit was still unacceptable for some people. Second of all, at least one person either knows the guy who wrote the note, or personally knows a guy who would be likely to sincerely write such a note. Finally, a lot of people seem to have had similar experiences to Brittany; they just didn't post about it on Twitter.
I also found Brittany's own blog, which had a post she made several days after the incident. You can read what happened in her own words here
. Based on that post, as well as my extensive Twitter-stalking of her, I really doubt that she made it up for attention. Not only is she very sincere and apparently wasn't looking to make a fuss about it in the first place, but she's also reasonably conservative and not very attention hog-y on the Internet in general. She seems like an upstanding woman, and once again, it's extremely
problematic that people automatically assume that the victim is somehow to blame in these situations.
You also asked for other stories of ridiculous immodesty moments, so I collected some from the Internet and from my own acquaintances.
Other Immodesty Stories From The Internet
The Blaze and a Utah girl going to prom
Utah school photoshopped sleeves onto yearbook photos
Lindsey Sterlinggate (the dress was fully lined, people! Come on! Also, this was hugely controversial when it happened)
BYU furor over one-strapped book bags being inappropriate on girls
The Board Question that kicked off what I refer to as "claviclegate"
Some excerpts from another By Common Consent post:
"My sister-in-law shared with me that her stake is now requiring all girls to wear both a tee shirt and knee length shorts over their one-piece swimsuit to swim–at Girls Camp!... When he got to the resort, he found that the stake had only intended that the rule be applied to the girls. However, when the Mormon kids showed up in their tee shirt-covered swimwear, the resort would not allow non-swimwear in the pool. In a Muslim country, birthplace of the Obedient Wives Club, we Mormons had out-Muslim’d them. The tee shirts were removed, and no teen orgy ensued, just good Mormon kids having fun in the sun dressed appropriately for the occasion."
"35.8% allowed only capris or longer, which is even more restrictive than garments. 7.5% were in wards or stakes that fully outlawed anything shorter than pants for girls at Youth Conference or Girls Camp."
Immodesty Stories From Me and People I Know
"I was walking to church with a guy and a girl had a mid-thigh-length skirt and he started ranting to me about how that kind of thing has so much of an effect on guys blah blah blah...she had nice thighs, granted, but it really wasn't bad."
"One of my mission companions told me that while she was in the MTC, she got a lecture about how some sister missionaries wore just a mod-bod with nothing over it and they got raped. The person doing the lecturing kind of implied it was their fault for being so immodest."
"My cousin had a YW leader who wouldn't allow the girls to even wear one-pieces to swim. They had to wear a t-shirt/shorts over their suits because she said it was too immodest. There weren't even any boys around... Haha. The same woman wouldn't let her kids wear skinny jeans/tight pants because she said they were too immodest."
"One of the school of music administrators likes wandering around making sure everyone is keeping the rules. I have a friend who got told off for her dress being too short (an inch or so above the knee). "It covers my garments..." The lady's response? "That doesn't matter.""
"There's some controversy or other at BYU-I right now over whether or not yoga pants should be allowed in the exercise facilities. Yes, whether women can wear workout clothes to work out in."
"A readers' forum submission from a guy about how BYU girls are only half-Mormons because they're not dressing modestly. Also, last semester, two of my male students wrote their opinion editorials on how women should dress more modestly."
"One time I was wearing bermuda shorts that came to probably about two inches above my knee (and covered my long carinessa garments) and a guy told me, "You know those are too short to wear at BYU, right?""
"On my mission, one of my favorite families had something very odd about them -- they all wore long sleeves and pants. Keep in mind that although this is the more temperate part of Arizona, this is still Arizona, and it was July. We happened to be in the same thrift store one day (us missionaries were hunting down a less-active who worked there 70 hours a week) and one of the daughters was apologizing to her dad for feeling "tempted" to buy a t-shirt but they're immodest because they show her arms, but she understood the rule and followed it because she wanted to "keep the law of chastity." To this day, her father and I still butt heads over the issue."
My Final Conclusions
There is a huge cultural problem with how Mormons view modesty. If you've never encountered or noticed it, that's great for you, but that doesn't mean it doesn't exist, and that doesn't mean it's appropriate to assume that people who have experienced it are making it up or overreacting.