After condemning the male leaders (2 Nephi 13:1–15), the Lord turned to rebuke the “daughters of Zion.” It is clear that he expected more of the women. The pride and haughtiness that goad men in their vain ambitions are often manifested in women through their outward adornment and apparel. If women are corrupt, society is inevitably suffering its death throes. Here are described the “flirtatious fashion slaves”—those who parade the “who’s wearing what” and “who’s showing off what” mentality with their eyes painted and their persons bedecked with ornaments (see also Ezekiel 23:40). Name-brand clothes, earrings, nose rings, tongue rings and other body piercings, expensive haircuts, tanning salons, and plastic surgery seem to be an obsession, greater than the lasting virtues of genuine womanhood. (However, an increasing number of males in modern culture are also obsessed with manipulating the human body. Such behavior is surely not expressive of the highest ideals of manhood.) The Lord’s first epithet is “haughty”; he goes on to explain in detail their offensive behavior.
Archaeologist Gabriel Barkay’s 1986 report of his excavations along the west side of Jerusalem’s Hinnom Valley describes findings from the richest sepulchre opened:
“The abundant jewelry found in the tomb provides the first material evidence to support the frequent allusion in the Bible to the wealth of Jerusalem during the First Temple period. Isaiah had mocked the ostentation of Jerusalem’s society ladies when he wrote: ‘On that day the Lord will take away the finery of their anklets, the head bands and their crescents; the pendants, the bracelets and the scarfs; the headdresses, the armlets, the sashes, the perfume boxes and the amulets; the rings and the nose jewels.’ The tomb produced six gold items and 95 silver items as well as jewelry made of rare stones, glass and faience—many of them of great beauty including earrings, rings, beads and pendants.
“This is the first time that a representative selection of jewelry worn by the women of Jerusalem at the end of the First Temple period forms part of an archaeological assemblage.” 36
The women are concerned about their physical appearance, and they are devoted to drawing attention to it. The word “wanton” in verse 16 means excessive, unrestrained, licentious. These “daughters of Zion” were also types of the future, as indicated by “in that day” in verse 18, meaning the last days. Their immodesty will result in total indecent and inhumane exposure.
In the vanity and merriment of debauchery, health is destroyed, and social diseases result.