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Mormons being distracted by body/perfectionism issues?

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bluebell    14,876

I read this blog last week when it was shared on Facebook and I thought it was pretty interesting.  The blog begins with the author's experience visiting friends in Canada, who had some experience with Utah and didn't understand the culture and focus on appearance.

A couple weeks ago, my little family took a trip to Canada to visit my old bestie from college. It was amazing.  Loved every minute of it.  One evening we sat around a table in their amazing backyard sun room and had a conversation with her parents that changed my life.  

That conversation mentioned earlier with my friend’s dad?  He said, “I’ve always been amazed at the ads on billboards when driving down I-15 in Utah. It makes you wonder, do the saints have a body confidence issue?” Being from Utah, I noticed all the ads, but I thought it was normal everywhere.

The author then says that she realized how much time and energy Utah saints (especially women) spend on achieving the perfect image and she thinks that satan is behind it.

As Latter Day Saints, in general we are all striving to be good people, right?  We aren’t going to go out and murder someone, or get wrapped up in substance abuse. We, as truthful, intentional members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, are trying desperately hard to be upstanding citizens in our communities. For Satan to try and convince us to behave in ways completely polar to our beliefs and morals would be futile… however, he can easily use distraction and it can achieve the same result.  And he is, and it’s working.

Satan doesn’t have a body, and he is desperately jealous of all of us with one.  So, what does he do?  He makes us feel like if ours is not “perfect” (no one’s is) it needs to be fixed or it’s not worth having. Cellulite? Gross.  No makeup? Ugly!  Hairy chest? Ew.  Short eyelashes? Shame.  Hip dips? Gasp. Overweight?  Ridiculous.  Too skinny? Sick.  Sparse, blotchy eyebrows? SMH.  No lipsense on?? SMHA! Stretch marks?  What, you trying to be elasta-woman?  Wrinkles? You’re over 25 and don’t look fresh out of the womb? Insult to Society.  Baby weight?  Are you serious?  Crooked teeth? Hillbilly.  No contouring today? Your nose is massive. (My Canadian friends didn’t even know what contouring was! Praise the heavens!)  Hairy legs? Disgusting.  You don’t do crossfit?  Uh… do you even lift weights?   Grey hairs? Shame shame shhhhhame.

See what I mean?  All of these body shaming thoughts are swirling around all the time and are definitely distracting us.  They keep us from interacting with other people.  They keep us from having fun with our families.  They keep us on the sides of the pool instead of in the water.  And if they don’t keep us from doing those things, then they totally occupy our minds, squeezing out the spirit because now we are battling self confidence issues and the pressure to get micro-bladed brows, laser hair removal (one word: Ow.), eyelash extensions or spray tans as if that’s what a normal body looks like.  He’s keeping us focused on the “fake” negatives our bodies have. Has any real person ever dissed on us like that?  I sure hope not. Has Satan?  Every minute. Every day. He’s keeping us focused on our bodily “flaws” so we stay distracted from the important. How can anyone really spend time studying the scriptures, praying, and going to church when these other things completely consume and distract us? It all makes sense now.

Her comment on contouring made me laugh a little bit.  I have a calling in the YWs and i've heard 15 year old girls lamenting that early morning seminary was making it so they didn't have time to properly contour their faces before school. 

She then goes on to say how satan also distracts us with trying to be perfect parents by focusing on mostly unimportant things-

The family has been under attack since the beginning of time. Satan hasn’t changed, but he’s changed his game. Nowadays, we go about wearing our Busy Badge of Honor. We sign our kids up for 1,000 different activities, but give FHE the boot all too often.  We are distracted with needing to be right and not focusing on loving and improving communication with our spouse.  We are distracted with forcing our MLM, startup or blog into success that we too often let the most important people in our lives grow mold.  We are distracted with house work, with swim lessons, with piano lessons, workout groups and play dates all due to a real and tangible pressure to be perfect, authored by the devil himself. We binge watch series on Netflix or Amazon Prime (Grimm, quickly followed by Poldark were my latest), but don’t have time to sit down and give ten minutes of quality time to a needy toddler.  We put hours and hours into our jobs, careers and education that we put off starting and building families. We are completely consumed with political issues (that are coming at us faster than flapjacks) but ignore issues within our families.  On purpose?  No, just distracted… with one seemingly important, worth while thing after the next.

I don't think she's saying that those things are bad in and of themselves.  Only that they are bad to the degree that they make us crazy because we are so busy and cause us to neglect other more important things.

Lastly she mentioned the distractions of the mind, mostly through our constant connection to our phones/internet/contention-

The incredible thing about our minds is that it’s a hotspot for revelation.  When we have questions in our lives, we pray about it then are supposed to ponder and study it out in our minds.  How on earth is it even possible to study something out in our minds these days? We are connected to our phones all. the. time. The moment I open my phone I don’t even remember what I got on there for, but I wasted 15 minutes.  Satan keeps political issues swirling everywhere, amplified by the media and shoved down our throats.  We consume consume consume without taking time to swallow before shoving in the next article, snap, instagram, status update, youtube video, or meme collect $200 when you pass go.  We are completely drowning in everyone else’s opinions and beliefs, that we can’t even break the surface to form our own opinions, let alone allow the spirit to speak to us.  And we are mad at God about it. #weareinsane.

That last line also caught my attention because I can see how it's so true, even in my own life and the lives of people i'm close to.  We make it almost impossible to receive personal revelation but we blame everyone (including God) but ourselves for the lack of spiritual answers.

So, my question is, is she on to something?  

I have loved living in Utah.  We've been here for almost 4 years and I have made so many wonderful friends.  But, man, Utah has been a whole horse of a different color when it comes to time, money, and angst spent on looking perfect and having the perfect lifestyle.  I've lived in five different states as an adult and i've never lived somewhere where members (mostly women) were so focused on looking a specific way.  False eyelashes, threaded eyebrows, boob jobs (for cosmetic reasons), tummy tucks to erase all evidence of having given birth, cool sculpting, botox, laser hair removal....there are women in their late 60s in my ward with lash extensions and more facial tattoos than a biker gang. :D   

I've never lived in an area that had a bigger population than the SLC area, so maybe that has something to do with it (those of you who live in metropolitan areas in other places can chime in on the number of body modifying billboard their freeways are inundated with).

But what do you think?  Is satan using distraction on the saints in Utah more than the saints in other places?  Or is part of the problem just a consequence of having so many people with so much disposable wealth in one area making these kinds of body modifications/schedules seem normal so that everyone starts to feel like they have to keep up to stay relevant?

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Johnnie Cake    1,013

Fascinating that women in Utah can have breast augmentation surgery, a face lift, a tummy tuck and a butt sculpture and no one will give it a second thought (ok to be honest I'd take a second look) ...but Katie bar the door if she wears a second set of earrings or gets a tattoo.  Oh and we should stop blaming Satan for our individual choices...he's just an excuse, something to blame for our own mistakes and choices 

Edited by Johnnie Cake

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jkwilliams    3,717

I'm always wary of blaming human choices on Satan. It is weird, though, that there is so much plastic surgery going on in Utah. My sister, who lives in Utah County, told me that people in her ward would, out of nowhere, tell her she'd look great if she had work on some body part or another. She doesn't understand it, either. 

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bluebell    14,876
7 minutes ago, Johnnie Cake said:

Fascinating that women in Utah can have breast augmentation surgery, a face lift, a tummy tuck and a butt sculpture and no one will give it a second thought (ok to be honest I'd take a second look) ...but Katie bar the door if she wears a second set of earrings or gets a tattoo.  Oh and we should stop blaming Satan for our individual choices...he's just an excuse, something to blame for our own mistakes and choices 

I know a handful of women who are mormons in Utah who have multiple ear piercings and tattoos (mostly gotten when they were in their 20s) and no one in their wards treats them any differently.  They still serve in leadership positions and everything.  Do you have personal experience with women who have been harshly judged for such aesthetics?

I hear you on the whole satan thing, but it doesn't many sense to me to ask a group of people, who believe in Satan and his ability to tempt, to stop believing that he's tempting them.  I want to discuss this issue from the mormon perspective.

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jkwilliams    3,717
2 minutes ago, bluebell said:

I know a handful of women who are mormons in Utah who have multiple ear piercings and tattoos (mostly gotten when they were in their 20s) and no one in their wards treats them any differently.  They still serve in leadership positions and everything.  Do you have personal experience with women who have been harshly judged for such aesthetics?

I hear you on the whole satan thing, but it doesn't many sense to me to ask a group of people, who believe in Satan and his ability to tempt, to stop believing that he's tempting them.  I want to discuss this issue from the mormon perspective.

Even when I was a believer, I thought that we were too quick to blame Satan for our own problems. Body-image issues are complex and usually have their roots in issues of self-image and self-esteem, which are much more difficult to work through than simply resisting temptation.

In short, I don't believe it's helpful for anyone, whether they believe in Satan or not, to oversimplify complicated psychological issues in this way. 

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bluebell    14,876
9 minutes ago, jkwilliams said:

I'm always wary of blaming human choices on Satan. It is weird, though, that there is so much plastic surgery going on in Utah. My sister, who lives in Utah County, told me that people in her ward would, out of nowhere, tell her she'd look great if she had work on some body part or another. She doesn't understand it, either. 

It's so weird!

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ALarson    2,946
15 minutes ago, Johnnie Cake said:

Fascinating that women in Utah can have breast augmentation surgery, a face lift, a tummy tuck and a butt sculpture and no one will give it a second thought (ok to be honest I'd take a second look) ...but Katie bar the door if she wears a second set of earrings or gets a tattoo.  

Unless it's tattooed on eyebrows or eyeliner (I know that term from my wife who wants "permanent eyeliner" for her birthday :lol:).

But those tattoos seem just fine....go figure?

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bluebell    14,876
Just now, jkwilliams said:

Even when I was a believer, I thought that we were too quick to blame Satan for our own problems. Body-image issues are complex and usually have their roots in issues of self-image and self-esteem, which are much more difficult to work through than simply resisting temptation.

In short, I don't believe it's helpful for anyone, whether they believe in Satan or not, to oversimplify complicated psychological issues in this way. 

I agree that body image is a complex thing.  But why do the saints in Utah seem to suffer more from it than saints in other places?  Is it just coincidence?  Peer pressure within the church (and why would peer pressure within the church be such a big thing in Utah but not other places)?  

And, from a believer's perspective, when does it makes sense to assume that satan is playing in a part in bad choices?  Sincere question.

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bluebell    14,876
Just now, ALarson said:

Unless it's tattooed on eyebrows or eyeliner (I know that term from my wife who wants "permanent eyeliner" for her birthday :lol:).

But those tattoos seem just fine....go figure?

Good point!  Why is tattooed make up o.k. but other tattoos aren't?  I had never thought about that before.  When I was serving my mission (98-99) the senior couple sister (in her late 60s or early 70s) had tattooed lip liner, eyebrows, and eye liner.

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jkwilliams    3,717
Just now, bluebell said:

I agree that body image is a complex thing.  But why do the saints in Utah seem to suffer more from it than saints in other places?  Is it just coincidence?  Peer pressure within the church (and why would peer pressure within the church be such a big thing in Utah but not other places)?  

And, from a believer's perspective, when does it makes sense to assume that satan is playing in a part in bad choices?  Sincere question.

I hope you understand my posts have been sincere, too. I honestly don't know. My sister said she thought one factor might be the number of kids, which take a toll on the mother's body and exacerbate any underlying body-image issues. That was her guess, anyway. I have no idea. Maybe the husbands are putting pressure on them. 

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Tacenda    3,406
26 minutes ago, Johnnie Cake said:

Fascinating that women in Utah can have breast augmentation surgery, a face lift, a tummy tuck and a butt sculpture and no one will give it a second thought (ok to be honest I'd take a second look) ...but Katie bar the door if she wears a second set of earrings or gets a tattoo.  Oh and we should stop blaming Satan for our individual choices...he's just an excuse, something to blame for our own mistakes and choices 

A thousand times ditto! Especially the blaming Satan for our own mistakes and choices. Pretty laughable, if it weren't so sad.

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Johnnie Cake    1,013
6 minutes ago, jkwilliams said:

I hope you understand my posts have been sincere, too. I honestly don't know. My sister said she thought one factor might be the number of kids, which take a toll on the mother's body and exacerbate any underlying body-image issues. That was her guess, anyway. I have no idea. Maybe the husbands are putting pressure on them. 

Any husband who puts that kind of pressure on their wife to alter their bodies is an idiot and an (insert word I can't use on this board)

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jkwilliams    3,717
Just now, Johnnie Cake said:

Any husband who puts that kind of pressure on their wife to alter their bodies is an idiot and an (insert word I can't use on this board)

Agreed. This phenomenon is just really puzzling to me. 

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DJBrown    337
29 minutes ago, bluebell said:

I read this blog last week when it was shared on Facebook and I thought it was pretty interesting.  The blog begins with the author's experience visiting friends in Canada, who had some experience with Utah and didn't understand the culture and focus on appearance.

A couple weeks ago, my little family took a trip to Canada to visit my old bestie from college. It was amazing.  Loved every minute of it.  One evening we sat around a table in their amazing backyard sun room and had a conversation with her parents that changed my life.  

That conversation mentioned earlier with my friend’s dad?  He said, “I’ve always been amazed at the ads on billboards when driving down I-15 in Utah. It makes you wonder, do the saints have a body confidence issue?” Being from Utah, I noticed all the ads, but I thought it was normal everywhere.

The author then says that she realized how much time and energy Utah saints (especially women) spend on achieving the perfect image and she thinks that satan is behind it.

As Latter Day Saints, in general we are all striving to be good people, right?  We aren’t going to go out and murder someone, or get wrapped up in substance abuse. We, as truthful, intentional members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, are trying desperately hard to be upstanding citizens in our communities. For Satan to try and convince us to behave in ways completely polar to our beliefs and morals would be futile… however, he can easily use distraction and it can achieve the same result.  And he is, and it’s working.

Satan doesn’t have a body, and he is desperately jealous of all of us with one.  So, what does he do?  He makes us feel like if ours is not “perfect” (no one’s is) it needs to be fixed or it’s not worth having. Cellulite? Gross.  No makeup? Ugly!  Hairy chest? Ew.  Short eyelashes? Shame.  Hip dips? Gasp. Overweight?  Ridiculous.  Too skinny? Sick.  Sparse, blotchy eyebrows? SMH.  No lipsense on?? SMHA! Stretch marks?  What, you trying to be elasta-woman?  Wrinkles? You’re over 25 and don’t look fresh out of the womb? Insult to Society.  Baby weight?  Are you serious?  Crooked teeth? Hillbilly.  No contouring today? Your nose is massive. (My Canadian friends didn’t even know what contouring was! Praise the heavens!)  Hairy legs? Disgusting.  You don’t do crossfit?  Uh… do you even lift weights?   Grey hairs? Shame shame shhhhhame.

See what I mean?  All of these body shaming thoughts are swirling around all the time and are definitely distracting us.  They keep us from interacting with other people.  They keep us from having fun with our families.  They keep us on the sides of the pool instead of in the water.  And if they don’t keep us from doing those things, then they totally occupy our minds, squeezing out the spirit because now we are battling self confidence issues and the pressure to get micro-bladed brows, laser hair removal (one word: Ow.), eyelash extensions or spray tans as if that’s what a normal body looks like.  He’s keeping us focused on the “fake” negatives our bodies have. Has any real person ever dissed on us like that?  I sure hope not. Has Satan?  Every minute. Every day. He’s keeping us focused on our bodily “flaws” so we stay distracted from the important. How can anyone really spend time studying the scriptures, praying, and going to church when these other things completely consume and distract us? It all makes sense now.

Her comment on contouring made me laugh a little bit.  I have a calling in the YWs and i've heard 15 year old girls lamenting that early morning seminary was making it so they didn't have time to properly contour their faces before school. 

She then goes on to say how satan also distracts us with trying to be perfect parents by focusing on mostly unimportant things-

The family has been under attack since the beginning of time. Satan hasn’t changed, but he’s changed his game. Nowadays, we go about wearing our Busy Badge of Honor. We sign our kids up for 1,000 different activities, but give FHE the boot all too often.  We are distracted with needing to be right and not focusing on loving and improving communication with our spouse.  We are distracted with forcing our MLM, startup or blog into success that we too often let the most important people in our lives grow mold.  We are distracted with house work, with swim lessons, with piano lessons, workout groups and play dates all due to a real and tangible pressure to be perfect, authored by the devil himself. We binge watch series on Netflix or Amazon Prime (Grimm, quickly followed by Poldark were my latest), but don’t have time to sit down and give ten minutes of quality time to a needy toddler.  We put hours and hours into our jobs, careers and education that we put off starting and building families. We are completely consumed with political issues (that are coming at us faster than flapjacks) but ignore issues within our families.  On purpose?  No, just distracted… with one seemingly important, worth while thing after the next.

I don't think she's saying that those things are bad in and of themselves.  Only that they are bad to the degree that they make us crazy because we are so busy and cause us to neglect other more important things.

Lastly she mentioned the distractions of the mind, mostly through our constant connection to our phones/internet/contention-

The incredible thing about our minds is that it’s a hotspot for revelation.  When we have questions in our lives, we pray about it then are supposed to ponder and study it out in our minds.  How on earth is it even possible to study something out in our minds these days? We are connected to our phones all. the. time. The moment I open my phone I don’t even remember what I got on there for, but I wasted 15 minutes.  Satan keeps political issues swirling everywhere, amplified by the media and shoved down our throats.  We consume consume consume without taking time to swallow before shoving in the next article, snap, instagram, status update, youtube video, or meme collect $200 when you pass go.  We are completely drowning in everyone else’s opinions and beliefs, that we can’t even break the surface to form our own opinions, let alone allow the spirit to speak to us.  And we are mad at God about it. #weareinsane.

That last line also caught my attention because I can see how it's so true, even in my own life and the lives of people i'm close to.  We make it almost impossible to receive personal revelation but we blame everyone (including God) but ourselves for the lack of spiritual answers.

So, my question is, is she on to something?  

I have loved living in Utah.  We've been here for almost 4 years and I have made so many wonderful friends.  But, man, Utah has been a whole horse of a different color when it comes to time, money, and angst spent on looking perfect and having the perfect lifestyle.  I've lived in five different states as an adult and i've never lived somewhere where members (mostly women) were so focused on looking a specific way.  False eyelashes, threaded eyebrows, boob jobs (for cosmetic reasons), tummy tucks to erase all evidence of having given birth, cool sculpting, botox, laser hair removal....there are women in their late 60s in my ward with lash extensions and more facial tattoos than a biker gang. :D   

I've never lived in an area that had a bigger population than the SLC area, so maybe that has something to do with it (those of you who live in metropolitan areas in other places can chime in on the number of body modifying billboard their freeways are inundated with).

But what do you think?  Is satan using distraction on the saints in Utah more than the saints in other places?  Or is part of the problem just a consequence of having so many people with so much disposable wealth in one area making these kinds of body modifications/schedules seem normal so that everyone starts to feel like they have to keep up to stay relevant?

I like visiting Utah- I have family there.  But I have always felt that I would struggle living there.  It is something that I have thought a lot about.  There is a unique sense I have there- some type of additional pressure or comparisons going on.  I am probably as vain as the next person, but I believe human nature in each of us looks for ways to distinguish ourselves.  And in a community where a significant percentage of the people are trying to adhere to a high standard of religious practice, it makes sense to me that people look for more subtle ways to 'distinguish' themselves from other people.  Pride?  Maybe.  I don't know.  But it is something I have thought a lot about and am very interested in this question.  

Or is it a means of relieving stress?  Many worldly hobbies of 'off-limits' for LDS (drinking, smoking, etc.).  Maybe it is just one way of occupying our minds and relieving stress?

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bluebell    14,876
7 minutes ago, jkwilliams said:

I hope you understand my posts have been sincere, too. I honestly don't know. My sister said she thought one factor might be the number of kids, which take a toll on the mother's body and exacerbate any underlying body-image issues. That was her guess, anyway. I have no idea. Maybe the husbands are putting pressure on them. 

I'm not I would lay the blame on those places.  In my limited experience in other states and wards, mormon women have similar number of children (if not more) than the women in my utah ward, but did not stress as much about their post-baby bodies.

The women that I know in utah who are involved with things like body modification, permanent make up, eye lash extensions, etc. have personally told me how much their husbands hate paying for it and how much they want them to quit getting it all done.  My neighbor had eyelash extensions and to get them it cost $300. Then every month it costs $80 to get them filled. Manicures and pedicures can run $50 a month, if you don't have fake nails.  Fake nails cost a lot more to maintain.  My ward is solidly middle class so the costs of these things really add up!

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ALarson    2,946
6 minutes ago, jkwilliams said:

Agreed. This phenomenon is just really puzzling to me. 

I think there is pressure felt to be perfect or to strive for perfection.  The appearance of the perfect family for everyone to see at church.  The perfect wife.  The perfect children.  The perfect body (I see men obsessed with this too, not just the women).  

Then everyone looks around at church and feels they are surrounded by perfect families and try to achieve the same.  We all know that there is no perfect family, but we get obsessed with how truly and completely "not perfect" we are compared to everyone else.  So maybe if we can at least look perfect, that helps.  I don't know...

I believe this emphasis on perfection can cause tremendous self worth issues and depression.  

Edited by ALarson

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Johnnie Cake    1,013
30 minutes ago, bluebell said:

I know a handful of women who are mormons in Utah who have multiple ear piercings and tattoos (mostly gotten when they were in their 20s) and no one in their wards treats them any differently.  They still serve in leadership positions and everything.  Do you have personal experience with women who have been harshly judged for such aesthetics?

I hear you on the whole satan thing, but it doesn't many sense to me to ask a group of people, who believe in Satan and his ability to tempt, to stop believing that he's tempting them.  I want to discuss this issue from the mormon perspective.

This shaming can be traced back to a conference address by Gordon Hinckley who specifically publically shamed Mormon women who choose to wear more than one earring.  By making this a thing, President Hinckley perhaps purposely or unweldingly set into motion a new standard of body shaming specifically targeting women.  Wearing more than one set of earing is now equivalent to carrying a Starbucks coffee cup into church, no one will say anything but they are all making a silent judgement of your lack of following the prophet. 

Also I we should mention the shaming by Elder Ballard when he told women to wear lip stick...so much of this body shaming comes from the top leaders of the church... add to this the constant strain of perfection and you get a mentality standard where women always feeling less than perfect which leads to all of the mental problem and drug use along the Wasatch front with woman. 

Edited by Johnnie Cake

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jkwilliams    3,717
Just now, bluebell said:

I'm not I would lay the blame on those places.  In my limited experience in other states and wards, mormon women have similar number of children (if not more) than the women in my utah ward, but did not stress as much about their post-baby bodies.

The women that I know in utah who are involved with things like body modification, permanent make up, eye lash extensions, etc. have personally told me how much their husbands hate paying for it and how much they want them to quit getting it all done.  My neighbor had eyelash extensions and to get them it cost $300. Then every month it costs $80 to get them filled. Manicures and pedicures can run $50 a month, if you don't have fake nails.  Fake nails cost a lot more to maintain.  My ward is solidly middle class so the costs of these things really add up!

Like I said, it's a mystery to me, and to my sister. 

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bluebell    14,876
Just now, ALarson said:

I think there is pressure felt to be perfect or to strive for perfection.  The appearance of the perfect family for everyone to see at church.  The perfect wife.  The perfect children.  The perfect body (I see men obsessed with this too, not just the women).  

Then everyone looks around at at church and feels they are surrounded by perfect families and try to achieve the same.  We all know that there is no perfect family, but we get obsessed with how truly and completely "not perfect" we are compared to everyone we see.  So maybe if we can at least look perfect, that helps.  I don't know...

I believe this emphasis on perfection can cause tremendous self worth issues and depression.  

I agree that I think this is a big root of the problem.  I still wonder though, why is the pressure for a perfect looking family so strong in Utah among the saints but not in other places?

A funny aside-my hubby and I love going to the various parades of homes in northern Utah.  We go to the one in Davis county and also the one in SLC just to look at all the homes.  It's a fun date night activity but we don't take it that seriously.  But man, you should see some of the couples that go to these things.  Women and men, all in their 20s, who look like they bought a table at a white house dinner, dressed to. the. nines. in stiletto heels and expensive suits with fancy socks and silk ties, and they're just touring homes like the rest of us schleps. A lot of times they'll bring their kids too, who are also as decked out as you can get a 3 year old and not be in a pageant.  Sometimes I just want to stop them and ask, why the show?  What's the point?  :lol:

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jkwilliams    3,717
1 minute ago, ALarson said:

I think there is pressure felt to be perfect or to strive for perfection.  The appearance of the perfect family for everyone to see at church.  The perfect wife.  The perfect children.  The perfect body (I see men obsessed with this too, not just the women).  

Then everyone looks around at at church and feels they are surrounded by perfect families and try to achieve the same.  We all know that there is no perfect family, but we get obsessed with how truly and completely "not perfect" we are compared to everyone else.  So maybe if we can at least look perfect, that helps.  I don't know...

I believe this emphasis on perfection can cause tremendous self worth issues and depression.  

I agree. I'll probably take some criticism for saying this, but we as Mormons (counting myself, too, as I'm still officially and culturally Mormon) are good at projecting a good surface appearance. We are supposed to be a light shining to the world, so we live in ways that make us look like things are great. Even among ourselves, we tend to project that same image and are reluctant to acknowledge we're having personal problems. It's not often that someone gets up in testimony meeting and talks about how they are dealing with depression or substance abuse or marriage problems. We get up and tell people we're doing great and we're happy, and we are thankful to God for that. I can't speak for anyone else, but sometimes I felt like everyone else in the ward was doing great, and I was the only one struggling. I told myself I should be happy because I was keeping the commandments, praying, attending the temple, and doing all I could to invite the spirit into my life. But I was not doing very well. I learned later that I'd been dealing with clinical depression for years but had never been able to acknowledge it because I was trying so hard to project the good Mormon image.

When I was in church leadership, I was kind of shocked to find that some of the families that seemed, on the surface, to be "perfect" were the ones with the most serious problems. Maybe the desire to look physically good is just part of that need to project the image. 

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bluebell    14,876
6 minutes ago, Johnnie Cake said:

This shaming can be traced back to a conference address by Gordon Hinckley who specifically publically shamed Mormon women who choose to wear more than one earring.  By making this a thing, President Hinckley perhaps purposely or unweldingly set into motion a new standard of body shaming specifically targeting women.  Wearing more than one set of earing is now equivalent to carried a Starbucks coffee cup into church, no one will say anything but they are all making a silent judgement of your lack of following the prophet. 

I know where the idea of it comes from, and I have no doubt that some women have felt shamed for such choices, but I have never met any personally who have, and there are quite a few women who ignore that counsel.  Seeing tattoos and multiple earrings at ward and stake functions really isn't that odd in my area of Davis county and i've never seen any silent judging going on-these women all seem very popular and have big callings at both the ward and stake level.  I've served with some of them in stake leadership callings.    

That's why I asked if you personally knew women who are being shamed for those choices.

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ALarson    2,946
11 minutes ago, jkwilliams said:

When I was in church leadership, I was kind of shocked to find that some of the families that seemed, on the surface, to be "perfect" were the ones with the most serious problems. Maybe the desire to look physically good is just part of that need to project the image. 

So true.  Being in the Bishopric, I'm aware of many of the struggles members are currently experiencing.  I look out at the congregation each week and see members and families where not one of them is not dealing with some problem or issues in their lives.  Some of them are much more tragic or life altering than others, but no one has a perfect life.  I feel tremendous love each week as I think about what some are dealing with.  Yet for the most part, they keep it well hidden and put on the perfect face for all to see.  I think that's human to do that though, and I do get that it's not anyone's business to know what's going on in their lives.

But this is why it so completely and utterly shakes members when a "perfect Bishop" or any leader or "perfect member" falls, has an affair or leaves his family, leaves the church....and so on.  How many times do you hear, "But how could this happen?  They had the perfect family!" or "the perfect marriage"?

Edited by ALarson

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bluebell    14,876

I want to re-address a question I asked jk earlier but I think he forgot to answer.  For those who believe that satan exists and that he hates us and wants us to suffer, but who also don't believe we should implicate him in Utahns' weird desires to look perfect-

When does it makes sense to assume that satan is playing in a part in our bad choices?  

A main part of the blog was the author's belief that these distractions can actually make it harder for us to stay close to God and the Spirit and so satan (who wants us as far from God and the Spirit as possible) obviously is behind them.  Why is she wrong?

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Tacenda    3,406
9 minutes ago, bluebell said:

I agree that body image is a complex thing.  But why do the saints in Utah seem to suffer more from it than saints in other places?  Is it just coincidence?  Peer pressure within the church (and why would peer pressure within the church be such a big thing in Utah but not other places)?  

And, from a believer's perspective, when does it makes sense to assume that satan is playing in a part in bad choices?  Sincere question.

That lady in the blog seems to have an obsession about Satan being after us. I hope the leaders/members dial back on mentioning the power Satan has in talks. But concentrate more on the power of Jesus Christ or our own moral compasses. Day to day thinking, that Satan is working on us, doesn't help. 

I get sick of the competition that women have with one another sometimes, or maybe they just want to feel part of the crowd. I remember reading something about women dressing for other women, or trying to impress...it's actually true, trying to fit in with the latest trends etc.

And it doesn't help when we have apostles adding to the pressure by saying some things in talks. Remember the "put a little lipstick on" comment by Elder Ballard? Also, I remember hearing somewhere, could be media, that Utah had the prettiest women, or something like that, and I chalk it up to that Stepford Wives' mentality, or that women don't dare leave the house until they look perfect. 

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jkwilliams    3,717
6 minutes ago, bluebell said:

I want to re-address a question I asked jk earlier but I think he forgot to answer.  For those who believe that satan exists and that he hates us and wants us to suffer, but who also don't believe we should implicate him in Utahns' weird desires to look perfect-

When does it makes sense to assume that satan is playing in a part in our bad choices?  

A main part of the blog was the author's belief that these distractions can actually make it harder for us to stay close to God and the Spirit and so satan (who wants us as far from God and the Spirit as possible) obviously is behind them.  Why is she wrong?

I'd say blaming Satan is the last resort. I'd look into my own motivations and problems before I thought of involving Satan. But that's just me.

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