Allure magazine recently released an article entitled “Why So Many of Your Favorite Beauty Personalities are Mormon” in which they take statements given by successful “mommy-bloggers,” such as Amber Fillerup Clark and Rachel Parcel, and use them to stereotype all Mormon women as paper dolls and glorified Barbies. Being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints myself, as well as being born and raised in Utah, you could say that I am your stereotypical “Mormon girl,” which makes this all the more frustrating of a read. The lack of quality research put into this article is incredible. Below are a few of my “favorite” generalizations about Mormon women and LDS church doctrine:
- “When you come from a patriarchal religion, your best bet for gaining power is to be appealing to the men in charge… it can be very hard for women who are outside of normative standards of beauty… [Because] ultimately these beauty standards are connected to what gets you into heaven.”
- “These businesses (multi-level marketing beauty companies) allow Mormon women to make money and be ambitious, all while not working outside of the home, which in lots of ways is still frowned upon.”
- “You might not know that [a Mormon girl] routinely asks herself, while shopping or applying eye shadow ‘Would I feel comfortable with my appearance if I were in the Lord’s presence?’”
- “If you’re a boy, you must want to be strong, play a sport, and then go on a mission. If you’re a girl, you must love makeup. Mormon girls, early on, are introduced to makeup and hairstyling and fashion.”
The list of sexist generalizations made by Allure about Mormon women goes on, and frankly makes me nauseous. Although some of the claims that Mormon beauty bloggers are “white and under 30 and married… fit and given to flattering dresses that hit the knee and cover the shoulder…[have] multiple children and Lady Godiva hair…wholesome but not dowdy… [and] relentlessly positive but never pious” are true on a surface level, what Allure misses the mark on is that none of these worldly desires to be beautiful are founded on LDS church doctrine. The lack of research into any religion is unacceptable when that religion’s doctrine is a major component of an article’s argument.
All religion aside, no woman should be stereotyped because of her ability to rock a modest dress or apply flawless eyeliner. There may be smoke when it comes to Utah culture being focused on appearances (a lot of famous beauty bloggers and other popular beauty gurus are from Utah and have been raised LDS), but that in no way denotes that every Mormon girl from Utah, or Mormon girl anywhere in the world, was taught by church leaders and church doctrine that our physical appearances are the only way we are going to make it in the world. Society taught us that. There is a significant difference between any religion’s culture and its foundational beliefs. Let’s make sure that we fully understand everything about a religion before we go and make stereotypical generalizations about its followers.