O How Lovely Was the Mormon?

I hope you won’t mind a bit of Friday-induced levity. . .

When my wife Macy worked on Capitol Hill, she often went to lunch with the all-male group of guys in her office. As they’d walk across the hill at lunch time, Macy (who was strangely connected in the Mormon singles scene at the time, even though we were married before coming to D.C.) would greet all her Mormon girlfriends as they passed. This always led to discussions among her guy friends about how Mormon girls are all so amazingly hot. Macy always demurred, but whenever I hung out with this group, I always made sure to confirm their fantasies of Utah Valleys packed to the peaks with gorgeous women, 90% of them blonde, and all of them meticulously done up.

I know this not to be the case, of course, but it was fun to play on their hopeful gullibility (I won’t even tell you how I answered the question of a member in Portugal who asked me “Elder, the girls in America, do they all look, and dress, like in Baywatch?”). Still, there’s a chance that Mormons are better looking than others, and we inside the church seem happy to believe and propagate this claim regardless of whether it’s true. How many ‘surveys’ done in national magazines of (whether of good or ill repute) have you heard of that place Mormons high up in the ranks of the beautiful? Yeah, me too. Ever actually seen one of those surveys? Me neither.

Here’s my piece of very reliable anecdotal evidence, to begin what I anticipate will be a thread full of it. While living in D.C., I never noticed ‘beauty.’ It wasn’t really a concern as I pushed my way through the masses of people pressing into metro trains and through security stations. Every once in a while, we’d come back to Salt Lake City, and then, suddenly, beauty was consistently popping out at me all over the place. Everyone was beautiful, suddenly. This was no doubt made more noticeable because of the contrast, but still, I couldn’t help concluding at least the following: Residents of Salt Lake City are, on the whole, better looking than residents of Washington, D.C. (Or, maybe it means that residents of one’s native land are better looking than those of other places, or that Salt Lake City people dress more flashy, or that D.C. people don’t do themselves up, or that . . . )

Anyway, what is your collective experience, readers? Is this true, false, possible, stupid, or irrelevant? What experiences or anecdotes can you share about the effectiveness of Mormon wimples and crisping pins?

85 thoughts on “O How Lovely Was the Mormon?

  1. I think it’s true, and it most certainly is not irrelevant.

    They say, though, that DC is Hollywood for ugly people, so that may play a role.

    I simply can’t believe how many beautiful people there are in NYC. It’s amazing. But SLC does really well for its size.

  2. Walter Kirn, in his recent interview on NPR’s Fresh Air, made the following observation (he is an author whose family joined the church when he was twelve. He is not a member now.):

    From about the 9:38 mark in the interview:

    Terry Gross: What were some of the things that made the most sense or seemed most beautiful to you about the faith when you started practicing it?

    Walter Kirn: That church? Oh, I can tell you easily, The things that seemed most beautiful were the women.

    Terry Gross:How do you mean that?

    Walter Kirn:The young women. I don’t want to go into it, it sounds like some kind of profiling, but young mormon women were precociously well put together, seductive, clear-skinned, clear-eyed in a way that I found magnetic. You know, I was twelve, so I probably would have found the young women of any religion magnetic, it just happened to be that one. So in a strange way, it was sex that kept me in the Mormon church.

  3. My personal view: Utah women are beautiful, but in a Stepford wives kind of way.

  4. When I was at BYU I often ditched class to catch the baseball games at the new ball park. One time I was sitting near a group of parents of UNLV players. They were talking amongst themselves about how beautiful the setting of the ball park was and how they like making the trip up here. They said their sons enjoy the trip too because there are so many good-looking girls around town. That’s pretty good evidence to me that there is some truth to the perception that Utah Valley has an abundance of gorgeous women.

    When I visited my graduate school in the East I did notice a fall-off in the attractiveness of the females on campus relative to BYU. Of course, that’s subjective. Someone else might see it differently.

  5. I wonder if our “fair” daughters are because they have the light of christ with them or because they are actually physically more attractive?

    What about the guys? Do you women see mormon men as more “lovely” than their non-lds counterparts?

  6. This is ridiculous. Insert rant here about the superficiality of mormon men and their inability to date woman for anything other than their breast size or hair color (oh your not a natural blond? Mind dying it for eternity?)

    Go read the talks from this last conference telling women and girls to quit obsessing over their appearance. Then repeat this to yourselves: “I will stop obsessiving over mormon womens’ appearance”

  7. Another Julie, so sorry that this upsets you. But really, men are motivated by external appearances (at first), and then look internally after they’re satisfied with what’s on the outside. My wife hates it too, so you’re not alone. It’s the sad truth, and actually, should be a complement in certain respects.

    And yes, Utah chicks can be a bit hotter than other places, but for the most part, I think it’s from close inner-ecclesiastical in-breeding, really. Most of the church in America looks the same if you ask me. Many of the girls in the church look just like the next one. There’s hardly any variance.

  8. “Utah chicks can be a bit hotter…”

    (throws hands up in exasperation)

    Mr. Biscuit, you attitude (share by the majority of mo’ men unfortunatly) is why the numbers of singles in the church are growing exponentially. Your idea of what is hot is dictated by the media, so mormon women feel their eternal progression rides on whether they have the correct proportions or clear enough skin.

  9. Sadly, most LDS men have always seemed LESS attractive to me than non-members. Members were either boring and slightly pudgy, or athletic and narcissistic. Nonmembers usually seemed smarter and less shallow, yet more outgoing. Maybe it’s the allure of the forbidden…So I converted one and married him, and thus have the best of both worlds!

  10. men are pigs about atractiveness its all about the natural man. Another julie is right. Its part of our nature. It creates lots of the problems that they spoke about in conference.

    Its fun to blog about though. I personally think that Mormon men MUST be hot cause our wives are all hot…..

  11. Mormon women are not more beautiful than other women. The excessive emphasis on marriage in LDS culture results in obsessive attention to grooming, nothing more. Many women who might be in the “less attractive” category have simply chosen to focus their attention, effort and funds on more important things. If they, like many (dare I say most?) young Mormon women chose to highlight their hair, get “made over,” wear daily makeup, get manicured and pedicured, pluck their eyebrows, spend more money on clothes, visit a dermatologist and whiten their teeth, and even undergo surgery (who has the stats on Mormon surgical enhancement?) they too could enter the “more beautiful” category. But why and at what cost?

    Whenever I hear someone say the equivalent of what Ryan wrote I shudder because it means our young women are too concerned with appearance. If they stand out as being more beautiful than others it is only because they are expending more effort that others with that goal in mind. And what a sad and sorry goal to have.

  12. Tea & Biscuits – I used to hate the fact that men we’re so visually stimulated when I was single and self concious at BYU with all the blonde hotties and me being 5’11″, brunette and of a curvy build, but now I really love that fact that I can totally distract my husband by uh, moving a certain way (for fun only of course)It makes me feel more feminine and attractive because he’s so that way. I learn to cherish our differences as men and women

    Space Chick – I’m with you on the men – at BYU, I found that to be very true, they were conceded and handsome or awesome and cuties (which every guy hates to be called). What bugged me most was the lack of height – what was up with all of the shorty men at BYU while I was there I’ll never know…Good thing I strapped me a 6’5″ hottie after I graduated who’s bald too, which guys out there, many women really think BALD IS HOT!
    Okay, enough, have a good weekend all.

  13. The only time Ryan’s post mentions Mormon women, rather than Mormon people, is when quoting his wife’s friends. He himself stays gender-neutral.

  14. It’s been a good 8 years since I was in a place that was considered a Mormon area, so my perception is a little dated, but I always thought that the girls in Provo were a little scary because of, all things, their bangs. It seemed like every girl had these huge, poofy, and pronounced bangs that gave me a Steve Miller kind of feeling (Abra, abra, cadabra; they’re going to reach out and grab ya). Maybe it was just me.

    (Before you respond, Another Julie, I am sorry for this post. It’s both vacuous and insensitive and I feel horrible about it.)

  15. Davis,

    It’s very endearing to see you defend your brother.

    The post does refer specifically to “Mormon girls” (twice in fact), and it was Ryan who chose which anecdotes to include whether they were in his voice or not. However, since my comment was obviously not meant as a criticism of Ryan personally, it seems like an exceedingly minor point to press.

    What do you think about the substance of what I said?

  16. to turn the tables . . . I occasionally feel that most good Mo men lack the certain confidence, if you will, of more worldly or perhaps experienced men. I don’t think this is so much the case in college or younger, but more in the real, grown up world.

    Should I be attracted by the edgy, knowing confidence of a man who clearly has more experience with women and who is clearly comfortable pursuing what he sees? Probably not in most cases. But I sometimes am. I’m not saying that all good mormon men are geeky, inexperienced, less commanding of female notice — but sometimes they do seem that way.

    On most days I can be impressed by rightousness, responsibility, priesthood and honor regardless of the brown shoes w/the dark suit. But occasionally I am deeply sparked by the more worldly male.

    In this regard, I freely admit to being no better than you silly men who are obsessed wtih the female appearance. We ladies would be dishonest to claim we were completely unaffected by pure physical nature.

  17. Wow, it’s a breath of fresh air after reading some of those diatribes to get to the bottom of the thread and read Davis’s sensible qualifier. He’s right– there’s no basis for anyone to think this post was written about women. Further, Melissa, can you tone it down just a little? Do you truly believe that if it is the case that Mormon women are more attractive than other groups, the ONLY possible explanation is that they are more superficial? You don’t think there are other possible variable such as shared progenitors or mutually-enjoyed lifestyles or even the Spirit? I would never assert that I know any of the above to be the case, but I think it’s laughable that you instantly assume the conclusion that is most critical of attractive women.

  18. Emily: Ah, a tall brunette (thought processes shut down temporarily)…

    I always liked tall brunettes. But I fell in love with a short blond girl, so I married her instead :)

    Dave Barry has a chapter in his book “Dave Barry’s Guide to Guys.” I gave my then almost-fiance a copy on her birthday, and she found it sad/amusing/accurate. ( I recommend it to all and sundry.) Barry talks about the male phenomenonof LIBF- Lust Induced Brain Freeze.

  19. Has anyone else noticed how when I spoke out on the fact that women should not be objectified, I was assumed ugly (see post #14). Reminds me of in high school when most of the mormon boys (I had plenty of non members asking me out, this seemed to be a mormon culture issue) used to call me a lesbian because I had short hair, was a vegetarian, and listend to punk music. I am so glad my husband was not so superficial.

    This whole thread is the reason why I didn’t go near BYU.

  20. Another Julie, why do you think it’s fair to accuse people here of ‘obsessing’ over female beauty? Can you point to an example of that in the post or any of the comments? Isn’t it more likely that your ability to find such an obsession when it is never mentioned suggests an obsession of your own? Further, can you agree that there is a healthy level in which men can appreciate female beauty, or is it all unhealthy obsessing? The only person who has mentioned breast size, hair color, the right proportions and clear skin is– you! (yes, I mentioned the word blonde in my original post in the context of bating some other guys, I will concede that). Correction– Melissa mentions these things, plus highlights and fancy clothes, as well. Further, the women commenting on this thread have gone into much greater detail about what they like in men (see comments 12 and 16– which I certainly don’t condemn), than any men have.

    Can we just admit that female beauty is something that men appreciate, without assuming that it’s always taken to an evil, obsessive level? And can we also assume that people commenting here aren’t automatically the petty, superficial ones, and aren’t always talking only about women? Thanks!

  21. This whole thread is the reason why I didn’t go near BYU.

    What! Blatant stereotyping on a thread about Mormon Beauty?! Shocking.

  22. And I agree with Melissa. Don’t we have better uses for our time and money than wax jobs, boob jobs, expensive makeup, and spending hours in front of the mirror plucking eyebrows? Do you have any idea how much money the average women spends on beauty? Its madness!

  23. Comment #27– Now that’s something I can agree with. Alas, it says little about the topic of this post.

  24. Melissa,

    “The post does refer specifically to ‘Mormon girls’ (twice in fact).” Right you are. But, like I said, “The only time Ryan’s post mentions Mormon women, rather than Mormon people, is when quoting his wife’s friends. He himself stays gender-neutral.”

    You are right, though, that “it was Ryan who chose which anecdotes to include whether they were in his voice or not.” There’s a chance he left out anecdotes about the beauty of Mormon men because he has no such anecdotes. And there’s a chance he left them out because he’s a misogynist.

    I guess I don’t really think my point was minor. Ryan posted something about Mormon people. All the commenters responded about Mormon women. (An interesting fact, indeed.) My intention was to point this out, and perhaps steer everyone (both the salivating men and the indignant women) back to the substance of the post.

    As for what you said, I’m not sure. For one, I think we’d have to be a bit more specific. Are we talking all Mormon women? American Mormon women? Utah Mormon women? We’d have to be equally specific in defining “other women.” I’m torn as to whether I think that Utah Mormon women tend to spend more time on their appearance than your average American women (although not, perhaps, your average Manhattan woman). Those things are very difficult to assess. If that is indeed true, I agree it is troubling.

  25. The point is Ryan, you are saying that beauty is, ahem, skin deep:

    “we’d come back to Salt Lake City, and then, suddenly, beauty was consistently popping out at me all over the place. Everyone was beautiful, suddenly. This was no doubt made more noticeable because of the contrast, but still, I couldn’t help concluding at least the following: Residents of Salt Lake City are, on the whole, better looking than residents of Washington, D.C.”

    While yes this statement is not directed only at women, your anecdote did:

    “Mormon girls are all so amazingly hot. Macy always demurred, but whenever I hung out with this group, I always made sure to confirm their fantasies of Utah Valleys packed to the peaks with gorgeous women, 90% of them blonde, and all of them meticulously done up.

    This is the comment that draws the most ire from me. And GST, when it comes to the way women are portrayed and treated in our culture, my sense of humor has run very dry. Too many girls starving themselves, dying themselves, and in other ways torturing themselves to be described as blonde and meticulously done up.

  26. RACIST! Uh, wait . . . I mean, SEXIST!

    Would you think Mormon girls were better looking if the ERA had passed? Huh? Huh?

    What if Mormon women said that Mormon guys were better looking, how would that make you feel?

  27. Adam, I would then blame women for making me go to the lengths I have to to be as sexy as I am–all of the time in the barber chair (about 20 minutes every three weeks), plucking (nose hair and unibrow), and brutal exercise regime (I sometimes ride my bike to work).

  28. So on one hand you claim that this post could have been about the fact the Utah Mormons seem more beautiful for other reasons than their blond hair etc. but now you are saying it IS skin deep?

    Either way, my point is exactly that beauty cannot truly be seen. To say beauty is skin deep in any context is indeed the essence of superficiality.

  29. Errr, Julie, that’s because beauty– the kind we’re discussing here– IS skin deep. We’re talking about physical beauty. Am I being accused of being shallow because I think physical beauty is only on the outside?

    Perhaps you didn’t get the subtext of my little story. It’s kind of a funny story. Okay, so there’s this group of non-Mormon guys that used to hang out with my wife. They were sort of crude, a bit obtuse, and obsessed with talking about ‘chicks.’ They used to see some of my wife’s friends on the hill that were attractive, and instantly assumed that all Mormon girls are super-hot (probably based more on knowing my wife than seeing these other girls). Anyway, so when I went to a party with them one time, while they were knocking back the beers right and left, and asking me with slobber on their chins whether all Mormon women are that hot, I decided to play into their wildest fantasies, to have fun with them. Yeah, it was pretty funny. Man, you should have been there.

    So, now tell me what I’m guilty of. Melissa thinks I’m guilty of having experienced the above scenario but not having experienced another scenario of equal relevance that focuses on hot Mormon guys. So what’s your take?

  30. Yes, Ryan, if you think physical beauty is only skin deep, then you’re denying the endoskeletal charms of many women.

    The really interesting thing about your post is the apparent lack of concern about your wife obviously being hit on by a bunch of lecherous wolves.

  31. you know, i myself have noticed that there is something different about mormon girls. i go to school with lots of nm’s who are very attractive, but there is this different glow that comes from the member girls i know. i guess i’m saying that i think they’re equally attractive, like the tabernacle choir is equally good with other professional choirs. the judges give them first prize because there’s something there that the other choirs don’t have, and it isn’t necessarily in the mechanics or artistic presentation.

    and another julie, i’m sorry those kids were mean to you in high school, but i really feel like you’re making some unfair assumptions/accusations.

  32. Well, I’m not sure anybody’s going to change anyone’s mind here. Perhaps, Julie, given your take on the shallowness of Mormon men AND women, you’d be more comfortable over at this thread. You’d be welcome there– it didn’t get any attention. Which proves how superficial you all are.

  33. Another Julie,

    First, D. Bell and Ryan Bell aren’t the same people; I think you may be conflating them. (You’re not the first.)

    Second, think about it. Ryan’s post was clearly about physical attractiveness. Now, that’s an unwieldy term, and not one we frequently use. There are many words that serve as synonyms, and beauty is one of them, which is unfortunate, because beauty can also describe a soul, a sunset, a kitten, a testimony meeting, etc. But in this case, Ryan was clearly using it to describe physical appearance. Is that superficial? Yes, by definition. So I agree with you. Where we part ways is whether there is anything wrong with that. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with using beauty to describe someone’s physical appearance. You seem to.

  34. Actually, what Ryan doesn’t tell you, is all of this happened with his first wife. Who is now married to one of those guys.

  35. My problem with it is our frame of reference for physical beauty. What makes a girl physically beautiful? Size? Hair color? Type of makeup? Clothing she wears? There is some image hanging in people’s minds about what physical beauty is, and if you are really honest with yourself you may realize the role media plays in that image. It is not a realistic image. I do not deny that women are as guilty for playing into that image as men, but as this post was written by a man, and responded to in kind by men, that was the direction of my comments.

    True physical beauty is looking at you in the mirror. Its nothing more, nothing less. We are all physically beautiful, and tremendously blessed to have whatever body we have.

  36. and just to clarify, i don’t care how big or small her boobs are, how tall she is, or if her skin is perfectly clear. and i think its sad that guys automatically get tagged with that. i do have to be attracted to a girl though, before i want to pursue a relationship. don’t slam guy’s just because their relationship process is different from girls. we were made differently for a reason

  37. i’m sorry i can’t agree with the christina aguilera take on beauty there. there are some people who treat their temple like a motel, and i just don’t see any beauty in that

  38. “We are all physically beautiful, and tremendously blessed to have whatever body we have.”

    How can one be beautiful if no one is ugly? Kind of negates the word as a superlative, doesn’t it?

  39. Do you truly believe that if it is the case that Mormon women are more attractive than other groups, the ONLY possible explanation is that they are more superficial? You don’t think there are other possible variable such as shared progenitors or mutually-enjoyed lifestyles or even the Spirit? I would never assert that I know any of the above to be the case, but I think it’s laughable that you instantly assume the conclusion that is most critical of attractive women.

    First, I don’t think it is the case that Mormon women are more attractive than other groups.

    Second, if this perception does exist (I have yet to be convinced of this) I don’t think the ONLY possible explanation is that Mormon women are more superficial. In fact I didn’t use that word at all. What I did say is that the sort of beauty that gets quickly noticed is beauty that requires consistent effort. If Mormon women seem to be more beautiful than others it is because they are working harder at it than others. There are of course, other factors to be considered. For example, it is obvious that abstaining from liquor and tobacco enables one to avoid the odors of these products, the blood shot eyes of the alcoholic, the yellow teeth and coughing of the chain smoker,and the dehydrating affect these nasty products have on the skin. This is not a question. But, I assumed you were talking about a higher level of “beauty” than the sort that merely living the word of wisdom produces.

    Last, I didn’t “instantly assume” anything, Ryan. I am a woman who has spent thousands and thousands of hours and dollars over the course of my life to achieve and maintain a certain image of beauty. In my experience whether people (especially men) have thought I’m stunning or rather average has had everything to do with the money and effort I put into the process and very little to do with things like “mutually-enjoyed lifestyles” or “the Spiri.” If anything is laughable, that is, I’m sorry to say. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t uncommon natural beauties among us (every society has them) nor to suggest that there aren’t any who have truly unfortunate features. Still for the vast, vast majority it’s about effort. I maintain that if Mormon women appear to be “lovelier” than most, it’s because they try harder than most. Since finding a spouse is among the most important of projects for Mormon women, however, I can’t entirely blame them.

  40. Melissa thinks I’m guilty of having experienced the above scenario but not having experienced another scenario of equal relevance that focuses on hot Mormon guys. So what’s your take?

    There’s absolutely nothing in my comments that could possibly be construed this way.

    I’m bowing out. I always seem to regret posting at M*

  41. “How can one be beautiful if no one is ugly? Kind of negates the word as a superlative, doesn’t it? “

    “physical beauty” was the term in question. There is ugly and beautiful, but I don’t believe that they are words that can be used to describe a person’s appearance without a great disservice being done to the described and describer.

  42. I don’t understand how describing a woman as beautiful is a disservice to her, or me.

  43. From Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve:

    “In terms of preoccupation with self and a fixation on the physical, this is more than social insanity; it is spiritually destructive, and it accounts for much of the unhappiness women, including young women, face in the modern world.”

    “At some point the problem becomes what the Book of Mormon called “vain imaginations.”

    “A woman not of our faith once wrote something to the effect that in her years of working with beautiful women she had seen several things they all had in common, and not one of them had anything to do with sizes and shapes. She said the loveliest women she had known had a glow of health, a warm personality, a love of learning, stability of character, and integrity. If we may add the sweet and gentle Spirit of the Lord carried by such a woman, then this describes the loveliness of women in any age or time, every element of which is emphasized in and attainable through the blessings of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

    Have a good weekend.

  44. I didn’t say describing a woman as beautiful, but a womens appearance as beautiful…I’m really leaving now…

  45. “‘physical beauty’ was the term in question. There is ugly and beautiful, but I don’t believe that they are words that can be used to describe a person’s appearance without a great disservice being done to the described and describer.”

    Ironically, I think you’re putting too much emphasis on the importance of physical beauty. I think I would take insult at being called ugly in a number of different ways (spiritually, mentally, emotionally, etc.) long before I would by being called physically ugly. But then again, I’m a man, and men aren’t often called “ugly.” Instead, men like me are usually referred to as “distinct” or, on a good day, “rugged.”

    My point, though, is that like every superlative, it’s definition is relative. Beauty is not beauty unless it can be distinguished from that which isn’t beautiful, or at least is somewhat less than beautiful. No rich without poor; no happy without sad; etc. In fact, Eric Clapton’s “It’s in the Way that You Use It” is a great source for this. Listen to it and get back to me.

  46. Although my take is different, I agree with Cameron. Even girls take interest to how a guy looks. Sure, the media does play a role in it. And so we have guys and girls trying to look the way the media plays it out as. Or do we? Some of the “hottest” girls I see are not the scantily clad skeletons found in the media. I think as mormon men we will look to a women who wears modest clothing, takes care of herself in a healthy manner, doesn’t obsess over her looks, but does freshen up a bit, as one who we would be interested in taking a closer look. This isn’t to say that there are mormon men that want the media type of women, or mormon men who don’t care about such things. In fact, I believe that you will attract what you are. If you wear little, you will attract guys that like that look. If you are modest in what you wear, you will attract guys who want that. If you control your weight (not abuse) you will attract somebody who does the same. You reap what you sow. So ask yourself, what do you want? This is almost a dumb sub-discussion because of this.

    Back to topic – Most Mormon women are lovely because they don’t follow mainstream media – they are (generally) modest and well taken care of, not to the point of extremity.

  47. A woman not of our faith once wrote something to the effect that in her years of working with beautiful women she had seen several things they all had in common, and not one of them had anything to do with sizes and shapes. She said the loveliest women she had known had a glow of health, a warm personality, a love of learning, stability of character, and integrity. If we may add the sweet and gentle Spirit of the Lord carried by such a woman, then this describes the loveliness of women in any age or time, every element of which is emphasized in and attainable through the blessings of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

    This deserves repeating. It explains why Mormon women are more beautiful than others, speaking generally. (It does, of course, include Melissa, who might read this if she hasn’t run off in a fit of pique.)

  48. Lessons I have learned today:

    1. Certain persons should not make serious comments on superficial posts with superficial topics.

    2. The rest of us should stop being mean to those certain persons.

  49. I’m surprised that no one has mentioned ethnicity/nationality: the stereotypical ‘Mormon-looking’ woman (or man, for that matter) comes from pioneer stock–basically Northern/Central European. To the extent that many Americans find this to be more attractive than other ethnic groups, then, yes, Mormon women will appear more attractive.

    I’m Italian. Black hair, dark eyes, short. It is always an “oh, yes, of course” moment when I see my own kind. I don’t look typically Mormon. This may be why I’m the one making this observation.

  50. I wonder if friendliness of the people plays into it. I have experienced more eye contact and kind greetings at BYU in general than in other places (maybe people looking for “the one”), and perhaps Mormons in general are more inclined to try to love the stranger and humanize the other with acknowledgment. I definitely think we find people who make us feel good about ourselves more attractive.

  51. I will take Adam Greenwood’s second lesson to heart. I apologize for tweaking Another Julie.

    For the record, I too liked punk music in high school. Particularly any band with Glenn Danzig.

  52. Ryan, I’m sorry, but it appears that a number of people do mind a bit of Friday-induced levity.

  53. I am truly and deeply offended. You’ve confirmed everything I’ve ever suspected about men—that they have an insatiable lust to divert blog-comment energy away from my silly little posts to their own silly little posts!

    Ryan, I don’t think you’re a looks-obsessed shallows—or if you are, you hide it admirably and should be allowed to relax a little on Fridays—but I do think you were a little unwise not to realize where this thread would go (viz. most of those commenting in your vein would focus on women’s looks, and this would be construed poorly by some female readers.) (Of course, maybe every blogger has to get burned once–or in my case, over and over and (DANGIT) over–before learning that both men AND women show themselves to least advantage on this topic.)

  54. The 10-block radius where I work in Manhattan has more beautiful women than all of Salt Lake. And only a small percentage would fall under the Northern/Central European ethnicity. And yes, I’m talking about physical beauty, I haven’t had the time to get to know all of them to determine if they’re spiritually beautiful as well. (I should probably assume they aren’t because they care so much for their physical beauty.)

    Another Julie,
    Where did you learn so much about how the evil media affects our idea of beauty? Wicked, wicked media! You’re so tempered and considerate about the topic, please teach us the wise ways of being in the world but not of it.

  55. Two reasons mormon wimmin look better:

    1) Peace of mind – understanding or the Plan gives appealing relaxed aspect

    2) Natural selection – health looks good and Utah trek culled runts from the remuda

  56. I think it all goes back to the theory of the ugly stick. Some people think it’s heresay. Even still.

    If you took the ugly stick and started in the Northeast and then dragged it across the country in a southwesterly direction, the people would just get better looking. Making the best looking people in America people in Southern California. The least attractive: Augusta. Mormons are good looking because we are kind of west and kind of south.

    (If you’re from the Northeast, don’t be offended. This is not a hard and fast rule, it’s just a “guideline.” You’re probably good looking and an exception. If you’re from So Cal (toss, toss), don’t get excited, like I said, it’s not a hard and fast rule.)

    Line your friends up geographically. You’ll see.

  57. Never heard that stick theory, but the people in California are more physically attractive in general because all the prettiest girls who’ve won their local beauty contests in SmallTown, USA come to So. Cal to become a star. (And NYC to model or star on Broadway.) So all these unusually attractive women (and men) find out it’s not so easy to become a star, get jobs doing other stuff, and settle and start families in So. Cal. or NYC. Now, since the early 20th c. we’ve got tons of unusually attractive people settling down and procreating and populating these places. And the intelligent intellectuals all made an exodus to San Francisco, shunning the superficiality of L.A., which is why SF Bay Area is full of all the smartest and most interesting people on the planet.
    (Utah beauty is just some whole other strange cultural thing-I can’t even comment.
    Signed,
    San Francisco Girl

  58. 71. Re: migration of externally-attractive people to SoCal.

    There is more beneath the surface:

    “Scratch the fake tinsel of Hollywood and you’ll find the real tinsel underneath.” — Oscar Levant

  59. The typical Mormon beauty people seem to talk about is blond, which may explain why I stopped in my tracks and said yowza when I walked into institue class and saw a beautiful redhead 8 years ago. I still say yowza when I wake up next to her and see that red hair sometimes.

    There is a movie reviewer I listen to on the radio. He used to work for Fox 13 here in Utah and now is one of the national entertainment guys for Fox. He isn’t LDS and lives back East somewhere. When he was commenting on Charlize Theron last week he mentioned how she is better looking in person than on camera, paused, then said “but you probably wouldn’t giver her a second glance in Uteh, there are so many more beautiful women there than anywere else.

  60. Melissa, Mormon women may put a lot of work into grooming, but the contrast in dress and grooming from ND to BYU (dropped in at BYU about two days after spending a week at ND the other day) is stunning: BYU women dress simply and modestly, but attractively. They are way more down-to-earth and seem a lot less fretful about appearance. Okay, I’m only going by appearance here; I can’t read their minds, but there are a lot of women at ND wearing sleeveless and miniskirts versus BYU’s jeans and a long-sleeve T, and the make-up at BYU is a lot more subdued as well. And looking at the people on the street in Chicago I’d say the same. Women are under a lot of pressure to look right across our culture (except, say, at Brown and Bryn Mawr and maybe MIT), but on the whole I think Mormon women are much more likely to know they are valued for something else, and it shows.

    Sorry I haven’t read the whole thread : )

  61. I’d say people on the east coast dress far better than here in the west. You don’t see quite the anti-grooming that some University students get into here at BYU. But I tend to think people here dress more slovenly than back east and definitely most Americans care about appearance far less than in Europe.

    Having said that though, I do think women here are more attractive than in most other places including the LA area. The Phoenix area Mormons would be a close second. I’ve no idea why that is. But lots of people do comment on it. Perhaps just an odd mixture of people who converted back in the 19th century?

    Having said that though, with a few exceptions (such as my beautiful redheaded wife) I find Mormon women to be far less interesting to date. It seems few here have that much by way of hobbies or interests and they just look for guys to entertain them. I’ve almost always enjoyed dating women from back east rather than from Utah.

  62. Ben,

    I think the almost exclusive focus on apparel in your comment represents a misunderstanding of the breadth of this issue for women. This is not really about clothing choices at all, although I did mention attractive clothing as one element of many that must be maintained for a woman to be considered beautiful. Incidentally, I knew not a few girls at BYU that had (sometimes extravagant) monthly “clothing allowances.”

    You write that Mormon women “are way more down-to-earth” and “seem less fretful about appearance.” Ah, my friend, that is the whole point. They work hard to make that beauty seem natural and effortless to you. But you aren’t privy to the preening and primping that occurs behind the scenes. I think I had a total of 16 roommates at BYU. Of those, I would say only two didn’t have a full morning and evening beauty routine (most also followed strict diets, followed rigorous exercise regimens, had standing manicure/pedicure appointments, etc.). But, of course, I always lived with the “lovelies” so perhaps everyone else just rolled out of bed and showed up at class (which is more or less what I do myself now—oh, happy freedom!)

    It’s also quite possible that things have changed in the the last 7 or 8 years since I was at BYU.

  63. How funny!

    I’ve lived in (singles) wards in San Diego and New York/Long Island, and I am from Omaha; I’ve never been to Utah and from my own experiences I’d say “we” look just like everyone else. There was *always* that gorgeous girl but not in extreme numbers.

    I must add, however, that whenever a “new” girl from UT would arrive you could tell because she’d be dressed (for any event) to the nines. Pick up game at the stake center? She’d be in freshly ironed gym shorts and makeup. Sundays? Ruffles. Of course she was noticed.

    Finally, to Clark, I noticed everywhere I went that some/ most of the pretty ones (like I just described) were Clueless. Nice, kind, charming but clueless. I remember having a (fairly spiritual) discussion after a temple session and the young lady I was talking to suddenly stopped me with a, “What? I though you were talking about….” Shocked. I just kind of ended the conversation and escaped. She was married about a year later and the guy was a Very Bright political science / history person and I still wonder what they talk about over dinner.

    so, there you go – an observation from the middle.

  64. I don’t know who you people are, or how I got caught up in this discussion, but as a Mormon (then non-mormon, then mormon, then non…) girl I must assert that, appearance-wise, we do come one cut above the rest. I will agree, also, that it is OFTEN the result of frivolous priorities systematically instilled in spoiled husband-seekers in a rather exclusive and sheltered bubble of a community. I admire the polished look of of these daughters of Zion but lament that they tend to get stuck in situations in which they never quite realize their intellectual worth and define themselves by their relationships with husbands institutionally granted authority over familial affairs, whether worthy or not. It is my fear that these Mormon belles develop confidence in their appearance but neglect building the internal strength that allows them to see a world beyond early marriage–a world in which they can be key players.

    –Michelle

  65. Colorado people (men and women) are much, much more attractive (and healthy) than Utah people…definitely, especially the non-mormon men – I say this in all fairness as a former mormon, a BYU graduate and as a Utah native.

    If there is beauty all around when there’s love at home, then you must have been feeling the love when back home in SLC, R Bell- because I dont see it whenever I return.

    Oh, and if you are wondering who can beat the Coloradoans, the Californians, and the SLC babes, well, i would have to say the Italians, especially Florentines. They are beyond reach in the geographic/cultural/religious group beauty rankings – not even the purest of spirit can match that beauty-it transcends the physical. There is such an abundance of beauty there it could cause even the strongest among you to have an epiphany and convert to Catholicism.

  66. I’ve spent time in 40 states and am yet to find a state whose girls are more attractive than those in Utah. However, I don’t think Utah county is the best Utah has to offer. The most attractive girls live in NSL/Bountiful/Centerville. The northern utah girls are far superior to anything I have seen in Colorado. I have been to Italy too, and I wasn’t at all impressed, but hey, I guess the drunk hairy girls just aren’t my type.

  67. I just saw this on Snopes today. The whole thing is fairly interesting but the part that caught my attention was this phrase “And again, when I think ‘Mormon,’ I still tend to think, ‘Cute Girls.’” said by Tim Whyte, managing editor of the Santa Clarita CA local newspaper, The Signal.

  68. The first time I saw the original Stepford Wives movie on AMC, I busted out laughing. If the dresses weren’t sleeveless, I would have sworn it was filmed in Utah.

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