Ugly Eyes

Ugly Eyes

I don’t have pretty eyes.  Well, actually, both of my eyes are pretty individually but together the effect is not good.  My eyes look crossed.

This abnormality has no health effects for me whatsoever.  Some people with cross-eyes have double vision.  In such cases, surgical correction resolves the problem.  Not me. My resourceful brain looks out through my weird eyes without seeing double. In fact, ophthalmologists have informed me that if I did surgically alter my eyes, I would ruin my vision.  Since it is an ophthalmologist’s job to make people see better, not to make them prettier, ophthalmologists have universally advised me against any intervention.

That is not the case with everyone else in the world.

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The Young Women Program and the Emphasis on Beauty: Lessons in makeup?

by Caroline

I don’t remember a whole lot about my YW experience, but I do remember one activity (fireside?) in particular. We went to a woman’s home in our stake. She was in her late 30′s and was a stay at home mom. She was dressed in a nicely fitted suit, beautifully coiffed  and wearing a lot of makeup. She was attractive, and she sat us down and talked to us about her journey toward attractiveness.

It all started when she overheard her mother in law talking to her husband one day. Her mother in law was complaining about how this woman didn’t make an effort to look attractive, didn’t wear nice clothes, didn’t wear makeup. Her husband replied to his mother, “Mom, some people just don’t have that much potential. Leave it be.”

This woman felt awful. Her own husband thought she didn’t have potential to be beautiful! She set out to prove him wrong. After buying new clothes and getting expensive makeup and hair cut, her husband was surprised and joyous over the transformation. She was beautiful after all, she told us girls. It just took some effort and some makeup.

By the end of the night, I had resolved in my mind that I would never get to the point where my husband would just shrug and think that I didn’t have that much potential physically. Like this woman, I was going to make sure I looked good for him.

As a 13 year old, I was intrigued by this woman’s story. As an adult looking back on it, I am more troubled. Is this what my YW leaders were trying to teach us girls? That it was important for wives to wear makeup and look attractive on a daily basis? If not, what were they trying to teach us?  And should this even be part of the YW program – to teach girls about the importance of beauty?

I suppose one reason (among many) that I’m uncomfortable with this practice is because concerns about this kind of manufactured beauty seem so culturally situated in middle to upper middle class American mores. I can’t imagine this emphasis on beauty resonating to some women in the developing world, women who work hard every day in back breaking labor to put food on their family’s table, women who have little access to cosmetics or hair stylists. I imagine these women might have a completely different idea of what it means to be beautiful, and even then, may not think that teaching that beauty to young women should be a high priority.

I also worry that such emphases alienate those Mormon women in our immediate areas that simply choose (out of principle or necessity or whatever) to not enter into that world of makeup and expensive clothing.  I wonder how much we should be trying to homogenize a particular look for Mormon women.

  • What were your experiences with lessons on beauty and makeup in YW’s? What do you see as the positives and negatives of teaching YW about female beauty?
  • What are the responsibilities of a spouse to look attractive for the other spouse?
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Hair obsessions and compulsions

Hair obsessions and compulsions

By Brooke

I don’t really know why I did it. Except that I wanted to.

There is no worthy cause like locks of love (has my hair ever been long enough to donate??). No statement about society, women, body image, sexuality, race or politics. My awkwardness in the face of comments (even nice ones) makes the idea of doing it for attention laughable. I hate being awkward. And it’s not like I just really wanted to have the same haircut as my son.

But I do now. I buzzed my hair off.

There’s nothing like trying to grow your hair—making a goal out of it—that makes you really want to cut it. So four weeks ago, after stewing (obsessing more like) over the idea of it  for a couple of nights (thanks to amelia and G for stirring it up in the first place), I grabbed some scissors and started cutting the parts that were bugging me the most. Can I just say how good it felt? I have had a (wonderful, talented, professional) hairstylist giving me the most amazing haircuts for the last 6 years. I hadn’t touched my own hair with scissors (except just barely) since I found her. But this night I did, after everyone was asleep, and it was simply cathartic. I went to bed peacefully after a good percentage of my hair was in the wastebasket. The next day I warned my husband and kids before I got the clippers out, put a 1/2 inch guard on them, and began to buzz. And when it was gone, my husband gladly touched up the edges and spots I had missed. It was fun, exciting, and free of charge.

I did it once before, in college. Kind of on a dare. So what if I say I did it this time just to see if I could get away with it again. Out of vanity—to prove I can be beautiful without hair (because honestly, I’ve never had great long hair). To show myself how much confidence I have (my husband would laugh at this one—he’s always the one listening to my self-doubts). Was it because I was coming out of a winter funk? Perhaps an outward manifestation of hidden suffering. Maybe it was just to jolt some normal people out of their normal stupor. Curiosity—I wanted to see if it would bother anyone and who. Perhaps I was trying to add some mystery to my image. Or to say “look how much I don’t care about my looks.” And what about pure shock value?

Whatever my reasons, I’m happy with the results. How liberating not to have to think about my hair (though I think about my scalp more than I used to). But, I put earrings in for the first time in years because I wanted to feel more feminine. And I have been trying to dress less boyish. Really this is all just to say that I have really, really short hair. And I’m just as self-conscious as the next person.

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The Celebrity Life

by EmilyCC

Sometimes, I compare myself to celebrity moms who have kids the same age as my kids(because Gwen Stefani and I are SO similar–I mean we both have 2 boys, we pay someone to make us blonde, and…um…I guess that’s where the similarities end).

And, I occasionally get all bummed that I’m not as skinny as they are–like when Denise Richards and I had babies days apart, and then, 6 weeks later, she was modeling for Playboy when I was thinking, “Whoohoo! Size 10 here I come!” (Ok, that’s a lie; it wasn’t 6 weeks…it was 6 months.)

I guess I felt bad because Playboy didn’t ask me to model for them.

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Tending the Garden

Tending the Garden

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by Alisa

I always thought I didn’t have the nurturing spirit so many Mormon women seem to have. I’m sort of OK with children—not mesmerized or made giddy by them, but not repelled by them either. However, this ambivalence has definite ramifications. As a wife without children, I cringe when I hear a lesson about nurturing or motherhood, as they seem to emphasize the differences I feel between me and so many other women.

It’s only recently that I’ve discovered my own way of living up to my nature as a nurturer in other ways. After I moved into my current home, I let two summers go by without engaging in the massive amount of yard work that needed to be done (it had been 15 years since the yard had any real attention). Finally last year, the gardening spirit took hold. I visited online and local nurseries regularly. I learned the names of dozens of plants, and the conditions that will make them thrive. My husband and I ripped out the old weeds and planted five new large perennial gardens. And I found that I loved nurturing my yard, investing in it, watching over it daily, and viewing the progress of little growing things that were only visible to my observant eye.

It is amazing to me what gardening did to transform my spirituality. The metaphors and parables in the scriptures began to come alive in me as I invested so much time, sweat, and muscle into making my world come alive. There were results that were immediate and ones that tried my patience. I’ve learned that sometimes I reap what I sow. Other times, I get something much better, a small effort transformed into a high return. Despite some of my best efforts, sometimes it doesn’t work out at all. And I learned about faith. Winter is a hard time for me, but when I planted bulbs the last weekend of October, I had faith that these bulbs would bring me the good news of spring as soon as it was coming. It’s like waiting for the sun to shine as you step into your darkest hour.

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Even though my yard is still dusted with snow, these crocuses have come up as a sign that warmer, brighter days are ahead – days where I can turn my attention back to my garden, which in turn nurtures my own soul.

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