What Mary Kay Women Know

by mraynes

I sat through a two hour Mary Kay sales pitch a couple of Saturdays ago.  This is not my usual choice of weekend activities but I was cajoled into going under false pretenses.  You see, I have been living in the wonderful world of bridedom this summer.  My younger sister got married three weeks ago and I had forgotten just how exploited this particular population is.  (Watch this video, I promise it will make your day).  My sister “won” a free pampering session for ten people through one of those horrible bridal registries and invited me and our younger sister to go get a free facial and massage.  Despite all of my feminist rantings about the superficiality of the beauty industry, I am not one to turn down a massage, especially at eight-months pregnant.  So Saturday found me kissing my husband and baby monster goodbye and happily skipping away to join my sisters for a morning of pampering and relaxation. 

I’m not sure what tipped us off first, maybe it was the “Think Pink” slogans plastered on the walls or the huge bouquets of frothy, pink tissue paper flowers that decorated the entire room but we quickly figured out that we had walked straight into a pink-colored Mary Kay trap.  There was no facial or massage to look forward to, just a two hour presentation on the joys of being a Mary Kay consultant.  (In the interest of full disclosure, I did have the “opportunity” to exfoliate half of my face with the dollop of microderm abrasion cream they gave me and massage some night time lotion into my hand so I guess Mary Kay played us fair.)

As I sat there listening about the wonders of pink Cadillacs and the free, over-sized gold jewelry, I couldn’t help but compare the Mary Kay culture with the culture of women in the Mormon church.  Of course there were the obvious comparison like the tacky floral arrangements and centerpieces, the be-ribboned favors and the smell of synthetic sugar and spice that hits you right in the face.  But the deeper similarities went to the language used and the assumptions of what an ideal woman is.  I swear the keynote speaker gave the Mary Kay version of President Julie Beck’s “Mothers Who Know” speech.  I took some notes and thought that I’d share them here.

  • Mary Kay women understand how important things like food, free stuff and fun activities are.
  • Mary Kay women know that appearences are important and always take time to look presentable.
  • Mary Kay women understand that their priorities have always been God first, family second and career third.
  • Mary Kay women know that if they have their priorities straight, they will be rewarded with beautiful homes, nice cars, expensive jewelry and good kids.
  • Mary Kay women understand that because they know their priorites, other women’s children (read working women’s children) will call them mom and other women will be jealous of the magical life Mary Kay women lead.

Before some of you get too offended and start cursing my name, I deeply respect the mission of Mary Kay to help women have a career and feel good about themselves.  I believe that all women want to belong to a group and have their choices validated.  I was amazed when the Mary Kay consultants talked about how they appreciated their organizations focus on helping women achieve their priorites and become their best selves.  These women became emotional when talking about the wonderful women they met through their work and how they would drop everything to help a sister consultant.  I hear this same sentiment expressed every week in my Relief Society, and yet there are thousands of women who hate Relief Society and find being a Mormon woman exquisitely painful.

Mary Kay and the Relief Society are not that fundamentally different; both organizations exist to create a space for women in male-dominated institutions.  So why is it that one group has a much higher satisfaction rate than the other?  I believe the difference lies in choices.  If I choose to be a Mary Kay consultant, I am choosing the culture of Mary Kay.  If I don’t like pink cadillacs, flashy jewelry and talking about make-up then I can choose a different career.  Mary Kay women know that their choices will be supported because they have surrounded themselves with women who have made similar choices. 

The same is not necessarily true for Mormon women; I may choose to be a faithful member of the church but I may not want to choose the culture of the Mormon church.  I may not want to hear the overblown rhetoric about motherhood but if I want to go to my church meetings and interact with my fellow latter-day saints, then there is really no escaping it.  This can be an incredibly isolating place for a woman to be and it behooves us as sisters and Christians to be sympathetic of that.

The controversy over President Beck’s “Mothers Who Know” talk is the perfect example of this.  Many women, both liberal and conservative, were hurt by this talk, not because they necessarily disagreed with Julie Beck’s actual words but were pained by the implication of what those words meant to them.  The latest “firestorm” at the Sunstone Symposium only proves further how deep the wounds are and how many have been wounded.  The uproar that has ensued over the past ten months has left many scratching their heads and wondering why this talk?  How is it any different from what has been said over the past thirty years? 

Might I suggest that it is because the rhetoric of ideal womanhood and motherhood is no longer effective in a worldwide and rapidly progressing church.  From what I understand, women outside of the United States don’t get what all the fuss is about because they found the talk benign at best, irrelevant at worst.  American women, however, have spent years fighting the Mommy Wars.  The frontlines have been populated by members of traditional churches such as the Mormon church and women have been their best warriors.  Both sides have exploited their women until there was nothing left to battle over and an uneasy cease-fire  was called. 

For Mormon women, that cease-fire was broken by President Beck.  But instead of turning their ammuntion on the enemy, women turned their guilt and self-doubt on themselves.  How many stories have we read of faithful women breaking out into tears because their deepest and most vulnerable fears were confirmed by the very woman who was supposed to be representing them?  In the pain and anguish, some women have lashed out indiscriminately at women who should be their sisters and allies in the hope of validating their choices to a God who apparently sees nothing but their success as a mother.

A new war of ideas is needed, one that will ensure the unity of Mormon women.  So this is my battle cry, the one that I hope provides me with an organization that I can fully choose:

It is time that church leaders and lay members alike retire the old motherhood rhetoric and refocus our efforts on what will make us all better children of God…becoming disciples of Jesus Christ.  No one–no one–is excluded from the call of Jesus to “Come follow me.”  Not the working mother or the over-run stay at home mom.  Jesus asks all of us, whether we are single or married, uneducated or educated, feminist or not, to be his disciples.  He wants us to serve the poor and disenfranchised, to stand up against injustice in the world and demand that someone pay attention.  We must love as God loves or we cannot call ourselves true disciples of Christ.  That means we cannot judge other women on their mothering choices and expect to hit the mark of becoming perfect, even as our Savior is perfect.  When we as individuals and a combined church focus on true discipleship–for all women and men–rather than perfectly-ironed white shirts and missionary haircuts, then we can claim the privelege of building up the Church of Christ and the Kingdom of God.

Mraynes

Mraynes lives in downtown Denver with her husband and four children. She spends her time lobbying at the Colorado Legislature, managing all the things and preparing Gospel Doctrine lessons.

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34 Responses

  1. Caroline says:

    mraynes, I LOVE this.

    There are so many things to comment on… I’ll just focus on the last part of your post. I absolutely agree that Mormons need to stop focusing so much on roles and start focusing on discipleship. A woman should be able to be just as wonderful a disciple of Christ if she works 80 hours a week or if she raises kids full time. Same thing for a man.

    I think leaders go seriously astray when they focus so much on roles and appearance. These change over time, and that leaves them and us in a bind when their rhetoric no longer is relevant. Stick to discipleship, leaders – that’s timeless.

  2. hawkgrrrl says:

    Very nicely written. I agree that we should be focused on discipleship, not outward appearance, at least at church.

  3. Kim B. says:

    I am a lurker on your board, but have never commented before now. I have enjoyed your board and the topics discussed and find comfort in knowing I am not alone with some of my beliefs. I hope it is okay that I comment.

    I am a mother of four children. Before I had children, I worked long hours as a programmer. I loved my job. I was good at my job. After the birth of my first child I switched to part-time work and quit while pregnant with my second child. I currently do some part-time work from home.

    My transition into motherhood was, at best, turbulent. I felt angry at the injustice and lack of respect shown for the hardest work I had ever participated in. I was known for my angry outbursts at family gatherings peppered with such words as, patriarchy, presiding, and polygamy. I was the crazy one that most people tiptoed around, not sure of when I would blow. I still have those moments at times.

    While I was listening to Julie Beck’s Mothers Who Know talk, I did not feel upset. Contrarily, I felt validated by her words. I did not feel that she was speaking against “working” mothers. These feelings did not last long because shortly thereafter my phone starting to ring. I received phone calls from two of my sisters who felt angry and betrayed. They called me because they were sure I was going to be irate.

    This caused great concern to me. Was I going soft? Was I losing my feminist edge?

    Pondering on this talk and my lack of anger has been an interesting time. I think I have come to a theory that for the time being makes sense to me. In the past, I felt ambiguous about motherhood because I was not sure of its value. On some level, I believed that what I did at work was more important, certainly more validated by those around me, than what I was doing at home.

    My question is, when you are eighty or when you leave this life, what do you think will be of most value to you? What time spent will mean the most to you and to the ones you love?

    I realize the answer will be different for all of us. But, I have finally found some congruity between what I believe and how I spend my time, striving not to concern myself with the praise or judgment of those around me.

  4. EmilyCC says:

    Kim B., what a great comment–glad you’ve joined in the discussion!

    I love this post! Looking beyond our different roles in life to our spiritual role as a disciple of Christ is rather profound and yet, so basic. Thanks, mraynes!

    I wonder how we, on a ward, or individual, level, can foster this attitude? Any ideas?

  5. Kirsten says:

    This is a great post, with much to discuss.
    I have a friend who, when she moved to my town, visited various Lutheran churches in the area before choosing which congregation was right for her and her family. I must admit that my hubby and I were envious of the fact that she could choose where she wanted to worship. (We would love to change wards…) This congregation brings her happiness and satisfaction. In essence, she is able to create bonds there.
    I cannot choose my congregation. After much discussion with others, I realize that there is a virtue in this. In my ward, I can bond with others on the basic beliefs of the Gospel. However, I must create bridges with others when there are differences of opinion on non-essential matters. As much as it can drive me crazy, this is how it is. Bonding is easier. Bridging is harder, but can be more valuable in the long run. When we are confronted with differing opinions, we need to find ways to connect without condemning. I find this to be a real challenge in church. Many lessons/meetings give lip service to the idea that everyone is valued/welcome/accepted, but it isn’t always meant. For too many members, the marker of true discipleship and change of heart is a white shirt and short haircut. How do I know if someone really has experienced a change of heart? The truth is I can’t, only Christ can.
    The difficult thing for me is to speak up when something is said that I disagree with. I’ve been in YW and Primary for the past 5 years so I really haven’t had to confront differences of opinion in RS for a long time. I know that I’ll be in RS soon and have decided to do my best to speak up and try to create bridges when ideas of how to live the gospel come up. Speaking up has risks, but can have it’s own rewards as well. One of my husband’s favorite sayings is: In the essentials, unity. The non-essentials, liberty. But in all things, charity.

  6. Mel S says:

    I love your battle cry, but I am sad to say I think it would just change the location of the battle and for some of us which side we were on, but the war will go on. The problem is, there is a difference of opinion on how best to achieve the goal of being a true disciple of Christ. And in RS, I have found that difference of opinion = judgment = battle. We will just pick another topic and start judging people on it. It is happening right now in a neighboring ward over people who choose home study seminary vs. ward-offered seminary.

    The underlying problem in the mommy war in the church is that we have taken a worthy goal – being a good mother – and turned a piece of it into a moral issue. So, women are staying home because they feel pressured to do so and resenting women who choose to work (notice no one goes after the woman who gets no choice, no one sees a WM as so evil and terrible that the church or govt should financially support someone who isn’t able to afford to stay home). The war comes when someone decides their choice is morally superior.

    So, under your scenario, when I join my sisters in RS and share my belief that I can be a better disciple say, by changing my eating habits to more closely align with the WoW – war would erupt all over again. People would begin to assume that I was judging how they ate (whether or not I actually was) and they would begin to judge me, how hypocritical that I ate that banana grown in some faraway country but wouldn’t eat the meatloaf brought to the ward potluck. I would not be able to share with my sisters how close growing my own food had brought my family together and us to God because they would think I was judging them for not doing the same. (This is totally made up by the way – the only thing I really grow is mold on the food in my fridge waiting for me to eventually cook it!!)

    I don’t know if this dynamic exists in other churches. But there is definitely a sense in this church culture that people feel there is only one way to keep every commandment. Battles are always brewing when people judge or feel judged.

    The main difference between Mary Kay and RS in this context is that Mary Kay consultants love what they do and would love to have you do it with them, but will respect your decision not to join them or to just show up and buy a lipstick every once in a while. And people who don’t want to do Mary Kay are perfectly happy that someone else is enjoying their pink car doing it. It’s just a choice. At RS, it’s a moral choice, all or nothing, and right or wrong.

  7. mraynes says:

    Thanks for all the comments so far. I wish I could reply to them all but I’m at work and just about to go into a meeting. Just a few thoughts:

    Kim B., thank you for your comment and I’m glad that our community has brought you some comfort. I think the question you ask about how we spend our time is a very profound one. For me, I believe the time spent serving the children of God will be the most valuable, whether that be working with the domestic violence survivors I counsel, going visiting teaching or mothering my own children. It is when I am being like Christ to my fellow brothers and sisters, that I feel closest to him. I believe all women have to choose what will be most valuable to them, what will bring them closest to God. It might be nurturing children or getting a Ph.D., it doesn’t matter as long as we are trying to touch the lives around us for good.

    I love what Kirsten said about building bridges. Of course it is easier to be around like-minded people, it is comforting and makes us feel good about ourselves, but there is nothing easy about being a disciple of Christ and we are called to love everyone. Your idea of connecting without condemning is very powerful and I think it is the biggest answer to Emily’s question. This is something that can be very difficult for me and I need to remember to connect more. Thank you for giving me something to think about.

    Mel S., I would be interested in what your battle cry is! I think you’re right that so often we stop fighting one battle only to move on to another, unfortunately I think this is human nature. That is why I agree with Caroline and hawkgrrl that we need to focus solely on discipleship. Forget the talks on the WoW, modesty, tithing, etc. and talk to us about how Jesus healed the sick, ministered to the poor, loved the children. People may disagree on exactly how to be a disciple but some of that talk about Christ-like love is bound to stick. Thank you for your comment.

  8. Kim B. says:

    I love this: Kirsten: One of my husband’s favorite sayings is: In the essentials, unity. The non-essentials, liberty. But in all things, charity.

    I actually love the whole concept of comparing RS to Mary Kay and I can see many similarities worth exploring. But, I think we might be making some assumptions that may or may not be true. We are assuming that all women in Mary Kay love the culture and social aspect. Isn’t it possible that there may be women who love the product, like the ability to make money, but can’t stand being with the group?

    What if someone visited RS for the first time and heard all of the typical flowering speeches? Couldn’t they draw the same conclusions about RS?

    I think the truth is people and gatherings are more complicated than first glance and we cannot truly know how people are feeling until we delve deeper.

    I had a similar experience with a Mary Kay consultant. She invited me to have a “free facial”. When I arrived at the sales conference, the consultant was very pushy hoping to recruit me. I had no interest and she did not take my declination lightly. At some point, she brought over the bigger wig to help me understand how I was making a huge mistake in missing this opportunity. They were not real supportive of my decision to let this one pass me by.

    Relief Society is a place I am grateful to attend. Some weeks I have left hurt and angry. Some weeks I have left uplifted and joyful. In the past few years, I have taken it upon myself to combat the comments made that I felt were demeaning or damaging to woman and their self-esteem. There were two women in particular that seemed to make comments every week that made me bristle.

    One Sunday, one of these sisters made a typical comment. I raised my hand and made sure everyone knew I disagreed with her statement. I always wanted everyone to feel welcome in our ward and RS and would not have it ruined by some women’s insensitive comment. After I said my peace I turned around and looked at the sister I had just corrected.

    She looked devastated. I realized in that moment that I was not trying to create a welcoming environment for all. I was trying to create a RS that I, and people who agreed with me, felt comfortable. This moment changed my perspective.

    Until we feel comfortable as women with who we are and what we offer and allow the same for others, we will never enjoy RS. There is an ideal woman for me. I see glimpses of her occasionally. However, my ideal woman will look very differently than yours.

    I still make comments frequently in RS. I just try to be a little less damaging to the people in which I disagree.

  9. Mel S says:

    mraynes

    It’s not that I disagree with your battle cry – I do think we are here to be a disciple and we should all be able to agree to that. But I think leaders of the church would tell you that this is their focus – they are just choosing topics to show what a disciple is and how a disciple acts (and dresses – haha).

    Make my example something related more specifically to discipleship – let’s say the General RS President gives a talk about serving the poor and what a wonderful experience her family had when they decided they weren’t going to buy any new clothes for a year and gave all the money to the women’s shelter. In our church culture, people couldn’t just say – that’s great, what a great way for YOUR family to become more like Christ. My family is going to serve the poor by doing volunteer tutoring at school. Instead, they get defensive because they mistake the message of “let’s be more like Jesus” to be one of “this is how everyone should be more like Jesus.” They would start to criticize her – certainly if they took all the money she spent on having her hair dyed and her makeup and drycleaning and gave it to charity it could feed an entire village in Africa for a year. Certainly if they started out with the wardrobe she had, it wouldn’t even be a sacrifice.

    My point is that the mommy war isn’t because of the focus on motherhood, but because the church stepped in and created an official suggestion (for lack of a better term) about how to achieve a common goal. If they use the same tactic, but just change the focus, the war doesn’t go away.

    So, I guess I would just tweak your battle cry to be grace or maybe the beatitudes from the Sermon on the Mount. I prefer to focus on what we want to be (a peacemaker, poor in spirit, meek, etc) rather than on what we should do (serve the poor, stand up to injustice, etc) and honor the many paths to reach the same goal.

  10. Deborah says:

    Completely beside the point of this thought-provoking post. But if I thought I was heading out for an afternoon massage and was left with a dollap of lotion to massage into my own bloody skin? That’s almost unforgivable. Shudder.

    • Nelly says:

      april – Amie! The last b/w of Maria & Matt is lovely. And you caepurtd Central Park just the way I remembered it THE DAY BEFORE .as I too was in the city over the weekend. How did we miss each other? The reflections in the water also look really amazing. Miss you-aca:)

  11. mraynes says:

    Kim B., you have given me some deep things to think about. I would like to think that I am a person who feels comfortable with my own choices and the choices of others but I wonder if there isn’t a little part of me that wants our church to focus solely on Jesus Christ because that’s what I’m comfortable with. Perhaps other women need the talks on modesty, tithing and obedience. I take a laissez-faire approach to spirituality and believe that if you are a disciple of Christ all other things will take care of themselves but maybe this isn’t true for everybody. I certainly wouldn’t want to impede anybody else’s spiritual journey. Lots to think about here. Oh, and I’m sure you’re right, if I took a random sampling of Mary Kay consultants, I’m bet there would be a percentage of them who hate the culture and their job just like there is a percentage of Mormon women who hate Relief Society.

    Mel S., I hope I didn’t come over as defensive of my battle cry; there are definitely some holes in it. I think this goes back to what Kim was saying; I know what my ideal disciple of Jesus Christ looks like: protector of the poor, a seeker of truth and justice, healer of the weary in heart but of course this may not be what everybody’s discipleship looks like. I’m sure that somebody could make a very good argument that my discipleship enables people and is antithetical to the mission of Christ. I like your tweaking of my battle cry, it is much more appropriate for a general audience of disciples. Thank you for sharing with me your approach to what we as a body of saints should focus on.

    Deborah, I’m glad you understand how truly upsetting this was for me. My husband only laughed at me and said it was my own fault for giving into my vanity. Even after two weeks I still think it should be a punishable offense to promise a very pregnant woman a massage and then make her sit in an uncomfortable chair for two hours instead.

  12. Mel S says:

    I forgot to say, I got a good laugh from the video 🙂

  13. Not in Utah says:

    I think we do much of putting people into roles and not treating them like people in our church. Putting people in roles is a function of co-dependency and is not healthy. I cringed when my son and the other young men were and still are referred to as “our future missionaries.” We get rather put out at people who let us down and don’t fullfil the roles we plan for them and make a life for themselves instead and choose for themselves. These days the Stake Leaders in my stake are really concerned that “our young men are not preparing/choosing to serve missions.” Does anyone ever really ask WHY? Do we ever really interview the active and less active and non-active members and say do you really enjoy coming to church? Why or why not? What don’t you like about it, what would you change>? No one cares about our opinions and thoughts.

  14. Jim Donaldson says:

    >I think we do much of putting people into roles
    >and not treating them like people in our church.

    I think this depends on the ward and is more of a problem in a ward that is very homogeneous. In a more diverse ward, I don’t see that as problem. Our ward runs the gamut from an essentially homeless guy who stands every day at the corner with a sign begging to a guy who has multiple advanced degrees, two university teaching jobs, and just had an article published in Scientific American. And probably half the ward has no idea what either one of them do–because it just doesn’t matter and no one cares.

    I think it is difficult to envision all the possibilities of life when you are surrounded by very limited possibilities. It takes an enormous effort by people generally not inclined to do so (“what? doesn’t everybody want to be just like me?”) to defeat that. If that is important to you, I think you either have to do it yourself within your family or move somewhere where the possibilities have already come to life. There are such places.

  15. Jim Donaldson says:

    Somehow, in the post above, a close parenthesis morphed into a smiley face. Arrgh. None was intended.

  16. Becca says:

    Thanks so much for writing this post> I have always felt as if I have two selves fighting within me. The working feminist woman and mom. I had my second little boy 3 months ago and the time has come for me to go back to work. I find myself wishing my hubby made enough so i could stay home with my boys, I have found myself really enjoying staying home this time around. I did not feel this way when I returned to work when my first son was born. I could not wait to get out of our tiny little apartment everyday. We had just moved to Dallas and I was afraid to go out because I was sure I would get lost, and I didn’t really know anyone or know where to go to during the day that didn’t involve shopping.
    We’ve been here for 3 years now and I know where to go for indoor play fun, have friends in our ward that have boys my son’s age, and I know my way around now to get out of the house when I get cabin fever. I feel like I’ve spent teh last three months really connecting with my boys. I feel so torn. I do enjoy working and I miss the people I work with, yet I have gotten very used to being home with my boys and I love it. I always thought I was not made out to be a stay-at-home-mom, but now that I’ve sort of gotten the hang of it I know I will really miss it.
    My husband swears he s doing everything he can to find a way to make more money but I think he is not really giving it his best effort. I think he thinks I sit around all day and watch TV. I think he’s also a little jealous at my being home, yet he has a hard time watching both boys for a few hours when I go to teh movies with my girlfriends.
    I’ve read articles that state working moms “value” their time with their kids more because they have less of it, and that “quality time” IS better and more fulfilling for your kids than, “quantity time”. I used to really believe that was true, but after 3 months at home, I feel like I really know my son for the first time. I am more patient with him, I play with him more, and we seem to have more fun together.
    I worry that when I go back to work I will loose some of the strength in the bond I have built with him in the last 3 months.
    I wish all those work-at-home jobs where not sales or scams. I’ve never wanted anything more than to be with my kids, I never thought I’d feel this way.

  17. Janna says:

    Just an observation that many of us, including the previous commenter, equate working woman with feminist, implying that a stay-at-home mother is not a feminist. My experience does not validate this equation.

    Discipleship, for me, means fulfilling my mission/task in a godly way at the appropriate time. Sometimes our discipleship pleases others, sometimes not. What discipleship looks like on the outside is irrelevant, but the quality of it is essential – the quality being an acceptance of God’s will.

  18. mraynes says:

    Not in Utah, I had never thought about church roles inspiring co-dependency but I think you may be onto something. I agree, it is never healthy to force a role onto somebody they may not be able to fulfill, whether this be in a family, work or church setting. I like your idea about doing interviews with less active and members and finding out how we can better serve them. I think if we did this and expanded it to all members there would be a huge shift in our understanding of discipleship.

    I agree Jim, people generally do not want to put themselves out in order to change the way they are living their lives, I think this is human nature. But I don’t think we should give up trying to make things better just because it might go against human nature to do so. In general, I don’t think our church expects enough out of us in terms of being better disciples of Christ. That is why I believe there needs to be a change in focus of the leaders to help us as members learn to be better disciples. Also, don’t worry about the smiley face, at least you can make them…I have no idea how to do such things and I would really like to.

    Becca, thank you for so honestly sharing your struggles with us. I understand how difficult it is to be a working mother; the heartache to be with my child can be overwhelming at times. I will be going on maternity leave in a month and I am also looking forward to getting to know my children better. A book that I really love is Maternal Desire by Daphne deMarneffe; it helped me feel confident in my intense need to nurture my child and also still feel like I could be a good mother if I worked. Please know that you will always find support for your feelings and choices here at Exponent.

    Janna, you make a wonderful point about how we often conflate being a feminist with working outside of the home. You are absolutely right, no such distinction is needed. Some of the best feminists I know stay home and are raising amazing, feminist children! I love your definition of discipleship, I hope you don’t mind but I’m going to adopt it into my own ideas about how to be a more effective servant of Jesus Christ.

    Thank you all for the wonderful comments.

  19. gladtobeamom says:

    Reading this made me think of a conversation I had with my sister the other day. She came to visit me on the East coast. She recently moved back to Utah after living out of the state for many years.

    While here she hated to say she was from Utah. She asked if she could just say she was from somewhere else.

    We talked about how people put you in a box. Oh your from Utah or other such nonsense. In Utah they put her in another box where you are placed if you are from somewhere else.

    I have enjoyed learning about the women on this site because it has helped me not to put people in boxes or groups. It has helped me to look outside of myself. I am struggling to make it impossible to actually fit in any box that others would place me in.

    I think that is one of my least favorite cultural aspects of the church is when others judge others. When they feel as if they are superior because of the choices they have made. It shouldn’t be SAHM against working moms, etc. and on and on. It gets so old.

    I am finding what works for me doesn’t work for others. It is the old you don’t know until you have walked in someone else’s shoes. I am so enjoying learning about other women in the church and being able to respect and accept them regardless of our differences.

    I am also learning to accept the choices I have made and be happy with who I am regardless of what others think about me.

    I know I will still be placed in a box. I just plan on not letting their placement hold me back.

    As a side not I have sold MK. It was interesting. I was never very good or excited about it. It to becomes a culture. I just wish the church culture didnt drive me as crazy. It is not as easy to get away from.

  20. Caroline says:

    gladtob4amom, we’re glad you’re here and commenting!

  21. Gwen O. says:

    I don’t think using war analogies helps unify Relief Society sisters, nor does it help anyone become a better disciple of Christ. We shouldn’t need to sound “battle crys” against other women in our church.

    When I was in YW I had a particularly astute leader who could sense my unease when the ideal woman and future mother were discussed in lessons. We became good friends and I would often call her when I had questions about the church or questions about what was expected out of me, culturally. What I learned from talking with her was that there was no need to smirk, roll my eyes, or get angry when some women perpetuated the “ideal” Mormon cultural stereotype. If I didn’t like that Mormon women were seen as caring only about pink cadillacs, paper flowers, etc., then I wasn’t going to be that kind of women. I wanted to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ and be a better disciple, all the while showing the people that I met that not all Mormon women were that way. Feminist mormons (of which I consider myself a part) only hurt themselves when we try and make life choices, which are very personal, a matter of “war.” Let’s set the real example, stop judging others, and focus on ourselves first.

  22. Beekeeper says:

    More than two decades ago my 12 year old brother died as a victim of a drunk driver while riding his bike. A few days later one of the women from the ward came to my mother and informed her that she had been “inspired to come and support her in her grief and guilt” she stated that had my mother been following the prophets counsel to be a stay at home then the accident would not have happened and my brother would have lived (and not that I should have to qualify this but my mother was working as a waitress because my father had an injury and couldn’t work as much at the time in a town that was already in a recession). I watched as her self-esteem eroded over the years and guilt consumed her life endlessly, all while navigating the consuming grief of losing a child.
    Years later I remember her commenting about a great burden of guilt being lifted as Pres. Hinkley began shifting the focus ever so slightly to acknowledge and even gently compliment women who took a different path and had other aspirations…but it lately seems to have been pushed back to the 1980’s and before. It felt like the small flame of acceptance of different roles and bridge building between women had been effectively extinguished. My heart breaks every time I think of my mother and her struggles to (mentally and emotionally) belong to her own culture…and to undo the damage of so many years ago.

    As a college student, I remember dating men and discussing my ambitions for career and graduate studies with them
    and I remember being told “but don’t you wan’t to be a mother” and “you can’t expect to do stuff like that and raise kids too” and one from the elder’s quorum president: “you should be a ________, that would be a good job for a girl to be, that is what I would do if I were a girl” but my favorite from a man I thought I loved upon hearing that I had been accepted (after much blood and toil) to an Ivy League grad school: “you’ve just effectively educated yourself out of the mormon marrying market”
    I suppose my point in sharing these unpleasant personal stories is that it is nice to aspire to ideals like a focus on discipleship, but when Mary Kay speak is spewed from the pulpit, unfortunately herd mentality takes over and people collectively assume that the prattle spoken is law, commandment, whatever. The women who fall outside of that whether by choice or neccessity will always be forced to justify themselves, to rationalize their choices, and to politely make excuses for thier lives. I wish that relief society and the LDS church in general were saturated with compassionate and thinking women like mraynes and some of the women who have commented on these and other posts who prioritize discipleship. I wish those women could have surrounded my 30 year old mother decades ago and tell her what an incredible loving working mother to her son she was. Maybe both of us wouldn’t still be suffering the emotional consequences today….

  23. Tracy says:

    All that I want to say is – as a consultant, not all of us are pushy. I have seen the pushy consultants and how they upset their customers, and how the customer leaves them because they can’t stand to be hassled. That is what hurts those of us that just want to make women happy and look & feel beautiful being happy. That is the goal in this business to recruit and build teams – it can be done, but how hard do you want to push it. You feel great after your facial and if a woman (or man for that matter) wants to do it, it is up to them, it is their decision. In my real job, it is stressful, so my home business keeps me level and happy. I love my business because I work it how I want to and have all the cosmetics & skin care to make me feel and look good. Thank you, that’s all.

  24. mraynes says:

    I’m sorry I haven’t responded to the latest comments; I took the weekend off but I do want to acknowledge what was said.

    Gwen- I think maybe you misunderstood my post. My whole point was that all the women of the church, both traditional women and feminist women need to stop judging each others’ choices and treat one another the way that Christ would. The battle cry I expressed was not intended to be used against “other” women but by all women in the pursuit of being better disciples of Jesus Christ. If anything my battle cry was the antithesis of a battle cry because the sentiment that I expressed and hope for is one of peaceful acceptance and love for our fellow brothers and sisters. Now I agree with you that equating war with being a disciple of Christ is a problematic analogy but I am hardly the first to do so. I only used the warlike language of the mommy wars and some of our own leaders as a jumping off point to articulate my desire to have an organization that truly followed the example of Jesus Christ. I’m sorry if that wasn’t clear.

    Beekeeper- Your story is heartbreaking, I am so sorry that you and your mother had to go through that. Your experience is proof to why we need a paradigm shift in our idea of what is important. The focus should be on our baptismal covenant to mourn with those who mourn and comfort those in need of comfort, not judging those who choose to live life differently than ourselves. I hope that you have been able to find some healing.

    Tracy- I’m sorry if you felt attacked as a Mary Kay consultant, that was not my intention at all. In fact, I was impressed by what I saw of the Mary Kay world. The women who were there expressed so much happiness and fulfillment from their work as consultants. They never tried to push it on me; they respected the fact that selling Mary Kay was not for everyone but they wanted to give other women the opportunity to experience the same joy they felt. I was struck by this because even though I have no interest in selling Mary Kay, I want to belong to an organization that brings me so much happiness. I was trying to express mine and many Mormon women’s wish that Relief Society provided the same rewarding experience that Mary Kay does for its consultants.

    Thanks for the continued comments.

  25. m&m says:

    I have thought a lot about Sister Beck’s talk and the continued discussion about it. I think in the end, it’s important to remember what our leaders’ job is (to teach ideals and general principles) and what our job is (to seek guidance from the Lord directly about how to apply/live/strive toward/process ideals). When we feel guilty or inadequate or even misunderstood, it’s our opportunity to turn to God for His help and support, not to expect that our individual circumstances can all be addressed all of the time by our leaders.

    For each of us, the specifics may look a little different, but the ideals still need to be taught at a general level, including the important focus on family roles, which are, in a general sense, a key element of our doctrine and of our eternal purposes. The talks that we hear all are part the whole. Sister Beck addressed a key part of the whole. Motherhood, after all, is an eternal role! But does that mean that she believes that there isn’t more to being Christlike than motherhood? I think it’s really important to look at each talk as a part of the whole, not an effort to sum up all of the gospel in 15 minutes. 🙂

    As someone who struggles with feeling guilt and inadequacy, it’s hard to sift through the ideals sometimes, hard not to feel like I’m drowning in all that I ‘should’ be doing. But I have found when I do turn to God, He helps me take the next step. And then the ideals don’t feel so overwhelming.

    The fact that we judge each other (and ourselves) in a vacuum against these ideals is evidence of the fact that we still have a long way to go in being Christlike, but, imo, that doesn’t change the need for our leaders to keep teaching the ideals, including motherhood. Elder Holland discussed why this is important in the last WW leadership training meeting–because if they don’t, those ideals, the pattern, may be lost. I think it’s good to take a step back and consider how difficult it must be to address a worldwide church. I believe they earnestly seek God’s guidance and help in their stewardships, just as we each do in ours. I think they deserve the benefit of the doubt, just as we would hope our brothers and sisters around us will give us.

    (I wrote more of my thoughts about this on my blog (including the quote from Elder Holland)…too much to include here.)

  26. m&m says:

    p.s. As to Sister Beck’s comment about shirts and haircuts, can we consider that it wasn’t about the external look, but about the internal commitment? I don’t believe she is trying to encourage judgment based on how our kids look, but inviting us to consider if we are giving our best to the Lord and our covenants, and teaching our children through our actions that our covenants matter. It’s up to us to see beyond the external stuff, the easily judged things, and to look at our hearts. In the end, I feel she invited me to look inward, not outward. And in the end, my best is between me and God, not for anyone else to be able to judge from the outside. I can trust that God knows my heart and desires, and I’m learning to have that be enough, even if what you can see doesn’t look all that great. (Yet?) 🙂

  27. Ruth says:

    I happened upon your blog by chance and appreciate your opinion, I however am perplexed by your hypocrisy. You spend a good amount of time saying what’s wrong with Beck’s talk and end with a “follow the Savior” speech. Has she not been called by a prophet to be a leader? Does she not have the power of the Holy Ghost with her to help us know the will of the Savior for us as sisters. Follow the Savior, but don’t follow the spokespeople for the Savior is a bit backwards don’t you think? Also, you say that we should not judge. The scriptures teach us to judge, to judge righteously. We should jugde that we may know right from wrong. Judge righteously means to have a discerning mind. I don’t think it means to sit around and mock those who don’t look or parent like us. Of course we must asses what goes on around us. We would be fools not to have a discerning mind at this time.

    I was not offended by Becks talk and in fact have studied it regularly looking for the spirit to help me be a better mom. This talk was not her opinion, it was a message from HF. Dosen’t that change the way we view it? Yes, our leaders don’t always tell us everything we want to hear…if I wanted that I would go to the Luthern church down the street or the Feel Good Rock n’ Roll Church uptown. I don’t belong to those churches, I belong to the church of Jesus Christ and as such I place my trust in his disciples. Yes, these men and women are not perfect people. But just like me, I believe that we are doing our best to have the spirit with us. I believe that Sis Beck is doing her best and I am grateful that she gave this talk.

  28. mraynes says:

    m&m, thank you for your comment. That is the best defense of President Beck’s talk I have read. I think for the most part you and I are on the same page. Perhaps our approaches are a little different; for example, I think if the church focused exclusively on being more Christ-like, becoming better mothers would take care of itself. Nevertheless, I think both our opinions show a commitment to following the Lord.

    Ruth, I am really sorry you misunderstood me. No where was I judgmental of other women or President Beck. I merely suggested that talks like “Mothers Who Know” are no longer effective because they are too divisive, a quality that I know Christ does not want in his church. I’m glad that you weren’t offended by the talk, neither was I but that doesn’t change the fact that thousands of women were. I believe it is our job as Christians to examine what may be hurtful to our fellow sisters in the gospel. If wanting the members of our church to be kinder and more Christ-like to one another makes me a hypocrite then so be it, I think I’ll let our Savior judge me on that one. I have to say Ruth, you came dangerously close to questioning my righteousness and commitment to this gospel, and although you perfectly exhibited the point I was trying to make, I didn’t appreciate it and am offended by it. I hope that I have misunderstood you.

  29. Jenny says:

    “It is time that church leaders and lay members alike retire the old motherhood rhetoric and refocus our efforts on what will make us all better children of God…becoming disciples of Jesus Christ.”

    Well… in response, didn’t President McKay say that “No other success can compensate for failure in the home”?

    and President Lee say that “The most important of the Lord’s work you will ever do will be within the walls of your own home”?
    I think that the best people to teach and show examples to are our families.

    Here’s a quote from a Gen Conference Talk, found at http://speeches.byu.edu/reader/reader.php?id=6751

    “You know, there are people in our state who believe in following the Prophet in everything they think is right, but when it is something they think isn’t right, and it doesn’t appeal to them, then that’s different.” He said, “Then they become their own prophet. They decide what the Lord wants and what the Lord doesn’t want.”

    I thought how true, and how serious when we begin to choose which of the covenants, which of the commandments we will keep and follow. When we decide that there are some of them that we will not keep or follow, we are taking the law of the Lord into our own hands and become our own prophets, and believe me, we will be led astray, because we are false prophets to ourselves when we do not follow the Prophet of God.”

    I think we should be very cautious to say what is or isn’t right for the prophet and church authorties to teach us. Some say that those men don’t understand women, REAL women. Pres Hinckley gave a talk that might change that opinion at

    http://www.lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=2354fccf2b7db010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD&locale=0&sourceId=4ad474536cf0c010VgnVCM1000004d82620a____&hideNav=1

    entitled, To the Women of the Church.

    Thanks for reading, for appreciating my thoughts and concerns.

  30. Scrib says:

    Mraynes, what you saw in the Mary Kay world is not unusual. While some consultants choose not to recruit and instead, build a customer base and sell (and I say “Good for them!”), the scales are tipped overwhelmingly in favor of recruiting. I find it strange that a consultant could sell enough lip gloss to paint the side of the Empire State Building and yet not move up one link in the Mary Kay chain unless she recruits. And getting dear women like those reading this board to say “yes” to the Mary Kay opportunity is a crafty and manipulative game, loaded with carefully-worded scripts, tricks, and even the twisting of scripture.

    For example, consider this teaching from one of Mary Kay’s National Sales Directors (the top brick in the MK pyramid). It’s what to say to a potential recruit who tells you, “I can’t join Mary Kay because I need to pray about it first.”

    NSD: “Do you believe that any talents and abilities that you have are from the Lord? Can you see how in Mary Kay that you can touch a lot of lives…there’s a lot more to Mary Kay than a little pink case? We’re sharing a product, but of far greater importance, we’re sharing an opportunity. We’re changing lives. In Mary Kay, you have the GREATEST opportunity to touch people for the Lord as well as for Mary Kay…you could certainly be letting your “light shine” for the Lord too! Is there any reason why you would not like to help make this a better world?”

    Offensive? You betcha. And these teachings aren’t coming from “one or two bad apples,” either. They’re coming straight from the top, from women hailed as paragons of Mary Kay success.

    I warmly invite everyone to stop by our site, http://www.pinktruth.com, and take a peek at what else this company’s leaders are teaching their downline in the name of “enriching women’s lives.”

    What you learn at pinktruth.com will help to give you a HUGE leg up the next time you get invited to an MK “Girl’s Night Out” (i.e. Recruiting Event). 😉

  31. WoW…. Interesting post and comments. I am not from the Mary Kay world of make-up or skin products. I come from the world of health and fitness MLM. But I have definitly enjoyed this read. Thank-you. It has given me something to think about.

  32. Belle says:

    Ana comentou em 7 de janeiro de 2011 às 21:16. Meninas, queria perguntar uma coisinha pra vocês: vocês usam rímel incolor? Queria saber as dierÃenfƒÂ§as no resultado final entre usar o preto e o incolor.. Obrigada, queridas! Beijo beijo

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