Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Get Fat for Jesus

Once again, I've been reading about religious standards of modesty in dress and grooming, and I just came across something that fascinates me on Segullah, an online literary magazine for LDS women.  This piece, The Ugly Mantle, begins:

"When first I was called to serve I had but two goals in mind:
1.) Get baptisms.
2.) Don’t gain weight."

When the writer worked as a missionary, a young man she was trying to bring into her faith fell in love with her.  Best I can make out, she chose to gain weight and thus become less attractive to other potential converts.

Other young women chime in with comments.  One writes that her mission slogan was, "Fat For Jesus."  (I've actually come across that slogan before, as an acronym for Faithful, Available, Teachable.)  The range of viewpoints on this issue is so interesting to me.  Some girls report that they gave up the notion of vanity while on mission, and others purposefully downplayed their attractiveness so as not to distract.  It amused me that others simply recalled their missions as times when they rapidly gained or lost weight due respectively to too much fast food on the road, or increased exercise walking door to door.

I went looking for more stories like this, and found a thread on Feminist Mormon Housewives  concerning the controversial issue of attractiveness within the religious community. 
"Why does the church buck it’s “in the world but not of the world” attitude when it comes to women’s body issues?"

As the discussion continues, people tell stories about girls who dressed inappropriately for church and proms and how this was handled.  Some women write about outdated rules for women's dress at their particular churches.  In one church, the wife of the president imposed a rule that all women had to wear pantyhose. I love the last line of this comment, written by a woman who didn't exactly embrace that particular rule:
"The members were quite startled and asked us why on earth we wore it in such heat. In fact, I’ve just recalled running out into a (somewhat secluded) field with my companion and stripping off our hose after church was over. Yet another occasion on which I failed to act with quiet dignity."

From now on, I'll just sum up two out of every three stories I tell with that line.

In other news, I found the most ridiculous, fantastic book yesterday and I am going to share it with you guys later.  The truth is, I am having trouble writing about it while maintaining quiet dignity.