I've heard people quote Mark Twain about his views on "ugly" Mormon women, but not until Google did I find the exact reference, as copied below:
"With the gushing self-sufficiency of youth I was feverish to plunge in headlong and achieve a great reform here [Utah] --until I saw the Mormon women. Then I was touched. My heart was wiser than my head. It warmed toward these poor, ungainly and pathetically "homely" creatures, and as I turned to hide the generous moisture in my eyes, I said, "No--the man that marries one of them has done an act of Christian charity which entitles him to the kindly applause of mankind, not their harsh censure--and the man that marries sixty of them has done a deed of open-handed generosity so sublime that the nations should stand uncovered in his presence and worship in silence." Chapter 14 of Roughing It.
Written like only Twain could write it.
Maybe I should be more personally offended by this quote as he is referring to my great-great grandmothers, but instead, I got a pretty good chuckle.
I can also laugh at it because "ugly" and "Mormon women" no longer go hand-in-hand. Maybe they never did, but I wasn't around then to judge. Although I have seen some photographs from my geneology charts that would confirm it. But I'm here today, and I'd say besides Southern California and parts of Arizona, the most beautiful people in the world live on BYU campus.
I'm trying not to be biased. Let me lay out my case:
A roommate of Kulani's during the Portland years was visiting Utah one summer, when he happened upon BYU campus. He saw beautiful co-ed after beautiful co-ed cross his path. He later asked Kulani, "What do they put in the water there? Those were the most beautiful girls I'd ever seen." This roommate was from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, so maybe he didn't have much to compare to.
But there are other clues. I have various and sundry friends who dislike Utah County. I try to pinpoint what it is about Utah County that makes them uneasy. I understand not liking an area. I've never been fond of Logan, for example. But I still try to uncover whether it's just a preference "feelings" thing, or are there real reasons for their distaste in the area.
Almost without exception the reason is because people seem too perfect: perfect houses, perfect hair, perfect bodies, perfect teeth, etc. I think my friend Keri put it best: "I never once was ashamed of my body when we went swimming in Wisconsin." Perfectness is annoying. Living amongst perfect people all the time, you kind-of get used to it ... kind-of. Okay, not really.
Maybe it's an evolutionary thing or maybe it's a spiritual thing that has changed Mormon women from looking drab to fab. Maybe it's a comeuppance type of phenomenon. Who doesn't know an ugly couple who had beautiful children, and vice versa. What goes around, comes around, is how my dad explained the Universe to me as a child.
I hope my grandkids won't hate their parents too much. If I'm to truly believe the previous paragraph, my grandkids will be the ugliest people on earth, as my girls are the cutest. Like I said, I'm not biased.