Thursday, February 26, 2009

Mormon Women: From Fugly to Fantastic

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.


MarySquare said...

True dat! Utah County if full of beautiful people. The difference between the kids on the BYU campus and the difference between the kids on the Purdue campus is quickly obvious. I think part of it is BYU's dress code; students just don't look as slobby. At Purdue, there are pretty girls and handsome guys, don't get me wrong, but they don't get dressed up for school. They were sweats and ponytails and look like they just rolled out of bed. At BYU, I very very rarely saw a student come to class in sweat pants. At Purdue it seems to be the norm. (And truthfully, drinking culture helps the girls gain their "freshman 15" pretty fast. There are a lot of beer bellies around here!)

Morkthefied said...

And my heart goes out to those Purdue students, and students elsewhere gaining the freshman 15 and showing up to class with sweats. I'm the mom who gained the mommy 20 and wears sweats everywhere, so I can relate. You know how some G.A.'s have been out against the "dressing down" of America? I feel the sting right in my heart. I rarely where pantyhose to church. I've even been known to wear some dressy crocs (if there is such a thing) to church. But I also dislike seeing America get so slobby. It's like the obese people shakig their heads at the statistics of obese children in America. Or why I hate Wal-Mart and how it has ruined small towns, and yet, I shop there at least once a week. I hate myself for not living up to my ideals.

Morkthefied said...

And one more thing, I don't REALLY think Mormon women are prettier than any other set of women; well, I do, but I don't, you know, you know. We're always biased toward our own kind. I'm just saying I don't think Twain could say the same today.

Morkthefied said...

Crap! I hate it when I use the wrong term of words. I wrote "where pantyhose" (as in "where are they?") instead of "wear pantyhose."
Thought I would note that.

Ellen James said...

I know we've had this conversation (on more than one occasion), but thought I'd put in my two bits. I love to travel. In Utah County I am a fat, under-accessorized slob. When I go other places, I always feel beautiful! Like when I went to the Wal-Mart in Gettysburg. I was the hottest one there by FAR! I told Rick I wanted to move there. "There's that Ellen James, the HOT one in town!"

Morkthefied said...

Ellen, you are hot, and even more, you're cool. Hot and cool, mmmm hmmmm. I feel a rap coming on:

She hot, uuuuuh,
She cool, aaahhh
She's a momma;
She's hot mama!

Mmmm, funeral potatoes and buttermilk buscuits!

go mom go said...

Buttermilk biscuits here we go, sift the flour roll the dough.

go mom go said...

Ugly women way back when? You know, it's the man's fault, always is right?! There was probably one ugly dude that had about twenty wives. those twenty wives had 20 kids each...ya catchin' my drift? That's 200 ugly kids running around town.

Morkthefied said...

Angela, you get the award for making me laugh harder than I've laughed in a long time. I could totally hear you rappin' "Buttermilk Biscuits." Dang! It's not the ugly Mormon women to blame, but the ugly Mormon men--brilliant!

go mom go said...

Clap your hands and stomp your feet. Move your butt to the funky beat.
Just had to try to get another laugh out of you.

Ellen James said...


I kept forgetting to check out your comment after you telling me to. I don't believe anybody has ever written a rap for me, gee whiz. Thanks! And to add in how hot I am? I love you!!

Anonymous said...

Hey, I did see that Ellen James here in Cedar Hills.....She IS hot hot HOT!!!