Saturday, July 16, 2011

Guest Post: A Woman's Body Image

Image courtesy of "The Graphics Fairy"

Dear Friends: I am so thrilled to introduce OFM's very FIRST guest writer, Sherry. She has some very important things to say about a disturbing trend that is growing among LDS women.* Thank you, Sherry, for sharing your excellent thoughts on this important matter! Be sure to check out her lovely blog at My Heart ever Faithful.

Recently, I have noticed a worrisome new trend among my fellow LDS sisters in the Gospel.   An ever increasing number are choosing to get breast implants.  I am very confused on why this is so and it concerns me. 

It’s not as if these are quick, easy and painless.  Why would we sign up for surgery, spend a good amount of money, experience pain and down time it takes to recover?  And of course, there’s always the possibility of infection among a long list of other negative side effects and complications.  

Why would we want to have something fake and unnatural put into our bodies?  1 Corinthians 6:19-20 states:  "Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?  For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's." 

This is a procedure that is invasive and permanent.  Will implants really boost our confidence as some plastic surgery clinics and others claim?  Perhaps the desire for implants is partially the result of the increased problems and consequences that stem from pornography?  We may see our bodies as inadequate when comparing them to the images on TV, in movies and on magazine covers that we unavoidably run into every time we’re in the checkout line at the grocery store. 

The “in” thing? 

We all know media infiltrates us with the message that bigger is better and that what we are is never good enough.   Interestingly, in the first two decades of the twentieth century, it was popular to be flat chested.  (Article entitled “The Great British Bust -- A Century of Fashion Trends”)   Who’s to say that won’t be the “in” thing tomorrow? 

I know being a woman myself, how terribly easy it is to compare ourselves to one another.  It almost feels automatic.  But, that is exactly what Satan wants us to do.  Compare ourselves and beat ourselves down over perceived failures that we cannot control, such as our body type.  The natural man kicks in and we feel the need to compete with each other until we feel we are as good as or better than one another.  We begin to feel self-conscious and for most of us, care too much what others think of us (me included).  It’s all too easy to get caught up in this way of thinking.  

One of my favorite children’s stories is “The Sneetches” by Dr. Seuss.  I love it for the message it conveys and is every bit as applicable to adults as it is to children.  If you by chance don’t know this story, I’ll give a brief summary:
There were Star-Belly Sneetches that had bellies with stars.  And there were Plain-Belly Sneetches that did not have bellies with stars.  The Sneetches with stars on their bellies thought they were better than the Plain-Bellies because of their stars.  They treated them badly and refused to let their children play with the Plain-Belly children.
Then one day, along comes a stranger offering a solution.  For a price, he would give stars to the Plain- Bellied Sneetches with his Star-On Machine.  Well, the Plain-Bellies thought this was a wonderful idea!   They were all more than willing to pay money to get stars and to fit in with the Star-Bellies.  But, this was unacceptable to the Star-Bellies and they began to complain.  That’s when this same stranger offered yet another solution … he could remove the stars from the Star-Bellies, for a price of course, with his Star-Off Machine.  Then, the vicious cycle continued of one group thinking they were better than the other, all because of one small star on their bellies.
The Star-On and Star-Off Machine was working at top speed and the stranger became richer and richer with the Sneetches continually getting stars on and then stars off.  It became such a mixed up mess that they forgot who was who.  Finally, these Sneetches wised up and decided that no Sneetch was better than the other.

I think this story applies to breast implants.  Babylon (the world) says that more-endowed women are better than the less-endowed.  We know our worth in the sight of God is more than skin deep, yet it’s so easy to fall into Satan’s carefully laid trap.  I hope that pride and vanity are not widespread among us as with the Sneetches. 

Most likely, we're not persecuting with physical actions but by our thoughts of one is better than the other, just as in times of old.   
“Nephi’s younger brother Jacob chastised the Nephites for their vanity by saying, 'Ye are lifted up in the pride of your hearts, and wear stiff necks and high heads because of the costliness of your apparel' (Jacob 2:13).  Jacob was not criticizing well-intentioned efforts to dress neatly but instead the haughty attitudes of those who become puffed up …  He implied that pride based on outward appearance created a rationalization which allowed the Nephites to persecute their brethren 'because ye suppose that ye are better than they' (Jacob 2:13)."  (Douglas Bassett, from the talk “Faces of Worldly Pride in the Book of Mormon”)

Your Infinite Worth
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said:
“I plead with you young women to please be more accepting of yourselves, including your body shape and style, with a little less longing to look like someone else. We are all different. .. And almost everyone at some time or other wants to be something they are not!  But as one adviser to teenage girls said: ‘You can’t live your life worrying that the world is staring at you. When you let people’s opinions make you self-conscious you give away your power. … The key to feeling confident is to always listen to your inner self—the real you.’  And in the kingdom of God, the real you is ‘more precious than rubies.’  Every young woman is a child of destiny and every adult woman a powerful force for good.  I mention adult women because, sisters, you are our greatest examples and resource for these young women.  …In too many cases too much is being done to the human body to meet just such a fictional (to say nothing of superficial) standard. As one Hollywood actress is reported to have said recently: ‘We’ve become obsessed with beauty and the fountain of youth. … I’m really saddened by the way women mutilate themselves in search of that.’
“In terms of preoccupation with self and a fixation on the physical, this is more than social insanity; it is spiritually destructive, and it accounts for much of the unhappiness women, including young women, face in the modern world. And if adults are preoccupied with appearance—tucking and nipping and implanting and remodeling everything that can be remodeled—those pressures and anxieties will certainly seep through to children.  At some point the problem becomes what the Book of Mormon called ‘vain imaginations.’ … Yet at the end of the day there would still be those ‘in the attitude of mocking and pointing their fingers’ as Lehi saw, because however much one tries in the world of glamour and fashion, it will never be glamorous enough.” (Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, from his talk entitled “To Young Women”. Italics and bold added for emphasis.)
Please know it is not my intent to condemn any who have chosen to get implants.  And I know there are cases where reconstruction is necessary.  My intent and hope is for those who may feel their bodies just don’t measure up, that it’s not necessary to have something as drastic as a surgery or any other invasive medical procedure to have confidence and be worthy of love and acceptance.  Our worth and confidence comes from knowing that we are daughters of God, of infinite worth in His sight.  And just as importantly, see each other the same.  I welcome your stories, comments and thoughts concerning this topic.

About Sherry: Hi, my name is Sherry. Been shy and quiet my whole life.  Except for when you get to know me and then you'll probably tell me to please. stop. talking. I seem to communicate my thoughts and feelings better in writing though. I am a very non-confrontational person.  The main thing I hate about that trait is once I'm in a situation where I need to think quick, defend myself, or something of that nature ... I can NEVER think of what to say until about ten minutes later.  Then I'm kicking myself that I didn't say this, this, and this.  Maybe it's better that way, who knows. My favorite thing is to be with my family.  I have always wanted to be a mother.  I am so grateful for the opportunity and privilege I have of being the mother to five children, four boys and one girl.  This journey of Motherhood has been a lot harder than I ever expected.  But, isn't that usually the way it is?  Anything worthwhile takes work, sacrifice, love and faith. 
I'm married to my best friend and sweetheart.  We'll be celebrating our eleventh wedding anniversary in August.  I am so grateful to have an amazing man at my side as my companion throughout this life and through eternity.  I have a strong testimony of my religion and am proud to be a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I love my Savior, Jesus Christ and am forever indebted to Him.

*For more statistics on this subject see the article here.


  1. I know of a group of sisters who took turns with their "compassionate service"...watching each other's kids and taking in meals while they one by one recovered from their implants.
    Unfortunately, there is a trend out there right now.

  2. I'm so glad you wrote this. I couldn't agree with you more.

  3. I see a lot of this and it is so sad. I feel horrible for women that feel the need to look a certain way and accept Satan's lies that this will make them better, prettier, or more desirable. Not that I'm "perfect" by any means. Satan is pretty good at making LDS women focus on looks. I even know women getting liposuction on their knees to make them thinner.

    For the past few years I've been working on becoming "un-vain". This includes hair coloring, another artificial means of changing our appearance to what is trendy. I have found that hair coloring is very damaging to my health. I met a woman the other day who showed me her deformed earlobe caused by hair coloring. Every time she colors she gets infections on her ear, which heals just in time to color again, but has caused a cauliflower-like appearance on her ear from constant damage. She told me she would rather cut off that portion of her ear than stop coloring her hair.

  4. Very well said my friend. It definitely gets my amen!

  5. I wonder if this is just a localized trend? It certainly hasn't been happening here where I live (Nevada). Talked to my sister in Georgia and she hasn't seen any of that there either. However when traveling in Utah to visit my folks I notice plastic surgery billboards like crazy!

  6. Wonderful article!! I agree 100%!! I'll be following your blog!! :D

  7. Great post. The quote from Elder Holland's talk is very powerful and so true!

  8. Amen to all that you wrote. This was a wonderful post and much needed.
    I have a family member that is one of those who felt she had to have a breast implants. Now she flaunts herself and did commit adultry and has been re-baptized. It has been such a struggle for our family. We pray everyday she will really find out what a lovely woman she is and didn't have to do what she did.
    It's very sad.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and blessings to you!

  9. I really appreciate your stories and comments! Hopefully what is said will help someone to reconsider doing this to themselves. Even if it's just one - it's worth it! Thank you all for being willing to share.

  10. Cocoa, I don't know how big a trend it is, but it's been growing here (not Utah) for about ten years. I'm rural and it's magnified in the cities...we have high LDS populations here and there and it's these women who are so trendy.
    It is tough. This is not the image I want my daughters to embrace or my sons to seek after. I am trying to teach them what healthy looks like, that beauty comes from living the Gospel, and that comliness and modesty in appearance will let their true selves shine.

  11. I really appreciate this post, you did a great job. This is a trend that I have only recently become aware of (despite the fact that I live in Utah) and am astounded by. It's making me re-think my own false body-image issues, though they are faaar less severe than those spoken of here. Babylon is a difficult place to live!

    I've just recently found Old-Fashioned Motherhood, which I love, and am now following. I am the oldest of 13 kids and just love that you are standing up for home and family. I'm now following your blog as well, Sherry! Thank you all, and keep up the good work!

  12. Thank you for such a great post. I am in Sounthern Utah. I just moved about 7 months ago from AZ. I meet you Rachel at a HIP campout! Anyway...I think I had culture shock coming back to UT it is so sad. So many breast implants and fake eyelashes, even tatoo makeup! It is so sad. I hope this post will help someone realize there worth and not have to go to such extremes to feel better about themselves.
    I was actually at the gym the other night and overheard some men talking. One said to the other, "Yeah, she just needs to get her boob job and I think she will have a lot more confidence..she will be a lot happier"! Shame on me for listening and judging because I know I don't know the situation...but maybe some of the men are to blame too.
    So sad. So very sad.
    I am hoping there are lots of great women raising up wonderful daughters and showing by example that they are beautiful just the way Heavenly Father made them for my boys.

  13. @ Celeste: That is so SAD! Vanity is not self-respect, it is the result of feeling inadequate. :-(

    @Cassie: *waving* Hi Cassie!!!

    @Sherry: Thank you so much for sharing this beautiful post here on OFM! {{{hugs}}}

  14. Satan would like women to hate their bodies...the very gift that he will never have. I'm sure it is a challenge for every woman to refuse to believe his lies about our bodies!

  15. I have to be honest. It kind of baffles me. But of the women in the wards I have been in who have had this surgery, they have been the type of person to have the "next" new thing that will make them feel good about themselves, something external. Once their home is decorated to the nine's, once they have the job they wanted, what's next? Their body. Then their family needs a 'make over', or a new partner that "matches who they are now". I think part of it is due to the compulsive "consumer" part of the popular culture teaching us to find happiness in those kinds of things instead of God's love and service and eternal perspective. It's harder for women who choose to immerse themselves in that popular culture. It's just so pervasive. I also think it has a lot to do with pornography becoming so "common place" and changing couples ideas of what's attractive. I second the hope that there are other wise Mommas out there raising sons and daughters to appreciate my all-natural children when they will be marrying age. I am trying to do my part! Let's not give in to the tide and walk in the light of God's love and share that with all our brothers and sisters.

  16. I just found your blog yesterday and immediately subscribed! I wanted to add to the discussion on breast implants because I believe it's important to hear both sides of the story. I am not a LDS nor do I live in Utah but I do have breast implants. It was a personal decision for my husband and I.

    I feel that women who opt to have breast implants are often unfairly judged and all sort of opinions are fabricated about them.

    I can't speak for all women who have breast implants but in my case they did not alter my personality significantly. I am still fairly shy. I did not become flashy or trashy. (No one except my husband knows I have breast implants) I do not have a need or want to go for any other procedures just because I had one done. I am more comfortable in my body now that my breasts have been restored to their original condition (even if it's only temporary) I still love and serve God faithfully.

    I just want to urge you ladies not to form swift opinions about others.


Old Fashioned Motherhood will not approve any comments that are rude, negative, or disrespectful. Thanks for being civil! :-)

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