Wednesday, February 29, 2012


Despite my best morals, feminist ideas, and intellectual awareness, I'm still watching the Bachelor. I'm fascinated by the psychological disorders displayed by the people that so-called reality TV chooses for their cover models. I am convinced that there is actually a trained therapist working for the casting director of every "reality" program out there. When they discover an individual who is both seriously mentally ill and skinny enough to count as "pretty", they recommend said person for the program, to be set up as a behavioral standard for the mindless masses of America.

And America buys it.

Did you know that the show "Biggest Loser"- about the overweight displaying their deepest pains for the voyeurs of the world- actually has a higher relationship success rate than the "Bachelor/Bachelorette" franchise? Which is funny since the Bachelor show is the one that claims people come and find "true love". I bet it works the other way around too. I bet more mentally ill young women have lost more than half their body weight in an attempt to become "America's next Sweetheart" than have actually lost ponds on the "Biggest Loser".

Funny how neither show actually produces its advertised endgame. So much for truth in advertising.

Although to be fair, if the Bachelor advertised itself truthfully, it would draw an entirely different audience.

"Watch for an hour while the most attractive jackass we could find rejects women for having morals, and see if he chooses the dumbest girl, the most manipulative girl, or the girl with the biggest bra size! We edit everything just to show the most cleavage and tears! We will do all we can to humiliate and exploit! We will convince these stupid stupid girls not only that said jackass is actually prince charming, but also that when he dumps them, it is because there is something wrong with them and not with him!"

I have a friend who is very pretty. She has one of those charmed lives where even the biggest bumps in the road seem only to throw her for a day, 2 days tops, and then she is back on her way, sighing about how rough life can be. And everytime I hear her talk about a grumpy day or an afternoon where she felt so rotten she actually ate a whole candy bar, I think to myself "bless your heart, I wonder what is going to happen if reality ever slaps you in the face."

Depressed for two hours because your roommate didn't put away her cereal bowl? Try suicidal for 3 years because every aspect of life suddenly crumbled to pieces and there wasn't a soul willing or able to help salvage anything.

Someday "I dated the wrong boy once" will turn into "I haven't been on a real date in 12 years and every guy I ever liked ended up marrying one of my best friends."

Someday a "rough afternoon at work" will turn into "facing a lifetime at a dead-end, low-paying job".

Someday "I ate a candy bar" will turn into "I ate an entire package of fun-sized kit kats before ten in the morning."


Or maybe it won't. There are those girls out there (particularly the very pretty ones) for whom life just falls into place. Its not a question of Prince Charming showing up, it a question of choosing between the 18 different Prince Charmings standing on the doorstep. One such girl told my little sister once "You don't know what it's like! You don't know how hard it is to be so pretty that you just can't trust whether boys really like you or not!"

I want to punch that girl in her pretty little button nose.

But here's the deal about those girls.

They aren't remarkable.

Frankly, with enough money, time, selfishness, and self-worship, anyone can be pretty.

To be remarkable, you have to choose something more than what everyone else chooses.

And the girls who choose "pretty" and stop there are a dime a dozen. They never run any deeper than the magazine cover they are airbrushed onto. And whether they are printed on recycled matte finish or high gloss photo finish, whether they are on the cover of Shape, Cosmo, Playboy, or the Ensign, they have just as much depth as the paper they have printed themselves on. None at all. And no matter how some boy decieves himself into believing there is more, when push comes to shove and life gets painful, printed paper doesn't hold up.

I like the word "remarkable" because it's one of those adjectives that culturally means something, but literally means something more. Like "awesome" and "incredible" and "marvelous" and "glorious", there are words that seem like they could all mean the same thing culturally, but if you examine the roots of the words, you find that each has its own place. So something could inspire us to marvel, or somthing could be filled with glory, something could be so amazing it's not quite believable, or something could fill us with awe, and we can choose to find the right word for it, or we could throw out whatever synonym cames to mind.

Remarkable means that something is worthy of notice. Literally, it is something about which one can or should "remark". Culturally, its a good thing. To be sure, there are things that are remarkable in a negative way... ("wow, that dessert was so remarkable, the dog wouldn't even lick it off my plate.") But generally speaking, while we make a lot of remarks, something is only really remarkable if the remarks are positive.

So let's talk about the women we know who are remarkable.

I am a member of a church and culture (although often equated with each other, the two are in fact seperate) that honors families. And that is wonderful. The church teaches that families are front and center in the grand scheme of things and that we should make active and conscious efforts to have a family and to focus on the family and to make the family our priority in every way. Wonderful. I have no problem with that. The problem I have is when the culture then steps in and mucks things up. If the church teaches that family comes first, then the culture teaches that anything not traditional family comes last. If the church teaches us to desire a family and work towards having a happy family, then the culture teaches that an absence of a family and any flaw in the family's design is a personal spiritual flaw. If the church teaches that families are forever, the culture teaches that lonliness is forever.

I think it's time we correct the doctrine of the culture. Frankly, our family is the whole world, every effort I make to improve myself will contribute to the well being of my someday family, and the very doctrine of eternity negates the crock that is eternal loneliness.

I have been lucky enough to have many dear friends who live their lives as faithful mormons despite unfulfilled dreams and promises and expectations. I love their examples. They are remarkable. I know remarkable women who face singleness with faith, who face childlessness with hope, who face abuse and mental illness and loss and all sorts of devastation with love.

And still these faithful, hopeful, loving individuals are fed the message of the bachelor. If your life didn't turn out perfect, there must be something wrong with you.

And just like I get angry with the person who told my little sister she wasn't pretty enough to understand how rough life is, I get angry with the people sending similar messages to other remarkable women I know. I get upset with the media that announces that all a girl needs to do is be pretty enough and dumb enough, my brain screams at the message that someone is still single because they are too smart or too intimidating, my heart aches for the couples called selfish in their childlessness.

And I know that every one of us asks from time to time, just like the dumb bachelor girls "what's wrong with me?" We spend hours on our knees and in books and with friends, wondering what we did differently than the girl who did "win", trying to fix it, trying to change it, trying to be ourselves but still be someone that other people would want to be with.

Why do those things have to be mutually exclusive? Why can't someone want to be with who I really am?

My personal questions come when people say thoughtless things that reveal their true and uninformed beliefs about me. "oh, you're just too particular" (because why? I'd like to be with someone who shares the same belief system as myself?), "your expectations are too high" (meaning I'm not good enough? or someone else is too good for me?) "If you pray hard enough, something will come along" (and you are aware of how much I do pray?). I could go on and on listing the senseless and downright mean assumptions people make about me and to me. I'm tired of it.

The other remarkable single women I know are tired of it too. We don't mind talking about the issues. We mind the ignorant assumptions. If you have questions, ask them. But think about them first. Don't ask "why are you still...", ask "what are your hopes?". "Why" becomes such an accusatory word.

There are too many people that I just don't like to talk to anymore because of such conversations. Conversations that discount who I really am and what I really do in favor or who I am "supposed" to be and what I am "supposed" to do. Too many conversations teach me that I matter less because I'm not at home with my own children. Don't get me wrong. I love to hear about your children. I just don't love that somehow the children I care for matter less because they aren't my own. I love to hear about your husband, I just don't love to hear about how your husband matters more than my search for a husband. I love to hear about your chores, I just don't love to hear that your chores are harder than mine because yours are for your family.

Life is full of pain. No one burden should ever be compared to the next. But we are a people of comparison and so often culture wins out. Which leaves those of us outside of cultural norms wondering where we went wrong. So here's to the remarkable people I know who press forward in the face of disappointment. Here's to the single girls who keep going to church despite the hurt of sitting alone in the back row. Here's to the childless woman praying that someone will pass her a baby, so she can hold and pretend and pray a little harder. Here's to the aching souls who pour every ounce of faith into the next footstep. I actually have a list, a real written down list of the remarkable women I know who keep going even when life doesn't turn out the way the sunday school manual said it would. Here's to Sarah and Becky and Laura and Barbara and Sherri and Andrea and Ally and Desiree and Kim and Tricia and Jeanine and Susan and Heather and Hannah and Amanda and every one of the remarkable women I know. If I named you all, this post would be twice as long as it already is. Thanks for being smarter than the bachelorette girls. Thanks for being my examples of living faithfully in the face of all the pain life throws at us. You remind me that the span for acheiving all that we hope for is longer than memory or mortal life. Whether I am racking up husband, children, knowledge, or depth of character, I'm adding to the only eternal home that matters.

Friday, February 3, 2012

My thoughts on Mitt

This post is not about politics or presidential nominations. I make no secrets of my political affiliation. But this post isn't about politics. It does not reflect my vote, my stance on healthcare, my beliefs about homosexuality, or any other topic that you could debate or hate over.

The fact is, Mitt Romney is a Mormon and he's getting a lot of press. And a lot of that press is about the fact that he is a Mormon. I can't log onto facebook without seeing listings of the articles my friends have read. (Side note: I do not want facebook telling the world what articles I read. Sometimes I read celebrity trash. Sometimes I read politically charged stuff. Sometimes I read geek stuff. Whether it is embarrassing or smart or opinionated, I do not want my browsing announced on my facebook feed. I am always trying to delete this info from my feed.) Some of the articles I see about Mitt and Mormonism are positive, some negative. There are people out there using this as an opportunity to express hatred, hurt, acceptance, and every range of opinion about Mormonism.

I don't like that my faith is being used for political gain. or loss.

But here are my thoughts on Mitt as a Mormon: He is representing well. He's not a crazy-pants preacher who spouts over the top religious pretenses as a platform. He is doing a decent job at acknowledging his fatih (unlike Huntsman, who practically denied it when questioned) and then pressing forward with his poitics seperately.

I'm glad for that. I'm glad that he's representing in an even, sane manner. None of this Michelle Bachmann attempt to evangelize the country. He's not calling on mormons for a vote, he's not raising "mormon" issues, he is normal.

And so the opinion articles and hate that is there (which have always been there) get more press time, but they don't have a leg to stand on.

In fact, if anything, they are creating more dialogue and more exploration. Wouldn't it be interesting to be a mormon missionary in the US this year? Whether you are getting love or hate or curiosity, you certainly are seeing less indifference.

I'm interested to see how closely the press watches general conference this year. It will certainly be analyzed in april if the nomination hasn't yet been decided. And will other candidates risk losing the evidently powerful mormon vote by attacking doctrines taught at General conference? Say someone like Newt uses General conference to attack Mitt and subsequently gains the GOP's nomination. How many Mormons will that send running to a new party entirely? Its not that far-fetched. Then again, say Mitt gains the nomination. How closely will october general conference be watched and reviewed by the press? One month before a presidential election, you can bet that reporters will be wanting to exploit what the religious leaders of one of the candidates have to say. And if something "controversial" comes up, will Mitt continue to stand by his faith?

And if Mitt gets elected, will the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sing at his inaguration?

OK, that last question may be more selfishly motivated. :)

But do you see where I am going?
I am glad for the discussion. I am glad for the microscope. I don't want my religion trivialized by politics. But if political climate means people examine my religion more closely, I am certain that it can withstand. If Mitt can continue to represent the religion in a decent, sane manner, people will take note.

Frankly, its free publicity for mormons. And I guess that sums up my stance on Mitt. As long as he remains a mentally stable rich guy who wants to be president and lives his controversial faith, I'm glad for the publicity.

PS. Comments are great. But don't post here if you feel the need to correct me, educate me, or debate me. I'm not interested. I form my opinions by reading official statements by candidates and parties, not by listening to propoganda. And I still haven't told you who I'm voting for, so don't assume anything either. This post was about religion, not politics.