Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Is Religion the Opium of the People?

Within atheist circles, you often hear Karl Marx's remark that "Religion is the opiate of the masses". I hate it when people leave it at that, not because I disagree with Marx's point but because I feel they are missing the point of his quote. Marx goes on to state that "religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions". Marx is not saying that religious people are using it for the drug-induced high. Instead he is explaining that it is a reflection of the conditions of the people.

If you went to the doctor with a broken leg and he proscribed a pain-killer and nothing else, I'm guessing you would take issue with that. Without treatment the problem is not addressed, only momentarily calmed using a drug. In that day, opium was often used as a pain-killer and a seditive. Marx goes on to explain that he feels that religion is being used as a safe haven for the poor lower class who may be disadvantaged in this life but have hope for a better future because of the idea of heaven. It was used as a sedative to keep them from revolting against the upper class, attempting to convince them that their station in life was fine because regardless of their pain, death would bring peace.

In general I feel that the LDS church does a good job of not just holding hope for a better tomorrow but actually making it happen. We have LDS schools in areas where there were no schools, BYU and the continuing education fund, and the bishops' storehouse. We send out humanitarian aid kits and respond to natural disasters, often before the government is able to.

When I hear people use our faith as an excuse to do nothing when they hear of others in pain, I think back to Marx's quote. Things like
break my heart. I don't have the answers either. But ignoring major social problems (both domestic and abroad) because we assume that God will make it work out in the end is fundamentally against our beliefs. The LDS church is a firm supporter of the idea that we ought to be instruments for good without being prompted ("he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward. Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness" D&C 58:26-27). Faith that it will work out is not enough when it comes to actual people being harmed.

Is religion an opiate? I think it can be a pain-killer that dulls our senses so we do not feel the injustice of the world if we allow it to. It can be a sedative so we're too blind to see the pain of those around us. This was explained in the Book of Mormon in 2 Nephi 28:21 when it says "And others will he [the devil] pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well". Human nature gravitates toward protecting ourselves and our kin at the exclusion of others. In “The Discreet Charm of Nihilism”
Nobel laureate Czesław Miłosz said that “A true opium of the people is a belief in nothingness after death—the huge solace of thinking that for our betrayals, greed, cowardice, murders, we are not going to be judged”.

FMH got this song stuck in my head. But I think the message is good--we should stand up for those things that are right.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Rest in Peace Chieko Okazaki...

I was first introduced to the literary work of Chieko Okazaki when I was 14. She was "the first non-Caucasian woman to serve in an LDS general presidency" . A quote that particularly touched me came from pages 174-175 in her book Lighten Up!
How we pour guilt over ourselves!
This isn't the gospel! We know that on some level Jesus experiences the totality of mortal existence in Gethsemane. It's our faith that He experienced everything — absolutely everything. Sometimes we don't think through the implications of that belief. We talk in great generalities about the sins of all humankind, about the suffering of the entire human family. But we don't experience pain in generalities. We experience it individually. That means Jesus knows what it felt like when your mother died of cancer — how it was for your mother, how it still is for you. He knows what it felt like to lose the student body election. He knows that moment when the brakes locked, and the car started to skid. He experienced the slave ship sailing from Ghana toward Virginia. He experienced the gas chambers at Dachau. He experienced napalm in Vietnam. He knows about drug addiction and alcoholism . . .
There is nothing you have experienced as a woman that he does not also know and recognize. On a profound level, he understands about pregnancy and giving birth. He know about PMS and cramps and menopause. He understands about rape and infertility and abortion.
His last recorded words to his disciples were, "And, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world" (Matt. 28:20). What does that mean? It means he understands your mother-pain when your five-year-old leaves for kindergarten, when a bully picks on your fifth-grader, when your daughter calls to say that the new baby has Down's syndrome. He knows your mother-rage when a trusted babysitter sexually abuses your two-year-old, when someone gives your thirteen-year-old drugs, when someone seduces your seventeen-year-old. He knows the pain you live with when you come home to a quiet apartment where the only children who ever come are visitors, when you hear that your former husband and his new wife were sealed in the temple last week, when your fiftieth wedding anniversary rolls around and your husband has been dead for two years. He knows all that. He's been there. He's been lower than all that.
He's been lower than all of that. Period. No matter what is going on... This is a quote I've gone back to numerous times over the years and each time it hits me with the power it did the first time. You're not alone.

Another part of the book states:
Be spiritually independent enough that your relationship with the Savior doesn’t depend on your circumstances of what other people say and do. Have the spiritual independence to be a Mormon–the best Mormon you can–in your own way. Not the bishop’s way. Not the Relief Society president’s way. Your way
She amazed me. She wasn't fake and didn't live in denial of the problems of the world. Her influence within the church has been felt. Not a loud or sudden shift but a careful push in the right direction. She passed away Monday at age 84. Rest in Peace Chieko Okazaki.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Superheros and Double Identities

A poem by Rita Mae Brown addresses:

You who have wept in direct sunlight,
Who have hungered in invisible chains

Today that sounds like me.

This weekend is Pride. I'm not going to it because I wouldn't have anyone to go with, the parade itself is on Father's Day (who planned that one?), and getting out of the house would mean lying to my parents. Not only can a lie like that spiral out of control, but I'm a horrible liar.
I'm depressed. I don't have any close friends within 600 miles. I'm only out to a few people here (every friend who you tell who has access to your parents increases the likelihood of a slip-up that would potentially devastate your relationship with your parents). I'll be home for a little less than 2 more months. I've submitted over 20 job applications with 1 interview so far, where I was rejected because I would not be around long enough. My dad said I should have lied and told them I would be available until November. I feel like I'm not doing anything productive with my life and I'm not sure where I want to be going. I'm tired of my major and about 12 years away from getting my BA. When I was at BYU, I had to listen to naive students blather about hurtful things. At home, I get to listen to my father say "that's so gay", attempt to create ad hominum attacks about homosexuals rights advocates, and say all-around hurtful things. I'm not happy.

Hold Me by And Then I Turned Seven says:

The things we face each day are becoming more intense.
The never ending battle with things that make no sense.
The constant pushing from our parents to succeed.
We don't know where to turn, we don't know who to believe.
Problems keep happening from the brain and to the heart
And everything that you have just seems to fall apart.
When giving up seems like it's the only thing to do but with you here I'll get through.

I feel this song. Every day I procrastinate telling my parents the truth, it becomes a more intense pain. My dad has been laid off , my mom is working more hours than is physically possible while trying to manage the house, my sister gets teased at school and hates the kids, and my brother is a 15 year old, desperate for autonomy. I know my parents are stressed out. I don't want to add another thing to their list. I have to be an example to my siblings.

Double Identities
Last Sunday I waited in my pew after Sacrament meeting for a path to clear so I could go to Sunday School. While I was waiting, I remarked to a ward-member "If I could teleport, I would teleport to the foyer!" As we waited, we continued joking about where we would teleport if we had superpowers and she said "Unfortunately we don't have secret identities."
I gave an awkward laugh and found my seat in Sunday School. I feel like I have a secret identity all too often. It isn't because I'm a liberal in the church or a feminist in the church or even a gay person in the church. In life, everyone does. No one I know would readily admit that they masturbate, that their mother committed suicide, or that they grew up in an abusive family.
I have a double identity. Right now, I feel worthless, helpless, restless, and unwanted. That's not the mask I wear at church or out in the world though.
Big or small, everyone has one. How many people would prefer to "drinketh damnation to [their] soul." (3 Ne. 18:28–29) through unworthy partaking of the sacrament if the other choice is for someone in their ward to see them *not* partake of the sacrament? How many of us have partaken of the sacrament when we were not in the proper state of mind and preparation to appreciate it because we were afraid of judgement? How many people force a smile as they come to church because they want to fulfill the perfect picture they are "supposed" to be?

We choose what we're willing to show the world about us. Choices can free others from feeling so alone but caution must be practiced. Heroes are made when you make a choice.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Judge Not That Ye Be Not Judged

Warning: This post was composed at 5 AM, so if it doesn't make sense that is probably because I'm still half-asleep.

One of my best friends spent from October through February trying to convince me to go to U of U next year. They still have an Arabic program (albeit, their program is not as high-quality as our program). They still have a ton of Mormons, but hopefully all the holier-than-thou types are busy at BYU.

I filled out the application completely, the only thing that is missing is for me to pay the $45 fee. The application isn't actually due for another week, and even if I were to miss that deadline, they would still accept me if I were willing to pay $75 instead of $45.

When I talked to my parents about the possibility of transferring, my mom, who graduated from BYU, seemed okay with it. My dad, who attended five different colleges/Universities (eventually graduating from U of U), did not approve.

The Relief Society President in my home ward is cool. She is funny, nice, and runs the ward better than any other RS president I've seen. She is not one to be bossed around but she has a testimony that the gospel is true. Normally, I do my best to screen out adults from my home-ward/extended family and not add them on FaceBook. I hold that FaceBook ought to be my peer social-networking area. I did add her though and I have my mom added and a good friend of mine who happens to be 61 (but she is cooler than most people my age).

When I went home for winter break, Bishop sought me out and requested an interview. I obliged so during second hour I was sitting in his office, trying to figure out what he was digging for. "Someone has informed me that you think BYU is too mormon-y" he asserted, his eyes drilling into me as if to say that if I had a courtroom confession to make, now was the time.

I told him that Provo had been quite a culture shock (completely true) and that although I tolerate BYU, I think I would flourish somewhere else. He took this about as well as if I had told him that I tolerate the church but I think I would grow more as a Wiccan. Bishop is a nice enough person, but I've never been comfortable confiding in him. He's pretty close with my dad, which probably explains part of the discomfort--although telling my secrets to a not-professionally-trained-middle-aged-man sounds like so much fun, seeing him when he comes to our house to watch football or basketball games just seems awkward. Plus throughout my youth, any time I went in for an interview he said "Do you keep the law of Chastity? That includes watching pornography and masturbation, but those a boy-sins." During my time in his ward, I never had a problem with either of those, but I can't imagine how that affected others. Not only are you sinning, but you're committing a "boy-sin". As I've talked to other women within the church, I've learned that the damage of this culture goes far beyond my ward so I guess I shouldn't blame it all on my bishop. Most of them never knew what masturbation was until after having established *years* of habits. Honestly, it ought to be the job of the parents to explain that type thing, but how many lessons do the YM have the mention it? How many Priesthood session talks do YM hear about living clean lives that actually talk about masturbation? I'm honestly not sure, since I've never been in YM, but I'd guess they're more common than in YW.

Whether or not one feels that this behavior ought to be regulated by the church, anyone can see that girls who suddenly realize that they've been "sinning" for years probably aren't going to feel very good (not to mention the fact that within the church it sometimes seems like we're not suppose to have a sex-drive until we're married, so that's all the more reason to feel guilty).

Anyway, back to my story, the interview continued, while the bishop interrogated me on my club attendance (uhhh, none--USGA isn't technically a club) and tried to convince me that if I started joining clubs then I'd realize that BYU is the One True School. I realize he had good intentions--but as someone who has no stewardship over me, not that I wanted to discuss BYU with any ecclesiastical leader, I definitely felt trapped and frustrated.

Then he asked about what I thought of my Book of Mormon class. I don't remember how much I've spoken of the frustrations of that class, but it is sufficient to quote him in saying that “Tolerance is just a word that gays use to try to convince us that their lifestyle is acceptable. They’re trying to legalize evil, and like I said earlier we can’t change the laws of God. Even atheists admit that this country was built on religion and taking that out of the system will make this country weak", “These homosexual thoughts are given to them by Satan, but nowadays, when people experience them, they don’t just let them go. They begin thinking about them, and then they think about them more and say “this must mean I’m gay!”... This is the gay agenda, to get homosexuality to be accepted so that everyone will think that they are gay. Satan will influence us by any means possible.", and "[Jesus said love everyone] is what gays say to further the gay agenda. Just think about Matthew 23, was Jesus showing love to the Pharasees? No, he was showing them the law. Jesus wasn’t showing love because they were going against his commandments".

I couldn't exactly honestly say that Book of Mormon was my favorite class. So I told the bishop that the way some doctrinal points were presented frustrated me, but the teacher was only in his first year so it was understandable. He pressed me "Like what?" I claimed that I couldn't think of anything off the top of my head. "Well, we have time, take a minute to think". I panicked, I didn't know what to say.

Awkward silence ensued and finally I mumbled "I didn't like how he handled the topic of homosexuality".

"So..." he inquired "how do you feel about homosexuality?"
"I, I... I uhhh. Well, I'm not sure, I feel that it is something many people struggle with"
He nodded "Just like adultery". I sighed, and he went on to say "In my day, everyone in high school got drunk--alcohol was the big thing. Nowadays, homosexuality is the popular thing." I tried to disagree, and submitted that kids often call each other names and being gay is anything but popular, especially in high school. He ignored my comment, saying that the world has accepted homosexuality but that we shouldn't.

I left this interview feeling frustrated, misunderstood, and rejected. Most of all, I felt angry with whomever turned me in. I immediately asked the RS president, who I had added on FaceBook, and she admitted that she had been concerned about me. I gave her a piece of my mind (although she felt that she was helping, I'd prefer her to talk to me as a friend if she feels uncomfortable with my passive-aggressive status updates as opposed to ratting me out to someone who really doesn't have any authority over me anyway). She apologized. I definitely felt like she had been unfair and quick to judge.

Jump forward to Monday. The friend who has been pressuring me to transfer to the U told me that he is not going to go to the U, but instead he is going to go to culinary school which is near the house of the person he is dating. I found this mind-boggling as he already has an associates degree and he is within a year of a bachelors. I was quick to decide that he was throwing away his future because of someone cute and that he couldn't possibly be happy with this choice long-term.

He has been with me since the day I began studying Arabic when I was 15. Unlike my Arabic, his is fluent and beautiful. When he told me his plans, I wasn't as worried about what would make him happy as I was about the hard work he was wasting and the future he was sacrificing. I told myself that I was just looking out for him because he has a gift for languages and a BA is a good first-step on the path to acquiring a decent job. It isn't what he loves though. I love him and want the best for him but to be a friend in this situation means supporting him in his decision.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas

"I walk away to protect those that cannot protect themselves. I think you have stayed to free that child
we both have the same reasons just different methods"--Sean

I've had the story The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas on my mind a lot lately. To summarize, it is basically the story of an utopia. Everyone was perfect, happy, smart, and lived in peace. Except for one child--this one innocent child was kept in a dark, filthy cellar. Each citizen was told about this child between ages 8 and 12, whenever they were mature. For the city to be happy, this child must be kept that way. Many went and saw the child. Some only learned of the child's presence and wanted to hear no more. Once they heard the truth, the inhabitants of the perfect city often recoiled and felt grief... but most got over it.

Some people though, walked away from the city with resolve. The story ended with "The place they go towards is a place even less imaginable to us than the city of happiness. I cannot describe it at all. It is possible it does not exist. But they seem to know where they are going, the ones who walk away from Omelas."

The author's point of the story was basically that when we do things like buy from child sweatshops we should analyze our "ends justify the means" logic. For me though, this story inspires a lot of questions about the church. For those that walk away, how does it compare to leaving Omelas? The church makes so many people happy--it really does form a sort-of-Utopia. But who does it marginalize (even unintentionally). What is the result of the pressures of perfection (the competition of having the mormonest family in the ward)?

Walking away from both the church and Omelas means losing a path of direction, even a self-identity.

This story has been on my mind for a couple week. Finally today I talked with a good friend of mine about why it bothers me so much.

His quote:
I walk away to protect those that cannot protect themselves. I think you have stayed to free that child
we both have the same reasons just different methods

He's right. I came to BYU for a lot of reasons--but one of them was because I believe that regardless of sexual orientation, there should be a place for students at BYU. Because I know I'm strong enough to challenge the norms and change opinions.

I had lost sight of that because things are tough at times. I definitely feel like it is not an atmosphere of acceptance. My mom doesn't even know I'm gay (<.< although I'd bet money she suspects) and her response to me considering transferring schools next year was "If you leave, who will be a member of the gay rights club and the feminist club and the democrat club? Who will correct the professors when they start spewing racism or sexism or plain stupidity?"

It's almost as if my mom has known my my entire life (oh wait, she has). On the other hand, you have people like my friend Sarah, who consistently asks if I've gotten myself kicked out yet. As she said "You're not the type to stay quiet when an issue you feel strongly about gets brought up".

I try not to be. But what about today? Today I was put in a group of eight people by the TA and asked to discuss the church's position on homosexuality. No one spoke up, so one of the girls said "What do you think Julia?" I took a deep breath and tried to respond coherently

"Well, the church says that same-sex attraction isn't a sin, only acting on it is. But they don't like using the label gay, because the most important thing is that we're children of God, even though we're fine to label our selves in other ways like by our nationality or by our political party affiliation [as long as it is republican--just kidding--I didn't say that part]"

One of the more aggressive girls in my group said that I was completely wrong. She said that if we called people who attracted to people of their gender "gay" it would turn them gay--after all, we are what people expect of us. Then she said that the church needs to help them find a way to get better, a way to fix this. Everyone nodded with her.

I rebutted saying that "The church acknowledges that many people with same-sex attraction deal with it throughout their lives"

Immediately six people were arguing with me, saying that I wasn't listening and that the church just needs to help fix the gays.

Six of the eight people in our group left before the actual presentation of our information for the group. That left me and a boy that had nodded with all the girls in my group but had stayed relatively quiet. When he presented, he didn't say anything about homosexuals needing to be "fixed", but he did go on about why it was so important for people not to identify as gay.

The TA agreed with him saying that once people identified as gay they often felt they had to go live "the gay lifestyle" and be promiscuity and do drugs.

I wanted to say something along the lines of "How many people are so closeted for so long that when they finally come out, when they finally are allowed to admit they're gay, they've felt rejection from the church for years? That there is no place in the church for them? How many people come out to their family and feel like their parents don't accept them anyway, so they might as well leave? When is it plainly rebelling against the system, not because they're LBGT but because they feel that they cannot find acceptance within the system? Why do we expect those who leave that which hurt them to continue how we deem moral--they're finally free of the feeling of oppression that can come with mormon-culture"

It's true that when someone finally comes out they may lash out because they finally feel that they have a choice and a voice. Or they may have spent the last years of their life praying to be fixed with no cure. They may have never had a testimony to begin with or they may have lost the testimony they had.

Realizing I wasn't going to be cured, regardless of how important it was to me, was devastating. I lost trust in God--no matter how much I did I would never be the perfect molly-mormon. It took time and effort to build my faith back up. I didn't go out partying during that time not because God told me not to, but because I think that doing drugs, drinking, smoking, and being promiscuous are not good ideas for me. I didn't lose my faith because I called myself gay--I lost it because I had gone so long convinced that I wasn't one of those "gays", but that I was just a person that "struggled with same-gender attraction" and that if I tried hard enough, I would freed from this "affliction".

The culture of shame and silence is significantly more likely to cause a circle trying to fit in a square to balk and turn away than allowing the circle to acknowledge that it is different.

I want to rescue that child, I do. I don't believe that any of the challenges brought up in this post directly contradict the gospel of Christ--it's church culture I go up to battle against. I don't know how to help though and I don't feel like I am making any progress where I am.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

I'm not insane!

So back in the first week of September of 2010, I came home from church with fast-meeting on my mind. I blogged my testimony. Last month I decided I wanted to read the blog post to see how it has changed--but low and behold, it was gone. I was so confused, I wondered if I even actually wrote the post.

Today I was looking through my old blog from like 2006--somehow it had gotten this post instead of this blog. Oops lol--and I know my mom somehow got the address for my blog from '06 (nothing bad was posted there, but still, mixing up blogs could have been bad). I feel like I've grown and changed a lot in the last five months--but evidently not so much testimony-wise. If anything, I've moved farther from a desire of having kids, at least not in the next 8-10 years. Anyway, here's the post!

What I Believe
The last time I did the long walk up to the pulpit and shared my testimony on Fast Sunday was the week I turned 12 years old. I don't really remember what I said, but I'm sure it was full of platitudes, quoting every other testimony I'd ever given verbatim.

Since then though... I guess I've tried hard not to think about exactly what I believe. It is too complicated, because my faith is nuanced, my faith is subject to critical thinking and cynicism and the frustrations of being human. It's filtered through my experiences, but hidden from the world--because if I share it, and it isn't enough, then what? Who have I harmed in the process, who would have seen my religion as a positive thing until I went and made the black-and-white a big gray blob?

I'd like to bear my testimony. I believe I have a Father and a Mother in Heaven, who love me. I don't know why they let me feel the way I do sometimes, or why things have to happen. I have a lot of trouble accepting when people say "I know God loves me because when x happened I was scared but He fixed it with y". Because for every one of these "faith promoting stories", there are 10 about where He let the child die, He let her miss the important meeting with her boss, or she wasn't prompted to go check her husband's computer history.

I believe that my Heavenly Parents loves me just as much as any of their sons. I don't know why I don't have the priesthood...and I hope that this will change, eventually (in the eternal scheme of things). If I ever get married, I will expect--nay--demand an egalitarian marriage, and I don't plan on ever being presided over. I don't believe in gender roles.

I believe in the church. Mostly. Sometimes this troubles me--as the quote by C.S. Lewis states
"Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important."
This worries me. A younger Julia would have said the same thing was true about the church--in fact--for the longest time I couldn't understand why inactives even existed. If you believe in it, it should change your life and you should be there every week because you want to be "edified" as we all are....right? right?

I believe that personal revelation trumps all.

I believe that polygyny, polyandry, and gay/lesbian marriages should be legal. I don't believe it is the government should tell me who to love. I don't think people should have children if they *know* they'll have no way to pay for it themselves and plan to rely on the government. And at the same time, I believe that every child is entitled to health care.

I'm not a very good mormon. My faith is lackluster and my behavior adequate at best. I fear that people look at me and assume all mormons are like me. On the other hand, it could be worse. I embrace a "there is truth everywhere" stance and a "live the way you feel will make you happy" opinion. I truly believe that God won't punish people for acting out of love. How can it be a sin if you only acted to protect someone you care about? How can it be a sin if your only goal was to help those you love? I try not to judge others but instead to treat everyone fairly.

I attend a school where to learn about the history of the middle east, we first must say a prayer. I attend a school where I'm told how short my shorts can be. I attend a school where 98% of the students are mormon. This is my choice.

Some days I believe in this choice. Like when I'm walking along having a bad day and a stranger smiles and says hello. Or when I accidentally leave my cell phone on the ground unattended for hours, and it isn't stolen. I believe in this choice when I go to my woman's studies class and hear someone say something that I was too scared to share.

This choice kills me when I hear people use the word gay as a synonym for stupid. It kills me when I realize that out of an entire 30 person class, I'm not the only one enchanted by a professor's total bull crap. It kills me when I look around an entire stadium of students doing the wave, and notice that it is only white arms flailing up and down.

This university is ordained of God they tell me--it is a divine institution. Am I serving the Lord when I go to my minimum wage job on campus? I don't believe so. I don't believe I'm serving the Lord by going to school either. I'm going to school so I can learn, so I can better myself.

I believe that when I'm taught a true principle, it isn't just me being taught. They teach me as a teacher, so I can educate my children, or my students, or whoever I end up with stewardship over.

I have no doubt in my mind that President Monson is a good man. He seems kind, honest, and hard working to me. I don't think he is perfect, but he is truly striving to do right.

I know my family loves me. I don't particularly want to live with my nuclear family forever, they're awesome but...I'd prefer to get married and live with my spouse. Who probably wouldn't want to particularly live with them.

This is my nuanced testimony, take it or leave it. Find truth where you can :)

Saturday, December 18, 2010


Recently on facebook I saw this post

‎"there is no such thing as ugly women-only lazy ones"
Thursday at 4:50pm

Jo and 6 others like this.
Julia because men can't love you for yourself? or for your talents or your personality?
Thursday at 4:53pm
Sarai hahaha no this has nothing to do with men dude! just with women and their efforts, the usual
Thursday at 6:45pm

I wasn't sure what to think of the post. I liked that it was focused on the fact that all women have potential beautify. I wasn't a big fan of the ugly=lazy assumption. More than that, right off the bat I assumed that if she was talking about "ugly women" she was talking about women who were struggling to attract a spouse.

Beauty does exist outside of the whirlwind that defines dating.

This post comes from a girl who would look beautiful no matter what she did. She's skinny, olive complexioned, and has a very nice smile. When she arrived to seminary at 6 AM, half asleep and without make-up wearing sweat-pants, she still looked beautiful.

For me, I guess I see beauty in being true to yourself. Beautiful people come in all shapes and size, all different fashion choices, all different hairstyles--but people are at their prettiest when they're treating others kindly and loving whatever their passions are (whether it be jet skiing or calligraphy).

I guess I feel like a more appropriate statement would be
"There is no such thing as an ugly woman". Or, if we must modify "There is no such thing as an ugly woman who loves herself"

It reminds me of what Hugo wrote on the site Scarleteen saying:
"Have you noticed the way this works yet? If a girl is thin, she's accused of being "anorexic"; if her weight is higher than the cruelly restrictive ideal, she's "fat" and "doesn't take care of herself" or "has no self-control." If she wears cute, trendy clothes she "only wants attention" and if she wears sweats and jeans, she "doesn't make an effort." If she's perceived as sexually attractive, and -- especially -- if she shows her own sexual side, she's likely to be called a "slut." If her sexuality and her body are concealed, she's a "prude." As you've probably figured out, the cards are stacked against you. You cannot win, at least not if you define winning as dressing and behaving in a way likely to win approval (or at least decent respect) from everyone."

But according to the original poster, this has nothing to do with dating or with appeasing others--therefore, it must be about being beautiful for ourselves. "Ugly" women need to try harder... why does that sound like beauty is completely based on the outside? It does not sound to me like a commandment that we should try harder to learn how to serve others or learn to practice patience.

Why is it assumed that women (not men) need to know that their worth isn't set in place but that if they try harder that they can be "beautiful". Why is outer beauty more socially important for women than for men?

I commented on her status because it made me think and wonder--but how is it that no one else felt the need? How is it that 7 people liked the post and didn't even ask a question?

Do you think that the original status is legitimate?