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The Freedom to Choose Indulgence

By Brooke Benton

Maybe it’s because I’m so full. Because I just ate the entire pantry full of Trader Joe’s delicacy: chocolate covered almonds, chocolate covered pretzels, chocolate covered PEANUT BUTTER pretzels, and THEN, after all that, cut the chocolate with a few macaroons. So this food journal entry, I’m cataloging it because I think it might be the reason I’m about to say what I’m saying and my normal, hungry, full of denial, green eating self can’t be held culpable. Anyway, here goes.

But before I say that I have to tell you this: I was on a flight two months ago, from Oakland to Salt Lake City, and just as I was settling my toddler into the seeming empty seat beside me, a pretty blond woman rushed down the aisle, with her blown dry hair and carry-on baggage ribbons of wake behind her, and claimed the seat. She was really apologetic about taking up some of the space I obviously required for four children and all their various electronic accoutrement, and I was taken aback by her heartfelt kindness—I don’t usually get a lot of compassion on these types of flights. And so, this woman and I, we really started talking. It was the proverbial set-up that you think will happen to you on every flight into or out of Utah, when you suddenly find yourself knee-deep in a conversation with a really open-minded inquisitor of Mormonism.

Of course, I only tell you of this quick association and the accompanying candor of the conversation to display for you the gristle of it—the chewy part I choked on. After talking about an hour, the woman wanted to talk about our “health code” and asked why, if we were so concerned with our health, were we allowed to get so much plastic surgery? She was moving to Salt Lake City from the Bay and in her frequent travels to and from insisted that she hadn’t ever seen as much plastic surgery (or plastic surgery advertising) as she had here. And I said I didn’t know. I choked because I agreed with her.

Which brings me back to my moment of standing at the open pantry doors, fingertips touched by the whisper of chocolaty over-eating. Why are certain very specific things covered in the Word of Wisdom, and why are whole catalogs of gluttony and weakness omitted? It’s not that I question the inspiration of Section 89 given so remarkably in a small upstairs chamber in a bishop’s store in Kirtland, it’s just that I wonder about its modern day relevancy. In other words, does it need an update? Or are we just too literal with some of its teachings and blind to the possible spirit of it? Why is coffee bad when the mass addiction to sucking on straws that poke from ridiculous jugs of Diet Coke isn’t? Or why does it make sense to do a carte blanche shrug on energy drinks, supplemental stimulants, over-eating, obesity, abused prescription medication, or that whole part of the WoW that seems to clearly delineate an almost vegetarian lifestyle? I don’t think it does make sense, and so I think that’s why we insist that the Word of Wisdom isn’t really about health at all, it’s about faith and obedience.

And sacrifice. Sacrifice? Would we include that in the mix? The problem for me is that the sacrifices seem very specific for people who have certain weaknesses. For many of us, coffee and alcohol aren’t tempting at all, and so the WoW is a simple culturalism to keep and condone. But we’re fat. Or we really love meat. Or we’re pill-poppers. Or we’re vain, and have inflated our chests to the size of prize-winning Thanksgiving turkeys.

There are some who have never questioned anything with religion and to do so in their minds or to discuss possibility with another is equal to sin. I am not one of those people. I believe if something is true, it remains true whether I talk about it or not, and that sometimes to understand, I sort it out in my mind until I feel something in my heart. And so, I don’t mean to ruffle the feathers of a clearly sacred commandment or the good of us who uphold it, I only want to know why the relevancy of the WoW seems misconstrued, and why, if we have the agency to choose so much for ourselves, are just a few things in life so demonized?

About Brooke Benton

(Blog Team) is attempting inner om with this writing stuff. Proud to claim four loud children, a patient husband and a fat black cat as family, she feels blessed to be their mommy-- their giver of kisses and baker of cookies. She is ever seeking a good novel and wishing for the sand between her toes, palm trees, the ocean.

30 thoughts on “The Freedom to Choose Indulgence”

  1. I think you nailed it with this: "are we just too literal with some of its teachings and blind to the possible spirit of it?" However, the language of Section 89 does lend itself to being fairly Mosaic in its practice.

    I've spent this summer dedicated to getting healthier. And sure, that's code for "losing weight" and it's frustrating because despite the two-a-days, the calorie counting, and finally kicking the diet Coke habit, the scale has not budged. But am I possibly following the spirit of the WoW? I think I am, more than ever before in my life.

    On the other side of the gluttony coin, though, I'm surrounded by obsessive calorie counters and friends who lament every stray M&M they place in their mouths. And that can't be 100% healthy, either.

  2. I've lived in Utah for 16 years and I don't know anyone who's had plastic surgery. But, that's just anecdotal evidence and the average age of my neighborhood is at least 50. Also, the billboards in Salt Lake are all from the same doctor's office that apparently has a giant advertising budget.

    But, that's neither here nor there. I think we can do better with moderation. Sometimes when we have specific rules it can be too easy to get caught up in enforcing those specific rules without remembering the spirit or purpose of them. However, I've also seen people get so caught up in 'the spirit of the law' that they forget the particulars. Or they use the law as a club to hammer other people with.

  3. My answer is because it is hard. It is hard to live by the spirit of the law. It's hard to not drink soda because I know it's bad for me, but it's everywhere and it tastes so good.

    I really try not to judge others because it makes life uncomfortable and ugly, but if I do it's usually because I'm having a hard time. If I'm struggling with not drinking soda, it makes me feel a bit better when you say that you ate all that chocolate. But that's really more of "we're in this together."

    On a side note, recently I went to the doctor for breast pain. She urged me to go off all caffeine, including chocolate and soda. I thought I didn't consume very much so it wouldn't make a difference. I was wrong. It made a difference and opened my eyes to how much I consumed. It was hard to have neither soda or chocolate! Even though I saw that obvious change in my health… I've gone back to both! Being mortal is hard.

    A friend recently mentioned this talk, it made me think about WoW a little differently: http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/publications/transcripts/?id=118

  4. I don't have any doctrinal answers for you but I can attest to the benefits of an (almost) vegan diet. Starting last June (after reading Eat to Live, the China Study and watching Forks Over Knives) I switched how I ate–we were pretty good at eating whole grains already (oatmeal, whole wheat bread, etc.) but vegetables were really lacking and we ate A LOT of cheese and milk. (I originally started eating like this to lose weight–after trying unsuccessfully for over a year.) Well, less than six months in on the new diet I weighed more than 20 lbs less than I did when I started, was NOT counting calories (well, I DID count for a little while to compare–my average went from around 2000 to 1300–meat and dairy have A LOT of calories so I could pretty much eat whenever and however much when I was hungry as long as it was a plant food.) BUT, the thing that REALLY sold me was how good I felt. I had more energy, slept better and FELT better. (My husband concurs–he initially balked at switching how we ate but after watching Forks Over Knives with me decided he'd take salads and vegetables for lunch over cheese tortillas. He brags about how many carrots he eats every day now.) Both of us could feel a BIG difference in our general health and could really tell when we went "off" (to eat at Olive Garden or Cold Stone on occasion.) We never went completely vegan–we'd have a small amount of chocolate on Friday and Saturday nights and stew on Sunday nights. I have a firm testimony of the benefits of doing what the word of wisdom says–limiting meat (and dairy, even though it is not specifically mentioned) and ramping up the fruits and vegetables we eat. (To say nothing of limiting processed, highly sugared foods.)

  5. Actually, what you're looking for already is in the Word of Wisdom, but because people breeze through verse 11, they miss it.

    vs. 11: "Every herb in the season thereof, and every fruit in the season thereof; all these to be used with prudence and thanksgiving"

    If you look up "prudence" in the Noah Webster 1828 dictionary, which would have been a pretty current one when the Word of Wisdom was received, part of the definition you would find there reads as follows:

    "Prudence implies caution in deliberating and consulting on the most suitable means to accomplish valuable purposes, and the exercise of sagacity in discerning and selecting them. Prudence differs from wisdom in this, that prudence implies more caution and reserve than wisdom, or is exercised more in foreseeing and avoiding evil, than in devising and executing that which is good. It is sometimes mere caution or circumspection."

    Prudence involves circumspection, thinking about consequences and being cautious. This is the opposite response to food than that of gluttony, a sin proscribed in the scriptures which we are usually loathe to apply to ourselves even when we should. Gluttony tends to throw caution to the wind in favor of self-indulgence and eating whatever tastes good as much as one wishes.

    So, the admonition to be circumspect in your intake of food and to make food decisions based on what will best enable you have the physical strength and health to serve Lord is in the Word of Wisdom, it's just something that many of us blip over. We prefer to ignore it in our desire to eat tasty things and our inability to recognize or control, in this part of the world where unhealthy food choices are so plentiful, our sins of self-indulgence or gluttony.

    The Word of Wisdom doesn't need updating. It just needs more thoughtful reading.

  6. I agree with the question about plastic surgery – I can't get a tattoo, or even two holes in each ear, but I can get fake breasts or have my face altered. It doesn't make sense to me at all.

  7. I've actually wondered what might be included if the WoW were to be given today. Would we be cautioned against Red #4, high-fructose corn syrup and GMO foods?

    For me, the Word of Wisdom is also a lesson in stewardship–Adam was given stewardship over the whole earth, plants and animals. The Word of Wisdom is very specific in things like using plants in season, with prudence (as mentioned above). Sometimes I look at the way food is processed in this country (especially with regard to the factory farming of animals for meat), and I can't help but wonder if this is an example of gross unrighteous dominion.

  8. Re #2 comment – I am betting you do know some, maybe even many, people who have gone under the knife. You just don't know it. I am shocked, SHOCKED, by how many women (mostly – a few men), have had work done in our ward and stake. I really don't care what other people decide to do, but I think I'll just let 'em sag as I age, not so gracefully.

  9. I think we could all do so much better at this, but it would help if the church leadership promoted healthy living–no Lion House pantry desserts, or ward barbecues, or candy (the perpetual Primary candy!), or donuts at seminary, etc. A top down example could help everyone.

  10. The Word of Wisdom is full and complete, it just needs deliberate and careful reading. I recently studied at in greater depth, and came to similar conclusions that MB came to.

    I think of it as a "higher law" sort of situation. We shouldn't have to have everything spelled out for us, right? We should be able to use our own judgement and understanding to live righteously.

    People's weaknesses lie in different areas. For me, personally, sugar is a full-out addiction. I can't eat it in moderation, or occasionally. I eat it, the floodgates are opened, and I can't squelch it without help. So I choose not to eat it at all.

    For other people, sugar isn't an issue. That is fine. I understand that.

    I hope to move closer to the tenets of the WoW, as stated in the previous comments. But gluttony is a Mormon sin. We love our food.

  11. Brooke, I love those TJ treats, especially the chocolae covered peanut butter pretzels and I occasionally eat them even though I have gluten intolerance.

    I'm with you guys on this. I feel like plastic surgery is against the spirit of our religion. Think of the verse in Isaiah that condemns women's vanity with their bracelets and such (can't remember the rest). God gave us our bodies and we should repect them by taking care of them. I do try not to judge as I have two flat friends who wish they weren't and have mentioned they'd like surgery. Since I'm busty I just tell them it isn't better. So had to find clothes.

    I also have read Eat to Live and watched Forks Over Knives, and have carefully diagrammed the food pyramid in the WoW. Luckily my husband has preferred an almost vegetarian lifestyle for years. I'm cutting down on my dairy now and hope the results are good.

    And I'm studying yoga. Did you know the yoga diet also prohibits drinking coffee or tea?

    I also find it embarrasing when non-members see something we as a church should be doing, but aren't. Humanity is mortal and even Mormons are just human! Best to leave the judging to God, but as for me and my house, veggies and whole grains, meat sparingly and no addictive stuff (we use chocolate medicinally!)

  12. I agree with the comment that mentioned verse 11, and I think we are rather weak, in general in observing all of the word of wisdom rather than just abstaining from alcohol, coffee, tea and tobacco.

    There's a lot in D&C 89 that's easily ignored, though for some reason it's really easy to look down on those that struggle with any the Big 4 but overlook the other elements of the scripture that may be more challenging for many of us.

    Also, I think it's important to remember that it is not meet that we be commanded in all things, and are specifically commanded to use wisdom and judgment. D&C 89 was given long before we had access to the science and information we have now, and perhaps they couldn't have gotten that information any other way.

    In our times, people know that how most of us eat isn't healthy, but mostly we don't do much about it. We know that we need (in general) many more vegetables and much less meat and processed foods of all sorts. Do we really need more commandments when we aren't following the ones we have now? Are we using our best judgement or the information that is readily available if we are willing to be diligent about searching it out? I believe that we are already under divine mandate to make wise, informed choices about what we put in our bodies, but I think it is also inherently difficult even to live up to the things we know about healthy eating, and include myself and my family in the large group of people that have a long way to go.

  13. I believe practicing the WoW will make us healthier, particularly if we live the "Dos" not just the "Don'ts" (i.e. eat plants in their season, eat grains, not too much meat).

    However, I think the most significant impact of the WoW is to mark Latter-day Saints as a peculiar people. Not partaking in alcohol and coffee/tea really sets us apart. Similar to what eating kosher does for Jews. For better or for worse, you can't stay anonymous for long if you're an observant Mormon.

    Also – I'm extremely put-off by elective plastic surgery, BUT, please let's not ask the church to comment on it! They already micro-analyze too much of our appearance!

  14. I, for one, don't really see what the WofW has to do with plastic surgery, unless you are considering weight-loss surgery. That being said, I understand your point about Mormons not really following it… ie not eating their fruits and vegetables and eating too much meat. Call me guilty.

    But let's get back to the plastic surgery. I just went in today for my pre-op… for plastic surgery. Tummy tuck and breast lift, that's me. You could argue that the tummy tuck is strictly cosmetic and a result of vanity on my part. The breast lift, however, comes from a result of having (way too large for my frame) breasts for most of my life, losing some of them and now trying to deal with the effects of saggy, pendulous empty breasts. Bathing suits, bra shopping, clothes shopping… it all sucks. So the lift- not so cosmetic, more a lifestyle enhancer.

    I have prayed about this decision extensively. I feel at peace with it, and feel that Heavenly Father is okay with it. Not everyone will understand that, and I'm okay with that. I don't understand a lot of things other members of the church do and are okay with.

    As you said, it's freedom of choice. And it's a beautiful thing.

  15. I started seriously studying the Word of Wisdom along with The China Study and Eat to Live a couple years ago. It all just seemed to come together for me and I ended up losing 30 lbs. Our Heavenly Father made our bodies and it makes sense that he would tell us exactly how to take care for them. It's up to us how seriously we take the Word of Wisdom. Just like any commandment, each one of us needs to come to our own understanding as to what it means for us. And when we gain a testimony of it, it's so much easier to live it. Have you noticed that people are really sensitive about this issue? People don't like to be told what's good for them! I know I don't. 🙂

  16. Touting the WoW as a means of weight loss or that taking care of our bodies leads to weight loss makes me really uncomfortable. Losing weight shouldn't be the reason for obeying the commandments, but it seems like an undercurrent in this thread….

  17. I felt like this was touched on in Elder Scott's Conference Talk about receiving revelation. ( here ) I'm always waiting for more of a push on the "do's" and the healthy patterns laid out in the WoW (like getting enough sleep!) But I also see a lot of resistance on these issues in a lot of people (like my own parents) who consider themselves faithful latter-day-saints but have horrific health habits. It makes me scratch my head knowing that the WoW is included in the temple recommend interview – and yet so many people who are visibly not following all of it tenets are attending the temple. I suppose this may get cracked down on the way the use of alcohol did (under Lorenzo Snow? anyone know for sure) whenever it was the Word of Wisdom was added to the temple recommend interview in the first place.

  18. Sarah, you are certainly right. There ARE higher motives for keeping the commandments than temporal ones like losing weight. But just as we don't keep the law of chastity ONLY to avoid venereal disease (we keep it to avoid the spiritual train of disaster that ALWAYS follows breaking it) it is still a fact that it is also a good way to avoid STDs. I liked Elder Scott's talk on revelation–that how we care for our bodies affects us spiritually. Our weight does the same–sure there are aesthetic points about it but there are also TONS of health benefits to maintaining a proper weight (many gained through following the WofW)–including avoiding heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, having increased mobility and energy and avoiding joint problems. I think I see what you were saying though–simply focusing on weight as a vanity thing is not the optimum reason for obeying the WofW. I hadn't been thinking of it like that when I made my comment–when I originally tried losing weight it WAS all about aesthetics but the more I learned and read that switched to wanting to live and feel as healthy as possible–which frankly goes hand in hand with weight. Make sense?

    One other thought–a friend of mine voiced the opinion (a long time ago) that maybe we shouldn't be allowed to go to the temple if we are overweight from not following the WofW. I've thought about that a bit and have come to the conclusion that I disagree with him. I think the sticking points for temple entrance (or not) have mainly to do with addictive substances, not wise food choices. For instance, hard core drugs are not including in section 89 and yet I doubt a meth addict can get a temple recommend. The other stuff in D&C 89 is there for our benefit and health and if we follow it we will certainly reap the benefits but I don't think it is in the same class as the don'ts. I think my main contention with my friend about people not being allowed to go to the temple who aren't eating as optimally as they might be is because we are all weak in certain areas of our lives–who is to say that being weak in how we eat and take care of our physical bodies is any worse than gossiping or keeping our temper? I find the temple a mainstay of strength for areas that I struggle in. I can't imagine how hard it would be if I were suddenly denied entrance to the place that I draw strength from on the basis that I am weak. Thank goodness we are not required to be perfect in all things yet!

  19. @Ana-
    You said it perfectly! How we take care of our bodies does affect our spirituality. My focus was not on weight loss either. I just wanted to be healthy. The weight loss was just an appreciated side effect!

  20. I believe the WOW is vital to the gospel because our Father in Heaven knows that our emotional/physical/spiritual health are intrinsically linked together. I live a very healthy lifestyle because I know that my emotional and spiritual health suffer if I do not eat right, sleep enough, or exercise. That said, I do believe everything in moderation. I know some who cut out sugar and yet crave it nonstop and are miserable and I think that it's okay to enjoy a few sweets every once in a while. On the other end of the spectrum are those who take working out and eating healthy to such an extreme that it is consuming, becoming unhealthy and takes time from better pursuits. We can't look at people and judge by their body how they are keeping the WOW bc we all have such different body types. It is for each individual to have stewardship over their own body and the earth's resources and figure out how to care for their body within the constructs of the WOW where they can find the physical energy and rejuvenation that will make it possible for them to be a better parent, ward member and follower of Christ. This sounds really preachy but I know in my case when I'm eating right, exercising regularly and getting enough sleep I am a much better person all around.

  21. While I completely agree that what we eat, how we eat it, amount of sleep and exercise impact our spirits as well as our bodies, I think it is much, much more complicated than lower weight = better health. There is emerging evidence that adipose/fat isn't an indicator of the person's health, on either end of the scale.

    There is what is known as the "obesity paradox" that shows obesity is associated with a *longer* survival rate in certain diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, chronic kidney disease; obese senior citizens tend to live longer than thinner ones.

    Satan wants us to despise our bodies, and is doing a rather good job of using "health" as a rod for our own backs. It is slightly horrifying that people want to use outward appearance as a factor in worthiness to attend the temple.

    Over 95% of dieters fail (people gain the weight back – and then some – most of the time). Statistically, you might as well say that ALL diets fail. That is why I am uncomfortable with the idea of the Word of Wisdom being used as a weight loss tool. I am trying to follow it more closely because I feel a pressing need to prepare myself for another pregnancy and reduce any further risk factors of cancer in my future.

    Anyway. Sorry to go off on a tangent. Here is a study that might prove interesting, and shows data that I have quoted above.


  22. A Few Things:

    1. I read a book once which said Mormons are fatter than the general populace for three reasons: 1) All the skinny pioneers died crossing the plains 2) We don't smoke 3) We are more sedentary due to lengthy church meetings
    This was half tongue-in-cheek, half serious. I thought it was funny.

    2. I agree with one of the earlier comments about setting a better example from the top down. Our activities and events are always full of fattening casseroles and sugar. We are all struggling at home trying to stay on diets and eat right and then we get together and tempt each other with junk food.

    3. I love the question about having an updated version. That would be so nice to have all the specifics like those mentioned in an earlier comment (no GMOs, Red dye #4 etc.) However, I'm guessing we would have to have weekly updates. The W.O.W. has enough information that is not being followed. I think if we eat our veggies and whole grains like we should then we can receive personal revelation for those specifics.

  23. I challenge you to pay closer attention to the food made available to us at ward activities. M&Ms for singing time, Brownies for achievement days, s'mores for scouts, and if it's deep-fried/sugar-filled/chocolate-coated it streams from the church kitchen into the cultural hall for ward activities. Since I don't buy junk food (due to budget constraints, NOT will power), it seems the only deep-fried/sugar-filled/chocolate-coated food I eat is at a church functions. And I get PLENTY! If your ward feeds you like mine feeds me, perhaps we should join together to encourage our auxiliary and priesthood leaders to prayerfully adopt changes or discuss healthier options in a future ward council meeting.

  24. I think the WoW is relevant today, but I don't think its purpose is to give us a complete code of health. Remember, it was "given for a principle with promise, adapted to the capacity of the weak and the weakest of all saints." It only includes those things that even the very weakest of us can manage.

    Also, part of the reason we have it is to warn us against those things that aren't just unhealthy, but life-threatening–especially when they are cleverly marketed. "In consequence of evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days, I have warned you, and forewarn you, by giving unto you this word of wisdom by revelation."

    We know that some things (like over-eating) aren't okay–even though they aren't listed in the WoW. But maybe those things are beyond "the capacity of the weak" or aren't as big of a danger as the things that are listed. Just my 2 cents.

  25. I think that the prevalence of plastic surgery is an embarassment, and has everything to do with how we represent ourselves as members of the church. It is a reflection of a society that is self absorbed, shallow, obessed with self and constantly comparing with others. LDS women need to learn to love the frame that the Lord blessed them with, and should learn how to love/groom/enhance/properly nuture/take care of who and what they are, and not waste copious amounts of money/time/worry/pride/vanity on trying to have the body of someone else. So many Utah moms say they want to fix their bodies after childbirth, but why can't we be grateful for our bodies, for the miracle of childbirth and why can't we wear the stretch marks and sags with pride – that we as women have participated in a miracle with God and thank goodness our bodies look a little different now because it is a physical reminder of something so wonderful! If our husbands can't be attracted to us because we don't have huge fake boobies then they are not good men.

    P.S. Do you know that breast implants just for the heck of getting larger boobs was brought into mainstream society by the pornography industry?

  26. Standards of beauty vary in every society, and examples of drastically manipulating the body in order to fit those standards abound–whether it be Mayan elite who flattened the heads of their babies, or the Chinese women who followed footbinding as a practice, (for over 1000 years), or the members of the Burmese Kayan people who still extend the length of a woman's neck to appear more attractive. The list goes on and on.

    I find it fascinating because in such examples, it is unlikely that their societies at a whole consider(ed) such practices as barbaric. We see through the filter handed to us. A good example of this for Americans is our absolute obsession over straight teeth. For as upset as we get over things like plastic surgery, (and I think much of this warranted), we are perfectly accepting, (and rather expect) everyone to get braces. In fact, having straight teeth in the United States is considered one of the biggest indicators of class. I find it fascinating because most societies throughout the world do not have this as a expectation, and sometimes even question our obsession with having a large, perfect smile. It is a very American trademark, after all.

    Another example of this that I personally dislike is the desirability of having a great tan. In my book, tanning beds and sun-worshipping is on par with plastic surgery. It breeds cancer, for heavens sakes, and shows a lack of value for the skin one was born with. I remember feeling sheepish about my light skin growing up, (I simply didn't fit the mold), until I served my mission in Taiwan. There the women practically fawned over my skin, and when I tried to explain the concept of the tanning industry to them, they simply laughed at the absurdity of it and refused to believe me. It was then I realized the emperor really had no clothes in this case, and I've loved my fair complexion ever since.

    Feeling beautiful and finding self-worth is a deeply personal journey unique to every individual–regardless of race, background, and culture. Just as the Lord willingly embraces women from all walks of life, He recognizes that we each come with a set of preconceived ideas about our worth, many of which we never even question as to whether or not they are legitimate. Hopefully the doctrines of the gospel can seep in deep enough to help us to see what are eternal/arbitrary standards, and navigate the journey of who we become and how we feel about ourselves and others. Perhaps rather than harping on the fact that women in LDS community are getting plastic surgery, we ought to be asking why it is they don't feel beautiful. Where does that come from, and how can that angst be effectively addressed? My experience is that God meets us where we are ready, and He is always willing to patiently answer our questions (hopefully layers of questions) when asked in humble sincerity–even on a subject that at first glance may appear only skin-deep.

  27. Cool, Amanda. You and I can be pale buddies–I'm visiting Taiwan in my mind and am hearing the praises! I do like my straight teeth. . . hmm.

  28. Amanda – I loved what you said about straight teeth (even though I am quite prideful about mine), tan skin, and asking why women don't feel beautiful as they are.

    I have thought all these issues out in my mind and spirit for years – diet, plastic surgery and other vanities and I have very firm feelings about them – feelings that have been enforced through personal revelation. Do I feel like the people around me who don't eat the way I do are sinners? No, I just feel like they haven't "gotten there" yet – just like I hadn't before I began eating the way I do. I feel like Heavenly Father takes you where you need to go and brings you truth when you are ready to accept it. Plastic surgery and horrendous diets upset me not because I think those other people are sinners but because I would love for them to dig deeper and ask themselves why? And because I think that Heavenly Father has greater happiness out there.

  29. I really detest all the plastic surgery ads, etc. in Utah. But I also appreciate analyses like this that help break down some of the possible reasons why the stats for plastic surgery are higher in Utah. There's no question there's a culture that doesn't push back with it as much as I wish it would (although the ladies at Beauty Redefined (UofU Ph.D. candidates) are sure working on it!), but there may be more to the story.

    Interestingly, though I also think we have a high number of nutraceutical and other 'we'll solve your health problems' companies in Utah, and I sometimes feel as bombarded and annoyed by those as I do by other stuff that is seen as more 'negative.' I think it's human nature to look for quick-fix solutions, and yet nothing God is about is about quick fixes. He's about long-term progress, growth, and spiritual change through the Atonement — and no product, pill, or procedure is going to be able to fulfill those kinds of promises in our lives.

    I think in our humanness, sometimes it can help to look for a little mortal help along the way, so don't misunderstand me. But I do think that far too many companies are getting far too much business because we are far too quick to look to sources other than God for our solutions and support and spiritual growth. But like Jen noted, being mortal is hard. And I think God knows that, too. But I think a lot of what we are talking about here boils down to honest self-evaluation and a repentance that gets beyond just trying to avoid bad things. And that goes beyond just the WoW.


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