Plastic Perfect

On Tuesday, I laughed, if ruefully, at one of the headlines in the local paper – “Plastic Surgery High in Utah” – especially after reading the article, in which researchers noted that Utah had one of the highest rates of cosmetic plastic surgery, especially breast implants and “tummy tucks.” The researchers did observe that plastic surgery rates are greater in areas where women’s higher education levels lag more behind that of men than the national average, and one was even bold enough to suggest that it might have something to do with the Mormon faith, and the emphasis on “female perfection.”

Might have something to do with the LDS faith? Is that an understatement! This is the state where the rate of Prozac usage by married women is the highest in the nation. This is the only state where the achievement of higher education rates by women has essentially hit a stone wall, or ceiling – call it the LDS celestial glass ceiling. And, after all, with all those women having five children and their husbands still clamoring for Barbie-doll-figures, how could women not feel pressured into having a tummy-tuck? Or certain other “enhancements”?

As I’ve noted before, I walk, with occasional short stretches of running, most mornings, and the time I set out varies by as much as two hours, but no matter what time I walk, whether it’s at 6:30 or 8:30, or occasionally later, who do I see walking and running? Women, and most of them are decades younger than I am, often pushing baby strollers of the type suited to being propelled by more than walking speeds. Gym memberships are predominantly female as well. I do see a very few men, but those few are gray or white haired, likely out there on doctor’s orders.

But bring this up among the “faithful,” just like the “holy number” of preferred children, and it’s emphatically denied, even as the cult of the plastic perfect continues to dominate the lives of young LDS women.

8 thoughts on “Plastic Perfect”

  1. Suersday says:

    You speak the truth. Your assessment as to why Mormon women are all about plastic surgery is spot on. You won’t see it as much in slc, but go to the burbs and small towns (check out Bountiful or Alpine…lord, plastic women of all ages everywhere!!!!) where there is a far higher concentration of Mormons and wealth, and you’ll see why we exmormons call them Stepford towns.

  2. Autumn says:

    And here I thought my city — Los Angeles — was the plastic capital of the world! Like you, I see a lot of people on my walks, but the most common women are white, young, and going fast. Some are trailed by kids in scooters or on bikes. Everyone else is walking dogs (all ages and ethnicities) or they are older Asians getting in their 1,000 steps a day. And these women clearly work hard and maintaining their figures, even though their husbands are often much older and overweight.

  3. Autumn says:

    Ha, I must say I find it funny that your normally loquacious white male commenters are VERY, VERY silent on this particular post.

    1. Derek says:

      As a white male who regularly comments, I shared the hell out of this one on Facebook. Just not much to add to a great explanation of an issue in Utah.

  4. JM says:

    As a white male I can’t really think of anything meanful to say in regards to this post. The only thing I can really say is that all the women with good figures back in my high school days dated the men on the sports teams. Not a bright idea for their long term future in my opinion but hey, not my issue. I went to college and didn’t have to worry about a long distance relationship/ early child.

    Not saying women are unintelligent, just saying that as a male I am unable to understand what women look for in a partner or why so many of the young women I see feel the need to be in a relationship.

    Part of my problem in understanding might stem from where I stand in this culture. Hopefully I didn’t upset anyone, unvoiced words can be misleading in intent.

  5. Sam says:

    Speaking as a white male who isn’t overly enamoured with my appearance I’ve thought to myself from time to time that if cosmetic alterations were both safe and reversible – if I didn’t like the result – not to mention affordable then I might avail myself of them. As it stands I’m too scared to get an ear pierced let alone anything else done.

    I like the Captain America method of a few injections and a dose of Vita-Rays in order to transform from a scarecrow to Mr Hardbody in a matter of minutes.

    To be honest I think I judge my own appearance by the standard I judge women’s appearance. If I only find certain types of looking women attractive then why shouldn’t I expect them to do the same to me.

    What bugs me is not that society judges sexual desirability based in large part on appearance but rather that too many people – particularly but not alway men – only value women for their sexual attractiveness and dismiss/ignore or worse are hostile towards any woman they do not find attractive.

  6. CombatMissionary says:

    The phenomenon of high plastic surgery rates in Utah is probably a second-order effect of Mormonism.
    1) Religion that places high value on mortally conservative lifestyle as well as education creates prosperity.
    2) Prosperity creates surplus wealth, some of which people spend on keeping up with the Joneses.
    In California it would be spent on German luxury cars, wine club memberships, marijuana, and country club memberships.
    In Aspen, it would be spent on wine, expensive dining, helicopter tours, marijuana, entertainment systems, etc.
    In New York, it would be spent on cocaine plastic surgery,Prada bags, and pretentious art.
    In Hollywood it would be cocaine and pedophilia.

    Keeping up with the Joneses is nothing new. Utah’s just picking its own poison.

  7. Derek says:

    I am reminded of an article I read some time ago, women in Utah really do seem to be getting the short end of the stick culturally. Expectations of perfection compound into some very toxic lifestyles.

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