Driving from Spanish Fork, Utah, all the way to Idaho Falls, Idaho, I start feeling like I need some sort of enhancement procedures. I don’t love how I look generally but I accept it; then on I-15 I see all my options for boob jobs, fat sucking, teeth whitening, plus some things involving lasers that I don’t quite understand.
Contradictions: Bodies are temples, gifts from God. We should keep them clean and perfect. No tattoos, minimal piercing, covered generally, with hair and makeup ‘tasteful’ and discrete.
So what about teeth whitening? Is it ok because it isn’t permanent, like hair color? Acrylic nails have no point beyond aesthetics, yet they are definitely widespread among all generations in my ward. Again, they are temporary additions to the body rather than permanent alterations.
How do we justify breast enhancement? Do we need to justify it or is it just a personal decision? How do we explain surgery for no medical purpose, to change our God given physical appearance? I don’t have an answer here—I have no problem with a woman doing something to make her feel more confident. But the message I hear, at least given to the youth, is that beyond general hygiene and social mores, our appearance shouldn’t matter.
Which brings me to my real issue: body waxing. Before I get to women, let me just say that all men should have their backs waxed once the number of hairs exceeds the fingers on one hand. This has nothing to do with vanity. It has to do with general common sense: back hair is horrible and probably causes both cancer and apostasy. This is scientifically proven.
In western cultures, women generally remove body hair in many body locations. I don’t think there’s any debate about methods used, unless there’s some kinky thing I haven’t heard of involving armpits. I’ve never considered it a moral issue, any more than shaving a beard for a man. Yes, it probably shouldn’t matter, but a woman who goes au natural is going to stand out and actually seem more immodest in terms of drawing attention to herself.
But what about below the waist? The general term bikini area means different things to different people so I don’t think we need to nail that down precisely. Why do Mormon women get a bikini wax?
The occasions where that region of the body is on display are exceedingly few and far between. Swimsuits, even not bikinis, certainly reveal the upper thigh area; visible hair in such a situation would be embarrassing and draw attention. So dealing with such hair seems reasonable.
What about moving inward though, to more intimate areas. What are the reasons for fighting nature there?
A good friend in my ward is an aesthetician—facials, waxing, that kind of stuff. She told me once that I’d be surprised how many members of our stake she services in the nether regions. There are a lot of options and levels for such things, most dramatic being an all over hair removal (Brazilian wax for those in the know).
Like imagining your parents having sex, I generally avoid thinking about other people under their clothes. But I do wonder how I feel about changing what our bodies look like. Especially when it is a location where there are no social constraints; only you and your spouse have any contact with this area (I hope).
So why get hairs ripped out of your most sensitive regions? If it is a personal preference, where does that come from? How does your natural state come to seem negative to you? I’m bothered by men who prefer a ‘clean slate’ look; there are only two places that comes from. Pornography and children. Those are the two places where women don’t have pubic hair.
As a woman, I’m not sure what I think on the subject. I’ve not gotten any bikini, but I also should admit that I’m not a hairy woman. I’ve considered a Brazilian and wonder why; frankly, a monogamous lifestyle makes me think that perhaps a love life should be spiced up. But again, where did I get such an idea? I have never looked at a woman’s genitals except in passing and never seen anyone lacking pubic hair. It is all a mystery to me.
Is it wrong to change how our bodies look, we who believe we are Children of God, created in His image? Who decides the level of what alterations are acceptable and which are not? Are we too much in the world when we wear makeup? Remove body hair? Have surgical procedures? These are real questions I have. Please engage.
Eliana Osborn was raised on cold weather and wild animals in Anchorage, Alaska, setting the stage for her adult life in the Sunniest Place on Earth in Arizona. She grew up in the church and didn't know there were places where conformity was preached. She has degrees. She writes. She teaches. She has some kids. She even has a husband. She's trying to do her best.