Saturday, September 20, 2014

Why the "Mormon Mold" Needs to be Broken

I read an article today on LDS Living Magazine's website, called "When Your Child Doesn't Fit the Mormon Mold". In this article, the author discusses her teenage son's "unconventional" (by Mormon standards) appearance, and how people can be more accepting and understanding of such individuals. Sounds pretty good on the outside, right?

That's what I thought, too. One of my biggest pet peeves about Mormon culture (not the doctrine, mind you) is the fact that people can get really... concerned about how other people choose to dress/groom themselves. Among other things, but let's focus on appearance for now.

Her skirt is 1/4 of an inch above the knee! Alert the Bishop!
Now, don't get me wrong, there were things in the article that I did actually like. For example, what she said about harsh judgments being one of the things that keep people away from church is 100% true. Feeling like you don't fit in is the worst, especially when you are at the mercy of the self-righteous who don't dig your personal style. She also said some very nice things about being kind to people, which are spot on.

What I didn't like was the unsettling undertone of, "give it time, they will change eventually":

If you are a Church leader, continue to teach the reasons behind the modesty and grooming standards in a loving, nonjudgmental way. Allow our children time to process these principles and come to the decision to change on their own.

She says this as though, as soon as someone accepts the principles of the Gospel, they will immediately decide to get a "missionary haircut" and wear a tie to church. She mentions her son cutting his hair shorter as he becomes more comfortable at church, slowly beginning his metamorphosis into a standard, cookie-cutter Mormon.

Acceptance at church is such an important topic, and I really wish she would have come at it from a more open-minded angle. Love of the Gospel is why we go to church. It doesn't matter if you're a shaggy-haired teenager, a tatted-up convert, or a feminist in pants. We go to church to praise, not to judge others for stupid, superficial things. Diversity is what makes us great! The message shouldn't be "be nice, and they will change eventually", it should just be a simple, "be nice".

It's time to break out of the Mormon Mold -- let's embrace the differences that make us great.