Saturday, March 28, 2009

Utah is Number One

Utah is NUMBER ONE in anti-depression consumption. Yee-haw!

Psychiatrists point to several factors that could contribute to Utah's high levels of depression: limited mental health resources, restricted access to treatment as a result of cost, poor quality of resources and a varied list of other factors, including an under funded educational system and a culture deeply rooted in the Mormon faith.

"In Mormon culture females are supposed accept a calling. They are to be constantly smiling over their family of five. They are supposed to take supper across the street to an ill neighbor and then put up with their husband when he comes home from work and smile about it the whole time. There is this sense that Mrs. Jones down street is doing the same thing, and there is this undercurrent of competition. To be a good mother and wife, women have to put on this mask of perfection. They can't show their tears, depression or agony," Canning said.

"Obedience, conformity and maintaining a sense of harmony" are unspoken but widely recognized behaviors, which all contribute to what he calls "the Mother of Zion syndrome."

Salt Lake City is rated the most VAIN city. Three Cheers!!

Yep, not New York or Miami or L.A...but little ole' humdrum SLC. 

SLC earned this distinction, in part, because there are at least 45 plastic surgeons practicing in Salt Lake City, or six per 100,000 people, according to Forbes. Part of our bounty could be attributed to the University of Utah's School of Medicine, which offers residencies in plastic and reconstructive surgery.

The other part of the ranking had to do with our at-home beauty regimens. In the last year, locals spent more than $2.2 million on hair coloring, $116,478 on hair growth products, more than $2.5 million on facial cosmetics and more than $4.4 million on skin-care products. Our spending exceeded that of similar-size cities.

Oklahoma City, for instance, spent only $172,080 on hair coloring, $9,323 on hair growth products, $190,820 on facial cosmetics and more than $400,000 on skin-care products, according to Information Resources, a research company that tracks cosmetic and toiletries sales.

What does this say about us? That we care a million (or two) more times about what we look like than the people in Oklahoma City? Or, as the article suggests, are we vain? Or do we just place a premium on looking good? OR ARE WE ALL JUST FU**ING INSECURE?!? Hmmm....

And finally, our proudest moment?

Utah NUMBER ONE in online porn subscriptions! Whoot! Whoot!
And friends...I gotta lot to say about this one...but that's it's own post!

May I politely ask this religious state what in the world is going on? Does an emphasis on perfection lead to horrible insecurities? Does an emphasis on chastity and loving, lasting relationships cause the porn subscriptions to sky rocket? Are we all just awkward and backwards? Seriously, what is going on?


Rowena said...

That's fascinating.

The armchair psychologist/sociologist/philosopher in me says it's because a societal focus on conformity and the appearance of perfection leads to a lot of insecurity, self hate, and "perversion."

I only say "perversion" because the natural urges of a person, whether for sex or for expressing oneself are called wrong and hidden away, so instead, they come out in these really creepy, self destructive ways. Because there must be something wrong with a person if they like boobies or get angry at hubby, so instead we get obsessions, addictions, low self esteem, and on and on.

Like when you squeeze one of those rubber stress dolls... the pressure has to come out somewhere, and out pops the distorted head. If that gets held in, the butt comes out all grotesque.

Something's gonna come squirting out, and it ain't gonna be pretty.

Pseudonymous High School Teacher said...

So D'Arcy, are you read much by the LDS mommy bloggers? Because some of them might need an outlet.

I would not have guessed this.

Boquinha said...

Don't forget suicide rates.

So so sad and so so very frustrating.

Kristan said...

Fascinating! And (I'm sorry if it offends anyone) a tad amusing.

D'Arcy said...

I agree women. It IS frustrating and said and ironic in so many ways.

And yet, I don't put this post up to point fingers BUT I DO think that THIS NEEDS to be addressed. I do think that if you're a mormon woman reading this and you are mad that I'm putting these things out there, then I'm concerned that it wouldn't be the concern to address these issues.

Utah also has a very high rate of moms who are addicted to meth.

There IS A connection to the religion and these rates and DENYING that solves nothing. Instead, I would be talking about it in every church meeting and figuring out a more healthy way to be...but many of these things are shoved under the rug and not mentioned at all. Except for porn, they mention the problem of porn a lot but not so much a solution.

Steve and Jenn Fletcher said...

I am one of those "LDS Mommy Bloggers". I'm also D'Arcy's old college roommate and one of her good friends.

Sigh. There is a HUGE distinction between Mormon doctrine and Mormon culture. You'll never find anything in Mormon doctrine advocating vanity, pornography, or the need to compete to be the "perfect" woman. In fact, quite the contrary. Over and over and over again to the contrary!

Mormon women in Utah seem to grapple with these issues, but it must be cultural and geographic. We do not have the same problem here in Iowa with the Mormon women. There is a wonderful sense of "come as you are" here--not to say that we don't feel discouraged on occasion, nor that we don't like to get a good haircut once in a while, nor that we don't have a few pornography-seeking jerks that pop up from time to time. But I am just saying that the Mormon doctrine does not lead to depression, vanity and pornograpy. For some reason, the bizarre Utah culture perpetuates it.

More importantly, I have to add that while Utah is not problem-free, they are much less plagued by some of the bigger problems that other states face. Being so close to Chicago, Iowa has been affected by the influx of inner city "families" that have come from Chicago seeking a more wholesome environment. If you think Utah has problems, you should go to inner-city Chicago!!! Trust me, they would trade their crime/drug problems for boob-fixations and Prozac-poppers anyday!

But, okay, I gotcha. What is it with Utah and the boob jobs? I mean, what is it? Because seriously, I am a Mormon woman with a size triple A chest and I just feel zero temptation to get a boob job! So I don't think it is necessarily a Mormon thing. Must be a Utah thing. Maybe it has something to do with living in the shadows of all those mountains.

Boquinha said...

It's not just a Utah thing but it most certainly DOES seem to be a Mormon thing.

The stats are high in Utah because of the high concentration of Mormons. But as a therapist who lives on the East Coast, I can tell you that plenty of Mormons out here have the same issues (well, the emotional ones, not so much the plastic surgery ones). And while it's not exclusive to Mormons to deal with emotional issues, it certainly seems to be quite prevalanet. I do see it cross over into other organized religions as well, but the pain seems to run deeper among Mormons who struggle.

It may not be doctrinal per se, but to some extent the culture often reflects/mirrors doctrinal teachings. Let's do this analogy style. Think, let's say, cheerleaders (group).

***And I mean no offense to any cheerleaders--I took the first thing that came to mind. I know plenty of nice former cheerleaders--bear with me for the analogy's sake*****

Are all cheerleaders "Queen Bee" types and dramatic (problems)? No. Does cheerleading exist to create "Queen Bees" and drama queens ("doctrine"/goals/purpose)? No. Heck, it's a sport, right ("doctrine")? And I imagine it's hard work, too. But nonetheless, cheerleading sure seems to turn out a lot of "Queen Bees" and drama types (results).

So sure, there are stereotypes and they don't always apply to everyone or to the goal of the group at large, but sometimes they still fit. And it begs the question--why is it happening? And is it just cultural? Or might it be doctrinal, too? And what can help?

Steve and Jenn Fletcher said...

On a side note, my husband (who is actually an oral surgeon and removes mouthfulls of teeth on a regular basis due to meth abuse--they call them "meth mouths" and, coincidentally, that is one of the biggest signs of a meth user, a mouth full of rotten teeth) wants to point out that Utah's meth use is not high, comparitively speaking. The state with the highest number of "meth moms" is Missouri, followed closely by...Iowa. Iowa has a frightening amount of meth labs. So many, in fact, that kids here are not allowed to bring homemade treats to school because the chance of the food containing meth ingredients is just too high.

Steve and Jenn Fletcher said...

One last comment and then I have to pee.

If the central and--as far as I'm concerned--only doctrine of the church is to "Come unto Christ", then how can these behaviors have a doctrinal foundation?

Boquinha said...

I don't know the answer. I sometimes think that if we were to truly focus on that and nothing else, things would be better.

Love God. Love your neighbor as yourself. That's it!

But somehow people get muddled and caught up in visiting teaching and what they wear and what they watch and what they eat and don't eat and what they drink and don't drink and who they associate with and tithing and chastity and . . . the list is endless. None of those things are "bad," but they detract from the main focus.

Maybe if we focused on the 2 great commandments (like He said to), we'd figure out all that other stuff for ourselves with the beautiful brains he's given us and bonus, we'd be more empowered by that, too.

But I don't know. I'm just speculating.

Alisa said...


I have loved reading your thoughts on this post - they're funny and close to what I agree with. I would like to add something: I think you're getting to it with your quote "Come unto Christ." You left off the other half of the scripture: "and be perfected in Him." I think a lot of people are forgetting the "in Him" part, or they are flat-out confused by it. What I'm getting at is that being perfect IS part of that central and only doctrine you mention (if that is the case). I think that ties in really well to D'Arcy's post.

I think a lot of us don't know what to expect with being perfected in Christ. Does that happen in the future, or now? Christ said to be perfect/complete/whole, but there are vary many interpretations of what that means. CS Lewis said to start faking it, wear a mask, then one day, you'll take off the mask and find your face grew to fit that mask, that you are indeed perfectly Christlike after faking it for so long. Other people disagree - the mask suffocates them.

My ninth-grade seminary teacher taught that people who have the Spirit are more beautiful. So what if you're not beautiful? You buy hair color, cosmetics, even surgery. Because you're already doing everything you can to be righteous, and you're not beautiful.

I can't even count the times I was told in young women (the LDS program for teenage girls) that Mormons are happy and have a special glow. We need to make sure we always look happy in public so people will come up to us and ask us the source of our inner happiness and glow. It's a missionary opportunity.

And I can't even tell you how much competition I observed between all the neighborhood SAHM LDS women in the ward I grew up in. It was a huge Queen Bee thing. Drama. Fueled by this doctrinal foundation for perfection. It may not be an LDS thing - I see the same thing on Mad Men set in 1960. It's creepy, that show. But I feel that Mormons are holding on to that culture.

I'm not saying the doctrine is bad. I don't think perfection means what everyone thinks it means. I don't think it's taught well. I don't think we're addressing the issues. I think D'Arcy's on to something.

Steve and Jenn Fletcher said...

The doctrine is not the problem. It's the interpretation of the doctrine that's the problem.

I think we would all be better served by giving people the benefit of the doubt, individually and collectively.

The wisest, most confident, least vain, least competitive, most-Christlike women that I've encountered are usually older women--sometimes in their very last years of life. Maybe it's just a process and it takes time to interpret the doctrine and learn to apply it in the way the Savior intended. These things take time. I know I learn more each decade. In the meantime, lets have a little more patience for those thirty-something bleach blondes who teach YW and tell everyone to put on a happy, pretty face. They'll come around.

Steve and Jenn Fletcher said... the way, I teach YW.

But I'm not a bleach blonde.

Boquinha said...

I'm okay with continual learning. But as a parent, I do worry about our children being taught that "playing Wii on Sunday is against the commandments" (What?!) and as a mother, feminist, and therapist . . . I'm disturbed at YW being told to put on a happy, pretty face. That is *causing* very, VERY deep-rooted problems.

As women and as mothers, we should be outraged, not shrugging it off.

D'Arcy said...

I actually think the doctrine of perfection (as it is taught) actually IS the problem.

Most Christians will disagree whole heartedly with me. But I have to say it.

This obsession, and yes, it does become an obsession, with becoming perfect puts us in the place of always looking to the future for some person we WILL become instead of embracing the people that we are right now.

And by not embracing who we are now and loving who we are and realizing our mistakes are a part of who we are (instead of feeling obscene amounts of guilt by said mistakes) then I just think we are healthier people. We love ourselves more now. We love every bit of who we are. We love ourselves. I think the culture of perfection is highly conflicting because it promotes self hate and self guilt.

D'Arcy said...

And yes, when a little sunday school lesson comes down to the kids making a list of Rights and Wrongs and listing them on the board...then that's just teaching every one to judge everyone else.

3 Peas in a Pod said...

Speaking from someone who was born a perfectionist. I had the hardest time getting over the fact that I'm not perfect and I certainly am not a perfect Mom. I was constantly feeling like a failure. Where the heck did I get the idea that I had to be perfect anyway? Especially raising children. Stepford wives and mothers just don't cut it in this century. I feel so badly for these poor woman who are trying to live up to a standard that just isn't attainable. It's a storybook version. A fantasy. Just like women looking like a Barbie doll. That isn't the norm. No wonder they're also getting addicted to meth. I've always thought that people who use drugs are trying to find something that they're not getting in their everyday lives. Something they're missing. These poor women are set up for failure.

I also used to get upset about watching celebrity woman drop all of their pregnancy weight after having a baby two seconds ago. Of course they have the liberty of hiring a trainer and can work out for hours at a time each day. The average housewife cannot do this.

Ok I'm getting off track now but you understand where I'm going with all of this. People have to learn to deal with reality and be ok with it.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts D'Arcy.

Much love from NJ,

Alisa said...

While obviously I disagree with the ways people try to be perfect, ways that are not working, I guess I want to explain how the doctrine of perfection is workable.

Perfection at the time the KJV of the Bible was written meant something a little different. It meant completion, or wholeness. The BoM was written in this archaic English as well (Early Modern English). I think Jesus was telling people to be whole - to unite theirselves and move away from the psychological fragmantation, ego, etc.

A lot of religions teach wholeness. Eastern religions or their offshoots, like Tolle, teach wholeness.

I guess my question is all "doctrines" of wholeness, completion, or perfection the problem? Or is it the way they are sometimes taught?

I hear Buddhists or Hindus can become oppressive at times if you look at their history or their violence among themselves or other groups. And that even there, people try to show they are more perfect at living their religion than others around them.

Rowena said...

Hoo Boy. I need to come back here more often and check out the comments.

This is a very interesting discussion.

Plus, I love your Supergirl icon.

skippylongjacket said...

Utah also has a high obesity rate and more aggressive drivers compared with other states. Hmm - more signs of repressed behavior seeking an outlet?

Stella said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
D'Arcy said...

phew..somehow I missed some of these comments, about the idea, Boquinha, of the problem being doctrinal (and I happen to agree with you on that).

I think that there is something very detrimental in this idea of looking foward to a "wholeness" or "perfection"...again, it brings to my mind as something we are constantly striving for.

Now, I am ok with striving in life. But I am also VERY happy with the idea of feeling complete and WHOLE with yourself RIGHT NOW! It is the power of now, it's that whole idea that is becoming trendy in the world, I know, but it does help life start to be lived and NOT repressed.

Is my body perfect? Hell no? But, do I love my body? It's been a long road, but yeah, I am loving it more these days then I did in my skinny, anorexic days of high school when my body was much closer to being "perfect" than it is now. But, no matter what work I have to do on it, I don't see it as a flaw or an imperfection because that causes problems..big ones.

Sugar Jones said...

You know that you're also the fastest growing state, too, right? Yep... California natives are flocking to your porn loving, anti-deppressant consuming, religious state.

Can I move in?