Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Fiery Post of Venting Doom!!!

Yes. here I am again, composing a post in the middle of the night. However, this time Ross and Sara are not the only ones keeping me awake. While Ross is sawing off some pretty herfty logs next to me, and Sara is practicing her synchronized swimming routine, there is something else that is keeping me from getting the beauty rest I need. I can't get the frustration of something that happened today out of my head, and nothing is more cathartic to me than writing out my vents. Hopefully no one is offended by this- it doesn't look like anyone has even been reading this page in a while though, so I should be fairly safe.

My friend Michelle is an amazing photographer and artist. She is currently getting her degree in fashion photography, and she does some amazing work. For a recent assignment in one of her classes, she was to take some head shots. Well, she and her roommates thought that it would be fun to have an America's Next Top Model night in their apartment, and they would all pose for her. Now, it is a common practice in the fashion world to take head shots where the model wears a tube top. The photo is then taken from the shoulders up- so it includes only the face and the bare shoulders. This is NOT to imitate nudity or to promote sexual images, but rather to draw the attention to the face and not to any distracting clothing. This allows the eye to better take in the style of hair and make-up. That is why another popular name for this kind of pose is a beauty shot. You are to focus on the bone structure and beauty of the face. Michelle and her roommates all took some amazing pictures in this fashion. Michelle orchestrated the make-up, hair, and lighting- and some of the pictures are quite fantastic. She really got some great shots that will significantly benefit her portfolio. On top of that- it looks like the girls all had a really great time together.

Well, not everyone found the pictures as good as I did. As I was looking through the pictures that Michelle placed on her facebook page, I saw that a girl we went to high school with had left some scathing remarks about them. She left a comment- a very publicly viewed comment- that called all the girls in those pictures to repentance. (I would put all the actual comments here so you could share in my abhorance, but they have all been deleted- so you will have to deal with my summaries.) She scolded them for promoting pornography by having the appearance of nudity. She said that they should all think about how they were destroying the sanctity of women, and breaking their sacramental covenants. It was pretty ridiculous and totally inappropriate. One of Michelle's roommates was quite taken aback by this- with good reason- and replied that they were doing nothing wrong. She then made the very good point that the art departments at both UVSC and BYU use models in swim-wear to pose for them. The crazy judgemental girl said that BYU would never promote wearing swimsuits because that was against LDS standards, and said that if the girls couldn't feel comfortable showing those pictures to President Hinckley, then they shouldn't have been taken at all.

That is where I came in. I hated seeing Michelle getting attacked like that for something so silly. They were not going for sex-appeal or trying to evoke any kind of arrousal of that nature. I left a comment that said something like, "As a former art-model at BYU-Idaho, I just want to say that these pictures are very well done and you girls look beautiful. Also- Thomas S. Monson saw some sketches done of me wearing less than these girls, and he said nothing about the bare shoulders. He simply said that the artist showed true talent." I did not write this to start a big fight with the crazy girl- I simply wanted to stand up for my friend, and I wanted to support the statement of her roommate. Unfortunately, all I did was anger the beast. She left a comment saying, "Of course he didn't say anything- he would love the sinner and hate the sin!" I was not about to let her call those girls- and ME sinners. I was also not about to let her think that a member of the first presidency would allow something he deemed unworthy or inappropriate to go on at a Church governed university. I responded with a comment stating that the first presidency is intricately involved in the educational content at the Church run schools- especially in the departments where the gray line of morality can be so easily breached- such as the art department. She wrote back stating that there was no way that the first presidency could know everything that happened on campus- and there was no way they would let immodest material be presented if they knew about it. She then said to show her one picture like that that the prophet had seen and been OK with. I said something like, "You are right- there is no way they can control everything. Bad things happen even on church campuses. Everyone has free agency, and some people use it for the wrong things, and that is sad. What I am saying is that the educational content taught by professors is all checked off by the first presidency- or by people who are appointed to such callings by the first presidency. There were sketches of me wearing less than these beautiful girls that were given full credit and high honors by a member of the Seventy (because the professor IS a member of the Seventy), President Bednar (who is now an Apostle), Henry B. Eyering and Thomas S. Monson (who were both there for the re-dedication of the Spori building where all the art classes are held). If any one of those men in high authority had found ANYTHING inappropriate or immodest in what those pictures were portraying, I GUARANTEE they would have put a stop to it! They would not allow tithing dollars to be paid for models to pose for art that is deemed below LDS standards. These girls did nothing wrong, and they do not deserve to have such horrible comments publicly splashed around like that. If you had a PERSONAL problem with anything they did, you should have confronted them privately- not in a public forum where all of their friends can see."

I was hoping that would be the end- but it wasn't. People like that can't be satisfied until they have the last word I guess. I asked her to make the comments in a more private fashion- so we continued our little fight through more private messages that wouldn't be viewed on Michelle's page.

This whole thing was really really frustrating to me!!! First of all, I was NOT ready to see a good friend of mine attacked in that manner. Michelle had done nothing wrong! I love and care about her way too much to just stand by while some crazy radical is telling her to re-think taking the sacrament because she took some photos with bare shoulders. That is stupid and judgemental. I wanted Michelle to know that this crazy opinion was not a popular one, and that she had nothing to worry about.

Now, that was enough to make me mad- but that is not the main reason it upset me. I hate that people like that are the ones that the world sets the standard of Mormons by. Why is this? It isn't because they make up a majority of our membership- it is simply because they are the loudest. They preach their ignorance and petty, judgemental opinions to anyone within shouting distance, and they do it all in the name of the Church. That is why most of the world thinks that LDS members are out of touch with societal norms and are incapable of accepting people not of their religion.

True members DO NOT judge and point fingers!! They do not preach and scold and mock at any given opportunity. They do not take joy in publicly tearing down the actions of those around them- they lift those around them and find reasons to love them. True Latter Day Saints living by the Spirit love and accept the people around them, regardless of their own personal standards. They preach their standards not by shouting them- but by living them. Christ-like members don't publicly demean people for their differing beliefs- rather, they make sure that they are educated enough about their own doctrines and principles to be able to teach them in meaningful discussions when the APPROPRIATE time presents itself.

The other reason these LOUD members annoy me so much is that they have created a stigma within our own church- they are called 'Utah Mormons.' I cannot even count how many times I have heard members from other places make fun of and demean the members in Utah- and once again, it is not because we are all stupid and judgemental- it is because the stupid and judgemental ones are so dang LOUD!!!! Members outside of Utah view the church members in Happy Valley as naieve and silly. They feel that we have not been truly challenged in our beliefs and that we are preaching things that we would not be able to follow if asked to live them somewhere not as protected as this lovely state. I had more than one person at BYU-Idaho tell me that they were surprised at some of the in-depth comments I would make, because that, "just isn't expected in someone from Utah." In truth, the majority of the members here are kind-hearted and strong. They have been tested and tried, and their testimonies are VERY deeply rooted. The trials found here in the 'fish bowl' may be of a different nature than those found elsewhere- but they are no less real or severe. It is those silly individuals who are uneducated and judgemental who are most often seen, and the rest of us are unfortunate enough to be classed right along with them.

OK- the fire of my indignation is fading, so hopefully writing this out has been therepeutic enough for me to get to sleep. Again- I don't mean to offend anybody- but I allowed myself to get offended today, and I needed an outlet for that anger. Thank you for indulging me if anyone even made it this far.


Tracie said...

Hear Hear! I totally agree with you. I cannot STAND those people. My husband and I call them "Nazi Mormons" because that is what they are. Judgmental people are one of my pet peeves. I'm glad that you stood up for your friend. I also am bothered by people lumping "Utah Mormons" into what I call the "Nazi Mormon" (or Pharisees) category. I consider Utah Mormons to be more culturally Mormon, but I don't think of us as any less Mormon than those that live in other states. Yeah, sure we may have had the blessing of living with more member s and more temples, but I actually think in some ways it is harder here because a lot of people are Mormon but don't follow it, so the peer pressure comes from your fellow members instead of nonmembers.

Brian, Sophia & Cameron said...

I just want to put a big GINORMOUS ditto to your comments. Being a "utah mormon" who has also lived a lot of other places I hate that because the loud minority does and says stupid things all LDS people are lumped into one generality & then further so with those who happen to live in Utah. I really like what Tracie posted about the "nazi" or "Pharisee" Mormon being a more appropriate title . Anyway, I also have the pet peeve of lumping all nudity to equate to pornography. I wouldn't call the sisteen chapel or Michaelangelo's David or any of that pornographic, but they are nude. The Lord blessed us with bodies that are beautiful, and a head shot showing some clavical is far from what I would consider pornographic & if that is where your mind wanders I think that says something about your character and you thoughts more than anything. I think people that have issues with those kinds of artistic portrayals have issues of their own to deal with and they want to make it everyone elses problem, not theirs. Sorry, you got me ranting too. I guess great minds rant alike.

Brian, Sophia & Cameron said...

P.S. I check your blog daily, so there :p

Holly E. said...

I agree with you 100%
I can't stand the judgemental mormons who make us all look bad!
I also hate when people find out I'm from Utah and they are all like "Oh, your one of those mormons!" like it's something bad?

I agree there is nothing wrong or pornographic about having bare shoulders in a picture for art!

As a side note, I think I've heard somewhere that BYU even uses live nude models in some art classes.
I wouldnt know for sure, but I'm pretty sure I've heard that.
Have you heard of There are forums there and it's a great fun place to go and talk to other lds women about anything really, cooking, parenting, health, husbands, girls stuff, anything. Anyway, recently there was a topic about whether or not it was ok to pose nude for an art class, and I think it was brought up then that BYU uses nude models, maybe I read it wrong though, maybe it's another school. But anyway, one lady who was a model said that the teacher of her class was a bishop!
I'm sure those things would not go on in the classroom if there was a problem with it. I know a nude model isn't the same thing as bare shoulders in a pic, but just thought I'd share what I heard about the classes at byu.

Susannah said...

By the way, Miss Amanda, you are wonderful. I really don't know why we haven't been closer. I really enjoy you.