Reason #130: Because I Won’t Ever Be that Fascinating

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Fascinating Womanhood by Helen Andelin was the gold standard for Mormon young women. In the dorms we often talked about some of the ideals of this book. It had a lasting effect on me in several ways.

1) Even at the time I recognized that it gave strategies to maneuver a man to do what you wanted by letting him think it was his idea.

2) That seemed right and good to me, because in Mormon society, women don’t hold any public leadership roles in which they can actually “command” a man to do anything. So this was a good strategy — but all in good fun, I thought.

3) Even after I left the Mormon Church that I so loved (because of doctrinal issues), Andelin’s book and principles continued to affect me. For the first years of my marriage, I never let my husband see me in curlers or without makeup — a fascinating woman would get up before her husband and do all that, so he would always see her at her best. (That strategy went out the window after the arrival of our first child, who had his own needs and didn’t care if my hair was curled.)

4) Most telling of all, now that I look back at it, was the fact that one of Helen Andelin’s sons went to BYU at the same time as me. He carried around a sense of entitlement — and all of us who were not part of “Mormon royalty” (related to any of the Church’s leadership of the past or present) or not inherently beautiful knew we shouldn’t even try to attract his attention. I have often wondered about how his wife has handled that kind of pressure for a lifetime. I don’t envy her.

For more information, see The Mormon Mirage 3rd Edition:  A Former Member Looks at the Mormon Church Today(Zondervan, 2009). Also available as an audiobook and as an expanded-text E-book for Nook, Kindle and other reading devices.

2 Comments

  1. Jenny
    Feb 23, 2010

    I never read the book, but guess I have no fascination. Even the public sees me without my makeup and my hair just put in a ponytail. That would be when they get me out of bed at 2AM for an emergency in need of my advice or deciding to have a baby in distress. I’m not sure they really care any more than my hubby does!

  2. admin
    Feb 24, 2010

    Jenny, it’s true that when someone needs you — really needs you — they probably won’t care how you look! With day-to-day activities, I try to keep a balance between an attempt to look “nice” and an over-emphasis on my appearance.

    Thanks so much for your insightful comment — and for the service you give to others.

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