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Why Are There So Many Beautiful People in Utah?

My last cartoon was about a very lop-sided marriage. Maybe I like ’em like that.

Today’s column was sparked by a recent article in Allure. I rarely read Allure, with their clickbait titles, which aren’t as cute or clever as they think they are, but this one had some good research in it: Why So Many of Your Favorite Beauty Personalities are Mormon.

I have definitely noticed this, too. So many of the most gorgeous dancers on So You Think You Can Dance, and Dancing with the Stars are Mormon (including my ex-TV boyfriend, Derek Hough!), as well as huge bloggers like dooce. I look at young women like Lindsey and Witney, best friends, and they end up on the same TV show? And even the talented Lindsey Stirling as a star last season is LDS. These 3 were the finalists! (Deseret News has a list of 90 LDS members on reality shows recently.)

The Allure article tends to generalize about Mormon beauty bloggers:

She’s white and under 30 and married. Fit and given to flattering dresses that hit the knee and cover the shoulder, she has multiple children and Lady Godiva hair.

[But] she routinely asks herself, while shopping or applying eye shadow, Would I feel comfortable with my appearance if I were in the Lord’s presence? [This last is a quote from the church’s rules on modesty.]

Here’s the part that really fascinated me: a major religion has a doctrine that it’s not only okay to look your best, and be beautiful, it’s imperative! So many Christian religions preach vanity as a sin.

When Mormons first came to Utah in 1847, Brigham Young, the second president of the LDS church, instructed his followers, “Beautify your gardens, your houses, your farms; beautify the city. This will make us happy, and produce plenty.” The direction was an early example of an animating Mormon sentiment that still plays out today: Outward appearances matter. “Your dress and grooming influence the way you and others act,”

The LDS church’s website has an entire section devoted to grooming and dress, complete with makeup tutorials. “You are not required to wear makeup; however, wearing makeup can help you look your best,” it reads.

The article goes into more, including the training Mormonism gives on marketing and promoting…which supports these beautiful women to go public and influence other women.

Like all religions,  the LDS church says it’s what’s inside that counts, too. And psychology would agree.

Dr. Vivian Diller says that beauty self-esteem is based on 3 things:

1) How we actually look (genetics)

2) How we take care of ourselves (health and grooming)

3) How we feel about how we look (positive self-regard)

I would rewrite these as:

  1. Our physical selves
  2. What we do about our bodies, or what actions we take
  3. How we think about them

Mormon celebrities are paying attention to what they can most easily control (how we enhance our bodies, #2) and doing something about it. Kudos to them!

Does this give you permission to let your beauty show now? What do you think about the article?

Recommended reading: Survival of the Prettiest: The Science of Beauty, which takes an evolutionary approach to your appearance, and is refreshingly positive, too.

If you want more cartoons, check out my first book (chocolate) and my second book (love, sweet love). And Like my Facebook page to get notified of new cartoons. Feel free to share this anywhere but Pinterest and Instagram. All rights reserved, and content including cartoon is ©Donna Barstow 2018. Thanks!

Note: Salt Lake Magazine took offense to the Allure article, but I saw nothing of substance in their rebuttal. What do you think?



Why Are There So Many Beautiful People in Utah?

Donna Barstow

Cartoonist for LA Times, Parade, WSJ, Glamour, PsychCentral, Barron's, Weight Watchers, and textbooks & Chicken Soup books. Author and editor of 2 cartoon books and a Barnes & Noble calendar.

I both write and draw all my cartoons. You are warmly invited to share the link to this cartoon. The full-size cartoons are all copyrighted, so please email me at pen.drawing AT g mail (squish it) for rates for use in textbooks, prints, presentations, publications, or websites. Email me AT pen.drawing @ gmail. com. (Squish the address.)

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APA Reference
, . (2018). Why Are There So Many Beautiful People in Utah?. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 24, 2020, from


Last updated: 11 Jan 2018
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