Comments about ‘Ask Angela: How can I feel pretty in a sex-crazed world?’

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Published: Monday, Jan. 27 2014 8:00 a.m. MST

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G L W8

The concept of beauty in our Western European, or "Gentile" world, lacks much. I've posted elsewhere a description of the Navajo concept of "hozho", loosely translated as "beauty", but with a much deeper meaning. We simply don't have enough nouns or adjectives in English to accurately describe what "hozho" means to the Navajo mind, and describing it fully by a white man like me is impossible. But here are a few helpful English words that may help us to understand: "hozho" represents beauty, joy, peace, harmony (particularly with nature), blessing, happiness, and because "hozho" has the qualities of a verb as well, it can be taken as a walk or a lifetime journey through all of the aforementioned terms. One of the highest compliments that one can pay to another in Navajo is the term "nizhoni", a derivative of "hozho", which can be taken as "you are walking in beauty, harmony, along the straight path that a Navajo is expected to walk." We western Europeans could learn much from the Navajo concept of beauty.

South Jordan, UT

"How am I supposed to feel any self-esteem ...?" The question should stop right there. Whether it is beauty, intelligence, athleticism, or general "coolness," the answer is the same. Focus on the right things and let the rest take care of itself. Your worth is not based on any of those things.

"How am I supposed to remain confident and not get discouraged when the guy I am with looks at another woman or tells me how "hot" she is?" You want a guy who will love you when you are 80 years old, long after the physical beauty (and intelligence, athleticism, etc) has faded. That problem is with the guy you are with, not you.

"I yearn to look like those women to get men's attention." I believe most women dress to impress other women more than men. In fact, I believe many women are far more shallow than men, especially the men you would want to take to the temple.

The things that make any woman attractive to me are clear eyes and a beautiful smile, especially one that comes from deep inside and truly reflects her belief in who she is.

St Joseph, MI

I agree, to compare is human or natural. But we are invited to overcome the natural man or women tendencies that we have and, through divine help, do and be better. Comparing and competing will always lead to disappointment and discouragement. There will always be someone more talented, better looking, successful, wealthier, etc..., and that is true even when we allow for the distortions of photo shopping,new technology,etc.. So, perhaps in a world saturated in distorted images, we need our creator's help (divine help) to overcome the natural and human tendency to compare and compete and to enjoy the uniqueness of all His creations, including ourselves. If there is something in ourselves (physically, emotionally, spiritually, or otherwise) that needs to change, He will help us to see that ("as it really is" --without distortion), and He will help us to change and to recognize the progress we are making and to ultimately be content with who and what we are.

1.96 Standard Deviations

Out of curiosity, who selected the image of the woman included in this article?

The article stated the following "[...] with technology like Photoshop, filters, perfect lighting, contouring makeup, etc., we can end up comparing ourselves and expecting ourselves to be just like things that don’t actually exist."

Seems unusual to mention this and still include an image of a woman that probably meets that definition. The presence of this image in the article seems to reinforce the spirit of what "Issues with image" is frustrated about.

Eldersburg, MD

As a man, there is no comparable measure to what women feel with the extreme tide of vanity in the modern world. The way women are groomed by culture to feel unworthy if they don't meet unrealistic stereotypes is a sickening proposition. It tries to negate the very tenderness and eternal value intrinsic to all women.

As a father, despite all I can do to tell my daughter everyone is a child of God, eternal qualities are more important, warn about dangers of vanity, etc., and keep immodest images out of my home, she will be inundated regardless from other children and various sources outside the home.

As a Mormon, I love the Primary and Youth programs that teach all children about the eternal worth of every soul, etc. However, all the things to prevent girls (in particular) from feeling inadequate from distorted perceptions of self-image through worldly influences does not seem to be enough at times.

I know as my daughter lives the principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, she can come to see her eternal worth. But, I also see how she will stumble because of the world.

What is to be done?

orem, UT

Eternal Perspective,

Nothing will be enough at times, but that doesn't mean a bout of distorted perspective is permanent.

Besides teaching our young people, boys and girls, about their divine worth we have found it helpful to "part the curtain" so to speak during our many conversations with our children and point out the shallowness of the "right look". It helps to have a sense of humor.

My daughter came home from junior high laughing about a conversation she had overheard. It seems a girl was complaining that her dad would not buy her an expensive pair of ripped jeans. Instead he offered to buy her a cheaper pair and rip them for her. She had had countered with the argument that she wanted a "professionally ripped" pair.

This phrase became our watch word when discussing fashion and looks - keeping our kids perspective in check.

Also, when a husband and father shows his unconditional love to his wife there can be no stronger message sent to youth about what real love looks like and who is worthy of it.

South Jordan, UT

I wonder if those other women you are talking about are secure in their appearance. Perhaps they are even more insecure than you are because their persona is wrapped up in their beauty and they feel they have no other virtues to fall back on.

Maybe that explains why they go to extraordinary measures to enhance their "beauty." A nip here, a tuck there, cosmetic surgeries of all types, starvation diets, cosmetics, jewelry, revealing clothing, even tattoos. It seems they are never truly satisfied so they are always trying to improve their appearance. That doesn't sound very secure to me.

The scriptures talk about people who are "ever learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth." Perhaps these "beauties" that you envy are also "ever enhancing but never able to come to an understanding of their real beauty."

Chris B
Salt Lake City, UT

Its a convenient excuse women use when they see any picture of a beautiful and slim woman: "she must be photoshopped"

The Des news has been going way overboard lately trying to convince women(mostly mothers) that they have no control over their bodies and its impossible to have a slim, attractive, and toned body so don't worry about it.

I don't think this attitude is any better than what Hollywood teaches us.

West Jordan, UT

@Chris B - I think you're being a tad overly-critical of the DesNews. I don't think the message they are sending is that women have no control over their appearance, so they shouldn't try. Rather, I think the message is: when setting your self-expectations, don't set the benchmark somewhere impossible for anyone to reach.

I think the women need to remember that this issue does go both ways. Plenty of men out there feel like they're not up to society's standards of "good looking" or "handsome." I just think that men deal with it differently and are generally more accepting of themselves.

But I think both men and women would do well to remember that "attraction" is rarely ever based solely on physical appearance. A man/woman could be the most aesthetically appealing person on the planet, but still be unattractive because he/she is a horrible person. As others have pointed out, physical appearance changes over time, but what remains is the person we are... Of course physical attraction is important, and we should all take care of our bodies; but being a good person is even more important.

1.96 Standard Deviations

There is a really good talk given by Elder Holland in the October 2005 general conference entitled "To Young Women" that addresses what "Issues with image" is frustrated with. Here are some snippets:

"Frankly, the world has been brutal with you in this regard. You are bombarded in movies, television, fashion magazines, and advertisements with the message that looks are everything! The pitch is, “If your looks are good enough, your life will be glamorous and you will be happy and popular.” That kind of pressure is immense in the teenage years, to say nothing of later womanhood. In too many cases too much is being done to the human body to meet just such a fictional (to say nothing of superficial) standard."

[...] In terms of preoccupation with self and a fixation on the physical, this is more than social insanity; it is spiritually destructive, and it accounts for much of the unhappiness women, including young women, face in the modern world. And if adults are preoccupied with appearance—tucking and nipping and implanting and remodeling everything that can be remodeled—those pressures and anxieties will certainly seep through to children."

Brave Sir Robin
San Diego, CA

I agree with what Chris B is saying (shocking), but I'll tread more lightly than he did. There's a tradeoff here that a lot of women (and men) struggle with.

On one hand, there's having self-esteem and being OK with who we are. We have to realize that only a blessed few have hit the genetic lottery that gives them that "perfect" body that seems to stay that way no matter what they do to it. Likewise, there are even fewer who have the time and means to do the work required to keep a perfect body. For folks with normal lives, this type of look is probably unrealistic and we need to realize that.

On the other hand, if you become "too OK" with who you are, then that leads to embracing unhealthy habits and lifestyles. Ballooning to 400 lbs. because you're "comfortable with who you are" is dangerous too.

Ideally you want to be OK with looking like something less than a supermodel, but not so OK with it that you stop seeking the desire to improve your health habits. It's a hard line to walk and many have trouble doing it.

Twin Lights
Louisville, KY

Shawnm750 and 1.96 Standard Deviations,

Thank you. Excellent comments.

Brave Sir Robin,

I think most studies suggest that folks who grow to than unhealthy of a weight started with self-image or other issues. It wasn’t just a “hey, I am good enough at whatever weight” mentality.


Think of your high school or college. Now think of the three or four most attractive guys or girls on campus. Then realize that none of them are good enough for the magazine cover. First, they must be toned and sculpted with exercise, diet, and very likely a surgeon’s scalpel. Then, makeup and just the right clothes and lighting are needed. And then - even then, they are insufficient. Not good enough. The image must then be manipulated to make what is already an unreal image into an even less real image.

And then we allow the barrage of media to tell our sons and daughters that this is what they should be and that this is what they should expect of their dates/spouse - that which does not exist in the natural world.

We can and must do better.

Chris B
Salt Lake City, UT

Shawnm, I really don't think I am that far off from the truth. If you've been following the Des News the last 6 months or so in particular, rarely does a week go by that we don't get a mommy blog or similar article telling women that because they've had a baby its impossible to have a great body, or that because photoshop exists its impossible to have a slim and toned body.

Hollywood sends the message that looks are everything - I get that. But it really has gone to the opposite extreme from the Des News.

There have been several women in the national news the last year or so that have gotten attention for showing off very slim, toned, and attractive bodies shortly after giving birth(no, no surgery) and promoting the value of fitness and eating right.

Rather than using photoshop and having kids as excuses for overweight and out of shape bodies, why not highlight the many women who exercise regulary, EAT RIGHT, and have fit/slim bodies whether they've had kids or not?

1.96 Standard Deviations

Chris B:

Eating right, exercise and treating our body well is all good. However, the world's obsession with showing off "slim" or "fit" bodies is pure vanity and a symptom of other spiritual problems.

Christopher B
Ogden, UT

1.96, working towards having a slim and fit body is no more evil than a woman who colors her hair, paints her nails, or wears anything other than pioneer clothing.

But speaking of problems, not having a slim and fit body is highly correlated to a multitude of health problems.

Pasedena, CA

My advice is simple.

Shut off the TV, don't go to many movies, and lay off the Hollywood gossip, learn to relax.

If you keep surrounding yourself with images that make you feel bad about yourself, you are not doing yourself any favors. Imagine you are on a diet, and you work at an ice-cream shop. You are always going to feel bad. Remove yourself from that situtation.

Next, when it comes to guys and dating, if he is seriously looking at other girls when on a date with you, then tell him to take you home. It isn't worth your time to be with a guy who isn't interested in you. If you only think that he is checking out other girls while on a date with you, you need to work on your self esteem some more.

Provo, UT

Working to have a fit body means you are healthy, which is way better than putting on makeup especially for your heart and lungs. LOL. Makeup compared to workout and healthy eating. I think a fit woman is more attractive than one wearing makeup and nail paint. Just me though.

Sasha Pachev
Provo, UT

I agree with CBAX. That said, many women overdo it setting unrealistic expectations. There are a lot of women that are just fine they way they are already that think they need some kind of a change. It is important to set healthy goals. Athletic performance is a better goal than weight - it is harder to go wrong. E.g there are a lot of women that have "model" weight but very few of them will be able to run a 5 K under 30 minutes because their hearts and muscles are too weak even for the support of their light weight. Healthy diet and exercise can fix it with some very rare exceptions - I've seen it happen many times. I've seen people fail, too, but in every single case I remember there existed a severe lack consistency with diet and training. And I agree with others who say dump the guy.

Farmington, UT

For starters, ditch the guy who is checking out other women, let alone making the comments. Any man who is doing the "elevator eyes" thing with women (whether when with you or not) considers women objects. Research shows that when men look at women in that way the part of their brain involved in human relationships (emphasis on "human") goes dormant. In other words, all the feelings of love and tenderness and compassion are set aside. Yes, those men who don't objectify women can be hard to find, but the effort will be worth it. Their spirits project a feeling of love, respect and consideration to everyone they meet, men and women alike.

Chris B
Salt Lake City, UT

Here are just a handful from the Des News lately. And don't get all worked up claiming I'm supporting an obsession that some women have to weight 100 pounds. I'm just suggesting going overboard like the Des news does is not healthy either.

Why not run an article every week highlighting a woman who had a baby or not and how they've managed to stay healthy and slim and yes attractive(gasp) through exercise and proper nutrition?

"Babies ruin bodies" - Jan 2 2014

Healthy approaches to dealing with your post-baby body" Jan 14 2014

"Developing a healthy body image: Mothers, stop trying to fix your daughters" - Nov 7 2013

"Jennifer Lawrence proud to promote realistic body image for girls" - Nov 12 2013

"Teen activists combat body image negativity with online tools" July 4 2013

‘Enough is enough: Maintaining a positive female body image in a competitive society’" Dec 5 2013

"Teenage girls eating cotton balls to stay thin" Nov 20 2013

"Bouncing back after baby" August 7 2013

"Loving our bodies" July 2 2013

"Feeling attractive after baby"

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