The Greater Sin

On a whim, I tried to imagine my wife with blue hair. I’ve discussed this with some friends and we all came to the general consensus that my wife with dark blue hair and light blue highlights would actually look really good and that she would be able to pull it off really well.

As an artist, the idea of a wife with hair color pushing the boundaries of acceptable and yet having an undeniably aesthetically pleasing look to it intrigued me. I’ve approached her with this idea several times, and she always gently reminded me that blue hair is what many consider as an “extreme hairstyle.” To this end, many people would most definitely think she wouldn’t deserve a temple recommend, and in the temple she would most definitely garner more than her fair share of staring.

I contemplated this idea, for it deeply disturbed me that one could be denied saving ordinances for simply possessing an “unnatural” hair color. After all, women who dye their hair brown or black or blonde can go into the temple just fine, no questions asked. And it’s definitely not an issue of looking natural or unnatural, unless women naturally grow bleached blonde highlights on a regular basis.

I then thought about the slew of billboards that have cropped up between Provo and Salt Lake City advertising breast enhancement procedures. As far as I know, if you get a boob job, to put it in the vulgar, you can still gain a temple recommend and attend the temple and very few people will hassle you.

In my opinion, elective breast augmentation for the purposes of merely looking more attractive is the epitome of Isaiah’s prophesy that the daughters of Zion would become haughty – to the point of spiritual death. So does this seem right? Is blue hair the greater sin compared to a boob job?

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11 responses to “The Greater Sin

  1. Oh, the things women do in their quest to “look more attractive”. Boob jobs are more extreme than, say, dying ones hair (any color), or, say, shaving legs, or wearing high heels, or donning makeup every day. At what point does it change from trying to look comely and nice to being vain and proud?

    Somebody told me once that on their mission in Europe a lot of the grandma-aged ladies had quite blue hair, and yet worked at the temple weekly, and nobody thought anything of it.

  2. Colton G.

    I’ve never had a problem with unnatural hair-styles. I’ve always thought its something that someone down the lines will probably be available with genetic modification. On topic, I’d say it doesn’t seem right. Either allow both or neither.

  3. justjillsblog

    If pride or vanity kept anyone out of the temple, no one would be allowed in.

    I personally don’t see anything wrong with a breast augmentation if you can afford it. It’s your body. You can do what you’d like with it to feel better about yourself. Assuming someone is vain because they get a breast augmentation is just that–assuming. You could assume vanity over a hair cut or a dye job too, if you want.

    Breast augmentation and temple-worthiness aside, as long as Dantzel attended BYU she couldn’t have blue hair. Thems the rules. Now that she’s graduated, I think she should do it. I would, if my hair held color for more than two weeks before fading back to boring blonde.

  4. I’ve always wanted purple hair.

    You make a fair point. I have always thought elective breast augmentation is inherently dispresepctful to women’s bodies in general. They are uncomfortable, decrease sensation in the nipular area, and interfere with lactation. As a woman, it’s insulting that these things are becoming more common and accepted in the world at large. As a breastfeeding mother, I can’t think of anything more horrific than a woman who thinks she has to give up nursing her child in order to be beautiful. What a warped idea of beauty, and what a warped culture that we have developed that thinks this is ok.

    Aside from what other people think, I am certain that the Lord would find boob jobs far more offensive than dying your hair a weird color. Hair can grow back, after all.

    http://www.breastimplantinfo.org/augment/brstfdg122000.html

  5. Both are horrible reasons to withhold someone from performing temple ordinances. I keep trying to think of a similar appearance based restriction that would keep a man from entering the temple. I can’t. (Crazy hair and piercings, sure, but those go for both genders. Is there something appearance based, like breast augmentation, that a man would be judged for with equal severeness?)

    • Ted

      As far as I know, getting a breast augmentation does not deny you a temple recommend, so no worries there. Should it be, however, I have no idea whether there are any “male” reasons for being denied a temple recommend. Except for maybe really saggy pants that reveal more about a man’s posterior than I would wish. Then again, I’m not too sure if there is a huge saggy pant problem plaguing the mainstream Church population.

  6. Ted

    @kaduesy and @justjillsblog

    I would say the biggest problem with breast augmentation is that it is almost always sexual in manner. It’s one thing to use color or geometric lines on your clothing or what have you to try to look nice, and a completely different situation when you are cutting up your body to attract men sexually or feel more sexually attractive.

    I’m not saying sex is bad, but that when you add sex into the equation, it changes things slightly. For example, if my four year old daughter came up to me and told me she wanted to dye her hair blue because it looked cool, I would chuckle at her precociousness. But if she came up to me and asked for a boob job, I would definitely do a double take. Maybe it’s because I’m a sexist male or insecure when talking about sex, but I like to think that both of those things are not descriptors of me.

    Though what do I know?

    Also, as Beth said, blue hair eventually grows out (ie., not permanent). However, once you get a boob job, it’s very difficult to go back at all.

    Also, fwiw, I see the flurry of breast augmentation activity as evidence of male dominance in our society manipulating the standards or beauty into something totally artificial, not much different from foot binding. Less painful, probably, and much less debilitating, but just as emotionally painful in the process. After all, nobody gets an elective boob job because she’s confident in her body and looks and feels people value her as she is currently.

    • You are right. No one gets a boob job unless they feel like they need to in order to satisfy someone else’s expectation of beauty. I did know of one person that got a breast reduction, actually, so even though that is technically a breast augmentation, I know it’s not exactly what you meant.

      The sad truth is, much like Kirsa said right at the beginning, women will do anything to be thought of as attractive. Not all women, of course. But many women do a lot of stupid things just to fit the mold. It makes me sad. Mostly because I do a lot of those things myself and often feel like I don’t do enough and that that’s why I’m single and (this is the worst part) that it really is my own fault for not doing more.

      I know I sounded like I was defending breast augmentation in my previous comment. And, in a way, I was. I strongly believe that a woman should be able to do what she wants with her own body, be it a breast augmentation or blue hair. But in all reality, a boob job is the exact opposite of that in most cases. She’s doing what someone else wants.

      Anyway, I just read your letter to the Women’s Clothing Industry and will now flounce on over to that post to comment on how much I loved and hated everything you said.

      Keep posting such discussion-worthy, well-written stuff Ted. It makes people think and feel.

    • I know I made this comment to you in person but I think it’s worth mentioning again. As Jill pointed out, there are legitmate reasons for getting chest work done that don’t center around being more sexy. There are medical reasons for one. People have gotten breast reductions to address back issues, but there are other risks to consider. I saw an episode of some extreme makeover show that centered around a girl who’s mother had gotten really bad breast cancer at a young age and had actually died from it, so once her body was fully developed she asked a plastic surgeon to remove most of her breasts and replace it with synthetic stuff – and I really can’t say I blame her (though as a side effect she was QUITE perky).

      On the flip side, there are people who change their breast size in order to be LESS sexy – people who have had a knock-out figure most of their lives and are sick of the cat-calls, stereotypes, and negative assumptions from both genders. In many of these cases I’m sure you could argue that mental health and undue social stress were large factors in justifying the procedure.

      The point is that by calling all breast reduction “worse” than hair coloring you’re treading a fine line. And hair color is subject to the same role-call – some people do it as an extension of their personality, others do it just to stand out, and others to hide flaws. I think you unknowingly nailed it in this last comment – the things that bugs people about these practices is the perceived intentions, and not the acts themselves. Breast augmentation because you don’t think you’re sexy enough is most definitely a worrisome practice – but wouldn’t reluctantly dying your hair neon purple so you fit in with your boyfriend’s group of punk rockers just as questionable? Not nearly as permanent, I’ll give you that, but the sentiment is similar enough.

      It’s a letter/spirit issue really, which is why (back to the original topic) it is certainly unfair to block temple entrance for one and not the other. The interview should ask questions about your perceived self-worth, your level of vanity, and your understanding of divine nature, and leave it at that.

  7. Ted

    @Philosophy11

    I would agree with you there that not all breast augmentation procedures are products of out-right vanity. I try to qualify my statements most of the time by attaching the word “elective” to the phrase, but it’s not an entire catch-all phrase.

    I would definitely agree with you; it’s a letter/spirit issue. And just to clarify, I am certainly NOT advocating boob jobs from disqualifying you from the temple. It would be a logistics nightmare fraught with all kinds of opportunities for abuse and just straight up human imperfection (“Are you SURE those are real?” kind of thing). Which is my point – if we don’t disqualify people who have had elective breast augmentation done on their bodies, why would/should we disqualify people with blue hair?

  8. This discussion fascinates me. I found it in an attempt to see if an unnatural hair color would keep me from being able to go into the temple (my husband and I will get sealed in about 10 months). I have always wanted to try it, just cuz I think it looks cool. And it isn’t permanent, so I know it will grow out if I don’t like it.
    The comparison to boob jobs is interesting. I think any cosmetic procedure for vanity’s sake is not what God intended. I think there is a lot of pressure for girls to be more attractive. Before meeting my husband, I dated a guy who regularly told me that I needed a boob job. (Yup, should’ve paid attention to that warning sign.) It disgusts me when anyone (male or female) thinks they can be judgmental about someone else’s appearance. And I don’t think God would condone altering our appearance so dramatically, and potentially risking our health, in order to be more sexually attractive. Our bodies are temples, and I don’t hear people giving advice about how temples could use some architectural help.

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