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We are the hipsters of the Church of Jesus Christ! (of Latter-Day Saints)
October 27, 2011 6:31 AM   Subscribe

Today's New York Times has an article about young Mormons finding a way to live their values while remaining socially "with it" -- by turning to hipster culture.
posted by naturalog (71 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
Gaddam Mormsters.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:34 AM on October 27, 2011 [5 favorites]


See also: Jon Heder.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:35 AM on October 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Mormon hipsters? Sounds like a tiny little niche...oh, the NYT fashion page.
posted by DU at 6:36 AM on October 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


Do we think there are more Mormon hipsters or caveman dieters in New York? I think we may be getting to the niche singularity...
posted by running order squabble fest at 6:36 AM on October 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


Very interesting! Can't believe they could write the article without touching on the huge number of Mormon fashion bloggers (two examples) and idea of the "modesty fashion blogging".
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:37 AM on October 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


Poor kids.
posted by pts at 6:38 AM on October 27, 2011


+1 points for the thread's title.
posted by Theta States at 6:39 AM on October 27, 2011


Poor kids.

Yeah, they've bought into this weird niche culture with rigid rules about how they can dress, what they can drink, even what music they can listen to!

On the other hand, they're also Mormons.
posted by escabeche at 6:41 AM on October 27, 2011 [51 favorites]


they generally dress and act just like anybody else.

What? No they don't. They're completely anti-speedball. You offer them some of your finest speedballs, they offer some lame excuse like, "Oh, I'm not really into that." Don't try to play this like you're about to do some speedballs and then have a San Pellegrino instead, Mormons.
posted by Greg Nog at 6:42 AM on October 27, 2011 [17 favorites]


Mormons playing ukeleles?
posted by Thorzdad at 6:45 AM on October 27, 2011


Isn't this more a comment on what it means to be "with it" these days than a comment on what it means to be Mormon these days? [Yes, I know it's even more of a comment on what it means to be a writer for the NYT Style section these days.]
posted by benito.strauss at 6:45 AM on October 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


There was a similar bit in the Washington City Paper a few years back. I know one of the women interviewed there, and a couple of other hip DC Mormons, and I've seen them go through similar struggles, trying to be cool and sexy and Mormon. I, personally, don't think it works, but I'm pretty anti-religion, anyway.
posted by MrMoonPie at 6:46 AM on October 27, 2011


I can't wait to see the American Apparel magic underwear ad.
posted by condour75 at 6:47 AM on October 27, 2011 [16 favorites]


Mormons playing ukeleles?


Utahleles?
posted by running order squabble fest at 6:48 AM on October 27, 2011


But for some Mormons navigating the Brooklyn waters, the struggle is less about what to wear to the loft party, and more about what to do once you get there.

...for other Mormons navigating the Brooklyn waters, the struggle is how to explain the chemical burns, tumors and, on rare occasion, superpowers.
posted by griphus at 6:50 AM on October 27, 2011 [26 favorites]


Twang! Hey man. Twang! Hey, listen. Riff! Has anyone ever talked to you Twang! [removes glasses] about Jesus? Riff! Let's grab a cuppa and rap. Riff!
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:52 AM on October 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Perfect!
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:54 AM on October 27, 2011


Mark my words, in 150 years Mormons will be the Neo-Victorians from the Diamond Age.
posted by leotrotsky at 6:55 AM on October 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm also baffled they missed the hipster Mormon mommy bloggers.
posted by leotrotsky at 6:59 AM on October 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


No I'm pretty sure the Mormons will be one of assorted religions you find yourself peripheral to in a JRPG. I mean look at this.

It's the Etsy nerds that become the Neo-Victorians.
posted by griphus at 7:00 AM on October 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


Look, NYT. I love you. I really do.

However, every time you publish an absurdly pretentious article about how to be a Mormon, circumvent a wide swath of your church's rules, and blend in at a Williamsburg loft party (under the ridiculous guise of pretending to be in rehab, what the fuck!?); somebody at Fox News starts gleefully kicking their heels together.

I'm sorry, but this article shouldn't have made it past the editor's desk. It's a worthless piece of dreck.

And, seriously. Shame on you, NYT for mentioning Brandon Flowers. If he wasn't famous and shilling for the church, he'd have been excommunicated and disowned by his family for singing about alcohol and lusting after other men long ago. I'm fairly close to a number of now-ex-mormons, and none of the things mentioned in the article would have been OK in any Mormon household that I know of.

Yes. It's possible to be "hip" and to also be a Mormon. Surprisingly, the rules and cultural norms do permit that to a degree, provided that you're willing to live within certain boundaries. If you want to play in a rock band, wear flannel on the street, and ride a fixie, nobody's going to stop you. However, the LDS Church does not look highly upon rule-breakers or even rule-benders. If you get a tattoo, or grow a beard before marriage (which is OK, because most of my mormon friends were married before they could grow beards), don't expect to be welcome in your home or your church.

Recently, a still-Mormon friend-of-a-friend was talking to me about his biggest acts of rebellion and self-expression. The example he gave? Wearing a red tie on his mission, when the elders specifically specified blue. In fact, all of his acts of self-expression pertained to the color of his neckwear: "Nothing can tell you more about a person than the ties he wears." After all, why change anything else? I seriously wish I were making this up.

...and if you think that these ad campaigns and PR pieces (which this article bizarrely resembles) are a thinly-veiled attempt at Romney-boosting, you're probably right. As long as Mitt seems sane and competent by comparison (to Mormons/Republicans/Massachusites/etc), he sails through the nomination process looking like the most credible one in the room, while his actual track record and positions completely escape any sort of objective scrutiny.

posted by schmod at 7:01 AM on October 27, 2011 [25 favorites]




Mormons playing ukeleles?

Strum, strum ye Saints.
posted by bicyclefish at 7:09 AM on October 27, 2011


Yes. It's possible to be "hip" and to also be a Mormon. Surprisingly, the rules and cultural norms do permit that to a degree, provided that you're willing to live within certain boundaries. If you want to play in a rock band, wear flannel on the street, and ride a fixie, nobody's going to stop you. However, the LDS Church does not look highly upon rule-breakers or even rule-benders.

This hasn't really been my experience with Mormons. I mean sure if you're drinking and partying hard, you aren't really welcome right then, but they'll always take you back. A good friend of mine that I used to promote parties with was basically a raging alcoholic and completely out of control for years. He decided he wanted to settle down, started going to temple again and dropped out of the scene, and as far as I know, they never gave him any crap about it when he wanted to get back into the church. Even when he would randomly show up to parties at the start of a weekend bender every few months.

The church probably saved his life, honestly, because he was a mess. He kept trying to convert me after going back, but other than that, the church did a lot of good for him.
posted by empath at 7:10 AM on October 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


It must be an extremely tiny niche, otherwise The Gap and Banana Republic would be out of business.
posted by Brocktoon at 7:15 AM on October 27, 2011


Shit, Kaskade's a Mormon? No wonder his beats are so sparkly and well-digested.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 7:16 AM on October 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


The church probably saved his life, honestly, because he was a mess. He kept trying to convert me after going back, but other than that, the church did a lot of good for him.

Reminds me of the other recent NY Times' article about Mitt Romney providing guidance to a troubled young man.
Bryce Clark was a recipient of Mr. Romney’s spiritual advice. Late one summer night in 1993, distraught over his descent into alcoholism and drug use, Mr. Clark, then a 19-year-old college student, decided to confess that he had strayed from his Mormon faith. So he drove through this well-heeled Boston suburb to Mr. Romney’s secluded seven-bedroom home.

As the highest-ranking Mormon leader in Boston, Mr. Romney was responsible for determining whether Mr. Clark was spiritually fit for a mission, a rite of passage for young Mormon men. Mr. Clark had previously lied to him, insisting that he was eligible to go. But instead of condemnation that night, Mr. Clark said, Mr. Romney offered counsel that the younger man has clung to for years.

“He told me that, as human beings, our work isn’t measured by taking the sum of our good deeds and the sum of our bad deeds and seeing how things even out,” recalled Mr. Clark, now 37, sober and working as a filmmaker in Utah. “He said, ‘The only thing you need to think about is: Are you trying to improve, are you trying to do better? And if you are, then you’re a saint.’ ”
posted by BobbyVan at 7:19 AM on October 27, 2011


The amazing ability of Madison Avenue--creating the "personal identity" and then sitting back and watching as successive groups try to establish this "identity" in opposition to past and current groups, and then exploiting the need to be different for monetary gain.

Hipster Mormons, Fundamentalist hipsters, ironic religious slogans on atheist hipster t-shits. All of a piece.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:22 AM on October 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


What next? Hipster John Birchers?
posted by warbaby at 7:24 AM on October 27, 2011


Looks like it's....

puts on sunglasses

Hip to be square.
posted by dr_dank at 7:27 AM on October 27, 2011


Oh, and good lord, there are far better excuses to give for not drinking than being in recovery (seriously, why would you ever make up something like that about yourself, and then deliberately spread the rumor, especially when you've made an unreasonably large commitment toward living a virtuous lifestyle?).

Off of the top of my head:
  • I don't drink
  • I'm dehydrated/thirsty
  • I'm driving
  • I need to be up early for work
  • I'm not in the mood
  • I already had a few
  • I'm a lightweight
  • I'm on antibiotics
  • I easily get hangovers
  • I'm trying to save money
  • I'm on a diet
  • I don't like the taste
  • I'm diabetic
  • You wouldn't like me when I'm angry
  • I'm vegan (these days, this can be an excuse for anything)
  • Alternatively: This vodka isn't fair-trade or cruelty-free
  • Alternatively: These Solo cups aren't fair-trade or cruelty-free
  • Alternatively: Are the Solo cups BPA-free?
  • I'm a homeopath. I put a microliter of wine into this glass of water, and I'm wasted.
  • No thanks. I'm hydrophobic. Only sawdust for me.
  • This is top-shelf stuff, man. You can't even smell the alcohol.
  • Don't tell anyone, but us Mormons can also do that water-into-wine thing
  • I roofied the punch bowl
  • I'm Pregnant (okay, those last two probably aren't ok either)
Also, a glass of seltzer with a slice of lime passes for a G&T almost every time.
posted by schmod at 7:28 AM on October 27, 2011 [16 favorites]


for other Mormons navigating the Brooklyn waters, the struggle is how to explain the chemical burns, tumors and, on rare occasion, superpowers.

also the gonorrhea.
posted by elizardbits at 7:28 AM on October 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


The provincialism of the NYT never ceases to astound. Subsutitutue any other minority group name for Mormon, and the piece is still offensive.
posted by Ideefixe at 7:28 AM on October 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


I've been a fan of Mefi for 4+ years now and finally decided to sign up so I could comment here. I'm a Mormon, have a beard (Abe Lincoln style) and a tattoo. I've recently been my church's Clerk, handling records and finances, and am currently serving as an assistant to the priesthood president (Elders Quorum). Never has anybody in the church been less than cordial to me. Perhaps some people I've encountered have strong opinions and maybe some leadership aren't thrilled with my appearance but the general mood I've felt is love and acceptance. To those that have had a bad experience - try to ignore those that judge you... I think now days in the church they are in the minority and will soon find judgement on themselves.
posted by popaopee at 7:29 AM on October 27, 2011 [16 favorites]


LDS Soundsystem?
posted by Rangeboy at 7:34 AM on October 27, 2011 [15 favorites]


If everything about the religion is telling you not to be who you really are, why are you still a part of the religion? Some Mormon needs to pull a Martin Luther and create a safe religion for Mormons who don't think wearing silly underwear and abstaining from the horrors of (gasp!) a cup of black tea is really sensible in the modern world.

Quick, someone write up an NYT article about hipster Scientologists, then we can all gleefully join in on the fake-religion bashing. Mormonism is an easy target but despite the goofy origin story, it's still a relatively sane religion compared to the quackery and cultishness of Scientology. Taking care of your body and family and saving for emergencies? Those are good values. Paying money to get aliens out of your brain? Those guys get a tax break for THAT? How is that even up for debate?
posted by caution live frogs at 7:36 AM on October 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh, and I'm not saying that Mormons are bad people, or that the LDS church is inherently bad. I have some very serious reservations about the church, but don't consider either of those statements to be true; Mormons do a whole lot of good in the world, and I'm not going to write that off simply because I happen to believe that many of them also do a whole lot of bad. Heck, I think that the "Don't fuck with your body" doctrine is arguably one of the better pieces of modern religion, and the sense of community that the LDS church provides is basically second-to-none, even in spite of some of its exclusionary practices.

However, I do firmly believe that this article is awful. Also, let's not turn this thread into a referendum on Mormonism.

posted by schmod at 7:40 AM on October 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


caution live frogs: "Quick, someone write up an NYT article about hipster Scientologists"

Personally, I was hoping for an article about the Hipster Amish.

I don't wear buttons, but I've got a cool hat....
posted by schmod at 7:42 AM on October 27, 2011


We need to tread carefully here. An article about hipster Scientologists could lead to the snark singularity.
posted by diogenes at 7:45 AM on October 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Why is everyone whispering?
posted by Splunge at 7:45 AM on October 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


The provincialism of the NYT never ceases to astound. Subsutitutue any other minority group name for Mormon, and the piece is still offensive.

I'm with you on the provincialism of the NYT. I'm sure the NYT expects its readers to snicker at the "odd" customs and rituals of Mormons, especially when blended with hipster aesthetics.

But offensive? Mormons tend to be pretty laid back about claiming offense, in my observations. Look at the LDS official reaction to The Book of Mormon for an example.

And I'm not sure what would be offensive about an article on Muslim hipsters or Hindu hipsters.
posted by BobbyVan at 7:47 AM on October 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: they are in the minority and will soon find judgement on themselves.
posted by Segundus at 8:09 AM on October 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


Just wait til the hipsters start being Mormon ironically.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 8:25 AM on October 27, 2011 [6 favorites]


There's been a lot of focus on how Romney's Mormonity is affecting / will affect his candidacy. I've been wondering how his candidacy is going to affect the Mormon church. Mormons have always been effective at advertising, but, FFS, this year I've been seeing "I'm a Mormon" ads on buses in Seattle. They're going all out to ride the publicity wave.

If Romney is the Republican candidate and he loses, I suspect they'll see a modest bump in interest, and therefore members, but then interest will die out for at least four years.

If he becomes president, though, then this persistent little sliver of Americans-being-aware-of-Mormons could become a really big thing.
posted by gurple at 8:33 AM on October 27, 2011


papaopee: I come from a (half)-Mormon family, and I just want to say good on you. You and others whom this sneering NYT article derides as "hipsters" are the direction of the church's future.
posted by blucevalo at 8:46 AM on October 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


My hair is long and my beard was out of control until I recently trimmed it back a bit. My bishop, who just got called to be stake president, jokingly refers to me as Chong.
posted by ericales at 8:53 AM on October 27, 2011


I'm also baffled they missed the hipster Mormon mommy bloggers.

Are there any Mormon blogs written by women that aren't mommy blogs? I'm Facebook friends with a couple friends I had from high school that are Mormon and they ALL have kids. I've always wondered....what happens if you don't want children or can't? Or is 'don't' pretty much unknown in the culture/faith?
posted by Windigo at 9:04 AM on October 27, 2011


Like most other things there's probably a lot of social pressure. I imagine that depends a lot on where exactly you are. I've known several women who never got married. I don't recall them being ostracized as a result. Others who have trouble with conceiving will likely try really, really hard with various fertility treatments and possibly end up adopting.
posted by ericales at 9:09 AM on October 27, 2011


I've always wondered....what happens if you don't want children

I'm sure it must happen, but I can't imagine too many people being independent minded enough to ignore how they're "supposed" to live, but still thinking being in that church is right for them.
posted by spaltavian at 9:15 AM on October 27, 2011


There are certain things the LDS church has done that I seriously object to, much as there are certain things the Catholic church has done that I seriously object to, but why is it strange if some Mormons are hipsters? It seems like they largely span the same sort of range of people as everybody else. Some of them are even liberals, much like members of other religions. Is that really worth an article?

Windigo: Unless you're really young or something, I'm vaguely baffled because if I take a random sample of my female Facebook friends who aren't classmates of mine currently, probably 95% of them have kids, and there aren't a lot of Mormons in that group. I'd say that's just an issue of being a woman in the US on the whole, not necessarily one that's Mormon-specific.
posted by gracedissolved at 9:15 AM on October 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's posts like this that baffle me...when I look at all the "single link" posts about inane shit that gets the boot, and this piece of dreck (for which you could substitute Baptist, Catholic, Orthodox Jew, etc. and still have the same article) gets to stay up on MeFi. Non article about a non topic.
posted by Kokopuff at 9:17 AM on October 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


gracedissolved: I'm 32.

Random sample of my FB friends is about 50/50 for kids. Maybe a bit less. The old friends from high school that are Mormon (they all now live in Utah, for what it's worth) all have children.
posted by Windigo at 9:17 AM on October 27, 2011


This is a really weird article. It's like advice on how to break your high school's dress code or something. I have to admit that, as a punky-fashion loving person myself, I can't imagine ever going to a school with as conservative a dress code as BYU, but then, I don't have Mormon parents so I probably have no idea.

(Though my Jewish mommy is still not the biggest fan of my tattoos.)
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:20 AM on October 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


I am so sick of articles and discussions that boil down to people being shocked that Mormons are not actually Amish. It's ridiculous, it's tiring, and it's a huge - huge - part of what has made me feel like an outsider for most of my life, both in the church and in non-Mormon culture.

If everything about the religion is telling you not to be who you really are, why are you still a part of the religion?

Telling me that I don't fit in with some caricature of my culture and that I should, therefore, leave the religion is outrageous, particularly when it's based, apparently, on an ill-informed and incomplete set of assumptions about what "everything about the religion is telling me not to be" is. Stop telling me I'm an outsider. Stop telling me you think I'm an outsider in my religion, and stop telling me that, because of my religion, I'm an outsider everywhere other than my religion, too.

The Mormon church and Mormon culture have never treated me like an outsider for being a hipster indie rocker who doesn't like Mormon culture. And it has never treated me like an outsider for vocally disagreeing with a lot of the beliefs of the religion. A huge part of my commitment to my religion is rooted in my desire to make sure that people like me - people who have a tendency to feel like outsiders - can always find someone in the church who accepts them, no matter who they are.

Some Mormon needs to pull a Martin Luther and create a safe religion for Mormons who don't think wearing silly underwear and abstaining from the horrors of (gasp!) a cup of black tea is really sensible in the modern world.

Someone needs to start a religion for weirdos who think that a cotton t-shirt and boxer briefs constitute "silly underwear" and who think there's something magical about the modern world that makes it unreasonable not to drink black tea.

I've said a lot about my experience with my religion here on MetaFilter, so I'm not going to re-hash that all here. And I apologize if I bring to this comment some baggage from previous MetaFilter threads about Mormonism. But I get the impression (because it has been said directly in the Blue) that people think that if a Mormon does not fall in line with a strict set of specific beliefs, habits, fashion and cultural cues, they will be in some measure marginalized in the religion. I have said and will continue to say that that is simply not true, and I again offer myself as an example.

Mormons playing ukeleles?

It's like you guys don't even pay attention to MeFi Music or something.

I have to admit that, as a punky-fashion loving person myself, I can't imagine ever going to a school with as conservative a dress code as BYU, but then, I don't have Mormon parents so I probably have no idea.

I was offered a teaching job at the Missionary Training Center when my hair was clipped to a #2 attachment length and dyed platinum. The BYU dress code is stupid, but enforcement is not all that draconian.
posted by The World Famous at 11:13 AM on October 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


All I know is Ken Jennings is the coolest Mormon ever.
posted by oneswellfoop at 11:17 AM on October 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


If you get a tattoo, or grow a beard before marriage (which is OK, because most of my mormon friends were married before they could grow beards), don't expect to be welcome in your home or your church.

That's one of the most outrageously false statements I've ever read in my entire life. And I'm a lawyer, so I read a lot of outrageously false statements.
posted by The World Famous at 11:20 AM on October 27, 2011


Quick now move the Brooklyn-ite into Utah.
posted by Cerulean at 11:21 AM on October 27, 2011


I was offered a teaching job at the Missionary Training Center when my hair was clipped to a #2 attachment length and dyed platinum. The BYU dress code is stupid, but enforcement is not all that draconian.

I get that you're feeling defensive, TWF, but if you read the article, they interview several students who clearly feel put-upon by their inability to distinguish themselves through fashion--one of whom tried out for a play where he'd be Jesus just so he could grow a beard. As someone who gets that (I spent some of both high school and graduate school with a mohawk, for instance), it still seems bizarre to choose a school with that sort of dresscode when any secular college in the nation will let you grow a beard or have your hair in a ponytail or even tattoo your face, if you want.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:24 AM on October 27, 2011


As someone who gets that (I spent some of both high school and graduate school with a mohawk, for instance), it still seems bizarre to choose a school with that sort of dresscode when any secular college in the nation will let you grow a beard or have your hair in a ponytail or even tattoo your face, if you want.

I guess for me it came down to the fact that, although I think the dress code at BYU is outrageously stupid and not at all in line with the church's religious beliefs, I think ponytails on men look ridiculous, I think facial hair is uncomfortable, and I don't really want to tattoo my face. The idea that you can't distinguish yourself through fashion at BYU is just not true. Yeah, the rules are dumb, yeah. But "put on a shirt and don't grow a beard or pierce your face" is not really all that restrictive. And "but I want to grow a beard!" doesn't seem like a particularly good reason to write off a university - particularly a good one with super cheap tuition.

Frankly, when I look back at my college years at BYU, I now think it's actually a really good thing that I was prevented from growing an unfortunate '90s goatee. I did have long hair for a while, but I guess unfortunate hairstyles are a rite of passage for people in their 20s, right?

That said, I'm going to Utah to do a recording session in a few weeks and the running joke has been that I better start growing a hipster beard now so that I can fit in with all my Mormon friends. Most of my Mormon friends in Utah have hipster beards. But we all graduated from college a long time ago, so we don't care what stupid rules BYU has anymore.
posted by The World Famous at 11:42 AM on October 27, 2011


Neon Trees, an all-Mormon band, has been opening for Duran Duran on their current tour. Check out the hawk on the lead singer!
posted by cereselle at 11:44 AM on October 27, 2011


an article on Muslim hipsters or Hindu hipsters
But those are colorful foreigners whom the NYT readership learned to appreciate on junior year abroad (never mind that Mormons go on international missions.) Not the same at all as people who eat sandwich spread instead of (insert exotic condiment here.)
posted by Ideefixe at 11:45 AM on October 27, 2011


I guess for me it came down to the fact that, although I think the dress code at BYU is outrageously stupid and not at all in line with the church's religious beliefs, I think ponytails on men look ridiculous, I think facial hair is uncomfortable, and I don't really want to tattoo my face. The idea that you can't distinguish yourself through fashion at BYU is just not true. Yeah, the rules are dumb, yeah. But "put on a shirt and don't grow a beard or pierce your face" is not really all that restrictive. And "but I want to grow a beard!" doesn't seem like a particularly good reason to write off a university - particularly a good one with super cheap tuition.

Your values are clearly not the values of the people interviewed, though, for whom dressing in a trendy way that violates their school's dresscode is clearly important. So my question is mostly, "What would make someone who has these values--someone likely a bit like me in that respect--go to a place where the right to dress however you want, regardless of whether other people find it dumb, is restricted?" These people are adults, and should have plenty of options, right?

I had a goth Mormon friend in high school who was essentially told she was attending BYU by her parents. I wonder how common that is, and how much of that is a factor here. That's pretty uncommon in our society--to be pressured to attend one school and one school only. I'm not saying that BYU isn't a good school, just that it seems odd to me to choose it, if you value dressing however you want, when there are hundreds of universities in the US to choose from.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:53 AM on October 27, 2011


So my question is mostly, "What would make someone who has these values--someone likely a bit like me in that respect--go to a place where the right to dress however you want, regardless of whether other people find it dumb, is restricted?"

A willingness to put up with something stupid for a few short years in exchange for a top-notch education at bargain basement prices among people who won't give you crap about being Mormon. And I also found that it helped to be really good at rolling my eyes at zealots.

That's pretty uncommon in our society--to be pressured to attend one school and one school only.

Among religious people of various faiths, I don't think it's all that uncommon. And BYU's ridiculous faux-religious dress code is nowhere near as restrictive as the rules at universities run by other religions.

Also, it's probably just that I live in LA and know a lot of USC people, but I get the impression that it's not that uncommon for USC alumni to pressure their kids to attend USC and USC only (I'm being a little facetious).

BYU has the extra element of being extremely inexpensive (currently less than $5,000 a year tuition), which is a contributing factor for parents who are paying for their kid's school. And when you look at the statistics (which I don't have on hand) about how likely someone raised Mormon is to go on a mission, get married in the temple, etc. if they go to BYU versus other universities, it makes sense for Mormon parents to want their kids to go to BYU. I want my kids to go to BYU. The alumni network is fantastic, it's well-respected by graduate programs, and it's within easy driving distance of the best snowboarding in the world. What's not to like, other than having to give up looking like a member of Skynyrd for a few years?

I had a goth Mormon friend in high school who was essentially told she was attending BYU by her parents.

I had goth Mormon friends at BYU. Goth is pretty easy to pull off without violating BYU's rules.

I'm not saying that BYU isn't a good school, just that it seems odd to me to choose it, if you value dressing however you want, when there are hundreds of universities in the US to choose from.

I agree. But I also think it seems odd to value four years of a specific fashion choice more than other factors when considering a university. But I can understand it. I had a hard time cutting off my long hair, and it did seem really important to me at 18 years old.
posted by The World Famous at 12:24 PM on October 27, 2011


Ah, thanks for the clarification, TWF. My own agnosticism/areligiousness likely impacted my view of the interviews and how precisely common that sort of thing is among religious populations. Well, that, and aforementioned goth friend, who acted like it was the end of the world when she was 17 (but who ended up more observant and okay with the choice at the end--what's not the end of the world to a 17-year-old goth kid?).
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 12:28 PM on October 27, 2011


Every time someone writes a "Mormons are weeeeird" article, I think back to all of the Mormon friends I had growing up. Seriously, 95% of the time they were just like everyone else, except with bible school or whatever it was they had in the mornings and more siblings.

Though to be fair, i grew up with California Mormons, and it's probably way different in Utah.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:19 PM on October 27, 2011


BYU has the extra element of being extremely inexpensive (currently less than $5,000 a year tuition)

Wow, really? I can't believe I didn't know that. That's incredible, especially if you consider how well known BYU is.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:59 PM on October 27, 2011


gracedissolved & Windigo: a bit of sampling error? I put myself forward as an example: a childless US woman who is not on Facebook.
posted by brainwane at 11:45 PM on October 27, 2011


And BYU's ridiculous faux-religious dress code is nowhere near as restrictive as the rules at universities run by other religions.

Examples, please?
posted by sobell at 3:22 PM on October 30, 2011


Bob Jones University's dress code gets pretty damned specific.
posted by MrMoonPie at 6:57 AM on October 31, 2011


I always wish I went to BJ University...
posted by Theta States at 9:15 AM on October 31, 2011


Examples, please?

Hampton University - Among other rules, students are not allowed to wear stocking caps at any time on campus except in the privacy of students' living quarters, and students are not allowed to wear t-shirts except in their private living quarters. Sports jerseys are also prohibited unless a conventional t-shirt is worn underneath.

At Union University in Tennessee, dancing is prohibited.

The dress code of Harding University is very similar to that of BYU.

Liberty University's dress code is more strict than BYU's, requiring students to, among other things, tuck their shirts in and prohibiting both men and women from wearing denim. Students are also prohibited from wearing "athletic or hiking shoes" and sandals of any kind. And Capri pants and clothing that is faded are not allowed.

And then there are non-religious universities like VMI that have extraordinarily strict rules regarding attire and grooming. I don't think anyone would seriously argue that BYU's dress and grooming standards (as dumb as they are) come anywhere near those of VMI.
posted by The World Famous at 11:45 AM on October 31, 2011


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