I could go undercover if I needed to

A few weeks ago during church a girl was talking about her mission and about a fellow missionary whose positive attitude had a good influence on her. In her words: "He was most definitely an American. He had the huge smile with the really white teeth."

This made me think, "Huh. How come they automatically assume that having white teeth is an American thing?" Also, "Oooh, that reminds me. Must get bleaching trays out--it's been a while."

This week there was a guy visiting who had served here as a missionary 20 years ago, so people were all excited to see him. He got up and bore his testimony and was very sweet, even if he was a total bawl-baby. A bit later in the meeting a woman got up and as soon as I saw her I knew she had to be his wife. Everything about her screamed "American! American! Native to or possibly just influenced by the Mormon fashion trends of Utah or California!"

She had very tan skin, very white teeth, and very blond highlighted hair. Her haircut was the one that's parted on the side and back-combed a little bit and flat-ironed, about shoulder-length. I've seen it on hundreds of girls in my singles ward and I've probably had it at some point. She was wearing a very cute white knee-length skirt--likely from the Gap or Nordstrom, and a dark denim top. Also she ratted her husband out and said that he started bawling in the car on the way up. I think she used the words "became quite tender and emotional" instead but we all know what she meant, and I think it's lucky he didn't wreck their car if he was all blubbering at the wheel like that.

After the meeting I was chatting with two girlfriends and we talked about how funny it was that you could immediately pick this lady out as an American. My friend S said, "Oh yeah, I saw her in the hall and knew right away." I said that she pretty much looks like the Trendy Mormon Mom. S tactfully wondered if American Mormon Moms feel a lot of pressure to look a certain way, if that's the standard that's being held up. I think a lot of them do, but I don't think it's something that every woman worries about.

I asked if people can automatically pick me out as an American. They said no, because I've got that rosy English kind of complexion. So yay for freckles and British ancestry! My teeth would give me away though.

Thing is, whether or not they have bleached teeth, the English girls are gorgeous. They really are. Their skin is beautiful and they have great hair. They dress well without being hung up about everything matching and coordinating perfectly. And there are the accents. My friends laughed when I told them that when we Americans watch English films we think they sound so sophisticated. S pointed out that most of the stuff we get in the US is about sophisticated Jane-Austen type women with lovely accents.

True point. We don't really watch Eastenders in the States. If we did it would likely cure us of the English-accent worship.


The McCulloch Family said... [reply]

Ah, good times. I was thinking this week that I should bleach my teeth! I totally know the type of mom you're talking about. I am not one of them, I don't think, since I have major regrowth, my child has a mullet and I am too lazy to put makeup on half the time, but I lived in a BYU student ward full of them.

Cicada said... [reply]

That also reminds me I need to bleach my teeth...

As much as I would have loved to fit in as an Italian, it was pretty much impossible. First of all, I dressed like a missionary, so that gave me away as a foreigner. When I was in p-day clothes, I DEFINITELY didn't dress like an Italian, so that gave me away. So sad.

daltongirl said... [reply]

I was just commenting yesterday that it's hard for me to get to know anyone in our new ward, because everyone looks exactly alike. Take your Utah Mormon mom, and then give her six kids, all blonde, all with perfect little pony tails or crew cuts, boys in white shirts, ties, and khaki pants, girls in taffeta dresses from Little Things Mean a Lot and patent leather shoes. Multiply by thirty. I'm serious, I don't know how they find their kids at night when they call them in for dinner. Anyone could show up at the table and they'd never, ever know.

Also, I have yellow teeth, brown hair, and my clothes don't match. I wonder if I could go undercover. Last week I was wearing this cute little brown skirt with little white circles on it, and a red-checked blouse. I thought it looked cute, but the people in American Fork Target were looking at me like I just came from the homeless shelter, where they didn't have any other clothes that fit me. Whatever. I mock your SUVs and your sequined flipflops.

Scully said... [reply]

I haven't seen Eastenders, but the accents on The Office didn't cure me of my accent fantasy, so I think it is here to stay.

Utah Mormon Moms are an epidemic! And they pass the cookie-cutterness onto their daughters, so they all look the same. And the horror of back-combing! Ack! Also, there is a rumour that Utah has one of the highest number of anti-depressant prescriptions in the US. So that is what you get for succumbing to the false idea of perfection. And finally, daltongirl, I think the outfit sounds cute!

Rachel said... [reply]

I think anybody who has spent a significant amount of time overseas can pick out an American. There's just something about us... I also have great Mo-dar. Remember the winner of the 2nd Biggest Loser? The whole season I SWORE he was Mormon. It's confirmed. He is. ;)

I used to think the accent was dignified, too--until I spent a week in university halls. Now I know better.

Kristeee said... [reply]

Having been a bit, well, on the short and stumpy side all my life, I have many time bemoaned my figure and the inability to "fit in" by appearance. Especially on BYU campus, where I swear the average size of a woman is 5'5" and size 4 or less, and they all fake bake and whiten and call daddy on their cell phones right after class saying "Hi, Daddy? I need more money on my account". I used to step onto campus and automatically feel intimidated. And disgusted because I felt intimidated. The teased-poof never got to me though - I thought they all looked silly.

There are those moments, however, when I'm glad that I can't wear all the trendy-trendy fashions. One of those moments was when one of my favorite people in Vienna actually told me that I was way more German/American than I was American, just by my appearance and my attitude. That was a serious compliment. The only detriment to the whole thing was that all the Turks and Iraqis thought that I was either Turkish or Iraqi, so it led so some awkward conversations, after we started talking in a language I could understand, as half of them would approach me in their native language. After establishing that I was actually from America, one conversation went like this: "You have beautiful eyes. Tell me I have beautiful eyes, too. If-ah you like, you take me as your Mann and I wake up to those-ah beautiful brown eyes every morning..." Eeps!

Kelly said... [reply]

How bad is it that now sometimes I watch old movies or TV shows and think that the actors really need their teeth whitened? It wasn't enough that we all had to have straight teeth. Now we have to have straight, WHITE teeth.

Scully said... [reply]

Re: white teeth. I have noticed a disturbing trend amongst celebrities to have the whitest, biggest teeth - Exhibit A, Hilary Duff and her Chiclet teeth. Exhibit B - Psycho Tom Cruise and his three front teeth. Some starlets are just an orange stick person and teeth. It frightens me.

Desmama said... [reply]

Lest I be sinning in ignorance, what is back combing?

CoolMom said... [reply]

Back combing is what we used to call "ratting" or "teasing", as in "your hair". I know this cause I've had my hair done in Utah.

When you are my age the Mormon mom look is still bleached hair, although not so light, fake tan, although not too dark so people will know, a denim skirt or jumper, a BYU canvas bag (yes, it was my first purchase on campus) and white Keds. Oh, and an unneeded extra 30 pounds. But when the girls visited they went into my closet, found the aforementioned articles, except for the 30 pounds, and threw them away.

So now I've lost my identity.

amyjane said... [reply]

I gotta stand up in favor of the backcombing. For those of us with baby-fine hair (especially after having baby Patrick, who even knows why...) you have to do what you have to do to acheive a little volume. At least on Sunday's and the occasional date night. Sorry to be stereotypically American and Mormon.
Also, my mother-in-law was just commenting on how your tow headed neice and nephew look SO Mormon to her. Apparently in her neck of the woods, all white-blond Scandanavian babies are of our kind! It reminded me of what you used to say about big teeth...can't remember the exact wording? Anyway. That is all.

kristen said... [reply]

It's not just Utah and CA.....I just went to church in Phoenix and couldn't keep track of the Barbie and Ken couples in the ward. (Actually there were some good looking older men!). My sister and brother-in-law also ratted off in like 20 seconds 5-6 women in their ward they knew off the bat that had boob jobs--my jaw dropped. They also mentioned the manicures, pedicures, jewelry, extravagant vacations, etc. I almost have to think it's worse down there. I have nothing against taking care of yourself (Im a little high-maintenance myself)....but please people!

chosha said... [reply]

Ewww to you all and your Stepford teeth! Weirdo Americans. =)

Queen Zippergut said... [reply]

These are some of the funniest comments I've ever read! Laugh out loud funny! When I first got to England, the RS Pres pulled me aside and said, "What is it with the Mormon women who come here from the States? They all have very high-pitched, little girl voices and speech patterns. It's very disturbing." I think it's also a part of the blonde, boob-job, backcomb generation. What has poisoned our culture?? Can Mormon women be saved??

(Oh, and I need to get my trays out this week, too.)

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