Beliefs Culture Jana Riess: Flunking Sainthood Opinion

Mormon women have more cosmetic surgery … or not

In 2015 Time magazine ran a story by Jon Birger called “What Two Religions Tell Us About the Modern Dating Crisis,” arguing that a widening gender lopsidedness among men and women in Utah had made it nearly impossible for Mormon women to find a husband.

Birger, the author of Date-onomics, claimed this had resulted in a state of desperate competition among young Mormon women:

Mormon men have become much more demanding about women’s looks, which in turn has made women obsessed with standing out from the competition. One consequence: A culture of plastic surgery has taken root among Mormon women.

“I have seen more outrageous boob jobs and facial plastic surgery in Utah than almost anywhere in the country—especially among Mormon women,” said Bowman. “They may claim chastity as a virtue overall, but that’s not stopping anyone from getting a set of double-Ds.”

The article presented a string of circumstantial evidence to support the claim that Mormon women are leading the pack in the number who have cosmetic surgery. For example, Salt Lake City had 2.5 times the number of plastic surgeons per capita than was typical for a city of its size, according to Forbes magazine; it also had a high rate of Internet searches for people looking to get breast augmentations.

I personally found the claim believable, especially as the article slipped it in after presenting legitimate sociological research by Ryan Cragun and Rick Phillips, both responsible scholars whose work I trust. Ryan and Rick are correct about the gender lopsidedness of the Mormon dating scene, as explained in this post from 2015. Mormon women are at a significant disadvantage in the dating scene, numbers-wise, especially in Utah.

And the plastic surgery claim (which did not originate with Ryan and Rick) I believed only because I’d driven many times along I-15 in Utah. Anyone who does that and sees the billboards for one cosmetic surgery procedure after another might conclude that there’s something a little funky about Mormons and plastic surgery. So many advertisements for bigger boobs, younger faces, flatter stomachs . . . and most seemed directed at women.

Curious about whether such anecdotal evidence would bear out statistically, I added a question about cosmetic surgery to The Next Mormons survey, a nationally representative sample of 1155 current Mormons.

The results were quite ordinary and nonspectacular: Mormons as a whole have almost the exact same rate of self-reported plastic surgery procedures as people in the general population, as measured in a 2016 Pew survey. It’s three-tenths of a point higher, which is not statistically significant.

Among Mormon women, it’s even lower than for women nationally.

Moreover, Utah Mormons’ rate of cosmetic surgery isn’t outsized at all. Among all Utah Mormons, 3.7% have had plastic surgery, slightly less than the 4% national average for all Americans. For Utah women, it’s 5.6%. That’s also a little less than the national average for women, which is 7%.

So why all the I-15 billboards? Why the Internet searches? And why was I so ready to believe that Mormon women were more likely – even far more likely – than other U.S. women to get cosmetic surgery?

With regard to the first two questions, it’s good to remind ourselves that just because a city becomes a medical mecca for something doesn’t mean that it’s always local residents who are taking advantage of it. In this article by Salt Lake City plastic surgeon York Jay Yates, he estimates that a fifth of his business is from out-of-staters who come to SLC because all the competition among doctors there has driven down prices. Whereas breast augmentation apparently costs between $6,000 and $10,000 elsewhere, the cost in Utah is only about $4,000. (For the record, he says he does see a lot of Mormon clients at his practice, especially young mothers who would like to get their bodies back after childbearing is over.)

And for the last issue – the fact that I, and many others, found it very plausible that Mormon women might have had higher rates of cosmetic surgery than average – I think we were ready to believe it because it feels true. Sexism is alive and well in Mormon culture, and there is definitely a certain Disneyfied “look” to the Mormon feminine ideal. For example, when I saw the “primary colors” photo of the incoming Primary general presidency last year, my first thought was . . . OK, my first thought, thanks to an immediate and immensely clever Twitter meme, was actually, “Wow, they look like Power Rangers!” But my second thought was, “Wow, they all look exactly alike.” And they did.

But statistically, it’s highly unlikely that this slim, blond look was achieved through cosmetic surgery. Let me say it again: Mormon women overall are no more or less likely to have had cosmetic surgery than the national average. And young Mormon women – the demographic that the Time article claimed was having cosmetic procedures in droves in order to snag a husband – are actually less likely than other women their age to do so.

So let’s be careful about making broad, sweeping assumptions based on anecdotal and circumstantial evidence. The numbers don’t always back it up.

 


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About the author

Jana Riess

Senior columnist Jana Riess is the author of many books, including "The Prayer Wheel" (Random House/Convergent, 2018) and "The Next Mormons: How Millennials Are Changing the LDS Church" (Oxford University Press, 2019). She has a PhD in American religious history from Columbia University.

43 Comments

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  • >> “I have seen more outrageous boob jobs and facial plastic surgery in Utah than almost anywhere in the country—especially among Mormon women,” said Bowman. “They may claim chastity as a virtue overall, but that’s not stopping anyone from getting a set of double-Ds.”

    Are the Mormon undergarments being adjusted accordingly? Gives the sacred Mormon “Temple Endowment” a whole new meaning.

  • Ms. Riess, before I respond to your criticisms, I want to thank you for writing about my book Date-Onomics. Though I know you take issue with my conclusions, I’m always glad when news coverage leads to more discussion of such an important topic — the insidious ways that lopsided sex ratios contribute to body image disorders. Now let me respond to what you have written. You say in your article that your own “Next Mormons” report is a survey of 1,155 Mormons. You also say that your sample is “nationally representative.” According to the LDS church, only 30% of U.S. Mormons live in the state of Utah, which implies that your sample for the state of Utah consists of fewer than 360 people. Is it really that small? I ask because, as you know from reading my book, the chapter in DATE-ONOMICS that discusses cosmetic surgery deals specifically with Mormons who live within the state of Utah. Outside of Utah, the rate of apostasy among Mormon men is materially lower — which means that it is less challenging for Mormon women to find a partner. Additionally, I find it curious that you rely entirely on “self-reported” data, given that self-reporting for cosmetic surgery is notoriously unreliable. For example, according to Transform, Britain’s largest cosmetic surgery group, 71% of women hide Botox treatments from friends and family. The data I cite in DATE-ONOMICS is not “self reported” but sourced from actual patient inquiries and referrals to cosmetic surgeons on the RealSelf.com website, which is the world’s largest consumer review site for cosmetic surgery. Finally, right before you criticize my own data as “anecdotal,” you quote a newspaper article in which a single Salt Lake City doctor reports that 20% of patients of his patients from out of state. You then use this assertion to argue that the reason Salt Lake City has an unusually high number of cosmetic surgeons per capita is simply because a disproportionate number of the patients come from out of state. Needless to say, one doctor makes for a very small sample size. (You might even call it anecdotal!) But the bigger question is this: Can you prove that the number of out-of-state patients in Salt Lake City is disproportionately large relative to other cities? Indeed, I would encourage you to interview cosmetic surgeons in other cities such as New York, Chicago, Phoenix, Los Angeles and Miami and find out how many of them also report that 20% or more of their patients come from out of state. What you will discover is that medical tourism is a burgeoning business for cosmetic surgeons — not just in Utah. The websites of most top cosmetic surgeons offer tips, travel advice or even discounts to out-of-state or out-of-country patients. In fact, since you seem so fond of anecdotes from local newspapers, here’s one you might like from an article on Dr. Todd Malan, a cosmetic surgeon in Scottsdale, Arizona: “About 80 percent of Malan’s patients come from out of state. He even reserves Fridays for patients from out of state or country, who travel from as far away as Saudi Arabia.”

  • Jana — I’m wondering if you might have missed the real story here. If these numbers are accurate, Mormon women are far less likely than women in the general population to get cosmetic surgery, but Mormon men are _twice_ as likely as other men. The only explanation I can think of is that the Mormon culture imposes pressure on men to become upwardly mobile, and maybe they think improving their looks will help. Any other ideas?

  • People are generally unhappy with themselves, whether it is their outward appearance or inward. We all want to be accepted, yet we know we fall short.

    Plastic surgery can, I suppose, fix some of our outward flaws, but what about our inward flaws, the fact that we all fall short of the glory of God? Plastic surgery won’t work for that, for although people can be fooled by someone who has had plastic surgery, God sees the heart no matter what kind of appearance we try to project. In fact, He is the only one who can see the true condition of the heart.

    And He is the only one who can do something about it. We cannot change it through obedience to the Law (Romans 3:20). He does it, not by changing us, but be giving us a new heart. The heart we have is desperately wicked. No plastic surgery can fix it.

    http://downtownministries.blogspot.com/

  • In the bizarre quest for perfection, Mormon women are at a distinct disadvantage. Get some ladies…. maybe you can marry up and get a Q70. Or you can dress down and look like a power ranger.

  • It’s all the sensitivity that Mormonism pushes on Mormon men. Ironically, the emotional sensitivity and availability inherent to gay men is similar to the degree of those qualities pressed on Mormon men by the religion. It would be interesting to see if the rates of plastic surgery among Mormon men are comparable to gay men. That could have all kids of interesting implications.

  • I think that the analysis here is a bit lacking as it does not look into what kinds of plastic surgeries people are having. I recently became friends with a plastic surgery resident because of my child’s cleft palate and they mentioned to me that many of the surgeries that they perform on adults have to do with the removal of excess skin after extreme weight loss. Not exactly a boob job. Women can also have breast reconstruction surgeries after a mastectomy. Many times people will need plastic surgery after an accident. Many hands surgeries are also considered plastic surgeries. I think that the implication here is that anyone who has a plastic surgery is hopelessly vain. In many cases that is not true at all.

  • Ms. Riess, before I respond to your criticisms, I want to thank you for writing about my book DATE-ONOMICS. Though I know you take issue with my conclusions, I’m always pleased when news coverage leads to more discussion of such an important topic — the insidious ways that lopsided sex ratios contribute to body image disorders. Now let me respond to what you have written.

    You say in your article that your own “Next Mormons” report is a survey of 1,155 Mormons. You also say that your sample is “nationally representative.” According to the LDS church, only 30% of U.S. Mormons live in the state of Utah, which implies that your sample for the state of Utah consists of fewer 360 people overall. Is it really that small? I ask because, as you know from reading my book, I never claim that Mormons everywhere have higher demand for plastic surgery. The chapter in DATE-ONOMICS that discusses cosmetic surgery deals specifically with Mormons who live in Utah. Outside of Utah, the rate of apostasy among Mormon men is materially lower — which means that it is less challenging for Mormon women to find a partner. Bottom line: You seem to be questioning my research based on the responses of a very small group of Utah women who admitted to you that they had plastic surgery.

    Additionally, I find it curious that you rely on “self-reported” data at all, given that self-reporting for cosmetic surgery is notoriously unreliable. For example, according to Transform, Britain’s largest cosmetic surgery group, 71% of women hide Botox treatments from friends and family. For the record, the data I cite in DATE-ONOMICS is not “self-reported” but sourced from actual patient inquiries on the RealSelf.com website, which is the world’s largest consumer review site for cosmetic surgery.

    Finally, right before you dismiss my own data as “anecdotal,” you quote a newspaper article in which a single Salt Lake City doctor reports that 20% of his patients are from out of state. You then use this one doctor’s assertion as the basis for arguing that the reason Salt Lake City has an unusually high number of cosmetic surgeons per capita is not due to local demand but due to a disproportionate number of out-of-state patients. Needless to say, one doctor makes for a very small sample size. (You might even call it anecdotal!) But the bigger question is this: Can you prove that the number of out-of-state patients in Salt Lake City is disproportionately large relative to other cities? Indeed, I would encourage you to interview cosmetic surgeons in other cities such as New York, Chicago, Phoenix, Los Angeles and Miami and find out how many of them also report that 20% or more of their patients come from out of state. What you will discover is that medical tourism is a burgeoning business for cosmetic surgeons — not just in Utah. The websites of most top cosmetic surgeons offer tips, travel advice or even discounts to out-of-state or out-of-country patients. In fact, since you seem so fond of anecdotes from local newspapers, here’s one you might like from an East Valley Tribune article on Dr. Todd Malan, a cosmetic surgeon in Scottsdale, Arizona: “About 80 percent of Malan’s patients come from out of state. He even reserves Fridays for patients from out of state or country, who travel from as far away as Saudi Arabia.”

    Jon Birger
    Author, DATE-ONOMICS

  • Ms. Riess, before I respond to your criticisms, I want to thank you for writing about my book DATE-ONOMICS. Though I know you take issue with my conclusions, I’m always pleased when news coverage leads to more discussion of such an important topic — the insidious ways that lopsided sex ratios contribute to body image disorders. Now let me respond to what you have written.

    You say in your article that your own “Next Mormons” report is a survey of 1,155 Mormons. You also say that your sample is “nationally representative.” According to the LDS church, only 30% of U.S. Mormons live in the state of Utah, which implies that your sample for the state of Utah consists of fewer 360 people overall. Is it really that small? I ask because, as you know from reading my book, I never claim that Mormons everywhere have higher demand for plastic surgery. The chapter in DATE-ONOMICS that discusses cosmetic surgery deals specifically with Mormons who live in Utah. Outside of Utah, the rate of apostasy among Mormon men is materially lower — which means that it is less challenging for Mormon women to find a partner. Bottom line: You seem to be questioning my research based on the responses of a very small group of Utah women who admitted to you that they had plastic surgery.

    Additionally, I find it curious that you rely on “self-reported” data at all, given that self-reporting for cosmetic surgery is notoriously unreliable. According to Transform, Britain’s largest cosmetic surgery group, 71% of women hide Botox treatments from friends and family, while 34% hide liposuction. If so many women are not being honest with their own friends and family, do we really think they’re going to be honest when a complete stranger from an unknown organization calls them up, queries if they’re Mormon, and then asks very personal questions about having breast augmentations or tummy tucks? In contrast, the cosmetic surgery data that I cite in DATE-ONOMICS is not “self-reported” but sourced from actual patient inquiries on the RealSelf website, which is the world’s largest consumer review site for cosmetic surgery.

    Finally, right before you dismiss my own data as “anecdotal,” you quote a newspaper article in which a single Salt Lake City doctor reports that 20% of his patients are from out of state. You then use this one doctor’s assertion as the basis for arguing that the reason Salt Lake City has an unusually high number of cosmetic surgeons per capita is not due to local demand but rather due to a disproportionate number of out-of-state patients. Needless to say, one doctor makes for a very small sample size. (You might even call it anecdotal!) But the bigger question is this: Can you prove that the number of out-of-state patients in Salt Lake City is disproportionately large relative to other cities? Indeed, I would encourage you to interview cosmetic surgeons in other cities such as New York, Chicago, Phoenix, Los Angeles and Miami and find out how many of them also report that 20% or more of their patients come from out of state. What you will discover is that medical tourism is a burgeoning business for cosmetic surgeons — not just in Utah. The websites of most top cosmetic surgeons offer tips, travel advice or even discounts to out-of-state or out-of-country patients. In fact, since you seem so fond of anecdotes from local newspapers, here’s one you might like from an East Valley Tribune article on Dr. Todd Malan, a cosmetic surgeon in Scottsdale, Arizona: “About 80 percent of Malan’s patients come from out of state. He even reserves Fridays for patients from out of state or country, who travel from as far away as Saudi Arabia.”

    Jon Birger
    Author, DATE-ONOMICS

  • “In terms of preoccupation with self and a fixation on the physical, this is more than social insanity; it is spiritually destructive … . 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. … One would truly need a great and spacious makeup kit to compete with beauty as portrayed in media all around us” (“To Young Women,” Ensign, Nov. 2005, 29–30).

  • Very helpful article. Always useful to examine the factual basis or not of stereotypes. But the article would have the same value even without snide, marginalizing and dismissive comments about the sisters of the Primary Presidency. Sheesh.

  • Ok, so maybe Jana’s evidence isn’t 100% solid, but what was your evidence again? Do you even have a sample as big as 360? Where is your data to back up your claim?

  • This seems defensive. Unlike Ms. Ries, with whom I’ve had my own disagreements, I haven’t read “Date-onomics,” but I’ll take your word for it that you were only trying to smear active (faithful) LDS women in Utah as opposed to active LDS women overall. (If you’re tempted to react to the word smear, just explain what respectful purpose the Bowman double-D quote served.). But as Ries notes, the fact that plastic surgery is performed in SLC at a higher than average rate tells you exactly zip about active LDS women in Utah.

  • Unique visitors per month is absolutely useless to determine the size of a sample, much less the validity of it. What’s the size of RealSelf’s sample? How many from Utah? How many Mormon? How was the sample selected? Was it randomized? If data is from visitors to the websitr, then that data will be self-selected. A randomized sample size of 100 is better than a self-selected sample size of 10,000. You have provided none of this information here, but you have engaged in irrelevant criticizing of ancillary information and tu quoque attacks.

    Edit: I’m also not sure why you are so critical of a sample size of 360. That would yield a confidence interval of just over 5% at a 95% confidence level. That’s not bad.

  • Tiffany spends his time lecturing Mormons about things they already know (man is prone to sin? really?) and refusing to listen to those things that they might know but he does not.

  • Ms. Riess does not disclose the distribution by sex and age within her sample. But if the Utah sample is representative of Utah’s demographic profile, that means the Utah sample has 45 women within the Millennial subset and approximately 180 women overall. In other words, the 2.2% figure for Millennial women would represent just 1 woman in the survey who admitted having cosmetic surgery. The 4.4% figure for all women would represent just 8 women who admitted having cosmetic surgery. Of course, the bigger problem is that self-reporting for cosmetic surgery is not reliable.

  • So let’s say for a moment that these flaws are critical flaws. I agree that once you break down the groups more specifically, E.g., millennial women, the methodology here starts to break down because sample sizes get smaller and smaller. I disagree that the overall conclusion that Mormons, and even Utah Mormons, get cosmetic surgery at similar rates as the rest of the population can’t be safely drawn from these numbers. But let’s just assume, arguendo, that Jana’s data are no good for this particular conclusion. You’re only half way there. I asked you a bunch of questions about your data that are crucial to knowing whether your data are any good at all. You haven’t answered them. So we are still not in a position to conclude that Utah Mormon women get plastic surgery at a rate any different than the American population in general.

  • Every time I try to include a web link in a reply, Disqus deletes my reply as spam. On your own, I would encourage you to search for various reports from the likes of Fox 13, Deseret News, Forbes, and KSL on studies tracking cosmetic surgeons per capita — which compare Utah or SLC Census data against cosmetic surgeon data from The Utah State Plastic Surgery Society, the American Board of Medical Specialties or the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. The “good” news is that, in the latest reports, SLC no longer ranks first (it’s now second to Miami). But in all of these reports, Utah and SLC rank in the top 6. You can also search the RealSelf studies. Finally, I would encourage you to look up academic articles and news articles on body image disorders and eating disorders among Utah mormons. Specifically check out the scholarly article “A Comparison of Body Image Satisfaction among Latter-day Saint and Non-Latter-day Saint College Age Students” in the Journal of the Association of Mormon Counselors and Psychotherapists. Authored by two BYU researchers, this study found that LDS women nationally did not differ from non-LDS women in terms of mean level of body satisfaction. But for LDS women residing in Utah, there was a material difference: “LDS women in Utah invested significantly more time and effort into their appearance than LDS women in other states, and reported a greater level of preoccupation with weight… LDS women in Utah were significantly more likely than LDS women from other states to believe that their success in relationships and work is dependent upon their appearance and that the occurrence of positive feelings and self-esteem are dependent upon their appearance.”

  • I don’t have research to back this up, I’m just reasoning this through. Utah Mormon women marry younger and have more children than the national average. Their bodies bear the “damages” of childbearing to a greater extent than the “average” woman. A 29 year old mother of 6 has a horny 29 year old husband who has had sex only with her in his lifetime, and she is not looking anywhere near as “hot” as she used to. So he doesn’t get his jollies like he used to. He feels trapped and looks around. If he resorts to porn or a quick affair, their eternal family is at risk. What’s a woman to do? Maybe if she gets her breasts lifted and enlarged, and gets a tummy tuck and vaginal tightening, her guy may still find her “hot” and their eternity will be saved!
    Compare this situation to couples in “the world”. When they get married at age 32, they’re already sexually experienced with several partners. They’ve gotten a lot of sexual stuff “out of their system”. They have 2 kids, max. The wear and tear on the woman’s body is not so great. If one of them gets into porn or cheats, that’s a problem, but the ramifications are not nearly as great as for the LDS couple. So it makes sense that there would be less perceived “need” for cosmetic surgery in this type of situation.

  • Your use of the word “smear” reveals that you believe there is something shameful about choosing to have plastic surgery. I’ve had plastic surgery myself for scar revision, and I disagree profoundly with any attempt to shame people who chose to have plastic surgery in order to improve their appearance. DATE-ONOMICS explores how demographics and sex ratios influence behavioral choices — my book does not shame people for those choices… Clearly you are not swayed by studies tracking cosmetic surgeons per capita — which compare Utah or SLC Census data against cosmetic surgeon data from The Utah State Plastic Surgery Society, the American Board of Medical Specialties or the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. So, as I told another commenter here, I would encourage you to read a scholarly article “A Comparison of Body Image Satisfaction among Latter-day Saint and Non-Latter-day Saint College Age Students” in the Journal of the Association of Mormon Counselors and Psychotherapists. Authored by two BYU researchers, this study found that LDS women nationally did not differ from non-LDS women in terms of mean level of body satisfaction. But for LDS women residing in Utah, there was a material difference: “LDS women in Utah invested significantly more time and effort into their appearance than LDS women in other states, and reported a greater level of preoccupation with weight… LDS women in Utah were significantly more likely than LDS women from other states to believe that their success in relationships and work is dependent upon their appearance and that the occurrence of positive feelings and self-esteem are dependent upon their appearance.”

  • I won’t argue with the body image study although I have a few quibbles with its methodology. At any rate, that did not look into how many people actually go under the knife. I was able to find via Google search a few articles referencing data that placed Utah eighth in cosmetic surgeons per capita, but I was unable to find information beyond the top ten. I do note that bottom half of the top ten had similar numbers, making me wonder if Utah is really that far from the mean. I also note that there are a number of confounding factors that make surgeons more prevalent in one area than another: availability of services in nearby states (like Wyoming), proximity to a teaching hospital, etc. This means that you can’t reliably extrapolate surgeons per capita to surgeries per capita.

    I also saw a number of references to the Forbes article, which I think another commenter in this forum addressed very well. The upshot is that the data used by Forbes combined unrelated data and used census statistical areas, which do not correlate well with markets for surgery.

  • I also was unable to find the real self studies, but if you relied on them, you should be able to reply to my questions about them without making the rest of us hunt for them.

  • So you accept the premise that “LDS women in Utah invested significantly more time and effort into their appearance than LDS women in other states,” but you reject a correlation between body image dissatisfaction and per-capita demand for cosmetic surgery? I suspect I’m wasting my time here. But if you really don’t believe the numbers and if you really don’t believe there is an established correlation between body image dissatisfaction and demand for cosmetic surgery, please read studies such as “Self Esteem and Cosmetic Surgery” in the Plastic Surgery Nursing Journal and “Factors that affect the likelihood of undergoing cosmetic surgery” in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal. Otherwise, let’s just agree to disagree so both of us can get back to work!

  • No, I stated that I have reservations about that methodology, but that I would not argue it. That “significant” is a statistically significant difference, which says little about the strength of that difference. And, no, I don’t think that a difference in time and effort in appearance will necessarily translate into the more drastic step of plastic surgery.

    You came here to take issue with Jana’s data. You have provided no data to rebut. I have asked specific questions about the data and methodologies you relied on. You have so far declined to answer those questions. You are relying on strings of potential correlation, apparently starting with one weak study that compared participants at a handful of universities, while Jana has actually gathered data directly relevant to the question. We can agree to disagree in the same sense that climate change deniers agree to disagree, but that won’t make your conclusions any more reliable.

  • The agree-to-disagree suggestion has merit, possibly the only argument you’ve made which does. So I take it that there is a 2003 article that broadly relates self esteem to cosmetic surgery, and so you naturally conflate self esteem and body image dissatisfaction to “investing time and effort into appearance.” Gosh. I’ll bet that young professionals invest more time and effort into their appearance than, say, students or the unemployed; so do you infer from that that young professionals experience body image dissatisfaction at higher rates than the other groups? I get that you want to draw big inferences from a weak data set, but if they’re not there you should just admit they’re not there.

  • Jana, thanks much for checking your assumptions. We disagree on a great deal, but it is good to know that your facts, at least, are as accurate as you can manage.

  • Good analysis Jana, but I doubt it’s going to change too many minds. Psychological studies have shown that when presented with complicated facts, people tend to retreat back to repeating false information that is easily understandable – even when it is proven false.

  • It’s worth noting that given the choice – most billboards on any subject will prefer to feature an attractive female body over a male body.

    The reason is fairly simple – it gets the attention of guys – no surprise. But women are also more likely to pay attention to it.

  • Considering that bare shoulders are considered immodest, a nice set of implants goes a long way under ones garments. S.L.Ut. shaming has backfired in much the same way that telling Mormon males that playing with their “little factories” would lead to less “personal time”

  • I’m coming back to this after thinking on it for a while. First, I find it curious that at this point in the conversation, you ignore the questions presented and instead point out the utterly unremarkable notion that a low percentage of respondents stating they had cosmetic surgery is backed up by a low absolute number of respondents making that statement. But more than that, I’m amused that your problem is that self-reporting for cosmetic surgery is not reliable. This may be true, but so what? The comparison numbers were also self-reported. In order for the reporting rate to matter in this instance, Utah Mormons women would have to BOTH get cosmetic surgery at a higher rate than the general population AND under report such surgery at a higher rate than the general population. I’ve seen no reason to believe that self-reported data would be significantly different for Utah Mormon women than it would be for any other group.

  • The beauty of Disqus is that you can engage in conversations that focus on the facts and arguments, rather than the people making that argument or falling into fallacies like appeal to authority. I don’t see how my identity is relevant to the conversation.

  • Uh oh. You’re on your way to committing the “heinous sin” of choking the priest, pounding the pud, polishing the apple, which can lead to mutual fondling and eventually becoming a homo. Just read President Kimball, “It’s a Miracle Anybody is Forgiven err… The Miracle of Forgiveness”. 🙂 Every Mormon teen in the late seventies had to read that one at some point. Damaged me hugely.

    Ok, so a little off-topic.

  • The Mighty Mormon Power Rangers photo could actually be used by the Church as a tie-in with the new actual Power Rangers movie. They did something similar with The Book of Mormon (the musical). #itsmormintime

  • The message i get from this article is that it is not easy to work out if something is true or false.

  • Utah has a lot of cultural spillover from California and Las Vegas, and it’s a state that’s higher than average income levels and also has an outdoorsy, fit culture, so it wouldn’t surprise me. But what are the men doing? That’s what I wonder.

  • I finished reading your blog post responding to this and followed the links you provided therein. I find it interesting that you did not take that opportunity to respond to any of the questions or criticism that I have laid out here, since anyone visiting this site from yours will be able to see that your blog post mostly rehashes what you’ve claimed here, but does not address any of my comments. Since you have closed comments there, I must comment here.

    I will respond “study” by “study.” Regarding the BYU study, I have already pointed out that this does not directly look at the question of plastic surgery, but a factor that correlates with plastic surgery. I have no doubt, from the other studies that you cited, that those who choose plastic surgery have lower rates of satisfaction with their appearance, but that does not allow for strong conclusions of the rate of those with lower rates of body satisfaction actually go under the knife. This is like saying the wood that burns is likely to be dry, but you cannot use that conclusion to accurately predict that dry wood will burn without knowing the other factors that cause wood to burn. Further, the BYU study is not a particularly strong study. The study drew its sample from university students at only four universities. Any number of factors could have skewed the results if BYU, UofU, Cal State Fullerton or Boston University have a tendency to draw people with certain tendencies, one way or another. The sample size for non-LDS students was only 190, which would not be terrible if it weren’t for the defects in sample selection I just mentioned.

    Next, you mention Time, as though it were its own source. But no, Time does not cite any research done by itself. In fact, it cites no research with respect to Utah. The entire discussion of Utah is this: “As of 2007 the city with the most plastic surgeons per capita was Salt Lake City.” No data. No explanation. Literally the only relevant sentence.

    Time appears to be referencing the numbers from Forbes (published in 2007). The Forbes article has a number of problems, well documented by quantumleap42 on this forum. I refer you to his or her excellent analysis, but suffice it to say that the Forbes information compares apples and oranges. None of its conclusions are very reliable.

    Next you cite KSL, which reports that Utah has the sixth highest rate of plastic surgeons per capita of all states. This number appears to be accurate, but the conclusion that more Utahns, much less Mormon Utah women, are getting plastic surgery is unwarranted. Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming have smaller numbers of surgeons per capita, and so it is possible the Utah market extends into those states. Further, the number of surgeons per capita says little about the number of surgeries per capita.

    Finally, you cite the RealSelf “studies.” I have now been able to look at the links you provided, and all of my questions may now be considered criticisms. The sample is self-selected from visitors to one website. The sample size, no matter how large, is largely useless because we don’t know if RealSelf has, for example, marketed itself better in the Utah market. I am baffled that you seem to be so hung up on the fact that Jana’s data is self-reported, but seem to have no problem with using a sample that is entirely self-selected (with that in mind, see my earlier point that the self-reported data would only be unreliable for the purpose of a comparison if Utah Mormon Women also have a lower rate of self reporting than the general population as the comparison numbers were also self-reported). [EDIT: There is also this note on the data from RealSelf: “The Interest Index is forward looking and reflects what’s popular now, and which treatments may be elected in the future. It does not represent the volume of actual procedures performed or total search volumes.”]

    In short, all of the weaknesses in your argument remain. The upshot is that Jana’s data acutally measures the question at hand, while yours gets there in a roundabout way and requires a long string of inferences.

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