Salt Lake Sisters

A couple of months ago a sister missionary stood up at the podium during F&T meeting. She explained that she had only been in our ward a short time (a month maybe?), because she had actually been called to be a temple square missionary in SLC. Apparently they have a new program of sending the sisters out into the field for a short time so that they will understand what goes on on the other end with all of those visitors who later receive missionary visits. I thought that sounded like a pretty good idea.

I wasn’t surprised to learn that this young woman was heading to do temple square work. It is widely perceived to be the case that the sisters selected to work temple square show a strong tendency to be (a) pretty and (b) mulitcultural, and she was both pretty and Asian. This leads to some questions/comments I have about this practice:

1. Is it really true that you’ve got to be physically attractive to be called to work temple square? Is it possible that the widely perceived beauty of these sisters is just a fluke, or that the temple square mission is really representative of the entire worldwide universe of sisters vis-a-vis physical beauty? I’m presuming not, but I’d love to see arguments in the comments below making the case.

2. One can occasionally point to a counterexample, to a sister who is not strikingly beautiful called to that mission. Fluke, or an intentional practice designed to preserve plausible deniability that only pretty sisters are targeted for that service?

3. So how are these sisters chosen? Is there a committee of silver-haired white men, wearing shite shirts, crimson ties and conservative suits, sitting around a conference table in the Church Office Building poring over the pictures of young women in their early twenties judging and debating their respective prettiness quotients? (Feel free to rate such a procedure from 0 to 10 on the creepiness scale.)

4. Coming at it from the other direction, is it really a bad thing to funnel the prettiest sisters to temple square? You’ve probably seen those John Stossel reports for 20/20 where they show the difference in reaction between beautiful women stuck with car trouble on the road (lots of cars stopping and helping) versus less striking women (cars whizz by, no help to be had). Is the Church justified in simply bowing to this reality that the beauty of the sisters conducting temple square tours will make a material difference in the reactions of visitors to the Church itself?

What are your thoughts and perspectives on this practice?

Comments

  1. I don’t know how they are selected, but a friend served on Temple Square and the sisters do receive professional makeup and wardrobe advice.

  2. Kevin, almost all sister missionaries are pretty. It is called the Spirit.

    Are you saying that sister missionaries elsewhere are NOT pretty?

  3. The prettiest Sister Missionaries actually get sent to Italy.

    -Husband of an Italian serving Sister Missionary

  4. I hope you meant “silver-haired white men, wearing [white] shirts”, otherwise you’re coming off as mean spirited and slightly envious!

  5. I can state unequivocally that not all of the sister missionaries who have served at the Arizona Tempe Visitors Center would fit your physical beauty criteria for temple square in SLC.

  6. NoOneInParticular says:

    My sister-in-law served in Temple Square starting in late 2001, so I can tell you that at least since then it has been standard for Temple Square Sisters to spend some time (I think 6 mo.) in the field in another mission. She’s pretty and ‘multicultural’ but I’ve always suspected that it was her amazing musical gift (especially her singing), along with the family’s conversion story, that got her called there.

    I also know that when she was in the MTC she got far different treatment than, say, the sisters in my district or the other districts of my zone, and I was in the MTC within a couple months of her departure.

    On the prettiness thing, her younger twin sisters, including my wife, are also quite striking; both of them served missions within a year of her, but both were sent to the same mission in Guatemala, where they served as companions(!).

    If I had to guess, I’d say priority #1 is diversity (though this seems to work on something like a quota), #2 is physical beauty, #3 is ‘exceptionality’ (talents, skills, background, etc.)

  7. As a former Temple Square missionary, I’m actually a little curious myself. (Is that my vanity speaking? If so, I’ve just revealed that part of myself to a host of strangers.)

    I served under two different mission presidents there. The first one was preoccupied with our physical appearances, especially where it concerned our weight. He would walk around the cafeteria at meal times inspecting the amount of food on our plates. His concerns definitely extended to our clothes and make-up as well. My second president, while perhaps mindful that we dressed appropriately, wasn’t much concerned beyond that.

    Also, it’s a small point, perhaps not worth quibbling over… but sending sisters out to the field isn’t a new practice. It is done during winter months when the Temple Square staff can be reduced because tourism goes down. I served four months in the Boise Mission during my time out in the field.

  8. My sister-in-law served in Temple Square starting in late 2001, so I can tell you that at least since then it has been standard for Temple Square Sisters to spend some time (I think 6 mo.) in the field in another mission.

    It’s been standard longer than that; a girlfriend of mine was called on a Temple Square mission–with some time spent off-site proselyting in Idaho, if I remember correctly–back in 1991.

    As for the prettiness of the sisters called to serve on Temple Square, I would go along with Gina, as that also comports with the experience of my sister, who served as a site missionary in Palmyra: probably no upfront selections (how would they know, anyway? photos aren’t sent in with mission papers), but everyone so called receives a good deal of make-up, styling, and professional decorum advice. (My sister said one whole day, soon after they arrived, was spent on teaching the latest batch of sisters how to sit, stand up, walk across the room, sit down again, etc.)

  9. I served in Temple Square in the late 90s.
    1. I remember hearing the “beautiful sister myth” before serving on Temple Square – And I just about fell off my seat when I opened my mission call letter (I don’t consider myself terribly attractive). And after serving there and after teaching Temple Square sisters at the MTC for a couple years, I think that there are several sisters like me – just plain jane – who are called to serve on TMSQ.
    2.Maybe I am the token sister mentioned in Point 2, but I’ve also wondered if people perpetuate the TMSQ beauty myth because there is a higher concentration of sisters there versus other missions? For example check out Facebook Temple Square mission alumni groups. Seriously – just NORMAL girls.
    3. I remember asking my mission president Robert Witt how we were selected. He told me that language factor was prominent in calling sisters to Temple Square. (I speak 3 languages) – although there were several sisters I served with who were English-Only speaking. That’s fine too.
    4. At the time I served, my mission president explained that TMSQ sisters were sent into the proselyting field during the low tourist season – because there wasn’t enough missionary work to keep all 200+ sisters busy on the 10 acre square plot-of-a-mission.

    And to Gina comment #1 – during my Mission service our only “Professional Makeup and Wardrobe Advice” consisted of one Sister Jolley meeting us once a year during Zone conference – mostly to remind us to keep our appearance neat and polished so we could focus on teaching the gospel all day long and not worry about fussing with our hair or clothes. She was also the one who diplomatically reminded sisters that in the North American culture – shaving one’s legs is the norm – that we don’t walk around with hairy legs in a business skirt. Although Sister Jolley was an image consultant – she didn’t tell us anything different than MOST sister missionaries are told in their “how to dress” handout when they receive their mission call.

  10. And yes, Russell Fox comment #8, photos ARE sent in with mission papers. At least they were back in the mid 90’s when I put my papers in. Is that different now for missionaries? Are Elders NOT required to submit a photo? Hmmm. That would make for an interesting discussion…

  11. In the Washington DC North mission, we had “regular” sisters and “The VC Glamour Girls”. An investigator in Baltimore had invented “The Clydesdale System” for ranking women – this was “the number of full-size Clydesdale horses it would take to pull you off. Miss America would get like a 4.” Remarkably sexist, I know, but like I said, he was an investigator and hadn’t fully finished that pre-baptism repentance process yet. There were a few “regular” sister missionaries who he ranked as 1 to 2, but the “VC Glamour Girls” never ranked less than 2, and often hit 4 or 5. I seem to remember a few Miss Rodeos, a Dairy Princess or two, some Miss Utah/California finalists, and some that looked capable of working any fashion runway in the world. For a while, it was a well-known fact that the sisters would do aerobics in the Vistor’s Center early in the morning before it opened to the public, and elders would come up with just about any excuse to go pick up supplies or books while they had a distribution bookstore there. One of my companions had just about been sent home for an obsessive crush with one of the VC sisters. I think the sister was a short-timer, so he was banished to one of the provinces and put on a bike to discourage him from hanging out at the VC all day.

    The VC sisters were typically assigned to a “regular” area for the first two months or so, and again for the last two months of their missions. “Regular” meant areas like North Potomac, one of the wealthiest area of the nation.

    None of this is to say that the VC sisters were strange, flaky, or stuck-up. On the contrary, they were down-to-earth, funny, sweet, and there was one who I still regret not asking out on a date when I saw (and hugged) her at a later reunion. I suspect she would have said yes.

  12. how would they know, anyway? photos aren’t sent in with mission papers)
    Yes they are. You are required to send a headshot in with your papers, or at least you were when I sent my papers in in 1998. I don’t imagine that policy has changed since then.

  13. When I was a student at BYU, I remember one of the apostles casually describing the mission selection process in the course of his talk. He said the photo and papers are digitized and put into a computer program. Whenever the apostles have some free time, they sit down at one of the computer terminals and work through applicants needing assignments. They briefly review the photo, language skills, and other bio information before using inspiration to select the location where that missionary will serve.

  14. My sister in law served at Temple Square (as well as another girl from our Ward who is currently serving) and both are not multi-cultural in anyway. The SIL went to Alaska for her out experience and the other one went to the SW (New Mexico I think). When we visited TS to see the SIL I observed that the missionaries there ran the attractiveness bell curve, much like any other random gathering of young women.

    But what about the church sending all the handsome and manly guys on missions to England during the late 80’s? When will that prejudice ever be addressed.

  15. There is one way to solve this all sisters who served at Temple Square please submit a photo….I kid I kid.

  16. Again, anecdotal evidence (ie, faith promoting second hand rumor), but one of our stake presidency members talked about the mission selection process. In the description we heard, there is a weekly meeting where the members of the missionary selection committee meet (apostles, other GAs, and bureaucrats) with the mission staffing requirements and a list of missionary candidates, and go through the process of selecting.

    The description was one of both business like allocations according to language skills, heritage, potential limiting conditions, and also one of inspiration, where one of the general authorities would occasionally speak up about a candidate, and remark about a particular need or talent that only they could fill in a particular mission.

    My cousin was MP for the temple square mission a few years back, and I’ve seen the mission picture with all the sister missionaries, plus the senior couples also assigned. It would be hard to argue with Kevin Barney’s assessment that physical attractiveness is certainly one consideration.

  17. CJ Douglass says:

    Regardless of TSquare, I’ve never met ANY sister missionary that didn’t light up my day with a smile. Which leads me to believe that the call to serve should be more strongly encouraged.

  18. I happen to know that one sister missionary who served in the Canadian mission from 1946 to 1948 was drop-dead gorgeous (love ya, Mom!). But that was before the Temple Square Mission was created.

  19. Perhaps someone should suggest a Web site with actively serving sisters’ photos, backgrounds, interests, email addresses and release dates? We could then make our own determinations. Just spit-balling here.

  20. Sounds like the selection process for waitresses at Hooters. No offense.

  21. I knew two sisters from a multi-cultural family (Father was Columbian, Mother was Puerto Rican) who were quite attractive and immensely musically talented. Both were called to SLC, and that is what fueled in my mind the myth Kevin is talking about. I would probably agree with the priorities of selection in #6.

    Michael #11: I don’t know how long ago you served, but I served in the DC North Mission four years ago, and there is no distinction between “regular” sisters and “VC” sisters; all sisters serve half of their days in the field and half of their days in the Visitors Center.

  22. There is a scientific way that this debate could be solved. The Church IT department could run the photos of missionaries through some software that analyzes the symmetry of faces. This would provide one measure of prettiness or beauty.

  23. Hooters Management says:

    20) None taken.

  24. gst,
    Hooters waitresses are impressively slow-to-offense.

  25. They were asking for photos back in 1988-1989. I got sent to the ends of the earth. Guess I wasn’t hot enough of a man to go to Europe…

  26. 1. Is it really true that you’ve got to be physically attractive to be called to work temple square? Is it possible that the widely perceived beauty of these sisters is just a fluke, or that the temple square mission is really representative of the entire worldwide universe of sisters vis-a-vis physical beauty? I’m presuming not, but I’d love to see arguments in the comments below making the case.

    This is silly. Everyone knows that the most attractive sisters AND elders are always sent to Southern California. This is, of course, required because of the so-called “Hollywood Factor” which says that no one in SoCal listens to you unless you are highly attractive. Temple square probably gets those that didn’t make the cut in SoCal.

    2. One can occasionally point to a counterexample, to a sister who is not strikingly beautiful called to that mission. Fluke, or an intentional practice designed to preserve plausible deniability that only pretty sisters are targeted for that service?

    Neither. This is simply a function of the fact that some of the brethren have very poor eyesight.

    3. So how are these sisters chosen? Is there a committee of silver-haired white men, wearing white shirts, crimson ties and conservative suits, sitting around a conference table in the Church Office Building poring over the pictures of young women in their early twenties judging and debating their respective prettiness quotients? (Feel free to rate such a procedure from 0 to 10 on the creepiness scale.)

    If you have ever seen the process of selecting pledges during rush at a fraternity or sorority, you know exactly how this process works. The only difference here is the influence of the Spirit, which generally cuts down on the amount of debate (and the amount of times that food/drink is thrown at the photo of the individual in question as it comes up on the screen).

    4. Coming at it from the other direction, is it really a bad thing to funnel the prettiest sisters to temple square? You’ve probably seen those John Stossel reports for 20/20 where they show the difference in reaction between beautiful women stuck with car trouble on the road (lots of cars stopping and helping) versus less striking women (cars whizz by, no help to be had). Is the Church justified in simply bowing to this reality that the beauty of the sisters conducting temple square tours will make a material difference in the reactions of visitors to the Church itself?

    It’s all just part of maximizing our missionary efforts, like when the choice was made to procure particularly nice homes and buildings for mission homes. The Church is just trying to make a good first impression.

  27. I heard that they upload all the prospective sister missionaries photos to hotornot.com. The sisters with the highest ratings are sent to SLC.

  28. nice homes and buildings for mission homes

    That trend is slowing. Mission homes are still functional, and tend to be in reasonably nice areas, but there are many missions now in the US whose offices are not exactly in nice areas.

    I know of one mission office in Big Ten country, where I wouldn’t be caught dead on foot in that part of town, day or night.

  29. Tanya Spackman says:

    Apparently they have a new program of sending the sisters out into the field for a short time so that they will understand what goes on on the other end

    There were some sister missionaries in Chicago in the mid-90s (where and when I served my mission) who were Temple Square missionaries doing their proselyting stint, and it wasn’t new then, so it’s not really new.

  30. How often are overweight or obese sisters sent to visitor’s centers? I’ve seen some that are taller, but most are petite. How frequently can plus-sized sisters be seen in the TSVC? If size is a consideration in VCs, then it wouldn’t be the only mission that has a physical profile to fit. I’ve watched a particular mission (abroad) in which no overweight or even large-boned sisters have been called in OVER 15 years. (Of course there aren’t a lot of sisters to make a proper ‘sample’, but the absence of *anyone* at all in that time frame wouldn’t be random.) Petite women are the norm in this country, and the culture has some major stick-ups about women, age and size. (BTW, I think there are new stipulations about obesity and mission calls- not sure.)

  31. Tanya Spackman says:

    Also, as one of the unattractive members of humanity, it really kind of sucks to have car problems in the middle of nowhere, no cell service (because of the aforementioned middle of nowhere thing), and cold temperatures, and while you’re walking back to that house you saw a mile or so back, praying that someone is home so you can use their phone to call AAA, on a narrow road with no shoulder, wishing that you were pretty enough for the occupants of the occasional car that zips by at 80 MPH to stop and offer assistance, but know that it will never happen, and it never does. And you know they would have stopped for those hot Temple Square missionaries.

    (Luckily someone was home, and it ended up being a nice guy who was able to fix my problem temporarily so I could make it to the nearest town without having to wait for a tow truck. So it wasn’t the end of the world.)

  32. As to the question of attractiveness and mission work- I think we ARE beginning to play this card more often, especially since new regulations have been applied which prohibit the physically disabled (and obese) from serving. Hey, look at Joel and Dodie Osteen or even Joyce Meyer. What would their Clydesdale rating be? Granted, we go for the corporate conservative look as opposed to the more formal Southern Sunday-go-Meetin’ look, but we’re not in danger of us are going all ‘Mother Teresa’ or Amish (in appearance) on the masses.

  33. After my mission I subscribed to Stern (now Lihonia), the German language magazine for German saints. In the center were all the mission calls (with missionary picture) from Germany, Austria, and German speaking Switzerland. I made it a game to pick out which sisters were called to temple square. I was seldom wrong. If the sisters were attractive, they went to temple square.

  34. We have had two missionaries sent to Temple Square. One was drop dead gorgeous with no languages and one was plain with two languages so I guess its a draw. The gorgeous one was one of the missionaries that began singing hymns to counter the anti protests, however. So far that story has traveled the internet and appeared in two books. However, bloggers evaluating women doesn’t strike me as any less sexist than a selection committee doing it…

  35. Latter-day Guy says:

    I work in the MTC mailroom and look up hundreds of missionaries every day trying to get their letters/packages to them. The short answer is “Yes, Temple Square sisters are on average more attractive than sisters in other programs.” That is not to say that there are not pretty sisters elsewhere or that TMSQ sisters are universally good looking, but the generalization holds true. As to how that selection process works or why, I haven’t the foggiest. Though it might seem cruel, I must say I have never seen one of the “I-went-on-a-mission-because-I-couldn’t-get-married” sisters go to Temple Square.

  36. observer who doesn't want to get into trouble with the hostesses says:

    There is perhaps a related dynamic in the selection of “hostesses,” those senior sister missionaries who wear white “hostess” badges and staff the information desks at the church office building, give tours of the conference center, and do whatever they do in the visitors centers at Temple Square.

    These are not grandmotherly women. These are not your Primary president. These are not the senior missionaries who serve in other positions around Salt Lake.

    These women are uniformly exquisitely coiffed, elegantly dressed, made up to within a inch of their lives, with not a gram of extra weight on their bones. They are the kind of women who have their hair done every Tuesday morning without fail, and who used to be called “ladies who lunch” at the tea rooms while shopping downtown. They all have a certain manner: cool, reserved, a teensy weensy bit haughty. They speak only to each other, and not to other staff or missionaries. I think the model they are going for is “classy,” and these hostesses generally achieve it, although it always strikes me as garish to see women in their 70s wearing scarlet lipstick and with pencilled-on eyebrows. It takes money for that kind of wardrobe and for the upkeep on that kind of appearance.

    The look is so very, very uniform, without the slightest deviation, that it cannot possibly be by accident. The ex-grandes dames become hostesses. The ex-secretaries become church service missionaries in the temple or auditing departments.

  37. Unrelated to Temple Square missionary selection, but my nephew who got sent to the India Bangalore mission, which is by definition non-proselytizing, can only teach if approached first by the prospective investigator. Turns out that he is 6′ 4″, with really fair skin, but dark hair. There are only two companionships in the city of Vishnakphatnu, and one of the other two missionaries is also from his home stake, is 6’3″, and has red hair. They tower over the locals, and the fair skin and height make them easily noticeable, which gets them lots of questions about who they are, and what they’re doing there. I think physical characteristics “may” be a factor there in their assignments, as well.

  38. I hope the best matches are made for each missionary in each mission. If physical characteristics lead to greater success, especially like the India example, you bet I want the Church to consider them. All I know is that there is deep and profound inspiration in the overall process. My parents’ mission call is a good example:

    Seeing the Hand of God (SC)

  39. My Washington DC North stint was ’90-’91. I worked in the office for a while and there were clear differentiations between VC and non-VC. Two regular sister missionaries I remember had a high Clydesdale factor – one had been a UofU gymnast, and the other was a petite brunette convert from Tennessee with a soft southern drawl and a face so cute she’d make your teeth hurt. But dang, that Sister Thompson in the VC – we hormone-crazed elders were of the opinion that if she ever decided to use her superpowers for evil instead of good, she’d be the first woman to grace the cover of Playboy twelve months in a row.

    Physical characterics came into play for elders as well, don’t get me wrong. The elders in inner city Baltimore were all little guys before I got there. They started getting death threats on the phone – they even recorded some of the conversations and tried to teach the guy discussions over the phone even while he gave explicit details of what he would do with his knife. (Note to idiot missionaries – when a guy calls up and threatens to stuff your own intestines down your throat, do NOT ask if you can call him “Brother Terminator”.) The little guys were pulled out and big guys were sent in. I was fresh off the potato truck and 6’3″, and my trainer was a 6’6″ defensive end for UNLV. When we walked through the projects, people moved out of the way.

    I know for a fact that there’s a great deal of inspiration in the process. One night when I was serving, a stake patriarch called me up and told me “Elder, I’ve been waiting eleven years for the right missionaries to show up, and you’re finally here.” He wasn’t about to trust his friends to just any zone leader, and the couple he sent us to now has 4 generations in the church and they served a mission themselves as well.

  40. Kevin Barney says:

    I appreciate all of the great and informative comments. (If it wasn’t clear, I don’t claim any special knowledge of this subject whatsoever, but it’s one I’ve been curious about and so I am happy to learn from your insights and experiences.)

    And I also am glad to learn that temple square sisters have long served a portion of their time in the field. I simply never knew that before. I do think that’s a very positive thing.

  41. Kevin Barney says:

    And oh, yes, that was supposed to be “wearing white shirts.” It’s a good thing this isn’t one of Ronan’s posts or people might think something else were intended…

  42. MikeInWeHo says:

    One way to answer this question would be to run them all through this web site.

  43. I lived in the DC North Mission for about six years (99-05) and spent half of that time doing ward mission work (as a missionary or as a ward mission leader) (DC Branch/Chevy Chase Ward, for you DC North alumni). I thought all the sisters we had in our ward (some of whom split their time with the VC) were darling (hey, I’m a father of six girls and two semi-adopted daughters myself), but I wouldn’t say they were all drop-dead gorgeous.

    Out here in Colorado, we have a young woman in our ward — we’re close friends with her whole family — who just last year returned from her mission in DC North, much of her time having been spent in the Visitor’s Center. I can’t wait to tell her that this is evidence that she’s a knockout. :-) ..bruce..

  44. An Ensign article from July 2007 on the Temple Square missionaries is available in PDF here (pp. 32-37). It appears that June 1987 and 1989 are the key dates for the sisters-only policy (time line on p. 37).

  45. It is my impression that languages and being pretty help get you to TSQ. I would also guess that, for the Americans they call, they try to grab from diverse regions of the country. I knew a girl from Maine who served there, and another from Alaska. Just a guess.

    Someone was suggesting that weight can be an issue. I know my brother got a special phone call from the COB that he ought to lose x number of pounds before he got to the MTC. I have no idea if anyone actually weighed him when he showed up.

  46. My only complaint about Temple Square missionaries is that many of them seem to use the hard sell to get referrals from members, so much so that I started walking around instead of through Temple Square whenever I was downtown. Is it worth having a referral to relatives that are positively anti-Mormon, for example? Happened to a friend of mine, and the feedback wasn’t pretty.

    This was about two years ago, so things might have changed.

  47. #37 — My cousin, who is 6’5″ and very fair-skinned, was also called to that mission a couple of years back. I see a pattern emerging…

  48. #36: I go to temple square a lot, and I think all the senior women missionaries are grandmotherly.

  49. Ben #21 – Looks like we know the same two sisters that went to Temple Square.

    Is this really a debate? Anyone who has spent enough time at Temple Square or known enough women that went to that mission cannot possibly deny the fact that beauty is the #1 thing taken into account when choosing sisters.

  50. They should use the computer program that estimates attractiveness to actually make the calls–that way we could avoid the dirty old man problem to which Kevin alludes, while still maintaining the hotness quotient that is apparently required to do the Lord’s work at Temple Square.

  51. While I can’t speak to the actual process of calling sisters to Temple Square, I do know that, in my mission, we referred to any pretty sisters who actually bothered to do their hair and makeup as ‘Temple Square Sisters’. I also remember an acquaintance of mine who was slightly chubby when she was called to Temple Square and extremely svelte by the time she came home. She said the pressure about her weight, from both her peers and her Mission Pres., was pretty intense (this would have been around ’94-’96).

  52. #7 and #51, I am so disturbed by the experiences you describe with Temple Square mission presidents who were hyperfocused on sisters’ weight. Unless the weight posed a significant and real health problem (i.e. morbidly obese, not “needs to drop a dress size or 2″) I find this highly inappropriate. Anyone else have experience with this?

    And Kevin, the temple square sister selection process you image ranks off the charts on my creepy scale. Pimpin’ for converts. Just sayin’

  53. When I was in college, I accompanied a friend, who was a recent convert to the Church, to Utah and Temple Square. We went to the Temple Square reception area and asked for a tour.

    There must have been 20 sisters loitering in the immediate area, but instead of asking one of them to give us a tour, the hostess radio for “Sister G to please come to reception.” When Sister G finally came out of a back room she definitely made all the other sisters look a little prettier. I just hope they occasionally let her out of the backroom to do things other than escort possibly eligible missionayish-aged men on temple square tours.

    We joked on the flight home that at least they didn’t call “CODE U.G.L.Y.” over an intercom system.

  54. When I was on my mission, we had to eat a “hot meal” every day in the winter. Some sisters found bags of oats for wholesale, and stocked up. A month or two later, they started noticing some weird changes: they were getting thicker, and a little hairier. Turned out the oats were for livestock, and had serious amounts of steroids.

    Tru story.

  55. I clearly think attractiveness is a factor, as is geographic diversity. My last trip there (July 2002) I developed a major crush on Sister Koster from Switzerland. Short, blonde and amazingly pretty.

    However, my heart really went to sweet little Sister Van Ry on her scooter at the Conference Center who put up with my son and I with our ponytails and my obnoxious friend, and our strange questions and comments. She and her husband had been missionaries there since the place opened, and she was just wonderful. Much better than the guy I got when I came by a few weeks later with my mother. He was all “we don’t have time to see everything, so let’s move along.” Sis. Van Ry seemed to be made of time and patience.

    And then there was the lady in the COB observation deck who seemed disappointed at our idea of throwing bouncy balls out of the camera holes. “Do you think that would be funny?” “Yes!!!” She also didn’t know what to do when I said that I thought the Church would be better with more GAs like J. Golden Kimball after she showed us the house he was born in.

    Sis. Koster was definitely most likely to appear on a magazine cover. Sis. Van Ry had the experience and the great heart of the lot. And the other sister just wasn’t a good match for our motley crew.

  56. Sister Just as Good says:

    You know, despite the fact many of you jest, I hope you do realize your comments in some cases are cruel. It is like the dumb and unkind joke about an elder getting a “pretty wife” if he “works hard” on his mission.

    I served in Idaho, we had SLC Temple Square missionaries for 4 months. They went to areas surrounding SLC, not just ID.

    Sis missionaries are beautiful due to the Spirit, as someone said early on. I’m a multicultural person, and I’m not a miss pretty.

    What I’ve found w/missionaries at Vis Center’s is they are friendly, outgoing and caring.

    But I think in many of the comments, you are demeaning many sisters who served faithful and honorable missions. Again, I know some of you joke.
    But it isn’t that funny.

  57. Sister Just as Good says:

    ETA to clariy- to support the other statements about the time this practice began, I served in the early 90s, so the Temple Square missionaries doing proselyting isn’t new.

  58. 56 — We are not all equally attractive. Some of us look better than others, and I’m not one of them. Beauty is, to some degree, in the eye of the beholder, but we will all tend to agree on who is more attractive, and will tend to like looking at pretty people more than others.

    Pretty people are not necessarily better than less-pretty people. It’s not connected in any fashion. There are people who have an inner beauty that makes them attractive despite not being particularly externally attractive, and there are people who are externally attractive, but deeply ugly inside. And there are people who are pretty inside and out.

    Selecting people who are more attractive for certain settings is not a moral judgment. One of the most important sister missionaries in my world is the cute (but not stunningly pretty) little blonde Sis. Reamer who told my dad off when he tried playing word games when she was trying to get him into a commitment pattern toward baptism. He’d jerked around dozens of stake missionaries over the decades he’d been married to my mom, but she was the first one to tell him off about it. He didn’t like having cute little blonds angry with him, and it made him stop and think and have some serious conversations with our bishop that led to his decision to be baptized. I’m a big fan of sister missionaries because they can open doors elders can’t, and they can reach stiff-necked old men like my dad (which is what she called him — and she was right) in ways that not even family can. Her value in the job was not because she was the prettiest girl in the mission, and in no way do I consider her inferior to Sis. Koster from Switzerland — Sis. Koster is prettier, but I was able to be sealed to my parents because of Sis. Reamer.

  59. Carlos U. says:

    Just an observation… aren’t most of our 21-year old Mormon girls cute as buttons? I don’t think it would take a lot for any group of them to be rated attractive.

  60. I think the most universal quality when I was a missionary there in the early 90’s was in the personality or skills, as has been mentioned. Most of the girls (even in their adults lives as I know them now) were just steady, strong, and accomplished people from their areas. All missions have this type of person. If Temple Square had a little more of it than other missions, well, that sort of makes sense. We had 5 million visitors a year who had possibly only this one opportunity to explore our Church. Diversity and personality are both important for reaching out to the diverse group of visitors, many of whom arrive on a bus and who are scared spitless to come on the Square. There were a lot of girls there that who wouldn’t have made it on the hotornot site, but with whom the visitors would happily spend an hour of their time. And yes, I knew some gorgeous girls there.

    I served my four months in the Las Vegas mission. Temple Square sisters have always served proselyting time in a lump somewhere. Originally it was in SLC, Provo and Ogden and gradually became farther and farther away, which really helped the Salt Lake and Temple Square missionaries concentrate better on their respective work and also gave more stability to the Utah missions which had several years of extreme flux in their numbers while adjusting for the Temple Square sisters.

  61. Clarification: When I say that the visitors arrived on a bus, I meant a tour bus for which Temple Square is just one small stop on a greater tour of national parks or something. Such busses arrive all day long in the busy months and account for a large percentage of the visitors to Temple Square. Many are international visitors, but many also are from the conservative areas like the midwest where they are literally told by their ministers they will be in trouble for entering another church and have to be coaxed into Temple Square. That was my experience, anyway.

  62. Years ago we pulled our daughter from our local middle school because of the lack of student discipline. She was afraid to attend and her learning was compromised by her teachers’ lack of control.

    We visited a number of private schools and she finally opted to attend a Catholic school. While the administrators welcomed her, most of the kids and instructors were unaware she was LDS.

    One day she shared her teacher had told the class that “Mormons” tried to seduce people into the Church by sending out attractive young men to lure them in. She wondered if this was a fact.

    I asked her to go through the ward list and determine which of the men, young men, missionaries might meet the criteria of being really good looking. She came to the conclusion her teacher was speaking falsely as she couldn’t come up with a single one of the brethren who was anything above a “kind of ok” rating.

    But then we sisters are another thing.

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