Vintage fun with a letter to lady missionaries

Posted at 8:30 AM May 28, 2009

By Andrea Grimes

When you're out ministering to the great unwashed, do you often get down about how your hair looks kinda nappy? Fear not, my Mormon lady missionary friends, because an article from a 1972 edition of LDS mag New Era can help you overcome your troubles.

"A Letter to Girls About Lady Missionaries" was brought to my attention by an anonymous tipper with an eye for vintage hilarity. While knowing your religious texts and being skilled in empathetic debate are, presumably, good skills for a missionary, author Lana Mangelson also wants to make really, really sure you ladies look pretty out there in the field:

"One of the most apparent sacrifices that a sister must make grows out of the fact that in many ways proper physical appearance is more difficult for her to maintain than it is for an elder. There are missions in the world where the sisters still ride bikes, and though the elders do too, it's a bit easier for them to participate in or come away from such an experience presenting a proper picture.

Appearance is one area where a sister must sacrifice the tendency to rationalize by claiming she has neither the time nor the opportunity to keep herself neat and clean. It takes ingenuity and planning, but it can be done if she sees its importance."

But Lana, you say, what can we do when it is impossible to stay purty all the time when we are prostheletyzing in the jungle? A fair question:

"If a sister can laugh at those times when a radiant appearance is impossible and work smartly behind the scenes to look her best when it is possible, she will feel better herself, she will look better to others, and the Spirit will be better able to work through her, for she will be a pure and holy vessel, inside and out."

Lana offers a few quick tips for lady missionaries. These are my favorites:

  • Do not ever slap or poke an elder.
  • Sleep on a satin pillowcase; this preserves hair style and also femininity.
  • Elders' most frequent complaints are about sisters' hair. Have a neat and easy style--not too short or it will look like the elders', and long enough so that it can be curled on Sunday and for special occasions.
  • If you get depressed, set aside a little time that day to do whatever raises your spirits. For example, spend extra time on your hair, take a long shower, schedule a time for meditation, and then pray earnestly for help from the Lord. Lose yourself in the Spirit and work very, very hard.
Again, lady missionaries, Lana cannot stress this enough: do not have bad hair. And even if an elder tells you you look nappy, for Chrissakes, do not poke him.


Succatash said:

Wow that is so creepy! And what's even creepier is that the LDS church still teaches these same philosophies today.

BorgQueen said:

Now, I would really like to know the story behind rule #1 up there. If they had to put it in writing then obviously it was an issue that needed to be addressed.... was there an over-abundance of elder-slapping going on within the Mormon community in the 70s?

Bongo said:

Satin Pillows cannot win against the weird grandma underwear they are forced to wear.

Femininity Fail.

Sandra D. said:

Here's my fave:
"If you are one pound overweight, it is too much. Take it off!" Wow. Obsess about weight much??

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