Wednesday, August 17, 2011


Just looking at the cover of this book makes me want to strangle Dieter Dear and every other Mormon leader out there who spouts this type of rhetoric.  Apparently this book started off as a talk that Dieter Dear gave at a General Young Women Meeting in March 2010.  I guess it wasn't enough that he spouted all this there but had to put it in a book to cause harm to young women everywhere.  Comparing girls and women to fairy-tale characters?  REALLY!?!

And encouraging young women to reflect on the experience of fairy tale princesses for guidance on how to find happiness in their own lives?  How twisted is that?

There are so many things wrong with this type of philosophy.

First, it creates an atmosphere where girls, young women, and mature women are always looking for true love's kisses and happily ever afters - and the fact is that what they are looking for may never come.  This book says that "The Gospel is the Way to Happily Ever After."  But simply living Mormonism isn't going to guarantee that Happily Ever After, particularly since it is a bogus religion filled with lies (and was obviously a hoax from the very beginning).

Second, the impossible expectations that this mindset creates only guarantees heartache and likely depression.  I have felt that kind of heartache and depression in my life.  I had a lot of unrealized expectations that made me feel "less than" that were probably caused by this very philosophy.  Expecting certain things because I was living a life that I was told was the "right way" was obviously naive, but it was also to be expected considering what I had been raised to believe.

Third, there are acceptable struggles and trials that everyone goes through.  But there are other situations that occur that are not acceptable, such as abuse.  By telling girls, young women and mature women that trials and struggles are necessary before reaching the goal of "happily ever after" causes many of them to think that unacceptable situations are okay because they will lead to the ultimate goal.  And that is simply wrong.  I went through that type of situation as well, and I stayed in an abusive marriage for way too long because I kept thinking that this was my trial.  If I hung in there and tried to be the very best woman I could be then the abuse would stop and my "happily ever after" would begin.  What amazed me is that when I told my Bishop about what was happening, he essentially said just that.  And a very good friend of mine who was LDS told me that I needed to be more submissive, that perhaps I was causing the abuse myself.  Naturally, I was shocked that she said this, and I told her that regardless of the circumstances, he had no right to hit me or call me horrible names.  Abuse is never okay.  Period.

Fourth, lumping every girl, young woman and mature woman into one group is very harmful.  What about individuality?  What about personality?  What about being the master of your own fate?  So many lives have been harmed because of people being told that they should be a certain way when they clearly are not.  People should be encouraged to be who they are, not told that who they are is not good enough and that they should strive to be a certain way.  Fit the mold or be damned.

Just look at what this link at the Deseret Book website says about this book:

Sometimes we need a reminder that life was never all sunshine and roses for fairy-tale princesses. Before the true love's kisses and happily ever afters, there came once upon a times of poisoned apples, spindle pricks, and impossible tasks.

Speaking to the princesses of our Heavenly King, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf compares their challenges to those faced by famous fairy-tale heroines. Recounting Belle's captivity, Cinderella's servitude, and the sacrifices of the miller's daughter, President Uchtdorf emphasizes that each princess had to overcome adversity before she reached her happily ever after.

Your Happily Ever After is an inspiring and uplifting message that will encourage latter-day princesses to focus on God's plan, to find happiness in service, and to embrace the blessings of the gospel.

Chapter One - Trial Is Part of the Journey
Chapter Two - Stay True to What You Know Is Right
Chapter Three - The Gospel Is the Way to Happily Ever After

Of course, this type of philosophy is not only limited to the female gender.  From very early ages, boys are told that they are supposed to be the Prince Charming for some lucky girl out there.  A white knight in shining armor.  The Priesthood Leader of their home.  The breadwinner for their future family.  And on and on.  Talk about pressure.  Of course, that pressure is multipled by 1,000 if that boy is really gay, and is told that acting on being gay is a sin that should be repressed.  The Mormon Church has caused many gays to commit suicide with that type of glossing over (and condemnation) of their actual traits and sexual identify. 

Human beings are NOT "one size fits all."  People are very different, one from the other.  They vary in their likes and dislikes, their talents and abilities, the way in which they react in various situations, etc.  If human beings were all robots it would be one thing, but they are not.  They are individuals, and as such, they should not be told what they should do, how they should think, or what they should believe.  Those things they should decide for themselves without a lot of guilt being applied to get them to CONFORM.  Truly, what ever happened to FREE AGENCY?

Years ago in 1978 when I was 27 years old, I wrote the below poem about this very subject - the fairy tales on which children are raised and the harm they cause.  
Nobody told me that life would be hard,
That once in a while I'd be dealt a bad card.
I wasn't told that so much is at stake,
That sometimes love dies and that my heart could break.
I honestly thought that my dreams would come true,
That life would be great, and I'd never be blue…
But life's not that way, and love doesn't stay,
And you don't get your way… in the end,
So when you are told about streets paved with gold,
Don't get too sold… on those lies.
All through my childhood, I heard fairy tales,
A world filled with hope in which nobody fails.
I always believed that the stories were real,
Cause no one would lie, they would know how I'd feel.
That sleep would bring dreams that would last until day,
When Prince Charming would come, and whisk me away…
To magical lands where life would be grand,
And we'd walk hand in hand… throughout time…
But the times that you cry will show it's a lie,
And as much as you try… it won't change…
I grew up believing that love conquers all,
But later discovered that's not true at all.
For there are some things that will never be right,
That can't be resolved though you try as you might.
And banging your head on a wall you can't see
Will just drive you crazy… eventually…
So cut all the strings, the pain that it brings,
And stop spinning your wheels… round and round.
Cause life's not a game in which no one's to blame,
No, it's just not the same… as they said…
So what can you do when the going gets tough?
When life isn't easy and things become rough?
When everything seems like it's going to crash,
And you're feeling dizzy from constant backlash
From each obstacle being thrown in your way,
And you're ready to throw in the towel in dismay…
Just know who you are, your own shining star,
And you will go far, being YOU.
Cause if you do that, then you'll know where you're at,
And you'll never fall flat… on your face.
© Diane Tingen, 1978
Being YOU... who YOU really are... and living an authentic life.

These are the keys to happiness - and to a real Happily Ever After.

Yesterday, I had posted a link to this book description in a Facebook group, and several people posted comments.  Later, one of the people posted a link to an excellent blog entry he had written about this topic entitled Et Tu, Dieter?, in which he explains his loss of respect for Dieter Uchtdorf for going down this road.  My favorite line from the blog entry is this:  "Now, Deseret Book is publishing Uchtdorf's misogyny-wrapped-in-a-poofy-prom-dress-and-toppe​d-with-a-tiara talk as a book, also titled Your Happily Ever After. By publishing this book, Uchtdorf is essentially chiseling it into stone and the church is endorsing it as the "proper" way for women in the church to live their lives. He and the church are setting women and men (and entire families) up for disappointment, misery and lifelong guilt if their devotion to the church doesn't have the perfect (and impossible) fairy tale ending. It's a disgusting example of inoculating devout members against "the world" (i.e., REALITY)."



Pablo said...

This post is the talk Dieter Uchtdorf should have given in 2010 and should be the basis for his book (which should really be entitled "Happily Ever Right Now.") You have eloquently covered a range of issues related to this problematic fairy tale mentality. These Mormon fairy tales are grimmer than any story by the Brothers Grimm.

As a gay man with deep familial ties to Mormonism, I also appreciated your comments about the pressures on gay youth and adults. There are such huge costs to both gay people and the straight spouse in mixed-orientation marriages. And whether the church explicitly encourages such marriages or merely creates a cultural climate that makes it the "one and only true way" of marriage, the damage will continue.

Also, you are too kind. Thank you for your comments and for quoting my post. Cheers.

Diane Tingen said...

Thanks for your insight comment, Pablo. Happily Ever Right Now. That's what people should be striving for, not some fanciful maybe in the far-off future. Mormonism creates such horrible problems for people, but of course, when people are entrenched in it very deeply, it is hard to see the forest for the trees. In my opinion, the church purposefully creates a situation in which people get so tied up in these details and the minutia that they give up their own identities for the promise of something that may not ever come. A very sad commentary on a religion to which adherence is supposed to be the only way to gain eternal life.

And I must say, Pablo, that I really enjoy not only your take on things but also your writing style. Very creative.

Jean said...

My favorite Broadway show is Les Miserables and this song sung by Fantine expresses much of the same kinds of things of which you speak Diane.

But the tigers come at night
With their voices soft as thunder
As they tear your hope apart
And they turn your dream to shame
He slept a summer by my side
He filled my days with endless wonder
He took my childhood in his stride (sounds like Warren Jeffs and his mentor Joseph Smith)
But he was gone when autumn came.

And still I dream he'll come to me
That we'll live the years together
But there are dreams that cannot be
And there are storms we cannot weather...

Fantasy bonds are not happiness; they are a dream. When those tigers are the very people you love, trust with your life, welfare and happiness - a husband, a child or a church for example, they may create for you, a storm you cannot weather. My tigers showed their fangs and gnashed their teeth like monsters from a Grimm’s fairy tale when I left the church they love. And who were those monsters; my very own family members.

Not having read Uchtdorf's book, I cannot pass judgment, but what I know from my own life’s experience is that this whole fairy tale princess notion is one of life's most dangerous and misleading ideas. Life has its ups and downs no matter what you do and being a fairy tale princess is not even a possibility for some young women, or desirable to others.

Uchtdorf's fairy tale probably doesn't tell the whole story. I doubt that it tells the story of the lovely princess who grew up believing that she would meet the man of her dreams, and that together they would covenant their eternal love to each other in a magical ceremony in the Holy House. It won't tell of her disappointment at the assembly line process or being required to wear an ugly veil and a green apron covering her princess gown, because that show a lack of respect and faith in her religion. The prince and princess are told to look at their shining image in the house of mirrors and the reflection reveals two strangers wondering who those two people wearing funny clothing are.

Later when the princess realizes that this whole ritual symbolized the rest of her life; disappointment and pain often more prevalent than magic, her life has become one of servitude and endless housekeeping with no space for her talents and yearnings. The beautiful princess transforms into the wicked witch and is medicated with Prozac in order to make it through each day.

The prince is far too busy in his own designated role to even notice that a change has occurred. He doesn't remember the bright eyed, loving princess who was willing to give him the world.

A girl/woman needs to be able to have her fairy tale wedding; real life will hit her all too quickly; why not have a wonderful, memorable day of celebration to kick start it?
The church tells her she can't. Their counsel is that people shouldn't spend lots of money for that special day; big fancy weddings are frowned upon within the church, as though it is some huge sin to celebrate your love and commitment to your prince or princess. The church also tells the couple that they MUST have the wedding in the temple, and sacrifice just a wee bit more by excluding any loved ones who are not members of the church.

When our lovely princess is pregnant for the sixth time; her youthful figure gone and a few stray gray hairs pepper her once shiny locks, dullness clouds her once sparkling eyes. She gazes at her image in the mirror again and thinks of eternity and longs for the dream she once held so dearly.

What kind of fairy tale ending will come of such a story? An eternity of doing more of the same! The church leaders are playing a game with the minds and hearts of young women; leading them on with their voices soft as thunder. Women and men are being torn apart; separated from natural friendships with each other and a reality based life, by rushing them through the assembly line process into eternal servitude.

Diane Tingen said...

Amazing comment, Jean. Very eloquently put. Thank you for your very insightful words. You are an inspiration to me.