Men's Grooming in the Latter-day Saints Church : A Qualitative Study of Norm Violation
Mental Health, Religion and Culture
The role of personal grooming as an indicator of commitment to church hierarchy is examined in a study of one congregation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Latter-day Saints Church policy urges men to be clean-shaven. In the present study, we interview all men in one ward who have worn beards or mustaches, in order to investigate questions of authority, identity, and conflict that occurred as a result of violating the grooming norm. Interviewees describe an identity conflict, with self-expression conflicting with the desire to demonstrate faithfulness to their church. In some cases, they reconcile the conflict by conforming to the norm; in others, they violate the norm out of a sense of asserting their own identity, but this comes at a cost of distance from their church identity.