Men's Grooming In the LDS Church: A Qualitative Study of Norm Violation

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Mental Health, Religion & 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.