Say what you like about the religion, it’s not natural for women’s faces to be this lean. Even for nursing mothers, these women look like they’re not getting enough to eat. The one in the middle is becoming famous on Flickr for that monobrow, by the way. Their body language is weirdly out of synch with modern life, too. It’s as if they’ve adopted some kind of backwards-engineered emulation of the way women hold their bodies in old, old photographs from the pioneer days. They also remind me of the faces of hardscrabble farmers’ wives from the 30′s Dustbowl photographs – the kinds of photos where you think of words like “famine” and “drought” when you look at them. These women look famished.
From descriptions in stories about the kids, the children have never eaten processed food – I find that pretty hard to believe! They’ve been shopping at Costco, after all, and I don’t think they were growing their own wheat (although I’ll admit that they might have been buying wheatberries and grinding their own flour, it’s to do with the commandment to store up food).
In all the photos, none of the younger women appear to have any meat on their bones. The older women look pretty bony around the eyes and cheeks, too. There’s only a couple of them that look to me like they’re well-nourished or rounded. One of them has red hair… and you can bet that red-headedness is extremely rare in this inbred of a population. With recessive genes, it’s kind of all or nothing, so there either would be a ton of redheaded kids, or almost none. The redhead has the tallest hair of them all except for the one with the monobrow, so she must be especially godly. Maybe she’s a convert; it’s the way of converts to go to great lengths to show they’re just as pious as everyone else in the group.
They’re all thin as rails, and their stomachs are totally flat – why are so few of the women visibly pregnant? Are the pregnant ones (that aren’t teenagers, that is) deliberately keeping out of view? The dresses are designed to be worn right through multiple pregnancies, I think; note the front pleats. I can’t believe it’s because the dresses are deliberately made to fit loosely – they all look like they’re seriously underweight. They’re all flat-chested, too… I wonder if this is a consequence of nursing (probably right through the next pregnancy) and not being able to build up fat reserves?
I’d like to know what their BMI percentages are, I’d bet they’re on the low end (where it begins to affect fertility). But it’s doubtful we’ll ever hear anything concrete about medical histories
And look at how tightly they hold their shoulders, and they don’t make eye contact with the big sheriff. Actually, by comparison, he looks huge and menacing (which no doubt makes the FLDS lawyers happy).
Note how they all hold their hands close to their mouths and adopt similar poses. In all the photos, the poses and facial expressions and body language all look like something out of the 19th century – in some photos, women speaking to reporters seem to duck their heads and look up in an almost stereotypical “submissive wife” way. There’s another photo where the women are stepping about the buses with their kids, and one girl’s head is ducked really low to avoid the gaze of a tall, black state trooper. The odd thing is that this community looked and dressed much differently back in the 50′s, when Short Creek was invaded by the Arizona state police and everyone was rounded up. It’s almost as if with the mandated clothing- and hair- styles for women that were a reaction to that, they decided they had to completely enact the role of the hardy, super-frugal pioneer wives that were their models. They speak in an oddly stilted cadence, probably because they’ve never heard radio or TV, and their only prior experience with public speaking has been giving their “testimony” (faith-promoting stories) in church services.
The final irony: the original phone calls from Sarah, the teen-aged mother that called an anti-polygamy activist and the local women’s shelter, were probably a hoax.