The book of mormon
Mayukh Saha
Mayukh Saha
May 21, 2024 ·  2 min read

Ex-Mormon Says It’s Easy to Spot a Member of the Church Based on Their Looks

A former Mormon who is now a YouTuber talks about why so many people from her old church look alike. Alyssa Grenfell, who left the Latter-day Saints Church in Utah to begin a new life in New York City, has been using her platform to discuss how the church operates, including the lifestyle rules she had to follow, such as not drinking coffee.

Alyssa showcasing how Mormon usually look alike.
Image Credits: Alyssa Grenfell

Grenfell’s Take on the Mormon People

In a recent one-minute video, Grenfell addressed a common question she saw on social media: “Why do some people look Mormon?” or why members of the Mormon Church often appear similar. Ryan Gosling, the well-known actor, was raised Mormon, which Grenfell referenced in her video titled, “He has Mormon face.”

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Alyssa explaining Gosling's appearance as Mormon
Image Credits: Alyssa Grenfell

Grenfell’s theory isn’t rooted in attractiveness but in community and cultural factors. “The only opportunity to diversify the gene pool is to convert people,” she explained. Grenfell emphasized that it goes beyond mere physical appearance. “You can’t marry in a Mormon temple unless both individuals are Mormons. This has significantly limited the gene pool,” she said. “I think another reason for this perceived similarity is not just physical traits but the overall ‘Mormon vibe,’ which is characterized by an almost overly friendly demeanor.”

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Alyssa Grenfell
Image Credits: Alyssa Grenfell

“Mormons are encouraged to proselytize and share their faith,” she continued. “Mormon culture tends to promote uniformity.” Supporting this idea, a 2017 study from Utah Valley University found that homogeneous societies, such as Utah, can create social pressure that influences behaviors, including cosmetic surgery. The study noted, “Many Utah mothers feel cultural pressure to undergo the ‘Mommy Makeover,’ which is marketed by local doctors as a solution to the physical changes brought on by motherhood.”

Studies Backing Up Grenfell

Business law student working studying in the library
Source: Shutterstock

Grenfell’s observations find some backing in scientific studies. A 2010 study conducted by Rule, Ambady, and Hallett found that non-Mormons could identify Mormons with 60% accuracy based on photographs. The study suggested this ability was linked to perceptions of health and spirituality. “People make inferences about group membership based on perceived health, and some associate spirituality with those perceptions,” Rule explained. The study, published in the Public Library of Science (PLOS) Journal, indicated that perceived health was a significant factor in identifying Mormons, contributing to the idea that Mormons look distinct because they appear more spiritually healthy than non-Mormons.

These findings highlight the complex interplay between genetics, culture, and perception within the Mormon community. While some aspects of Grenfell’s claims are anecdotal, they resonate with broader scientific observations about how we perceive and categorize people based on group characteristics.

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