Do Not Ever Slap or Poke an Elder

While I was doing a little homework on the article preceding this one, I found a delightful article from the Ensign (the LDS church’s official magazine) from 1972. At the end of the article is this list of suggestions for young women who are serving missions. I can’t decide if we’ve come very far from that or not.

Suggestions to Sister Missionaries


Exercise for a few minutes every morning; then eat a good breakfast and do not piece before lunch unless you want to put on weight.

In some places you can save a lot of time by eating your hot meal in an inexpensive restaurant or boarding house.

Make weekly menus and shop for as long a period as possible. This saves time and money and you will not buy as many high-calorie treats.

When cooking, make enough at one time for at least two meals.

Do not have a food fad where you eat the same things every day.

Eat at least one hot meal per day.

If you are one pound overweight, it is too much. Take it off!

Instead of stopping at a bakery for a quick lunch, stop at the store and buy a yogurt, some cottage cheese, or some such prepared, healthy food. Carry an apple or raw vegetable to tide you over until dinner. (We always carried a spoon in our handbags for meals away from the apartment.)

When invited to dinner you do not have to say you are on a diet; just take small helpings, no seconds, and cut down the next day. This way you do not offend the host, and you can still accept invitations to dinner.

Never, never eat late at night! When you come home late after a discussion and you have not had time for dinner, eat a little salad or fruit and then go straight to bed and think how much skinnier you will be by not eating a large meal until morning.

Chew gum only in the privacy of your apartment.


Elders’ most frequent complaints are about sisters’ hair. Have a neat and easy style—not too short or it will look like the elders’, and long enough so that it can be curled on Sunday and for special occasions.

Sleep on a satin pillowcase; this preserves hair style and also femininity.

Do not feel that because you are a missionary you cannot wear makeup. Do wear a minimum, but do not go completely without it.


Buy clothes that are easy to care for.

Whatever your wardrobe or climate, put on clean underclothes every day (even if it means taking five minutes the night before to rinse them out).

Do not carry one of those suitcase handbags that sister missionaries are so notorious for. Carry only the essentials in a medium-sized one, and put pamphlets or books in a separate plastic or leather case. (They will not get dog-eared this way.)

Carry a combination rain-wind bonnet, some tissues, and a couple of disposable, scented towels in your handbag. (The towels are nice for freshening up during a day away from your flat.)

Spark up those drab colors with scarves and bows.


Learn how to make those quick, no-bake chocolate cookies for branch picnics.

Do not ever slap or poke an elder.

Expect and then allow elders to open doors, help into cars, put on wraps, and start your motor bikes. Do not ignore their efforts, but do not be obnoxious if they should forget sometimes.

Have a BNTE Week (Be Nice to Elders Week) where you either cook something good or do something nice for your district. If you do this, remember that this week especially you must work like a whirlwind so no one can say that you borrowed the Lord’s time. Make it a top week in service and in work also.

Always participate with the elders on preparation day. If it is something you cannot do, then at least be there to watch or cheer. This does wonders for mutual respect between elders and sisters.

If you get depressed, set aside a little time that day to do whatever raises your spirits. For example, spend extra time on your hair, take a long shower, schedule a time for meditation, and then pray earnestly for help from the Lord. Lose yourself in the Spirit and work very, very hard.

11 Responses to Do Not Ever Slap or Poke an Elder

  1. FireMountain says:

    Just what part of this did you find “delightful”?
    It was as sexist and condescending to women as one might expect from official LDS publications.
    I would love to see a suggestion that the elders bake cookies or some treat for the sister missionaries when feeling a little low.

    • runtu says:

      Apparently, sarcasm does not come across very well in my posts.

      • Lorraine says:

        It did to me. I realise this is not your perspective. Thanks for the reminder of how bad it was for women in the cult as late as the 70s. It hasn’t really changed much; it’s just less obvious. This seemed relatively normal then, believe it or not. We had been well drilled on it.

  2. Lorraine says:

    This is what women, especially mormon women, were trained (like dogs) to do in my era, postmormon girl. This was the schtick. The fucking double standard. The work-harder-worry-more-but-let-him-be-bigger-stronger-smarter with which ethic we were inculcated.

    (‘Don’t worry your pretty little head about it,’ one guy at UCLA actually said to me. ‘I thought it was a compliment’, he said when I protested.)

    The article makes me want to scream and curse.

    But then, that wouldn’t be respecting The Priesthood, would it?

    • I saw a lot of that growing up – my mother is submissive to my father in a way that makes me furious, in spite of the fact that she was the one who did all of the work necessary to hold the family together. (My father was a very smart man who squandered all of his opportunities in life and was a horrible provider.)

  3. Kim says:

    Okay. I am so relieved you were being sarcastic! Funny thing, You actually had me thinking you were serious! A Be Nice to the Elders day or whatever it was! Yeah! Nice. Who came up with this?

    • Kim says:

      Sorry. I posted too quickly. What I meant was. . . if you actually read that in an article, who in the world came up with that? Yeah. Just a little condescending and completely sexist! Wow!

  4. […] the missionary age requirement, and Runtu warned the sister missionaries to never “slap or poke an elder.” Steve is still waiting on a response, Mormon Coffee is still answering Mormons’ questions, […]

  5. toughbunny says:

    When I was on my mission, this list would have been met with derision, BUT a lot of it would have been ingrained into our heads and behavior.

    Why would the elders be complaining about the sister’s hair? And what is all that diet crap? What the hell did that have to do with anything?

    What a complete joke.

  6. […] Do Not Ever Slap or Poke an Elder […]

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