I hated being interviewed by my Branch President. If I had it to do over again, I would never be a teenage girl alone with an older man. At the time however, I did not realize that I was in control over my own body. I would do anything I was told by someone in an authority position at church. This means from age 12 to 17 I was invasively questioned and my “worthiness” determined.
As an older teen, my Branch President made me so uncomfortable. He did a lot with the youth and overall seemed like a fun guy. He commented on the young women’s bodies regularly though. He would tell us we were pretty, mention our curves, want details about how many boys were flirting with us, etc.. If any of us showed up not looking too good he would also comment on that. He would regularly tell all the young women that he was going to marry us off soon. Why he thought a 17 year old, let alone a 12 year old, should be married off soon is beyond me. Or why he thought he should be the one in charge.
During actual interviews with this man, I felt so anxious it felt like I was having a heart attack. I was legitimately worried that he could read my mind. I would rush through the interviews as quickly as possible so I could leave the room. The shame and guilt from these interviews coupled with the often harmful teachings of the church has left me with severe anxiety. It has negatively impacted my feelings about my own body and it has impacted my relationships. I did not even use tampons as a teen because I felt too guilty to look up how to use them. Since 17, I have never met with a bishop alone out of anxiety and guilt. I was a really good girl by the church’s standard and I was still severely damaged by this practice.
At 22, I am working through the guilt I have felt about my body. Looking back I wonder why no one stood up for me. I was put into a potentially dangerous situation and no one batted an eye. A creepy old man was able to question me about my sexual history and it left me feeling completely powerless. So many people have suffered from this practice, many to a much greater extent than I. I am not powerless any more. I will help protect LDS children.