My name is Camille Ludwig, I am 25 years old today and I am a Latter-Day Saint. Some people take pride in using the nickname “Mormon” and others don’t, feeling that the nickname encompasses them in the negative stereotype that others may have heard or believe. If people wish to refer to me as a Mormon then I don’t mind, but I prefer being known as a Latter-Day Saint. I believe firmly in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, that we have a modern living prophet on the world, that sealings and temple ordinances are necessary to gain exaltation. I don’t believe this because I grew up in Utah, I don’t believe this because so many people around me say so. I believe this because I have felt a calming reassurance that this is right. I have received a personal revelation so strong that I cannot deny what I have learned, for I would be denying what God has given me.
Now, let me tell you a little bit more about myself. I have one set of piercings in my ears, though sometimes I love to wear a clip a little higher up on my ear. Not often, but I like to add it in to some of my looks. I used to have a belly ring but decided I was tired of it after constantly catching boxes or other containers on the ring and having it pull. And not only that, I didn’t show my belly that often so I didn’t see the reason to keep something that others won’t see but constantly catches on things that I am carrying. I love unique styles, bright colored fabrics and flowing dresses. I love dressing up in costumes and playing around with others at conventions or just for the fun of it. I love odd-looking heels that you don’t see every day; one of my favorite pair of heels are blue and pink with a large pink bow on the side. I don’t wear unique, bright clothes or shoes to get the attention of others, I wear them because I feel an obvious change in my energy from wearing things that I like, verses wearing things that are “normal.”
I have a tattoo behind my left ear. A small feather with a set of initials. The tattoo was done in reminder of a sister that was lost to us in the summer of 2012. It was the most challenging time of my life and even now it still hurts, but the tattoo for me is a constant reminder that she’s not gone, she’s just finished with what she had to do here and is on the other side of the veil, continuing to live and work. Though sometimes I consider getting it either altered or removed, I do not regret getting it. It was my choice and my choice alone, not something done out of rebellion. My hair is short and currently red, but tomorrow it will be shorter and a different color. It will have some brighter, unnatural colors in it. Nothing bold but something different.
I love going to church, I love Conference, I love going to the temple and walking around the temple grounds. I cannot tell you how much I love the temple. There are times that I am told that I am different and sometimes the intention behind those words aren’t positive. I have been told that I intimidate people, that they don’t know how to approach me or talk to me because I dress differently. I simply wear bright colors. I’ve also been told that if I get unnatural colors in my hair, then I’m just doing it for attention and I’m not mature enough to take out additional covenants in the temple. I wish I could explain to you how it feels to me to wear bright colors but the only description that I can think of is that I get somewhat of an energy high from it. I feel happy, I feel energetic.
If anyone says that I dress differently or do my hair differently to attraction attention then they don’t know me. I don’t like a lot of attention on me. In fact, I get anxious and panic if a lot of people are looking at me. I don’t do public speaking and I don’t like crowds. It’s terrifying to me. My ideal days involve me being able to do what I want to do at my own pace; to work on hobbies, play video games or to even OCCASIONALLY hang out with good friends. I’m the kind of person you might not notice that hangs out in the back of the room at a dance. I can go through an entire 3 hour church block without anyone talking to me. And you know what? Though sometimes I feel lonely, most of the time I don’t mind it. Because it allows me to come and go as I wish. It allows me to take in what is going on without distractions.
I am a quiet person that learns by observation. I love to watch and listen rather than talk. But I am also a bright, bubbly person. And I want to be that. I don’t need anyone’s attention to want to wear bright colors or dress differently, I want to do it even if there’s no one watching. I have a blast by simply dressing up and staying in my room. If I get a lot of attention then that’s usually followed by anxiety. Not something that I want to bring upon myself by intention. I guess that I could always lose the bright colors and the unique style, but then I also lose that excitement, that energy that comes with it. Why would I do that just to fit in? To get people to be more willing to talk to me? I would be changing who I am for the approval of others.
In all honesty, I’m angry. I am angry that people would be so eager to tell me that how I dress and the colors that I choose determine my level of maturity or spirituality. I am angry that they would impose limitations on me because I don’t look and act like everyone else. And in this anger, there is one thing that I am going to do. I am going to do what I do. I am going to dress in bright, modest outfits. I am going to waltz around in costumes and put unique colors in my hair. I am going to do this because I don’t seek the approval of my peers, I don’t strive each day to fit in and be like any other Mormon that you come across on the streets.
“But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the hearth.” - 1 Samuel 16:7
God did not send us to this earth to be just like one another, to dress and act the same. He sent us to this earth to learn and to prove ourselves to Him, prove that we can follow Him while not in His presence. We all have unique talents and missions, even as spirits we are not all the same. So yes, I am angry that people tell me that I have to be more subdued and not any sort of a distraction. But I will take that anger and use it for something better. I will keep my eyes on the Lord God and keep my steps firm. Because hair color and fabric color doesn’t matter. All that matters is that I strive to be like Him and that is just what I will do, no matter the color.