Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » Be the Girl of Your Dreams: The For the Strength of Youth of the 1950s

Be the Girl of Your Dreams: The For the Strength of Youth of the 1950s

By: Ardis E. Parshall - December 19, 2011

Almost two years ago, Janice W. asked whether anyone remembered Be the Girl of Your Dreams from the 1950s, and Rachelle described that booklet kept in her mother’s things in enough detail that I was able to find and scan it at the Church History Library.

The release of the new edition of the For the Strength of Youth pamphlet seems an opportune time to begin posting Be the Girl of Your Dreams, to compare and contrast the counsel given, and especially the way the counsel was/is given, to youth of the Church separated by more than 50 years.

The surface differences are obvious:

FTSOY is addressed to both young men and women; BTGOYD is addressed only to young women. It is easy to imagine, though, a very similar booklet addressed to the young men, replacing the illustrations of Babs and May and Peg with examples about Bill and Tom and Pete, and tailoring the how-to-talk-to-boys and what-to-expect-from-your-date to the other side of the same coins. I’ll be interested in hearing whether you see anything in BTGOYD that isn’t also relevant to young men once these cosmetic adjustments are made.

FTSOY is much shorter, a bullet-point list of imperatives: Do this, Avoid that, Encourage this, Prepare that; while BTGOYD is much longer, acknowledging the wide range of choices available, explaining the psychological rationale behind various choices, exploring the consequences of choices, and in general endeavoring to persuade girls to make correct choices because they understand themselves and want the benefits of mature behavior.

FTSOY cites scripture throughout; BTGOYD concludes with a chapter referencing scripture, but is overwhelmingly directed more toward the rational and psychological than the religiously authoritative. BTGOYD doesn’t address most of FTSOY’s religious obligations at all – there are passing references, at most, to things like Sabbath observance, repentance, etc., although it’s obvious that BTGOYD takes it for granted that the girls, their families, and many of their acquaintances are active Latter-day Saints.

FTSOY spells out rules; BTGOYD relies on principles. In most cases, there is no doubt which choices BTGOYD endorses (e.g., where FTSOY says “If your friends urge you to do things that are wrong, be the one to stand for the right, even if you stand alone,” BTGOYD examines a multiple choice of behaviors, showing the positive consequences of standing for the right and some obviously less desirable choices of failing to do so). However, there are far fewer black-and-white “rules” in BTGOYD: Some girls are ready for dating at 14 or 15, others may not be mature enough until 16 or 17;  FTSOY: “You should not date until you are at least 16 years old”;  FTSOY:  “Sunday is not a day for … recreation”;  BTGOYD: “If the suggestion is a Sunday movie, and that’s a ‘no’ in your family …” (implying that such a decision is a personal/family choice rather than a religiously imposed one).

But Be the Girl of Your Dreams does cover much of the same ground as For the Strength of Youth: FTSOY‘s Agency and Accountability and [Physical and] Emotional Health are the overwhelming themes of BTGOYD, minus the explicitly religious terms; the sections in FTSOY on Family, and Friends, and Dating, and Sexual Purity, and Education, and Dress, and Integrity, and Entertainment, and Language are all addressed in BTGOYD.

Keepa will post this booklet in ten installments based on the chapter divisions below, and I’ll link all the installments back to this post for easy finding here, as well as in a separate entry in the Topical Guide.

Tell us what you think of the similarities and differences in both substance and style between the two pocket handbooks for youth three generations apart.

Be …

The Girl of Your Dreams



Illustrations by


Published by

Young Women’s Mutual Improvement Association
of the
Church of Jesus Christ of latter-day Saints

(3rd Edition Revised 1956)

Price 30 cents


Chapter I. Hello, You
Chapter II. The Present Reflects the Past
Chapter III. The Star of Your Own Romance
Chapter IV. Can You Manage Your Emotions?
Chapter V. Can You Face Life Squarely?
Chapter VI. Do You Have Growing Pains?
Chapter VII. Personality for Popularity
Chapter VIII. What About Dating?
Chapter IX. Can You Say No?
Chapter X. A Source of Help and Inspiration



  1. Is the illustrator the Richard L. Gunn who was a member of the art department at BYU? Back in the early 1970s his Art History classes were all the rage–good luck getting signed up before the course was full.

    Comment by Mark B. — December 19, 2011 @ 7:48 am

  2. Dunno. Seems logical, but I know nothing beyond the name on the title page. Cool.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — December 19, 2011 @ 8:42 am

  3. The various chapters are not linked (except Chapter 1). Are they here on the website, or can I find their text elsewhere? Thank you!

    Comment by Ailene — January 22, 2012 @ 6:02 pm

  4. I’ve got behind in my blog housekeeping, Ailene. Give me 10 minutes, and they’ll all be linked (or at least those that have posted so far — we’re still in the middle of posting this series).

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — January 22, 2012 @ 6:15 pm

  5. There you go, Aileen — the published installments have been linked, and I published another installment tonight as long as you’re interested. The rest should post within the next six weeks.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — January 22, 2012 @ 6:22 pm

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