Why be you when you can be me?
Remember this commercial from the Concerned Children’s Advertisers? I know it’s pretty old, but the message is as important now as it was then.
I have three confessions to make, blogosphere:
- I’ve felt very plain lately. Not ugly, which is a whole other issue, but not beautiful either. Just plain. I know, I know, they’re just emotions that don’t have any bearing on the truth, but I’m just being honest with you.
- I’m a Facebook lurker. Especially of younger girls. It’s not as creepy as it sounds. I just get curious sometimes about the girls I babysat or taught Sunday School — the ones that maybe, perhaps, looked up to me at some point in their lives — and I want to see how they’ve grown up and how they’re doing. Basically, I’m interested in the teens and young twentysomethings of today and how youth culture has changed since I was there not too long ago. And yes, it really has changed a lot in only 5-6 years. I’m not just saying that because I’m an old lady.
- I can be pretty judgmental. You already knew that, didn’t you? Maybe observational, perceptive, and discerning are better words, but if the shoe fits ….
These three confessions have led me to think long and hard about something:
It seems as though — perhaps now more urgently than ever — there is a lie permeating our culture that to be hot, to be sexy, is of the utmost importance. And not hot or sexy according to your own standards, but hot and sexy according to the very thin, narrow (pun intended) dictates of modern society. To be considered good-looking is more desirable than being intelligent, altruistic, kind, spiritual, or moral. The closer you are to society’s standards of beautiful, the better of a person you are.
What? How does that even make sense?
But we don’t think about it. It’s just there.
Look at the way these young, impressionable girls represent themselves on Facebook. Skin-tight dresses, short skirts, Hollywood hair, and the poses … chest out, butt out, stomach sucked in, cameras held at an angle to show off cleavage, precocious smiles, hugging each other in a way they know would drive the boys wild … And these are the Christian girls. Modesty, what?
Of course, in doesn’t end in the teenage years. I’ve noticed that even — if not especially — in the Christian counterculture, there is an unsettling focus on appearances. Think about the compliments we give each other, the comments we make on our friends’ Facebook pictures. Instead of, “Wow, you’re such a strong woman,” “you’re an inspiration to all of us,” and “you have a sweet, gentle spirit,” it’s stuff like, “Sexy Mama!,” “Hey there, Hot Stuff!” and “you are so freaking gorgeous!”
It’s kind of embarrassing.
What if we focussed on what really matters, our inner selves, rather than putting so much stock in how we look? This challenge was put forth recently by pastor Bruxy Cavey from The Meeting House in a recent series titled Get Over Yourself: Rebelling Against the Culture of Narcissism. Do yourself a favour and listen to the sermon called Appearance: The Culture of Hot, which you can listen to here. He challenges us to work harder cultivating an inner beauty rather than an outer beauty, and to compliment each other on stuff that counts. It’s quite a rebellious way of thinking. He also asks: “What if plain is the new hot?”
What if we truly rebelled against culture and refused to believe the lie that our looks are what make us? What if we spent more time in the morning making ourselves spiritually and intellectually hot than outwardly hot? What if we taught the new generation of girls that being beautiful on the outside, in the long run, doesn’t really matter all that much? That focussing on that stuff is just a way to distract them from being who they were truly meant to be?