It's official. The world is going to hell in a hand-basket. (I don't really know what a hand-basket is, but I'm pretty sure it's an easy and expeditious way to get to hell.) Our teenagers, who were already being pushed to grow up too soon, are now being offered yet another means to flaunt their sexuality.
Back in 2009, the American Psychological Association published their findings that the early sexualization of teens in our culture was bad for young girls. Duh. I'm so glad we have smarty-pants researchers to tell us that.
A little more than a year ago, I posted one man's perspectives on The Death of Pretty.
His main observation was that our teenage girls have come to value "hot" far more than "pretty." This simple shift is changing the way our girls see themselves...and not for the good.
Now, we hear reports that Victoria's Secret is targeting a much younger audience. Their new Bright Young Things ad campaign is apparently aimed at 15-16 year olds, but we know that the younger demographic always jumps on the bandwagon. Surely the people at Victoria's Secret know this.
One father's outrage has been spreading around the internet in the form of an Open Letter to Victoria's Secret. Here's an excerpt:
Recently I read an article that Victoria’s Secret is launching a line of underwear and bras aimed at middle school aged children. The line will be called “Bright Young Things” and will feature ” lace black cheeksters with the word “Wild” emblazoned on them, green and white polka-dot hipsters screen printed with “Feeling Lucky?” and a lace trim thong with the words, “Call me” on the front.”
I agree with this dad. I hate that we live in a world where 21 year old women proudly wear items like these. But to market these items to children is just sickening. Yes, I said children...our pre-teens and even our teenagers don't typically have the discernment to recognize what they are doing. Our girls may not know that they are being sold goods that have the power to affect how they see themselves, how guys see them, and even how they reflect the image of God.
If we believe that our over-sexualized culture is a monster, then we have to admit that dressing with the goal of looking sexy serves as a means to “feed the beast.” There at least three significant impacts of this issue on a girl’s life.
1. It Impacts How They See Themselves
We cannot deny that we live in a world that places a very high value on “hot.” We celebrate the best looks, the skinniest body, and the shapeliest figure. Our girls are being raised in an environment that tells them that their looks are what matters most. Because of this, our girls are tempted and pressured to look the part and play up their “sexiness.” If we are not careful, they will grow up believing that it is a vital necessity to look “hot.” They will evaluate their value as a person based on whether or not they measure up to a completely unrealistic standard.
While there is nothing wrong with a girl striving to celebrate and accentuate her feminine beauty, it becomes a problem when she emphasizes her outsides over her inner character. I remind brides of this at weddings when I read from I Peter 3:3-4. Peter reminds women of something that parents should regularly remind their daughters: “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight.” There is so much more to beauty than what is on the outsides.
2. It Impacts How Men See Them
Guys are visual, having a God-given propensity to fixate on sexual beauty. This awareness of girls and their sexual attractiveness is what draws a man to a mate and keeps him coming back to her. However, this tendency has a dark side. What God designed to powerfully attract Adam to Eve unfortunately makes Adam keenly aware of all the other Eves around him. For most, this tempts men to look at other women, sometimes to the point of entertaining lustful thoughts. In some cases, though, it can lead to foolish decisions that result in significant sexual sins. But in every case, it represents a struggle that author Steven Arterburn correctly calls “Every Man’s Battle.”
While young men are universally aware of this struggle and
reality, young women are typically divided into three different camps regarding
their knowledge of it and the part that modesty plays. One group knows that men
are visual and they play into it, dressing as sexy as possible. A larger group
is entirely oblivious, dressing however they want, thinking it doesn’t matter.
A third group is aware of how men think and dress in a way that strives to
honor and protect those around them. We must train our girls to operate and live in this third group.
3. It Impacts How They Reflect God
Ephesians 5:3 gives a basic target for believers to aim for: “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.” While this passage doesn’t talk specifically about clothes, many of the styles that are common in women’s fashion work against this basic command. Even if the wearer is naïve and has no thoughts of sexuality, they can potentially lead men to immediately think of nothing but thoughts of a sexual nature.
While it is easy to write off Paul’s directive as oppressive and legalistic, I don’t think his point is to suppress the liberties of the individual believer. Instead, it is as if Paul is saying, “Don’t outwardly show off your sexuality because it’s not who you are.” Or even better: “It doesn’t reflect Whose you are.” If we are called to be holy by God and enabled to be holy by the cross, then this inner holiness should be evident when people look at us. Granted, Jesus had much to say to the Pharisees who looked good on the outside yet had corrupt hearts on the inside. Reflecting God’s character must always start deep inside our hearts and lives, but it should also be evident on the impressions that we make on people.
So what do you think of Victoria's Secret's new campaign?