Thank you so much everyone for your sweet, thoughtful comments on my last post -- they really made me smile! Please bear with my irregular visits for now -- I'm a sleepy, windy, nasally-congested whale at present lol!
I'm writing this post bit by bit because it's been sufficiently... irritating? bothering? dismaying?... me for awhile now. I guess the final "provocation" was the latest issue of US Vogue which I saw at my gynae's, where the source of this annoyance is "gracing" the cover and being gushingly celebrated within.
Kate Upton is the "American Dream Girl", the cover says, and "The hottest supermodel on Earth". Dream girl? Hottest? Really? This is the planet's epitome of female beauty and charm? Well, I think I'll take these claims with a grain of salt -- despite Vogue being the world's most influential fashion magazine -- or else I'll really start freaking like Darryl MacPherson in the strip above.
"What makes the Kate Upton era so unlikely is that the things we love about her -- those curves! that personality! -- defy what the word model has come to mean, at least on the runway: a seemingly endless procession of lanky, expressionless wraiths", writes the author for the spread within. "[Upton has] come to regard her healthy body as a point of pride... 'I love my body. It's what God gave me! I feel confident with myself, and if that inspires other women to feel confident with their bodies, great'".
Now obviously I'm all in favour of healthy bodies and a balanced love of one's self. Many people struggle with self-loathing and crippling insecurities about their physical appearance, and a good role model in the media is always welcome. However, if Ms Upton's concept of self-confidence means saying things like, "In Miami, boobs are fantastic. I was so proud of them. I was so excited. Are you kidding? I'm in Florida, and I'm constantly in bikinis. I was like, Yes! Killing it! All the girls on the beach are gonna be so jealous!", then I'll have to pass.
Yes, God gave us our bodies, but I don't think He gave them to us to do the Cat Daddy in a skimpy bikini for a Terry Richardson video. Does being confident mean doing that? Terry Richardson of course is not particularly renowned for tastefulness, and anyone dancing the Cat Daddy virtually naked can hardly be expected to look anything other than vulgar. Yet this is what is being celebrated in today's society. This is what is being lauded as female beauty and desirability, and more importantly, this is what our young daughters are being told is appropriate and acceptable.
Have you seen the way the majority of young girls dress when they're out in the mall, or even at church? I wonder how their parents can let them, or bear it. Kate Upton did the Cat Daddy video last year, when she was just 19; how did her parents feel? Her father especially? At 19, I was studying for exams and trying to figure out what to major in -- I don't think my parents would have been at all thrilled to know that a million men were making coarse, impure remarks about my body parts.
But what's wrong with that, many today would ask. Anyone who's said anything at all negative about Ms Upton has been labelled "jealous", and perhaps some of them are, but I'm sure there are some people out there who, like me, really just wonder at the distorted state of our morals, our lack of shame, and our seared sense of purity and continence.
According to IMG's senior VP, Upton is "a twenty-first century model". When the world's top model management company says things like that, people -- young women especially -- take note: Oh, so that's how you get to the top; so that's what beauty is. Are modesty and chastity outdated values of some lost, bygone era?
"For this is the will of God, that you should be consecrated (separated and set apart for pure and holy living): that you should abstain and shrink from all sexual vice, that each one of you should know how to possess (control, manage) his own body in consecration (purity, separated from things profane) and honour,
"Not [to be used] in the passion of lust like the heathen, who are ignorant of the true God and have no knowledge of His will... For God has not called us to impurity but to consecration [to dedicate ourselves to the most thorough purity]" (1 Thess 4:3-7).
What's the big deal about doing the Cat Daddy while falling out of a bikini? As one YouTube viewer said in response to a critic, "Why should you care? This doesn't affect you at all". Doesn't it? When it's all over the media, and being avidly celebrated and glorified? How can it not affect the women who see this as a standard; how can it not affect the men who look at this in lust? How can it not affect the way young girls perceive and respect their own bodies, or the way boys regard and treat their female friends or dates? "'I have the right to do anything,' you say -- but not everything is beneficial" wrote the apostle Paul.
In the increasing moral laxity of the world we live in, it's a challenge to raise children who will not "run hand in hand with them in the same excesses of dissipation" (1 Pet 4:4). We are daily inundated with lewd images, stories, lyrics -- how important it is to keep a watchful eye on our daughters and ensure that neither they, nor we ourselves, behave in such a manner as to be a temptation and a snare to others. "Like a gold ring in a pig's snout is a beautiful woman without discretion" (Prov 11:22).
Sexual immorality accounts for much of society's troubles I think -- failed and failing marriages; crimes against young girls and women; unwanted pregnancies; selfish, dishonourable modes of living. In a wonderful article entitled Teaching Your Daughters to Value Modesty, FamilyLife Canada instructor Cathy Reynolds writes, "... even when shopping for basic items like jeans and t-shirts, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find attractive, fashionable clothes for young girls that don’t show off a whole lot of skin. Tube tops, crop tops, clingy fabrics, low-cut dresses and low-rise jeans are all the rage...
"Given the current state of things, does modesty even matter anymore? Our culture tells us no, and we've been so affected by the world around us that sometimes we don't even stop to think about what our appearance says about us, or how it measures up to God's standards.
"God calls us to a life of purity, and modesty is a natural outworking of a pure heart. A speaker I heard recently told of young men in her church youth group who were complaining about what the girls in the group were wearing. These boys were sincerely coming to youth group to worship God, and they really felt that they were being distracted from that and even led astray by the immodest dress of the girls in the group. They didn't know where to look, and it was very hard on them as they tried to obey God and keep from lusting.
"Keep in mind that these were boys who were actively fighting against temptation. Imagine the impact of improper dress on men who have serious lust problems, or who don't even recognize it as a problem. I think that the proliferation of pornography and blatant sexual messages in our society today is linked to widespread immodest dress. What once would have been considered unacceptable and risqué is now not just accepted, but commonplace. No wonder some men have great difficulty in this area!...
"The way in which a girl dresses will also impact the kind of guy she attracts, which will in turn impact their behaviours and attitudes toward sex. As one young lady shared, "I know that the kind of things that I wear draw a certain kind of guy. And ultimately the guy that I want to have as a husband is a guy that’s committed to purity...
"You want to help them to understand why modesty is such an important character issue and teach them to make good decisions on their own. We've found it very helpful to be able to give our daughters reasons as to the suitability or unsuitability of a piece of apparel. It's good to be able to explain to them how a young man regards some of their fashion choices...
"Adult clothing styles are being mini-sized to fit young girls... this has led to the sexualization of pre-teen girls seeking to emulate their media heroes. And it's not just the clothes that are being adopted, but also the attitudes toward life in general and sexuality in particular. Kids are being made to grow up faster than ever before.
"We can diminish the influence of media by helping our daughters make wise choices concerning TV programs, videos, movies, music and reading material. It's important to begin at an early age to instill values and guidelines for making discerning choices. Talk about these choices in entertainment and fashion selection with your tweens and teens before they ever become issues...
"It is important to tell your daughter how beautiful she is, so that she doesn't have to go outside the family to hear this message. Even more vital than praising her appearance, though, is affirming her character. We need to counteract our culture's influence by placing value on what God values – the inner heart and character of an individual. The Bible says, "Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised" (Prov 31:30)" (read this article in its entirety here).
These are all things that mean a great deal to me as I endeavour to raise wise, virtuous young women in a world where Ms Upton's gyrations are described by Vogue as "improbably wholesome". While brazen lewdness and immodesty seem to be the order of the day, I certainly do not want to perpetuate, or contribute to it. Hopefully -- as with maxi skirts, vintage-cut swimsuits, and wearing pink -- modesty, refinement and delicacy will soon come back into style.