Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Baring Bodies

Miss California is in the news again today. Apparently at the age of seventeen she modeled some underwear - topless. Six pictures were obtained, and one was published on the Internet and written about on a gossip site.

Miss California says that the publishing of the pictures is another attack on her politically-incorrect gay marriage views, and on her Christianity. Claiming that the pictures were appropriate for modeling purposes, she says that she is a Christian, AND a model, intimating that one can do both without any problem.

I don't necessarily disagree with that. And I do agree that she has been unfairly attacked for having a Biblical view of homosexuality.

My only question - Why does one need to bare part of the breast in order to model underwear? The modeling picture was obviously meant to be provocative, which may not be uncommon, but I would argue that it is unnecessary.

She may lose her California crown, because contestants are supposed to reveal whether they've ever done any nude or partially-nude photos. She didn't reveal the existence of these photos during the state or national pageants, which I assume was an intentional fib. If she does lose the crown, I hope she will acknowledge that she made a mistake, rather than just do the talk-show circuit claiming that it was her gay-marriage stance that brought her down.

While I'm not strongly opposed to beauty contests, I do wish they would do away with the bikini part of beauty pageants. Is that part even remotely necessary? God gave women all kinds of different body shapes, and yet only one type (skinny, busty) is exemplified in these "beauty" pageants. What does that say to all the girls and women who don't have that body type? Men certainly don't like just one body type. If that were the case, God would have designed all females to look the same.

I do hate that women are objectified, and I hate even more that young women seem unaware of it. Either they enjoy it, or they are really clueless, having grown up in an increasingly revealing culture.

My husband would die if I paraded around in ultra-loose, overly-modest clothing, which makes the whole modesty issue complicated for wives. He likes legs and lives for spring, summer and fall weather, loving the opportunity to see me in shorts. If he had his way, I would wear short skirts 365 days a year, much to my distaste. I argued, when he told me about the skirts and his "leggy wishes", that Christian women shouldn't wear skirts that don't allow for modesty when sitting. He agreed that was probably true and came back with, "Can you at least wear them at home?" "What about the kids?", I inquired. "Shouldn't we teach them appropriate modesty, meaning that I should dress appropriately as their mother?" So he asked, "Could you at least wear them after the kids go to bed?"

I then argued that I don't have the money for extra wardrobe pieces, nor the time to think about changing clothes after the kids go to bed. He was crushed. Yes, I know. I'm no fun. I do feel guilty about it. He gets me short skirts when he can, and I really should, now that its warmer, try to don them at night at least once a week.

Now my honey is no weirdo, and I know we aren't the only couple who've had this conversation. But it just isn't me. You know? I've come to see it as a way of honoring him, but it still takes a lot of effort on my part.

After ten years of marriage, I am so struck at how visual God designed men to be. It is a very real vulnerability for them. They can fall into sin so easily because of their propensity for looking at the female body. If Christian women were taught to understand how God designed men in this respect, they could make better choices about how to dress in front of someone ELSE's husband.

My main qualm about partially-nude photos of an openly-Christian woman is that the Bible clearly says not to do something that will make another Christian stumble. In my mind, partially-nude photos fall under this Biblical idea - "All things are permissible, but not all things are beneficial." The Biblical context of this sentence is part of a teaching on whether a believer should eat meat sacrificed to idols. Around "weak" believers, one shouldn't eat meat sacrificed to idols, as it could cause them to stumble in their faith.

Miss California wasn't just modeling her undies in that photo. It was much more than that. And I fear she doesn't understand that. Scores and scores of Christian men could stumble into lust, as a result of happening upon her photo, through no fault of their own. I would guess only a small percentage of men could view the photo without being affected. The same might be true of the partially-nude photo of Disney's Miley, who is also openly Christian. In that case, I believe she did apologize afterwards for a lack of judgement.

Churches don't address the issue of modesty very often, probably for fear of being called legalistic. And believe me I wouldn't want to be told that I shouldn't bare my ankles or arms, or even how short my shorts should be. But when a Christian woman in her early twenties doesn't think a partially-nude photo is a problem, aren't we being too politically correct in our sermons?

My husband agrees with me that Miss California, and her parents, made a mistake in allowing those photos to be taken of her. We would absolutely put our foot down about such things with our own daughters.

What say you? I welcome your thoughts and ideas, because I fear we are in for an uphill battle in teaching modesty to our young daughters. How will we prevail? Time to start praying now, I suspect.

Post Script - I should mention that I haven't watched a beauty contest in at least twenty years, so I'm not sure I am correct in saying that only one body type is exemplified. Sorry about that generalization.


Evenspor said...

I caught part of Miss America on tv a couple of years ago. They had just gotten to the top ten and were doing their various categories for that, and I was actually starting to convince myself that it was about inner beauty, because obviously all of these women were very beautiful. Then they got to the swimsuits, and all of my idealistic illusions faded. It was pretty obvious what they were looking for. Someone asked the male judges how the swimsuit competition was relevant in our enlightened society and not just about the body. One "wise" gentleman claimed that it's all about confidence and how much guts it takes to walk onto stage in a swim suit.

Miss Utah was one of those ten finalists, and I thought it was so awesome when she came out with a simple one piece suit on. I thought THAT took guts in a way that none of those judges probably understood.

Jess said...

this is a concern for me as well as i am aware (as you mentioned) of how easily ones dress can cause another to sin. i am a modest dresser and am trying to instill that in kiersten as well. another girlfriend has a book about teaching your children, girls in particular, the art of dressing modestly. i'll have to ask the title and pass it along.

i think it is cute that your husband likes your legs :) - and i definitely see your dilemma in trying to please him and yet model to your girls modesty. i know it must have been hard to tell don 'no' to dressing in short shorts/skirts as he would like to see. but i definitely applaud you for seeing how important this is to show your family.

thankfully children do close their eyes at some point and then we can show our husbands a little more leg! :) (i am not trying to be naughty, but any way i wrote this it didn't sound 'good'. i tried, honestly i did!)