By: Amy Dalke
Maybe it’s because we’re on the front end of bikini weather, and I’ve already seen more teenage skin than I ever wanted to on Instagram.
Maybe it’s because my friend has a teenage girl, and I see the front lines of an identity battle.
But there is a growing frustration in my gut about all these Shorty Shorts and Barely Bikinis that make private parts hardly private anymore. How has it become okay for our daughters to walk around without their clothes on? And then to broadcast their bodies across social media like it’s just the thing to do? Y’all, THIS IS NOT OKAY.
But before I jump on some high horse, let’s be clear: this issue doesn’t rest on teenage shoulders. Because the shallow, skin-deep emptiness that pervades the teenage social media newsfeed is learned behavior. This started with us.
No, we didn’t strip to our swimsuits and post it on Facebook, but little by little, our teenagers have watched us place a premium value on our appearance. My initial self-righteous angst over All This Naked fell into a gracious awareness that it is OUR responsibility to teach these precious girls what they’re worth.
But we can’t really model the truth to the generation coming up behind us, when we still believe the lie ourselves. It doesn’t take a long, hard look at the stats to discover that we say one thing, and then buy another. We talk about inner beauty and God’s truth and all that, but when Americans spend 12 billion dollars on cosmetic procedures in ONE YEAR, you can’t tell me we really believe true beauty comes from the inside.
I’d be a hypocrite to stand on this soapbox and pretend I’m totally innocent. But by the grace of God, I’m learning more and more that my life’s worth has nothing to do with what my body looks like.
As a society, we have a massive image crisis. For crying out loud, do we really want to spend this one life of ours constantly trying to fix what we look like?
Am I the only one that just can’t stand it anymore?
When our daughters see us stressed out when none of our clothes fit; or if we’re constantly debasing our bodies for frivolous imperfections, you can bet your Spanx that she gets the message that appearance matters more than you say it does.
When we stand in the mirror and groan about the extra-ness around our upper arms, she sees that, too. And all the while we claim that beauty is on the inside, but when you come unglued over numbers on the scale, there’s little wonder which story she believes.
Is this the life we really want? Is this the life we want her to live? One where we spend more time agonizing over what to wear than we do working on our character? (But good clothes and a good body can cover up lots of things, right?)
Are we settling for a life where magazine covers and movie stars define our worth? Are we still doing that? Isn’t that as veritable as those surveys we used to take in Teen Beat magazine?
Come on, y’all. Who writes our story anyway?
Not only are we missing the Good Life ourselves, we’re raising our daughters to stand on a faulty foundation. It’s never been more critical to make sure their feet are planted on the solid ground of truth. Because when selfies are the social trademark, appearance is magnified on an unprecedented level.
Like me, you probably didn’t spend your teen years in this social media age. But our kids are growing up in a culture where 243,055 images are uploaded to Facebook each minute.* We (and our daughters!) are inundated with images across a 3-inch phone screen that serves as our cultural yardstick for self-worth.
We model life for the generation coming behind us, whether we like it or not. So the power lies within us to change the world. Literally.
This whole thought process was born from a hard look at my own behavior, so rest assured, I’m not one to point fingers or act like I’ve got this all figured out. It’s just time for Jesus people to stop swimming with the current of cultural lies as though “that’s just the way it is”. In the name of Truth, let’s live differently than the Lie!
It may be Pollyanna-like to think that we can change our culture. But Christianity as we know it came from a small band of disciples who took on the charge to go and spread the gospel into every part of the earth. Since we have the same God they did, I’m confident the size of our truth-telling band isn’t an issue.
But here’s the key: the gospel of Jesus was spread because the first Christians did more than talk about Jesus. They proved that Jesus was a big deal by the way they lived. Talking about the truth won’t change anything. It only matters when we live it out.
So what IS the truth we need to teach our daughters? Here’s a good place to start:
You are fearfully & wonderfully made. God planned out every intricate detail of your body; He chose your unique personality; and decided exactly what your smile would look like. And he did all this…wonderfully. (Psalm 139:13-14)
In Christ, you are an original masterpiece, God’s one-of-a-kind artwork. (Ephesians 2:10) You weren’t made to fit anyone else’s mold, so quit wasting your uniqueness trying to be someone you’re not.
You are loved. (Ephesians 2:4-5; Romans 5:8). God’s love is unending, unstoppable, unshakable. And that’s enough.
You are a new creation of infinite worth. (2 Corinthians 5:17) Your worth can’t be measured on scales, can’t be determined in a mirror, and it can’t be defined by someone else’s opinion. Boom.
You are completely forgiven. (Colossians 1:13-14). Your sin cannot outdo God’s grace. And that’s just the greatest news ever.
You are absolutely complete in Christ. (Colossians 2:10). We need nothing more than Jesus to have everything we need. Period.
So now what? Do we just nod our heads in agreement, then we go on with our day as though this isn’t any kind of life-changing truth? We could. Or you and I can decide to intentionally practice this truth so that TRUTH shapes our everyday lives. Because unless we live the truth on purpose, we choose by default to hand off the baton of lies to the next generation.
Will you have the courage to choose the truth over the lie?
*IACP Center for Social Media, June 2014