The Sum of Their Parts

Wow. Wow. This op-ed in The Australian is so insightful that it gave me chills (ht:Craig). Check it out:

Too many girls are trying to imitate half-starved celebrities and airbrushed models in a quest to be hot and sexy. We have allowed the objectification and sexualisation of girls in a culture that is becoming increasingly pornographic. The embedding of sexualised images of women in society has become so mainstream, it is hardly noticed. Everywhere a girl looks, she sees sexualised images of her gender. She's expected to be a walking billboard for the brands of the global sex industry.

But while redolent of truth about sin working itself out on our young women growing up in an over-sexualized culture, the article turns to the wrong place for its solution. The author suggests:

Positive body image programs in schools should be mandatory, teaching media literacy skills that help young people recognise damaging messages from popular culture.

Unfortunately, no school program could ever hope to address the underlying issue of sinful hearts. We live in a world so fallen that our very culture is an emissary of darkness, and our only hope of restoration comes on the whip-torn back of a bruised and bloody Savior, the God-Man who stood in our place, dying to purchase his bride and rising to conquer sin.

When our Warrior-King returns to set His world right, there will be no need for "body image programs" or campaigns against Botox and crash dieting. Come, Lord Jesus, and restore your perfect Bride!

EDIT: Here's a link to a video entitled "Evolution" that shows in a pretty fascinating way the deceptive nature of the "beauty industry."


gad said...

Laura, you're right, of course:

"When our Warrior-King returns to set His world right, there will be no need for "body image programs" or campaigns against Botox and crash dieting."br/>
But, I worry about discarding potentially beneficial approaches (i.e., meaningful discussion of body image and media literacy) simply because those approaches aren't the ultimate and final source of restoration.

My quibble with the author is that she houses those approaches in the school rather than the church. But, given the church's reluctance to broach such topics--and others like them--in meaningful (i.e., complicated, messy, redemptive, compassionate) ways, I can't fault the writer too much for thinking of the school systems as the most viable setting. I'm discouraged by her choice of venue, but I suspect we Christians are as much to blame she is.

Jonny said...

So are the girls half-starved or are they just imitating half-starved models? I thought we had an obesity epidemic? I think the positive body image program would be good.

Laura said...

No, I think the issue is that they feel the pressure to be like those half-starved, airbrushed models. There's actually a great video I'm going to link to that shows how false advertisements are -- what a distorted picture they present of "beauty."

I think a positive body image program would be good from a secular perspective, but no public school would tell girls that they need to put their confidence in Christ and not in their appearance. Anything less than the Gospel is merely addressing the symptoms -- which is fine as long as believers have realistic expectations about the outcome.

Chris said...

Actually, a big part of the problem with "self-image" campaigns is that they never address the way the message is disseminated in the first place. The "airbrushed models" image is perpetuated through mainstream culture, which is inherently decentralized, networked from friend to friend. The "self-image" campaigns, on the other hand, are the higher authorities telling the lowly young girl why she really should feel good about herself. See the problem? Using authority to try and tell a group of people who are inherently rebellious, who rely on their peers for their self-image more than on their parents or their teachers is merely a re-enforcement of the current trend.

And no, using other teens to disseminate the "self-image" stuff is dumb, because it's fairly obvious where it's coming from. Think the zealots looking at the tax-collectors collaborating with the Romans; it's that sort of deal.

Since the authority of parents is the only way to address the issue (if we could get teens mature enough to work inside pop culture, that'd be one thing, but it's unlikely), the issue then has to be addressed a LOT earlier when the kids still trust their parents. That also means that parents have to be worthy of trust (course, this also means that teens might actually trust their parents later in life too).

What do you think?

Katie Faye said...

Amen, and amen. Good word, Laura.

Addressing the outward symptoms of our inward heart problem will only be putting a baindaid on the problem. Results and change will be temporal at best. However, if we address the underlying problems of sin with the gospel, then the outward symptoms will change. We must see change within it's proper context: the gospel.

Love you!!
Katie V.

Jeremiah said...

Reading and agreeing. I think that, rather than school OR church, a proper body image begins at home, with the parents. Not only do parents need to build their children up, but they need to stop tearing themselves down in front of their kids. Thanks for a great essay.