What Does it Mean to Objectify Women?
Summer is here, which means a few things for my family: happy boys, Crossroads Summer Camp, cookouts, fireworks, pools and beaches...and bathing suits. It's time to put on that suit. For those of you who have had time to work out, shop for a new suit and get that base tan, you've probably been waiting and you're so ready! Personally I've been working my tail off lately and haven't had time to work on my pasty pale skin and my workout regimen has been...lacking. Ever since I've had children, I don't like to try on bathing suits, underwear, or bras. Depending on how bloated I am, I may not want to try on much of anything. Why? Because I compare my current self to my younger self. Because I compare myself to the happy people on the walls of the store and in ads. Because I compare, and feel like I fall short.
I wonder how many American women feel unjustified to wear the suit they love because they are out-of-shape, white as snow, or simply don't look as good as that girl in that picture. To borrow a slightly old saying, The Struggle is Real. Why? I think because we've grown up in a culture which has taught us to do this. But, I personally can't completely blame culture because I've chosen to think this way and to believe I am how I look instead of believing I am who I am inside.
The main reason I'm writing this blog is not to announce my bathing suit insecurity, but to talk about the push back I've seen many women taking toward this real struggle I've noticed on social media. I'm proud of the stand women in our country are taking against abuse, oppression and objectification. I am a supporter of all these movements. However, in the past few months I've been ruminating on the new trend of women posting images of themselves in underwear and bras. As I read their posts and scan through comments, their reasons for these photos is to take a stand against the computer generated images of women in advertisements, as well as the societal message that to be beautiful you must either have a naturally high metabolism or you must starve yourself.
I want to fight the objectification of women and the shame we absorb from unrealistic comparison, but if I'm honest, I am disturbed by this methodology. I understand the heart behind such images, but I also know that when something has felt wrong for so long, it's tempting to fight back with more force than we need- and then to regret our method later on. Most of the time hindsight reveals that giant pendulum swings and over-compensations for moral wrongs are not wise.
I'm not using this blog to make statement about bathings suit pics on social media, but to start a conversation. I have an uneasiness in my heart which I can't resolve, and so I wanted to ask some questions and hear your responses. Please know these questions are not judgements. I am simply trying to understand and listen. And please know that if you are bold enough to answer, your comments will be treated with respect. If someone is critical I will remove the comment. So here goes:
- If we don't want to be seen as objects (judged by our shape or cellulite) why do we feel such a strong impulse to post pics of ourselves in underwear or skimpy bathing suits? (I'm not talking about a random or friend beach picture telling your beach trip story, but rather repeated instances which are intended to make a statement).
- Why isn't it good enough to find, buy, or borrow a super-cute outfit and take a pic with clothes on? What are we hoping to gain by posting pics with so little clothing? Why is it MORE BRAVE to show more skin?
- When we post a pic wearing less clothing, what is the motive of our hearts? Are we hoping our friends (and even strangers) will affirm our self-confidence or our figure? And if so, is this bravery or insecurity?
- If we are trying to fight objectification because it's not okay for the media to "use" women's bodies to sell stuff, what are we saying when we "use" our bodies to send a message to the world on social media? It seems like we are saying it's not okay for someone else to use a woman's body, but it's okay for me to use my own.
Satan has deceived me so many times by twisting bits of truth into his lies. As a victim of abuse, I am worried that women might be giving too much of themselves to a cause now that they may later regret. I don't believe any cause is worth that cost, but maybe I'm just old....and old-fashioned. All I know is that I've had to unfollow some people because when I'm scrolling through their feed, my husband and kids' first question to me is, "Why are they posting that for the world to see?" It's worth thinking about.
Just thinking out loud to my friends-