It could be shoddy workmanship or a graphic designer hopped up on Red Bull and no sleep. However, in the last month three retailers have come under attack for their “photoshop fails.” Target took a giant chunk out of a bathing suit’s backside. The Limited took so much “meat” off of the arms on a shirt model that her elbows appear broken. Old Navy created “thigh gap” in plus-sized jeans. (You can read a great article summing it up Here)
In early February American Eagle Outfitter’s lingerie company “Aerie” announced they would not be photo-shopping or air-brushing models in many of their campaigns. They wanted to represent “real” bra sizes, shapes and sizes. (I am not posting pictures of young girls in panties and bikinis to show you, sorry.) On the one hand I am excited that the young women appear to actually have texture to their skin, on the other they are still ridiculously tanned, toned, and thin.
Yesterday a friend of mine posted an article on what “actresses look like without being touched up.” Who knows if any of the pictures were real, but they sure did look like the famous. It was actually nice to see that indeed it is true: None of us look anything less than dazed and crazy when we stumble out of a swim in the ocean.
Mash these together and sprinkle in the attempt to teach our young people about modesty and body image, and it still feels like a mess. I think we have forgotten that real people look real…and what on earth that could even mean?
Here’s what we forget: We were created naked. In our nakedness there was no shame. Why? There was innocence, and we understood we were created in the image of God. We make a really poor decision that we need to learn the difference between good and evil. In the moment innocence is lost, what do we do before anything else? We cover ourselves. We put on clothes. We forget who we look like. Male and female, we are a reflection of the Living Lord. Before we hide from His presence, we cover our skin. That is the day looking like God became less important than presenting our bodies to each other.
Try this exercise with your small group this week:
Ask them each to take a selfie without thinking. They are only allowed to take one. Notice that they will flip their hair or position their head to take it an angle they think they will like. Have them look at the picture. What do they like about it? What do they hate? Do they want to retake it? Would they post it or make you promise it will never see the light of day? Ask them if they took the picture in a certain way so they would like it?
We want to use these media examples to show our students what we are comparing our selves to. However, the reality is they will look at that selfie and compare it to the world, not to the image of God. We all do it. We are still attempting to cover ourselves with fig leaves, as they say.
So as you talk to your students about modesty and body image, remember this: Real people are created in the image of our Risen Savior- not on a computer screen. We are not objects to be seen, but a house for the Holy Spirit. I am not so sure that God sees our freckles and crooked teeth, and dimples and fluffy eyebrows as a bad thing. He isn’t sitting around saying, “I wish I made that guy over there with a smaller nose.” He’s laughing and saying, “That girl has my smile.”
Instead, teach them to take a look around. If we all carry the Lord’s DNA and not one of us looks alike, can you even fathom what God looks like???