Saturday, June 18, 2011

Showing some skin.. my soapbox speech about scandalous Facebook photographs

Welcome to my blog.  This is my own little corner of the internet where I tell you stories and make confessions and opine about all things, significant and not.  For the easily offended, please stop reading right here.  Go back to watching Grey's Anatomy or Glee or whatever else it is that you do for fun.  You might not like what I am about to tell you.  I don't even like it.  But here I am, ready to say something about it.  Needing, even, to say something about it.

Social Networking.  It has changed the way we do almost everything.  From communicating with friends, to dining out, to getting opinions on important decisions, and presenting who we are to the rest of the world.  Everything has changed because of social networking.  For me, it started with Bebo.  All of my New Zealand friends had a Bebo account, and in order to keep up with their lives and growing families, I signed up.  Then it moved to Myspace and now it is Facebook.  I am a Twitter dabbler (I hate the word dabbler, really), but I am not committed.  You could say I am just casually dating Twitter, and always have the breakup in the back of my mind.  But these days, I am married to Facebook.  I love it.  And I am not here today to give you a sermon on the evils of social networking.  But the photos.  Oh the photos.  My goodness at the photos.

Boys don't do it.  Boys don't take fleshy pictures of themselves and post them on the internet for all 456 friends to see.  If a boy posts a picture on Facebook, it is almost always for fun.  Wrangled fish, funny signs, food, etc.  Guys don't purposely take photographs of themselves for Facebook.  They just don't.  The majority of Facebook pictures come from the girls.  Pictures of vacations and weddings and children and date nights.  And I get it.  I love pictures.  I am the Facebook picture queen.  I love my iphone and my photography apps.  Love them.  But almost daily I am shocked by the amount of cleavage and pregnant bellies and teeny tiny shorts that my eyes are exposed to.  I don't go searching it out.  I log into Facebook and there it is, right in the middle of my screen, photographs of people I know (and love) showing far more of themselves than should be seen by anyone other than a medical professional or a spouse.  And there are two sides of me.  The judgy side that wants to post "PUT SOME CLOTHES ON!" and the side that tries to reason it out, to blame the pictures on low self esteem or neediness.  Maybe there should be another side to me, a side that doesn't care or think twice, but there isn't.  That side does not exist.  And so I am left with the dilemma of speaking up or keeping my mouth closed.  

This is me speaking up.  And in the interest of full disclosure, I hesitate to do it for fear of hurting feelings or fear that I have posted something less than appropriate at some point and someone is going to call me on it.  I have decided that I am okay with that.  I don't write this because I am perfect or have everything figured out or have always done the exact right thing.  I am not, I don't, and I haven't.  But almost all of my Facebook friends are Christians, and though I am certainly not wanting to let the religious pendulum swing to the side of legalism, I believe that we speak volumes about our spiritual life by how we present ourselves.  Go ahead, gasp.  Shake your head.  Disagree if you like.  We can disagree and still be friends.  But first, please hear me out (unless you want to go back to watching Grey's Anatomy like I suggested before...  seriously, last chance).

One of the benefits of our relationship with God is the unconditional approval and acceptance.  When we are right in that relationship, we feel fulfilled and loved and validated, and we need those things.  When we are struggling in our relationship with God (and we all do at times) we search to fill that legitimate need with the approval and acceptance of people.  In today's culture, we do it in so many ways, with so many things.  But you see it all the time.  

Girl posts slightly scandalous photograph.
Female friend posts "Looking great!"
Male friend posts "Whoa.  You are looking hot."
Female family member "You are so beautiful."
Girl posts the obligatory "Aw, thanks guys."
Girl feels validated.  Filled.  
Who needs God?

The scenario is most disturbing to me in two situations, the first being a young girl who doesn't know any better and whose parents do not stop it.  The second is when it's a married woman who does know better.  Either way, this is me, telling you that it's not okay.  Not even a little. 

So to my teenage girlfriends: Your body is probably in the best shape it will ever be.  Take the time to be thankful for a great metabolism.  You are adorable.  You are young and social and you love boys, but when you post pictures of yourself in tiny little things, you present yourself as less valuable than you are.  You make guys, young and old, think thoughts they shouldn't think.  You would probably be horrified if you knew the effect that your pictures can have.  Take pictures of yourself with your girlfriends, laughing and being silly. Go ahead, be young.  Just make sure that you have proper clothes on.  Not pajamas.  Not short shorts and a bikini top.  Real, actual clothes that cover you.  Make sure your intentions are pure, and that you are not just seeking out the attention of guys.  If you look especially nice, have one of your parents take your picture.  I assure you that your pose for your dad holding the phone or camera will be way different than the bathroom mirror pose you do for the photo you take on your own.  If you are feeling bad about yourself, pick up your Bible, read Psalm 139 and know that you have so much value to God.  I love you, and I don't want to see you finding your worth in all the wrong things.  

To my adult female friends: Please, please be careful.  Think of the people that you affect when you post photographs where we can see down your shirt.  Think of the boys and men who struggle with lust and work hard to keep their thoughts pure.  You are making things difficult.  I know we all want to feel beautiful, and some days that comes easier than others.  Or maybe that's not it.  Maybe you are proud of the hard work you have put into losing weight and keeping in shape, but please, be considerate of our husbands and fathers and brothers and sons.  Please cover yourself.

So there it is.  I warned you that you might not like it.  Again, I don't even like it.  A decent part of me wants to delete this post so that no one gets upset or offended.  But like I said, my corner of the internet.  My opinion.  And since you've made it this far, thanks for being here.  Thanks for reading.  I appreciate you.  Now you may go back to Grey's.     


  1. Thank you so much for posting this, Julie. It is SO needed! And if I ever post a "too-revealing" photo, please feel free to call me on it. I try not to, because basically, I don't really like having my photo taken. But if I do, PLEASE send me a note!

    Our bodies are precious and only to be looked upon in a certain manner by our spouses. Find your worth in Christ, not in what He has given you in your body.

  2. Julie, this was very well written... something that has been on my mind a lot lately too. Some days I just want to log off for good!!

  3. For the most part I'd say this is well written to express your viewpoint, but categorizing pregnant bellies with T & A photos, really?

  4. Anonymous,
    Usually I wouldn't even respond when someone doesn't leave their name, but I do want to clarify. I am not saying it's the same thing. I didn't mean to imply that. But let me pose this question to you: If the whole purpose of belly pictures is to show growth, why can't that be done with fully covered belly? I have one particular girlfriend who is pregnant right now and she posts weekly pictures of her pregnancy. She is precious and she is fully clothed in a tank top and pants. She wouldn't have posed with her shirt up before pregnancy and doesn't now. Let me ALSO say that I have another girlfriend who got maternity photos done, shirt up, and they are tasteful and one is framed and hanging in her home. So there is just a fine line there. That's all I am saying. Hope that clears things up. And I hope you come back again, even though we may not agree on this one little thing. :)

  5. AMEN!!! So agree with this. Bless you. :)

  6. Nadia KratochvilJune 18, 2011 at 8:17 PM

    Well written Julie....I just had this conversation with my Mom in law who came for a visit. Thank you for posting and not being ashamed.

  7. I couldn't have said it better! Thanks for posting these comments!

  8. Well said. I have this on my list of blog posts I've been wanting to try and write.... but like you, I'm not looking for a fight, but maybe someone has been desensitize and doesn't even realize it.... I live in Austria and it's not any better here.

    Krista (Wiese) Caldwell
    ps-- if you don't remember me, we lived on 3rd floor Woodworth your Sr. year I believe :)

  9. Julie, I don't know how leaving a name validates my comment and since I don't know you (so you won't recognize me anyway) I didn't think it was necessary. Perhaps you meant that photos should be more modest, which is what I'm getting from your response. I wouldn't say I have a problem with bare belly photos but I also wouldn't post them on FB. I did have professional maternity photos done and ended up having many more bare belly than I expected (photographer encouraged) and i absolutely love them. It wasn't clear to me in your post that it was the showing of skin that seems to be your problem with it. When the rest of the post was about how we as women shouldn't want to encourage lustful thoughts in men I didn't see the connection since I don't think that's what a woman's trying to do with belly photos (covered or not) but I would agree they're trying to do with your other examples.

    1. Anonymous or heather, I'm pretty sure she just cleared all that up. This is her blog. That means that it's her opinion and her beliefs. I think you'd be surprised at the number of women that show their belly, pregnant or not, for the exact reason that my sister was referring to originally. Not all women would do that and to those women, she wasn't talking to or about you. But there is a group of women that would and that is who she was talking to. My sister is genuine and sincere. She wasn't being preachy, she was being honest. Honesty isn't always welcomed by all, but it is often needed. And just so you know, bare skin and causing men to lust is the connection...thanks!

  10. Amen and amen and amen...thank you for speaking the truth in love. It' never an easy thing to do, I know, but truth is truth and we are called to stand on it. I pray the Lord uses your firm but gentle words to work in the hearts of many.

  11. I really, really do hope you know this post is god awfully sexist. I hope you never do say these things to a young girl in person, and leave her there feeling shitty for your god hates that she can have action in her life and make her own choices and wants to convince her otherwise. and also that her body, which is part of her self, is wrong and sinful and that she must put that away. and also that she is to blame for any harm that men who treat her as an object might cause. I don't even wanna hear your thoughts on rape. really, even as you say things like this, you should know it's sexist.



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