A Letter to Sexy-Instagram Posters

 

sexy selfie

Photo Credit: Creative Commons, sunshine city

(This letter is in response to this controversial letter to a teenage girl from a mom who blocks sexy-posters her from her sons’ social media feeds.

Dear Sexy-Instagram Poster,

I see you. That feels like a good place to start.

I see how you long to be beautiful, to be told you are beautiful. I see how hard it is to grow up in a digital fishbowl where all your secrets, your flaws, your triumphs are on display. It was hard enough when I was your age to put up with bullies, but I can’t imagine a world where they have instant access to you through text message and social media. You have it harder than any other generation, this I know for sure.

Recently, a mom wrote a post on her blog telling you her boys can never ‘un-see’ your sexy pictures so she’s blocking you from their social media feed. I know she meant well, but her post has inspired me to remind you of the truth.

Do I think putting sexy selfies on Instagram is a good idea? No, I don’t. I don’t think it’s a great idea because there are a bunch of people out there that will take your pictures the wrong way, some weirdo creeps other just innocent moms. These pictures never go away, so your boss may one day see them which will make you want to break out in hives. Think of pictures like you would a tattoo–they never really disappear without a lot of hard work.

But let’s be clear about something: I have put one too many bikini pictures on social media, so I totally get it. We want validation that we are desirable and “likes” seem to answer that question, right?  But no matter how many ‘likes’ your sexy selfies receive, it really won’t ever be enough. I promise.

But I am not worried about what you post. Keep posting sexy beach pictures or don’t post at all, that’s not why I’m writing this letter. I’m writing this letter because well-intentioned mothers of boys in your class or youth leaders or pastors or teachers might shun you for these pictures. They might tell their sons that you aren’t worthy of their love. You might hear that once men see these pictures of you they can’t “unsee them”. They might tell you there are no second chances to be a woman of character.

But they are dead wrong. So wrong that I wrote about eight cuss words here because this makes me so angry. But I’m not writing to prove that they are wrong, rather to let the truth wash over you.

Here’s the truth, written in “I statements” so you can read it out loud:

  • I am not dirty.
  • I am not bad.
  • I am not an object.
  • My body is not the problem.
  • My posts do not mean I deserve mistreatment.
  • If a man only thinks of me in a sexual way, that is his fault. Not mine.
  • My clothing choices, what I post, and who I made out with last weekend does not excuse his lust, his unwanted touch.
  • There are no women of character without Jesus. He always gives second chances.

I have had many tell me to cover up, reminding me of how ‘tempting’ my body is, and shunning me when I chose the wrong outfit. For years, I believed I was dirty and unworthy of a good man because I was the girl who liked attention, the girl who wore a bikini, the one who answered a few late night messages to ‘hang out’.

But then I met Jesus. This Jesus looked right past my mistakes and my wardrobe and saw a woman desperate for love. He saw the painful words that clung to my heart—and you know what He told me? He didn’t tell me how hard men have it with lust. He didn’t tell me to cover up and hide. He never reminded me of my part in my boyfriend’s lust.

Jesus told me I was worth loving. He tells each of us that we are worthy of love, of His Love, not because of our Instagram feeds or our promises to get it right, but because He’s a good Dad. And he cares deeply about you and me.

You were given a beautiful body, not as an object of shame, but as a visual representation of Jesus’s grace and healing to a hurting world. Start here, and you’ll have all the answers to your questions about worth.

much love,

Ruthie

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Comments
27 Responses to “A Letter to Sexy-Instagram Posters”
  1. Kirsten says:

    Love this post — not even for the subject matter (which is important) but because it can be applied to
    every single issue that people have an opinion on, that divides society, that divides people
    in churches, you hit the nail on the head….
    it’s all about Jesus. It doesn’t matter what people say about you or what they judge you for,
    Jesus sees you. He sees past all of it – all the labels and stereotypes. He sees us for who we are,
    because He knows us. Inside and out. Our hurts, our fears, our longings. And He calls us Beloved.
    Ruthie I love that you admitted you had a reaction toward that mom letter and how you wanted to maybe lash out and defend the girls, but instead of focusing on breaking them down for the wrongs, you choose
    to focus on Jesus and how He builds up. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Margaret says:

    Absolutely. The world already tells us over and over “you are not okay” because of x, y, or z. So glad to hear the truth; we are okay, and we are worth loving, no matter our dress.

  3. Courtney says:

    I understand what you are saying but I must admit to feeling frustrated with the number of women who seem to have taken offense to a mom letting girls know that it is better to be women of character if they want attention from men rather than attracting them with their bodies. I think a lot was read into that article that wasn’t there. No one was condemning these girls, they often don’t know any better, she was letting them know better. As someone who took care to dress modestly not prudishly as a youth (and now) I feel that girls that make an effort to honor the Lord by not revealing too much deserve some credit for recognizing that their actions and how they dress DOES matter. Mistakes are made, and I made some outfit errors myself but please, let’s teach not preach, lets not put it all on the men here. It is vital that we show girls, and women that while we understand where their coming from it doesn’t mean that they can’t make a change. That dressing in a way that honors God is better for their self esteem and demonstrates to others that they recognize their own value.

    • Ruthie Dean says:

      Hi Courtney,

      Thanks for your comment. I disagree that the mom wasn’t condemning these girls–I think blocking someone from social media and saying ‘there are no second chances’ is condemnation at it’s finest. But I do agree that women should dress in a way that honors God–but that’s a separate issue than the one I addressed here. I wish we could focus less on what girls are wearing and more on what they believe about themselves. I think this focus shift would solve most of the problems.

      • Sarah says:

        I agree with Courtney. I believe that it is not only a man’s job to keep his mind pure. Women play a HUGE role in a mans purity of mind. Rather then it being the man’s job or the woman’s job I believe it should be BOTH who make the effort for purity. Meaning that a woman should put some thought into how much of her body she wants on display, rather then wearing as she wills and putting it all on the man to stay pure. How does this help our brothers when we parade around in front of them half dressed and then tell them to keep their minds pure?? By reminding these girls that showing their bodies is not the correct way to go about finding worth is not condemning them. How will they know if no one tells them? Rather, it is a reminder to find their true beauty within. That mother was not telling those girls that they do not have a second chance with God. She was simply telling them that they have one chance on Facebook to show how they value themselves. I do not think this mother was in the wrong, she was protecting her boys thought life, however there may have been a better way to go about it. And while I realize that this is not the issue you were addressing, I feel that when you leave this aspect out, some people may take it wrong. When I first read this article I took it to mean that women are so valuable that they can dress however they want to as long as they love themselves. Then the rest lays on the men to stay pure. And that is NOT true. I am not trying to attack your article. There are truths in what you say, but I also believe that there should be a little more clarity as to what role a woman plays in helping keep a man’s thought life pure.

      • Peter says:

        I read her “no second chances” comment as pertaining to social media, that is “we will not re-add you on Facebook”. That doesn’t mean there are no second chances in real life — just that this particular family was not willing to open their sons up to what amounts to a photo feed of pictures they don’t need to be viewing.

        Of course her own teenagers stand shirtless at the top of that blog post, but that’s another matter.

  4. Love this, Ruthie. So, so true.

  5. Suzanne says:

    I am a 46 year old single mother of two children, ages 18 and 20. One a girl, one a boy. I can see both sides of this issue. However, the reason this post HIT me personally was because I have been divorced now 3 years. I have always been told how “sexy” and “hot” I am. What a “cougar” I must be. Ha! I was a faithful wife since the age of 18. But now, at this point in the dating world…I can see how tempting this issue can be and has been for myself. I do not dress provacatively but it would seem not to matter to a lot of men. I am certainly not tooting my horn when I say all of this I am just trying to make a point with Ruthie, how I PRAISE you for speaking out on this subject! I know many divorced, Christian women my age who are entering the dating world again and it’s so different from when we were teenagers! Just because we are “older” doesn’t mean we aren’t sexual beings. We need to feel desired, loved, adored but hearing you say that Jesus is our Daddy, oh, that melts my heart. I know He has a plan for my life, it gets extremely lonely being single. I also know going the road of seeking man’s approval is not the best road to travel. Thank you again Ruthie for speaking truth! Can’t wait to read your book. :)

  6. Rachel says:

    Love this post Ruthie. Your posts really remind me that I need to have compassion for others. Love is so important and through the things you write and the way you present them I’ve had a totally different outlook on this topic. This issue is definitely a self-worth issue.

    • Ruthie Dean says:

      Amen! It’s 100% a self-worth issue and tackling self-worth issues with a list of dos and don’ts doesn’t ever work.

  7. Steve Hill says:

    As a man, I have to say that I really liked the point you made about men who only see women in a sexual light being at fault for that. While there’s a whole separate discussion around urges and hormones I don’t care to have, the fact of the matter is that this notion of everything revolving around how a man sees a woman is ridiculous and, quite frankly, misogynist. Unfortunately, the church has turned modesty into something that’s designed to give men a free pass to be whatever, placing the burden to be pure and modest entirely on women. Is that a picture of male leadership? Heck no! At the end of the day, men need to hold other men accountable for how they process the things they see.

    I am curious as to if you had thought about the life God’s love produces when you were sharing some of your closing thoughts about God’s love. I really believe that God has designed each of us in a way that when we experience God’s love, we’re inspired to demonstrate His love to others, pursue righteousness, and live as changed people. The best part of God’s love is the life it produces in us! I didn’t really see that communicated and I really wish it was. It’s super important and worth telling!

    • Ruthie Dean says:

      Hi Steve,

      I completely agree with you! I thought I communicated that but thanks for your critique. I’m so thankful you, as a man, weighed in, because it’s so important that we hear from the men!

      Thanks!

  8. Caleb Rexius says:

    Ruthie – very very well put. You could write a book on this I think. Seriously impressed.

  9. Brad Hines says:

    Ruthie,

    Amen. I saw her post awhile back and thought it was misguided bordering on stupid.

    Brad

  10. mark says:

    Great post! I’m a firm believer in living Christianity on offense not on defense. Trying to put up walls to keep out temptation keeps us from seeing and loving people. It’s selfish and, therefore, counter to the Gospel. Women are a gift not a problem. If we see with the eyes of Christ, we will love them not lust after them no matter what they’re wearing or not wearing. The problem for men is not un-seeing what they’ve seen. It’s never seeing the woman God made in His image and likeness in the first place because the man is self-absorbed and thinks everything is about him.

  11. Michele says:

    Ruthie-

    Just stumbled onto your blog today from an article you wrote on Relevant. This was the first post of yours I read and wow- I can’t wait to read the rest. What an awesome, awesome witness. So many truths – God big T Truths – in your letter.

    I think the whole thing you are trying to hit home is it is a two-way street. Not that woman are blameless in the situation – but rather – we should approach these situations with a Christ-like spirit. Not from judgement, but with God’s word and a heart full of LOVE. So many times we err one way or the other – condemnation or saying “Hey- it’s okay! Do what you want!” It’s that delicate balance that is so hard to achieve that you hit perfectly on the head.

    Thanks very much for sharing! Plan on buying your book as well.

    Michele

    • Ruthie Dean says:

      Hi Michelle,

      So great to hear from you! Glad you found meJ I’m glad you enjoyed the post and I hope you love our book. Let me know what you think, ok?

      Happy Sunday!

  12. Savanah says:

    This is absolutely beautiful; the power is in the grace of Jesus and therefore the renewing of one’s mind is not contingent upon a list of “Do’s and Don’ts”. Ruthie, you so gracefully addressed this issue with love, empathy, and realism. I also enjoy reading comments from men and seeing their perspective. It is not in our power to change any one. Our only efforts to should be toward leading people to the grace of Christ because only when we know His love will we understand that worldly gratification cannot satisfy.
    I too, have tried to find satisfaction in gratification of others, additionally, I have been ostracized and therefore spent a lot of energy on “downplaying” my appearance in order to please people. Our job is not to please people; no matter what you do darlin’ always remember that you are beloved and beautiful.
    Song of Songs 4:7- “You are all beautiful my beloved and there is no blemish in you.”

  13. DeeAnna says:

    I agree men should def be accountable for their sins, as well will give an account to Jesus. We as women okay a role in this too, as we are not to cause another to stumble. It’s both for sure, we are designed as family and community. This is 100% biblical and can be reinforced with scripture. As a woman who has dressed in this fashion, I can see both sides and we always should. (Proverbs 18:17) YES, those photos should have been BLOCKED 100% and I would do the same for my children. Why? Because we are responsible for the people God places in front of us, including our children. Men struggle with lust? A few women do, including myself pretty severely it’s quite annoying. I’m always tempted to see people as sexual objects both men and women. On my IG I don’t have any men or women in my feed, not to condemn them but I need to keep my mind pure. What is wrong with that? I simply do not get it? In addition that Mother needs to keep her son’s mind pure. Will those women be looked at differently by society? Yes, you’ve even said it, look at how that employer will view her or even men.

    I can also guarantee I have been on the ugliest side of being viewed as an object. I’ve been stalked by seven different men and have been sexually assaulted by more men than I can count on one hand. I get harassed by simply going to the grocery store almost every week. I’m asked out weekly and I don’t even want it, I see the lust in their eyes. Was or is any this my fault, no? I also did not dress a certain way to get most of this backlash. I truly get how ugly this spirit is personally and how it can affect one. Talk about dirty? I’ve had pars on off after the numerous traumatic experiences throughout my life.

    We are to teach others. All scripture is profitable for teaching, rebuking, etc. 2Tim3. Galations 6 if you consider yourself more mature, you are to properly and guide the weaker vessel. Is this not love? Is this no just.

    Now maybe your teacher wasn’t gracious and that’s the point, not that we do not teach but we need grace. PERIOD. Your teacher even needs grace, so she can learn how to properly address these issues.

    I love these articles, but one thing we must do is stick to the word and just not our feelings.
    Bottom line men need to learn how to manage and wire their minds to view women as a person. The older women teach the younger women, is that in Timothy or Peter? So the women teach the women modesty via GRACE AND LOVE. Speak the truth in love Ephesians. As I’m not trying to be a religious but here, I’m just a geek who loves cliff notes there for the scripture references. Also we hold tight to the word of God, so He is glorified and not our opinions.

    I also will say I did not read the article so maybe the Mother wasn’t gracious? That may be her only fault. I will say this having a male friend who has come to me in tears bc he can’t kick porn now for 10-15 years bc of what he was exposed to as a child simply is heartbreaking. I wish his had blocked those images.

    We all will be held accountable by Jesus at the end of the day, we all at responsible for our actions and sins. We all need to help one another. Jesus washes Judas’ feet, we wash the feet of the religious nay Sayers, isn’t this how we win the spiritual war. That’s what this is anyway. It’s not about that Mother or your bikini, it’s about the division and the breaking of the church body.

    Women teach women how to be women of God. Men to teach men how to be men of God. Men and women be responsible for your own relationship with Jesus, as it’s the most important one you’ll have.

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