Growing up as a curvy girl in the Pentecostal church, I was given many messages about my body and none of them were good. I felt ashamed of my body for many reasons, the biggest two being because-
- my curves were noticeable no matter how loose fitting my clothes
- it was considered provocative
Looking back I realize this sends some very inaccurate and alarming messages including:
- men are animals that can’t control themselves
- the female body is a sexual object to be hidden
- the way a female dresses sets the stage for the treatment she receives
This mentality isn’t limited to Pentecostal churches, as a society, this is a wide-spread message. We need to stand together as a community to send a very different message. The conversation we have with our sons and daughters needs to be different. We need to be teaching boys that women should be respected and treated as ladies regardless of what they wear. We need to teach them how to control their impulses, urges, and hormones. Men need to lead by example and be positive role models showing them what it looks like to treat their mothers, wives, sisters, coworkers, and strangers in a positive respectful way. They need to show them with conversations they have with and about women. As a society, we need to send positive messages through the movies they watch and music they listen to. Young boys need to grow up cherishing women for the delicateness, beauty, tenderness, and strength they bring into this world and respecting them as human beings.
We need to teach our daughters that it’s not about the clothes they wear but the manner in which they conduct themselves that determines how they’re treated by others. We need to teach them to love themselves no matter what shape they come in. We need to teach them that beauty is determined by the amount of kindness in their hearts not the amount of makeup on their faces. We need to teach them what it’s like to be respected by boys so as they grow up they know what it means to be respected by men. We need to show them by the relationships we enter into and the healthy boundaries we set. We need to show them by the way, the men in our lives speak to us, not just the words they say but how they say them. Not just words spoken but those unspoken. We need to show them by loving ourselves with our thoughts, actions, and words.
Sending messages to women that their bodies are sexual objects and what they wear determines how they are treated is dangerous. It opens the door for it to be acceptable to be treated a certain way based on their appearance alone. It says that if she dresses a certain way she’s welcoming unwanted advances. It says that if she dresses another way she should be respected and protected. It makes excuses for men not being able to control themselves. It sends the message that if she were to be sexually assaulted, the responsibility isn’t on the person that committed the crime. It says that as a society we determine how respectable a woman is by the clothes she’s wearing. We value her less and her safety isn’t as important if she chooses to dress a certain way. The message we should be sending is to love and respect all people. Regardless of their gender, race, appearance, or preferences.
What are your thoughts on the way society views women based on their appearance or clothing? Do you have any suggestions on how we can cultivate a healthier outlook? I’d love to hear your thoughts, please share in the comments. Thank you in advance for keeping the comments respectful ❤
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