Jealousy. Fashion. Sex. Popularity. Culture. Beauty. It must be exceedingly hard to be a female these days. I often stop and realize how thankful I am that God made me a little boy and not a little girl. There are so many signals that the media and culture send our ladies that it appears impossible to remain morally intact. Movies push picturesque relationships down their throats, music portrays sex as easy and fun, celebrities seem to be able to get away with the craziest of behaviors, and magazines set unrealistic physical standards as the entry point for a life of success. I've gathered that girls' image of themselves does not always run a parallel course to those titillating sensations of becoming like their favorite famous people. It is an empty pursuit. So men, how can we help our gender counterparts see beyond the realm of the celebrity lifestyle? Let's try to find out.
One of the most important things to realize is that what we see in the media is not always real. Shocking I know, but it's true nonetheless. We can't all pay thousands of dollars to have personal stylists and curling irons with more technological prowess than space shuttles. (do people even still use curling irons?) There are a plethora of opportunities for the images that we see to be altered before they meet our eyes. Consumerism thrives on perfection, and the products we receive never fail to be in tip-top shape. It is crucial to realize that you cannot base your judgement of yourself solely on what you see in the media. Is it wrong to want to look like Jennifer Lopez or Jessica Alba? (Oh how I hope that was relevant.) On the surface, no I don't think it's wrong. It becomes detrimental when foundationally, your judgement rests upon goals that cannot be reached. I don't mean to say that you ladies are less attractive than celebrities. Nothing is farther from the truth. What I mean is that you all are not products. You don't spend $1000 on jeans. You don't go to night clubs and get flocked by paparazzi. You are not celebrities. I think girls that can thrive in a life of moderation are much more attractive and desirable than those who choose to chase clothes that they shouldn't wear and hairstyles that are more ridiculous than they can realize. Maybe I'm simple and/or old-fashioned, but I think at the heart of the matter most guys who are worth catching want to find a girl who is real. And I'm sorry if I offend you, but fancy clothes and dogs in your purse don't make you real.
Now that I've more than likely hurt some people's feelings, let me try and rectify the situation. I completely understand that most girls want to fit in. We all do. They want to look presentable and garner the attention of that special someone, or maybe just feel good about themselves. With all of the messages we receive in today's culture, I don't blame anyone for falling victim into that trap. It is easy to pay a high price for the things that the world assures you will make you popular and happy, but the years of consequences cut so deep. The fact of the matter is this: sex sells. It always will sell, and we cannot change the fact that the manufacturers of all things American will exploit this trend until the end of the age. It is tricky, though, to decipher all of the confusing signals we receive and pinpoint what we should and should not seek. Jon Foreman said it well in a very, very old Switchfoot song, " Concrete girl, don't fall down in this broken world around you."
Women of today, stand strong. Don't let the media convince you that you have to buy into the hype and fads in order to be beautiful. I cannot even fathom the pressures that are associated with being a girl, and I understand that the reason the system is in its current state can be partially allotted to selfish men who enjoy using women for their own means. I apologize on behalf of our crudity and lack of tact. We are a primitive bunch, and most of us do not realize how deeply our actions can affect your minds. So badly I wish that you had an easier time determining your worth, but I realize it is hard to establish a cohesive image of yourself without referencing pop culture. The perfect guys with huge muscles, a Gucci handbag (maybe?) and a bottomless shopping budget cannot fulfill you. For one thing, you never see the reverse view of the "glamorous" life. There are struggles that accompany any existence, but also I truly believe that no culmination of material possessions can fill your soul. It's like trying to fill a cardboard box with water; initially all appears to be well, but over time the water will weaken the cardboard's structural integrity and leak out until the box collapses and there is nothing left except the ruins. Fill yourself with worthwhile things.
One thing I want to stray away from is blaming any one party. I've heard a lot of people spew venomous, negative words towards pop stars or bash them for the way that they negatively influence girls today. I, too, believe their actions to be morally stagnant, but I cannot bring myself to hate them or to bring negative words to them. It boils down to the fact that they are people too with the same feelings and desires as we have. They long for acceptance and a place to fit in; they just do it in front of millions of people. So when our fingers fly towards them in accusation, let us remember that our hateful words are no better than their actions. Do they have a lot to answer for? Perhaps they do, but they need love just as much as you and I.
I hope that this wasn't a washed up collection of words. A lot of people have opinions on this topic, and I never want to be irrelevant or boring. let me end with this, ladies: chase your dreams. Wear cute pants and do your hair fancy, but never forget that those things can never define who you are. Remember the cardboard box from earlier? Let's pretend that you filled a small cup with water and set it in the box along with your other things. It's the same water, but taken in moderation and contained in a handy plastic cup, the water cannot hurt the box. There's nothing wrong with having nice things and being attractive, but guard your hearts. Be smart and cautious about what you choose to consume. Stand strong in the face of a hurting culture and be the one to enact change. You don't have to be content to slide alongside every other girl who wants to be Katy Perry. (I'm 99 percent sure I nailed that one...) You are beautiful exactly how God made you.
(Thanks for checking me out. I'm on Twitter at @matthewormand)