Saturday, April 5, 2008

Skin Chats

Years ago when I was unsaved, I was watching a daytime talk show where they were having a spring/summer fashion show. In those days, for whatever reason I found those kinds of shows entertaining, while now I just find them so useless and petty. In any event, on this show the models came out on the catwalk wearing the latest fashions and the designer would tell the host and audience what made the outfit so eye catching (and why you and I needed to dash right out and buy that style). I'll never forget one of the things he said, as it pertained to the cut of the garment. He said no matter if it's pants, skirts, dresses or tops, the eye is naturally drawn to the area where fabric stops and skin begins. With that in mind, he designed his line to accentuate the areas of a woman's body that would stop just short, of leaving nothing to the imagination.

In all honesty, and giving it some thought years later, I would alter that designer's comment and say that the eye is sinfully drawn to the area of the body where fabric stops, and flesh begins. If we're referring to a woman dressed in a style like this where others are having their eyes drawn to her, I would say that for men it's a basic lust seeing all that skin and all those curves and for women I think it's a mix of jealously, insecurity, and probably some other emotionally messed up/sinful thoughts tossed in as well. Either way you look at it, folks looking at Miss Curvy Skin, aren't looking because she's got a beautiful heart, and a personality that shines through.

This is a difficult topic because no matter what you say, someone is bound to come along and argue it with you. Some women will deny that women look in the first place. Others will say they look for other reasons, and that I don't know what I'm talking about (which is entirely possible, I just know that we do in fact look and most of us - if honest - will tell you that it bothers them to see Miss Curvy Skin). No matter what you say, someone is going to accuse you of being judgemental or a prude, narrowminded or some such thing. Someone is going to be offended, someone is going to get upset, and so forth. Then the other part of this topic is discerning when to say anything, and how to say it without just coming right out and saying "hey, that top makes you look skanky, just thought you oughta know". I mean, if someone said that to me, I'd die a million deaths of embarassment - so you certainly have to be delicate in the way you choose to bring up the topic, in those cases where you think you can.

There are many given scenarios where you can say something - and then just as many where you really can't. I think a different approach (if any at all) applies to different situations. If it's a stranger in public, a woman in your church, a Christian blogger's profile picture, a friend of your daughters, etc. Depending on how well you know the person, if you know the person, and that sort of thing makes all the difference in how you can approach them.

I remember once a few years ago, there was a Christian discussion forum I was a part of where folks would post their pictures in their profiles. One of the ladies that was a member of this forum had a most suggestive picture of herself, in a most suggestive pose, with very little on, in the way of clothing. I hadn't seen it at first because I had never clicked on her profile - but many of the men had, and many of them were quite bothered by it. Some suggestions were made for one of the women of the forum to contact her about the picture, and when one of the women did, she just went ballistic. Apparently her husband approved of the pic, therefore what right did any of us women (who she labelled all jealous) "judge" her, and yada yada yada and on it went. It was a nasty scene and eventually she left the forum, very angry at anyone who dared say a word to her about it. No one really wanted her to leave, but instead just really wanted her to pull down that suggestive picture and replace it with something more fitting, to not tempt the men there. It just didn't work out that way. I never had the chance to speak to this woman and didn't know she'd left the forum until after the fact, but I always wished I could have talked to her before she left and said something, anything that would have helped her understand. I don't know that I could have, but it sure was the way I wished it would have turned out.

With summer just around the corner, this is going to come up more and more. Folks are going to begin to post pictures of fun in the sun, summer vacation shots, beach shots, etc. Folks are going to show up in church in lighter, and less clothing that they do in the winter. For those of us with teen and pre-teen daughters, the trendy summer fashions they're going to ask for will make us deal with this subject whether we wanted to or not.

While I believe a good old fashioned heart to heart talk with those close to you, is the only real solution, I wonder what others think of other, more complicated scenarios. How do you bring this up if you see a lady in church dressed in a way that is causing the men to turn their heads? What do you say to your daughters when they see other girls in church dressed inappropriately - and they can't understand why those girls are there dressed that way but you wont let them dress that way? How do you address it with folks you know online? Do you address it with folks you know online, or leave it alone?

I look forward to your answers, I think this is a critical subject not just for our girls and young women, but for our young men and older men as well.