What if the young man on display were your son?
Would there be pride that he made it to model status, enough to adorn the front of a popular clothing store, even if the photo is revealing? Would there be a sense of defensiveness or denial, in that one might be forced to accept his decision to pose and make money in a way that exploits him, so don't be critical. My honest answer is that I would not want this to be my son, because nobody’s son should believe that he is valued and loved for what he looks like.
Unfortunately, this is the message that soaks into the minds and hearts of our youth every single day. Through media, TV, YouTube, music, ads, you name it – the message that their value is largely based on looks and body image rings through loud and clear.
Walking down the mall with my own son one day, we passed a similar popular clothing store. Outside, trying to entice shoppers into the store by personally handing every shopper a coupon was a young man dressed only in boxers. I paused, ready to talk to this young man to ask him why he felt the need to do this. I probably also would have confronted the store manager, but out of respect for my son’s request that I not cause a scene, I silently continued on my way – a decision I still regret today – disturbed, angry, and sad. Why? Because that young man was being taken advantage of and exploited by the management of that particular store in order to increase their revenue! And I chose to stay quiet.
While our ministry focuses on the phrase, She’s Somebody’s Daughter, not for one second is the fact missed or forgotten that every day our sons are being victimized and exploited; not in the same high proportions as our girls, yet the numbers do not matter. Each one of us has been created in God’s image, with dignity and the capacity for true intimacy. Unfortunately, our pornified culture continues to erode these truths. This is evident in the disturbing percentage of boys and girls who are:
- sexually abused, harassed, and violated
- struggling with addictions to drugs, alcohol, and pornography
- ravaged by eating disorders
What can we do? Let’s start by speaking out today for our sons and daughters. Let’s model what it means to value a young person for his or her inherent dignity alone. Let’s question management when we see something offensive or exploitative occurring at a place of business. Let’s refuse to shop at such stores and tell the owners why we’ve made that decision. Let’s begin the conversation that needs to happen in order to turn the tide of our culture. Let’s use our voices to make a difference for generations to come!