Let me get right into it. Victoria's Secret did not single handedly destroy culture and turn women into half naked tooth picks. Now, I have issues with Victoria's Secret but it has far more to do with what their models are wearing then what they look like.
I know many naturally thin women. And when I say "naturally" I mean they eat candy and pasta and don't weigh more then 110 lbs. I know women of all shapes and sizes. Yes, I believe that it's insane that the modeling industry thinks that only women who are a size two and under are beautiful but I don't fault the women who are that size. What I find issue with is HOW LITTLE THEY ARE WEARING.
And it isn't all Victoria's Secret's fault. The world changed when sex became a commodity rather then a sacred act between a married man and women. Women (and men) became objects to be lusted over rather then people deserving of the whole gift of self given within a holy and loving sacramental marriage.
Women became commodities when sex no longer became associated with motherhood. Sex got stripped from motherhood with Roe v Wade when the creation of new life went from the purpose of sex to an unwelcome consequence. About a year ago a was reading an episode recap from The Office where some people were commenting that Jim should have cheated on his wife Pam because she hadn't lost her baby weight and that his infidelity would "teach her to let herself go". So now we have a generation or two of women who believe that they have a month, maybe two, to lose their baby weight so their husband will still find them attractive.
The models do it, sure. But do you know what goes into their weight loss regiment? Lets just say their isn't much time for them to sit and enjoy their sweet, velvety newborns. I see people online getting competitive about how quickly they can fit into their pre pregnancy pants. That should be the least of our concerns as a new mother and yet, we all worry about it. I sure did. And let's be honest, for most of us, when we lose the weight, we don't actually look the same again. To take it even further, I've heard women say that they don't ever want to get pregnant because they don't want to "lose their bodies". How has culture gotten so far out of hand that women fear motherhood because of their looks? As I have said, we all struggle with vanity in our own ways.
It's not just the curse of mothers either.
Every year prom dresses get more and more immodest, shorts get shorter, bikinis get smaller. Now there is a line of lingerie for middle schoolers. People wonder when it all went so wrong.
Women are over sexualized because in today's culture, sexy and beautiful are interchangeable adjectives.
Sexy is something that reminds you of sex.
Beauty is something that reminds you of God.
They are NOT the same thing.
When you look at the ocean, it is beautiful. When you see a mountain, it is beautiful. The Grand Canyon is beautiful, a sunset is beautiful. And women... We are created to make all of that look like the drawing of a four year old in comparison. There is a reason God created men to be visual creature. Our beauty is supposed to be part of what inspires them to holiness.
However when we focus so much on being sexy, it creates just the opposite effect. It does not help their souls and it does not help ours.
With so much focus on the physical, what can we even do to change it?
I believe that, first of all, as women we take some responsibility. We stop dressing and acting immodestly. We keep our words and actions pure. We pray more and we ask for the intercession of Our Lady to guide us. We don't make excuses. We treat our bodies as temples and try to stay healthy, this means we watch if we are getting too over weight of two under weight as well. Everyone has the place where they are healthy. Don't kill yourself, but try to stay healthy. Your kids and spouse deserve that. However, remember that it is not about a size. It is about health.
If you think a friend is struggling with an eating disorder, talk to a counselor and get her help. Eating disorders can be life threatening and often there is something much deeper going on then a desire to lose weight.
Then we need our men to step up too. Our sons and daughters need to see their fathers adoring their wives. Right after she has given birth, tell her she is beautiful. Tell her every day. Tell her in front of your kids. Girls learn how they deserve to be treated from their fathers. Boys learn how to treat women from you as well. Support your wife. Watch the kids so she can get to the gym, have family meals, let her buy something that makes her feel pretty, bring her home flowers. If your wife feels like she disgusts you she is likely to give up. It's hard to feel beautiful when you spend your days wiping other people's butts. Let her know that she still is.
Pay attention to your daughters as well. There is only a short time when they are in your home. Teach them about what true beauty is. Let the bikini stay at Target. Keep the short dress in Kohl's. Give them freedom but also give them boundaries and talk to them. They are more likely to confide in you if you have a relationship beyond rules. They are also more likely to confide in you if you actually act like a parent instead of trying to be their BFF.
I think this world change starts at home. I don't expect Victorias Secret to change their ways anytime soon but I am going to teach my daughters what beauty is anyway. I am going to teach them to be selfless, generous, loving, kind, honest, patient, and good. I am going to teach them that God loves them and that they were created in His likeness and image. I am going to teach them that physical beauty is not everything but it is a gift and shouldn't be squandered. I am going to let my husband teach them that they deserve to be treated with love and respect and that they deserve a spouse who will bring them closer to God instead of taking them further away,
I don't have delusions about perfection. I have hope in the Lord and a deep respect for Beauty. I'm going to start this revolution at home. Beauty can change the world.