Reams of books are written about self-esteem and young women almost to the point of cliché and I don’t want to add to them in this blog however I was reminded recently of the sad distortion of female beauty by Miley Cyrus’ controversial performance at the MTV video awards. In trying to throw off her sixteen year old Disney image she resorted to a hypersexualized performance to create an image of independence and maturity which has massively misfired judging from the general reception – ironically it seems she is the victim of blurred lines.
Our society gives young women so many mixed messages about what it means to be mature. We allow young teenagers access to contraception without their parents consent but we vilify men who engage in sexual relationships with underage girls. Robin Thicke’s ‘blurred lines’ has been hugely successful despite feminist’s complaints of it being misogynistic; advocating rape and its explicit adult rated music video. The whole thing makes me feel a bit ‘Mary Whitehouse-ish’. Our young women don’t need to be sexualised in these ways to be beautiful and mature. They don’t need to dream of being Jane Eyre either – the plain governess who discovers her potential through the love of a man. We tend to drift towards one image or another.
Young women need Christ. In him they can discover their true identity and be brought to godly maturity. In Christ they will understand what independence truly is – not an ability to cast off the demands of a culture or society, not the confidence to shock, not the pursuit of personal pleasure but the ability to stand firm in the faith when everyone else is tempting you to walk a different path.
I am conscious that in speaking of these things it is easy to sound staid and prudish- complaining about pop culture puts me firmly in the middle age bracket. But we do need to speak about these things, we need to be aware of the world our teenagers inhabit and we need to try to help them navigate their way through it by pointing them not to morality but Christ. I know many beautiful young women. They don’t realise that they are beautiful, indeed many of them consider themselves plain and unattractive, nevertheless they are each beautiful. They look at their lives and consider themselves very ordinary, and when they turn their gaze to the media this perception is magnified but when they turn their gaze back to their saviour the images of this world dissolve in the light of His glory. In Christ there are no blurred lines.