Conflicting Message to Christian Women by Christians About Physical Appearance
I plan on making a longer post later about how Christian dating and marriage advice often emphasizes the supposed necessity of the importance of a woman’s physical appearance – and how annoying this emphasis is – but this post, I wanted to keep this post a little short.
On the one hand, going back decades now, conservative American churches and other Christian entities have instructed unmarried women that if they want dates or a husband, they have to stay thin and attractive at all times.
This is the type of advice I would expect to see in secular sources pertaining to dating, and it is in fact often mentioned in secular sources, but it’s disappointing to see it on Christian sites, magazines, and so forth, but it is.
We Christian women get told repeatedly in Christian publications, blogs, radio shows, TV shows, and sermons, that Christian men -(really? This sounds more like it would be more true of secular men)- prefer sexy hotty totty sexy sexy women. Ergo, we Christian women must be clones of sex pot movie star Megan Fox or Jayne Mansfield at all times, until we die. We are not allowed to age, get wrinkles, or facial lines.
(By the way, this extreme, sexist, and unfair fixation on a woman’s looks has earned this topic the tag of “Lookism” on this blog, so if you want to see other posts, past or future, where I discuss this, please see the “Lookism” tag off to the side bar of this blog.)
Some pastors or Christian spokespersons, such as Mark Driscoll and Pat Robertson (see this post at this blog for more on that), have said that if a married man cheats on his wife (or is an alcoholic), it is totally understandable, reasonable, or expected, if the wife has “let herself go.” Married men have a right to cheat on their wife if their wife has gained weight or gotten wrinkles, is the implied message from these so-called Christian speakers.
Please, someone, point me to the Bible passage that says, “Thou shall not commit adultery, unless thy wife has gotten overweight, wrinkles, sags, or grey hair, in which case, I, your most Holy God, am all like, ‘Bro, I totally understand-eth! Thou art excused from the whole adultery thing.'”
So anyway, we women are told -indoctrinated and brainwashed constantly- since our youth, that our value as Christian women resides not in God, but in being quiet, submissive, and PRETTY (and as we get older, the characteristics of “being a wife and a mommy” are added), but BEING PRETTY is always on the list.
That message is obnoxious in and of itself, but what gets my goat is that it’s also frequently brandished along side this next sexist chestnut which conflicts with it; here it is:
Christian ladies, don’t be sexy because it might cause your “brothers in Christ” to “stumble.”
On the one hand, we Christian ladies are pressured to remain sexy, thin, and attractive, lest we turn off our husbands (if we have one), or, for those of us desiring marriage, lest we repel the single men out there, but, we should not look sexy because it might cause a man to have naughty, lustful thoughts.
So, according to a lot of conservative Christian authors, television hosts, and bloggers, I’m supposed to look sexy but not look sexy.
(Please click the “read more” link to read the rest of this post. Thanks)
I’m commanded by Lord Almighty to look sexy because that is what Christian men want….
… but Lord Almighty does not want me to look sexy lest it cause Brother Joe or Brother Frank to have an impure thought.
It kind of seems to me that Jesus was against this “only one gender is responsible for sexual temptation and sexual sin” view.
Remember when the Pharisees dumped the woman caught in adultery at Jesus’ feet, asking if He thought she should be stoned to death? Recall that their law stated that both the male AND female were to be stoned, but they only brought the female. My take is that Jesus was not cool with that.
Side note: have you noticed, oddly, that while women get blamed for “causing” men to fall into sexual sin, that many conservative Christians are accepting and oozing rivers of compassion of Christian men who are pornography addicts?
Why do the Christian males get off the hook for making a choice to look at naked ladies online or in magazines, but a Christian woman who wears an innocent sun dress gets told by her preacher that she’s a great big temptress-whore simply for what she’s wearing?
Men are responsible for their own thoughts. If you are a man and you see a woman in a bikini, control your thoughts. It’s not impossible. Christian women should not have to wear head- to- foot loose, burlap sacks like Islamic ladies do. Christian women are supposed to have liberty in Christ.
As a woman, I get tired of being told I am the one to be held accountable for a man’s thoughts.
Oh, by the way? Asking that a female dress “modestly” so as to spare “Brother Bill” from having a lusty thought in his head? Impossible! Myself and other ladies have known men who found us sexy even though we felt we looked awful.
My ex boyfriend used to drop by to visit me early in the morning, when I had just got up.
My hair was a mess, no make-up, there I was wearing big bunny slippers, mismatching pajama pants to my old night shirt – and he thought I looked danged sexy. He would shoo me inside when I went out to get the morning paper.
I would ask him why he did this. “Because,” he would reply, “there are men out there, working in that yard over there!” I would say, “So? I need to get the paper! I look terrible. I haven’t even brushed my hair yet. I don’t have on make up. I doubt they would look twice at me.”
According to my ex boyfriend, though, I looked all hot n’ sexy. I looked in the mirror and thought I looked HIDEOUS.
And my trips to Wal Mart in flip flops, old t-shirts, no make up, hair up in a pony tail – my ex would tell me, “Those guys over there in aisle five are checking you out!” I would say, “You must be kidding, when I look this bad?”
My point is, I could look awful, but according to my ex, men would still find me attractive.
That I could look terrible – no make up, messy hair – yet men supposedly still find me attractive also tells me all the stuff I hear from preachers that I must look like movie star Jayne Mansfield at all times must not be as true as they say it is. On occasions I did look like Jayne – with lip stick applied perfectly, coats of mascara, high heels on, etc – guys would usually not approach me.
I do remember being approached a lot more often and flirted with by guys on occasions I felt I looked horrible. But when I felt I looked my best, rarely a bite.
Anyway, a woman can be wearing the ugliest, most baggy and dowdy, modest, plain apparel, and some idiot male out there will still find her sexy. Ergo, telling a Christian she must “dress modestly” does not do any good, for some male out there will still find her attractive no matter how modestly she is dressed.
The answer to this is that men need to practice self control. The burden should not be on women to dress a certain way, and I’ve seen some Christian women (even adults over the age of 35) go to idiotic, ridiculous lengths to “dress modestly.”
I am a “visually attuned” female, but you don’t see me asking Christian men every where to wear bags over their heads and their bodies, lest their sexy sexiness cause me to stumble. Puh leeze.
My biggest point here remains, though, that Christian women are simultaneously told to be sexy (because men like El Sexy!), but gosh, do NOT look sexy because it might cause men to think dirty thoughts.
Related post(s) this blog:
(Link): Why Unmarried – Single Christians Should Be Concerned about the Gender Role Controversy – because some Christians are teachng that unmarried people are not fully human or not “whole” – preachers who teach that single people are not fully in God’s image unless they get married