The Difference Between Attractive and Sexy
"I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made" Psalm 139:4, NKJV
The more teen girls (and increasingly women of all ages) start to realize how wonderfully my son is made, the more I am fearful.
I subscribe to the theory of intelligent design. It is difficult for me to reconcile with the idea that the intricate and complex people that I encounter daily are the product of random chance and process. The theory of intelligent design is defined as "the assertion or belief that physical and biological systems observed in the universe result from purposeful design by an intelligent being rather than from chance or undirected natural processes." (Heritage)
That being the case, I believe we were made wonderfully and with the desire to be attractive to each other. In its basest form, it could be a purely physical attraction for the sake of procreation. In reality, however, our attractions are based on multiple factors, many of which are defined by our culture, religion and/or traditions. In the end, every person wants to be considered attractive. Desiring to be attractive, to somebody and in some cases anybody, is natural and can lead to a lifestyle of good hygiene, proper exercise and a healthy diet.
In The Deviant's Advantage, by Ryan Mathews and Watts Wacker, the authors allude to the decay of ideas as they are exposed to new and different contexts created by culture, including the media, marketing, and other social institutions. They call this the "Abolition of Context." This is an inability of people within a society to find commonly agreed-upon reference points. Unfortunately, there has been a blurring of the concept of attractiveness in our culture with the idea of being sexy. The concept behind "sexy" is worlds apart from that of "attractive" when you get to the end of the road each ultimately points down. (Mathews/Wacker)
Attractive: Providing pleasure or delight, esp. in appearance or manner; pleasing; charming; alluring: an attractive personality. (Random House)
Sexy: Concerned predominantly or excessively with sex; risqu. Sexually interesting or exciting; radiating sexuality. (Random House)
The Fashion Book, a catalogue of works from 20th century designers quotes fashion photographer, Mario Testino, or 'Super Mario' as he is called, as saying "Fashion is all about making a girl look sexy." This statement is in reference to a photo he is credited with of model Nadja Auermann in French Glamour, whose left hand tugs at the bottom of the front of her micro-skirt, while simultaneously pulling her tucked-in shirt down from under her skirt bottom with her right hand, provocatively exposing her legs and thighs. (Phaidon Press)
In this context, when the goal of the fashion designers is to make "girls sexy," intelligent design becomes about strategic display. Pants are cut to accentuate the hips and buttocks, shirts are designed to show cleavage or are made skin tight and semi-transparent to show off the torso and midriff as well as the "sexy" bra underneath. Mind you, these are the clothes in the winter season; summer is a micro version of the same provocative concepts. Yes, these are the clothes in the misses section, the ones designated for teen and preteen girls. The same can be said of much of the clothing designed for young men; low rise jeans that almost expose the pubic area, fitted t-shirts, and even body fragrances whose purpose is to "turn on" the opposite sex by chemically unleashing their sexual nature, thus rendering the female unable to control herself. Remember, when you say sex-y, you have said sex, every time, because that is what sexy is about.
There is one group that we must hold solely responsible for a generation of teens who have completely substituted sexy for attractive, it's not the media or fashion industry, it's the parents. We purchase the clothes, provide access to media sources through our funding of cable and internet, and open the avenues of communication by paying for cell phones. I am not advocating a knee-jerk reaction that will send all of our kids scrambling back into the dark ages. I am, however, advocating that we can make a difference in the lives of our kids if we take the time to pay attention to what our kids are wearing and doing, and if we don't agree with it, don't buy it.
Part 3: Voyeurs and Exhibitionists: How culture promotes deviant behavior.
2009. Armando Heredia
Armando serves as co-pastor of Tapestry in Granite City, IL and is an artist and author.
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