My Feelings about FYI (if you’re a teenage ___) as a non-parent and former teenager

FYI (if you’re a teenage girl) by Mrs. Hall at Given Breath has been getting a ton of social media attention.  Basically, it is a letter to teenage girls regarding posting what I would agree to be inappropriate photos of themselves on the internet and the consequences of this and saying that she doesn’t feel it appropriate for her teenage son to see.

I saw this response that was Freshly Pressed (yay!) the other day called FYI (if you’re a teenage boy) by Iron Daisy.  Again, this post is basically the same message, but to teenage boys who also post selfies all over the internet and regarding the fact that she doesn’t want her teenage daughter seeing all of that.

First of all, I agree wholeheartedly with the concept of these posts.  Not the content entirely, but the concept.

And yes, I love the irony.

Don’t hate.

To start off, you have to look at the perspective of the (first) mom.  If they are raising their children in the Christian faith, then if you don’t share their beliefs, you may or may not share their perspective on how bodies should be portrayed or concepts of sin (particularly lust) and such.

I share that faith, so that piece makes sense to me.

But, this is really not simply a faith issue.

People don’t think about the messages that they send when they post pictures of themselves on the internet.  I know, I have some gosh-awful pictures of me (in the “oh goodness, why that angle” or “why am I wearing that/doing that” spectrum of awful.  Nonetheless, everything has some sort of purpose or some sort of message.  There is a reason behind why you intentionally post self-photos. I mean sometimes it is to show where you are or what you are doing.

That is fine.

The issue is when you are posting them to flaunt yourself and particularly your body at other people.  Sure, some people out there are saying that you just like to see what you look like.  But really, are you looking for the attention of people who may be attracted to you?  Are you fishing for compliments?  Would you be embarrassed if your boss found the pictures when you are in your 20s or 30s?

These are things to think about.  And I think that is part of the issue the Moms were getting at.

But, then there is the whole concept of lust and that it really isn’t appropriate to flaunt your body like that.  I mean, your body is yours, but I would also like to think that if you show it off that much you are at risk of it not just being yours but that of a million people who see that photo.  Not just those that you want to, but the creepers that are, well, creepy.

The Moms in these posts are helping to protect their kids.  Really, no teenager (or human) should have to look at someone’s “sexy” selfies (unless they are your spouse).  The Bible equates lust with adultery and if you see it, and you want it, you probably lust after it.  And putting it out there is just as bad as looking at it.

This being said, I get that it is normal teenage behaviour.  Showing off oneself.

Kind of like mating rituals.

Sure.

There are other facets of normal teenage behaviour.  This is when you learn more about appropriate body image.  This is when you grow to respect oneself.

I feel like posting scandalous photos or looking at them is not necessarily fostering these things.

Teenagers do all kinds of stupid things.  I am sure most people can agree on that.  The goal is to teach them to minimize the stupidity.  Even if it is normal.

So yes, I confess that when I am a Mom I will hold this stance.

I know, a non-mom making mom claims.

But, for what it is worth, I really do think that.  I won’t want my kids to be exposed to that.  And I would have a zero tolerance policy if I caught one of my kids posting those kinds of pictures.

Yes, I get that my kids will probably do that and see that stuff.  I am not a head in the clouds oblivious person.

A bigger piece of all of this is this is teaching self-respect and appropriate body image and sexuality.  Boundaries are huge these days.  Social and otherwise.

I don’t really know how to do this.  But, I guess I will figure it out.  As much as I don’t want my kids to be ashamed of themselves, I also don’t want them to harm themselves with a lack of shame.  Middle ground is good.

Now, don’t go calling me a slut shamer.

Well, I guess you can if you want.  That is not what I am going for, though.

I agree that taking sexy selfies is normal teenage behaviour.  As is having sex, underage drinking and experimenting with drugs.  Varying degrees of risk.  And things that different parents try to prevent their kids from doing for their own safety.  I, in my head, already know that I will one day want to bubble my kids.  Just saying.

Anyway, slut shaming is degrading or mocking women (or men) for their sexual behaviour/tendencies.  It is wrong.  Point blank.

I get that the posts do mock these kids who are choosing to take these photos.  Because really, the overarching concept of posting such photos on Facebook is, at least to me, a little silly.  And I don’t quite support mocking these girls or boys to the point where they feel badly about themselves.  Offering good counsel is one thing, but there is a fine line for some people.

I think these girls and boys are potentially fine members of society (well, I don’t know, but odds are).  And I can’t say or know anything really to judge them except for reported bad taste in picture taking.

It is unfair to treat anyone poorly for their choices.  Degrading or bashing young men or women is not good at any point.

That being said, I think the spirit behind the posts is that these kids need to learn that their choices have consequences.  That other people may see the images and, yes, judge them because that is unfortunately how the world works.  And some of the people that judge them may just make a semi-humorous advice post, but others may be more predatory.    Slut shaming is real.  And so is sexual assault.

So, sure it is just an innocent picture.  But, sometimes a picture is a sign of bigger issues or can bring on bigger issues.

Kids (and adults alike) need to learn there are consequences to things that may seem harmless.   They need to learn that their bodies are not something to be sold or flaunted, but loved.  And teenagers aren’t quite at the point where they can always make those decisions for themselves. There is a learning curve.

So, in summary, I think sexy selfies are stupid, just like a ton of other teen rituals.  I don’t want my kids to do it, but I get that others will do it and that is fine because it is their perogative.  Nonetheless, I wish people would start to grasp that nothing is in isolation and there are consequences often beyond what is initially perceived.

Lastly, all teens and kids these days need prayers.  All of them.  There is a lot of bad stuff out there an a lot of tough decisions to make.

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6 thoughts on “My Feelings about FYI (if you’re a teenage ___) as a non-parent and former teenager

  1. I love this. I 100% agree with you. I feel saddened by a lot of young teenagers, and their lack of self respect and thinking what they are doing is okay.. But then I see videos like “wrecking ball” by Miley Cyrus and it all comes together. Completely aside from self respect and respect of ones body, it is so hard to get a job right now – especially with employers checking facebook and other social media platforms, in 10 years those kids are going to wish they were slightly more conservative. There is a whole life time of sex, it doesn’t have to be the main thing in photos at a high school party.

    • Glad you liked it and that I’m not alone on this while thing.
      And yes, it isn’t just a self-respect issue, it is an employability issue. How awkward will it being trying to explain those pictures to future employers or even potential partners.

  2. I agree! Sometimes it scares me when I think about raising kids one day in a world where everything in everyone’s life is broadcast online… and then I feel like an old person for having that fear, ha ha! But it’s true, the online medium really adds a layer to the struggle. I wish I had some answers how to magically solve these problems but sadly there isn’t one. We just have to raise out children with disciple, grace, and prayer.

    • It is scary, and I agree that it makes me feel old that I think about it so much.
      If you come up with some magical answers, let me know. Until then, you are very right in the disciple, grace and prayer standpoint.

  3. Um, I think you may have missed the irony of Iron Daisy´s post, she´s not being serious, she´s “making fun” of the ridiculous slut shaming that´s going on in Mrs Hall´s original post by switching the gender roles to make a point.

    • Oh, I caught the irony and I found it hilarious.
      I just found it made an equally good point because gender doesn’t actually matter in this case. And also it showed that slut shaming can go either way.
      So, I agree with it, irony and all, but also, I still agree with the basic content too.
      I realize I didn’t make that entirely clear that they are different.

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