By now, you’ve probably heard about the hacking scandal a few weeks ago that resulted in nude photographs of many celebrities such as Kate Upton, Jennifer Lawrence, Kirsten Dunst and Mary Elizabeth Winstead being posed on several sites, including 4Chan, Reddit, Twitter, and Tumblr.
I’ve seen numerous interviews and read several articles from those attacked. I can’t imagine being in such a position – going online, searching for an image of myself, and, with the click of a button, seeing myself naked!
While flying last week, I grabbed a copy of this month’s issue of Vanity Fair. I don’t usually read this magazine. However, appearing on the cover was a picture of Jennifer Lawrence. I’m a huge Hunger Games fan. Read the books. Can’t wait for November 21! (If you’re a fan, you’ve got that date circled too.) Next to her picture was a quote from Ms. Lawrence, which read, “It’s my body and it should be my choice.” Intrigued, I wanted to read more about what she said concerning the hacking and posting of several pictures of herself, nude.
Ms. Lawrence said her first response was to cry. Then it was anger. She said, “It just makes me feel like a piece of meat that’s being passed around!” I agree. And then I closed the magazine and found myself starring at the cover. On the cover was a picture of Ms. Lawrence…naked! The same young lady who’s four-page article quoted her again and again over her anger and frustration over nude pictures of her being online, allowed another photographer to click and print pictures of her naked. How ironic.
Ms. Lawrence said, “I started to write an apology, but I don’t have anything to be sorry for. I was in a relationship for four years. It was long distance, and either my boyfriend is going to look at porn or he’s going to look at you.”
I was disappointed to hear that Ms. Lawrence wasn’t sorry she ever took the pictures. I was disappointed to hear that the blame wasn’t on her, but on the one who hacked her.
Yes, I know what you are thinking – this time the one printing the pictures had her permission. It was her choice. True. And, of course I’m disgusted along with her and everyone effected by the hacking that the hacker(s) first stole the pictures, and then, posted the pictures. However, not once during the last two weeks since the hacking have I heard anyone question Ms. Lawrence, (or any one else effected by the hacking), “Why?”
Why do girls (and guys too) choose to press Send and display such devaluing images of themselves to others? Why hasn’t anyone in mainstream media come out to say that such a choice is so unnecessary and so self-degrading? Sure, the hacker clearly broke the law. But, had there been no pictures to be hacked, there would have never been any pictures to post.
This month, Atlantic Magazine printed an article entitled, Why Kids Sext. This article shared the results of a recent national survey on sexting. The results are staggering. 68% of the girls surveyed say, “I sext.” Most every girl in the study stated that, “I feel less confident about my body and am less assured of my place in the social hierarchy of teen life. So, I sext.”
93% of the girls surveyed in this study stated that they sext because “my hope is that he will stay with me if I send him nude pictures of me.”
98% of the girls surveyed said they wake up the next day saying “yes” to the question, “Do I regret sending the images?”
I find it very interesting, and such a statement as to the spiritual temperature of our nation, that college admission counselors now say that, next to the application, the #1 tool they use to determine whether or not a student is accepted onto their campus is Google!
Let me simplify the previous statement: No matter how stellar the college application is, no matter how amazing the GPA, and no matter the SAT or ACT score(s), what you post really says the most! The pre-college online life of your kid very well could determine where he/she attends college, or if he/she attends at all.
Or, imagine your teen one day sitting at church, at work, or at home with your grandchildren and all of a sudden he/she, a family member or boss finds a sext picture of him/her from years ago! Like I often remind my daughters – once you hit send, there is no end! Once it’s out there, it’s out there.
As parents, we must be having the conversation with our kids about this stuff. It only takes one post to change everything!
Here is what I say to teens. Consider having a similar conversation with your teen:
“Why?” – – Why use your body in such a way to get the attention of a guy who is probably less interested in your well being and more interested in his lust-driven satisfaction? Think about it – if he is really into you and really cares for you and genuinely wants the best for you, then why would he ever request something of you that could hurt you, possibly destroy your reputation, almost most definitely get you into a load of trouble at school, home or both, and, potentially keep you from attending the university of your dreams? Doesn’t it make more sense that if he really loves you, he would never, ever ask anything of you that could harm or hurt you?
Why do I sext?” The answer, if you are truly honest, most likely isn’t about him (or her). It’s about the hole in your heart that longs for significance. The truth is that you will never gain the significance you long for by making a choice merely to please others. If this is you, decide now to stop allowing your body to be abused and misused. Your body was never intended to be on display for all others to see. In Ms. Lawrence’s words, that just makes you a “piece of meat.”
Choose to respect you. Choose to say “no” to anyone who requests anything of you that compromises your purity, beauty and value. Just as Ms. Lawrence says, “It’s your body, it’s your choice.” So make it your choice to respect your body. If you do, you’ll never wake up the next day regretting that choice!