The Problem with the Bikini Debate

Here’s the thing…everything that he said in this video is 100% correct.  I believe what he said is true and we can all benefit from the information he shared.  Teen girls are my thing.  Their health, their view of self, their motivations, pains, views on beauty, etc; so, to clarify, everything I touch on in this post is for them.  Maybe I will do a Part 2 for adult women, but for now I want to focus on young women.

Here is the problem: videos and arguments like the ones in this video are intended to help women understand why NOT to wear a bikini, what it does for young women is motivate them TO wear bikinis.  The unfortunate truth is that it feels good to be objectified by a guy when you are a teenager.  When you feel like crap about yourself on a daily basis, there is something eerily satisfying about turning a guys head.  When I was a teenager I was 100% okay with the fact that when a guy was looking at me I was only an “object” to him…in my insecure mind at least he was looking.

Let’s go one step further, I would not have been caught dead being the ONLY girl at the party in a one piece!  No way no how!  Talk about making me want to crawl in a hole and die, how embarrassing, how degrading to be the only one covered up…ironic isn’t it?  My point here is not to say “Yay for bikinis!  Rock on!” or that modesty is not a good thing to teach on, IT IS.  The point is that the bikini is not the bad guy, the insecurity that helps you put one on is.

It has to start young.  The idea that you are created to be so much more than a body has to be ingrained in your mind over and over and over and over.  It is never too late to start the “ingraining” process, but if all we do is shove the idea of modesty down their throats it just isn’t going to work.  The motivation to be so proud of your body that you don’t want everyone to see it has to come from within, from a strength that is not of this world.  We have to first get to the point that we actually believe we have worth that goes beyond attention from guys, feeling sexy, or living up to the world’s standard of beauty.  I can promise you, as a young teen in this culture, it is very hard to overcome…hard but not impossible.

But parents, youth pastors, speakers, authors, youth leaders, friends, aunts, uncles, grandparents…telling teens to be modest so as not to be objectified by a guy is like reminding them why they are wearing them to begin with!  OR reminding them that if they DON’T wear one he is going to be objectifying the girl to your right and left instead of YOU!  Women will never understand the shallowness of objectification until they have something else to make them feel desired, loved, adored.  To us, in this culture, in this time objectification feels like good attention.  Let’s start showing them what healthy attention really feels like.

Here is the funny thing.  I wore a bikini this past weekend, for the first time in a long time.  It felt so weird.  Not because I was worrying about men looking at me, I was just with my family.  It felt weird because over time my brain has shifted in defining what my body is for.  I literally felt like I was swimming naked!  I thought it would feel good to pop into a bikini as I near the end of my twenties…to my pleasant surprise it didn’t feel good…it felt, well, like nothing.  It felt neither good, nor bad, it was neither uplifting nor demeaning.  That bikini was put in its correct place in this world, a piece of clothing, nothing more, nothing less.  Strength, righteousness, peace, joy, hope, eternal salvation…now those are some things that feel great to wear.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
Matthew 6:25-34

8 thoughts on “The Problem with the Bikini Debate

  1. Wow. I am glad somebody said it. As a teenager being objectified at least in a twisted way validated the fact that you were attractive to the opposite sex. A fundamental question every teenager has. It wasn’t until I became more interested in God than boys did I change. And you are perfectly right, it came from within! Great article!

    1. That is a great way to put it…more interested in God then boys. It is a challenge isn’t it? I think we can make all the difference by talking REAL about these things and remembering that we have all been there once. Thanks so much for chiming in, I appreciate the honesty:)

  2. I love your point about ingraining the respect for yourself from an early age, and not just using disapproval for immodesty. I live in San Diego and I actually wear a cute one-piece and board shorts to the beach (I’m 29). I just feel much more comfortable, i.e. not stared at by males. When I lived in Australia for a year I enjoyed wearing a bikini because no one paid attention! I enjoyed feeling the wind and water on my middle with that bikini. It is a piece of clothing for me, not a symbol of attention and sexiness. But I’ve always been less impressed by the crowd’s opinion than most my age since I was a teen.

    1. Yes! You are exactly right. The bikini in it of itself is not the issue right?! Its the what, where, when, how and why that has the potential to become problematic (for many different reasons). Thank you for sharing Julie! And I LOVE love love that you have had the gift of NOT caring about what the crowd thinks. So awesome.

  3. Yes, YeS, YES!!! You’ve captured in words my tendency to fold my arms in objection to modesty debate. Thank you for sharing your heart.

  4. Thanks for speaking out. I am a mom of young teen girls who wear bikinis. They have to pass the clevage, butt squat test, no bottoms with strings only and the comfort can you swim in it test. We are pretty conservative Christians and my girls are kind of modest actually. I have not actually listened ot this after first seeing it on a blog and reading the comments. I tire of condeming women for the lewd thoughts of men and other guilt trips some in the church put us through, whatever the latest “band wagon” is. Believe me, being 60 ith kids 30 -12, I have seen a lot of bandwagons, helpful and harmful. How about some common sense, lady like dress that is not trachy or cheap looking when it comes to dress for both guys and gals and does it embarrass or harm God’s reputation. Still remember in a study I was teaching overseas, a woman saying it was all about clevage and color when you chose your clothes.

    1. I love your intentionality and the fact that you work through these things with your girls! I firmly believe that the actual outcome is not nearly as important as the process, discussion, and growth that it took to get there. Thank you so much for sharing your story and your example!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s