Over on mtv.com, stacey grant (hey, she doesn’t bother to capitalize her name, so I won’t either) has written against the body shaming of Selena Gomez after Gomez posted her new album cover on Instagram. I’ll be honest in saying that I wasn’t sure how one should properly define “body shaming,” but grant provided me with a working definition: “For a society that’s heavily focused on our own personal gain, we sure do spend a lot of time obsessing over other people’s — especially women’s — bodies. She’s too fat, she’s too thin, she’s too tall, she’s too short, etc. No matter how a person looks, someone will point out a “flaw” they personally deem unattractive. Which, in all truthfulness, has gotten really, really old.”
As a culture, we do obsess over women’s bodies, to the detriment of us all. Women are dehumanized when we see them as objects of erotic longing rather than as persons made in the image and likeness of God. Men are dehumanized when they are encouraged to see their own meaning as men in their ability to categorize, evaluate, and use women’s bodies without recognizing their personhood.
But this definition of body shaming seems to suggest that one is not allowed to make a subjective evaluation of appearance, even with the most chaste intent. To suggest a preference of some kind is evidently an implicit attack on anyone who lacks the characteristic in question. This is an irrational degree of sensitivity that has become all too common.
The rest of the article is loaded with more irrational contradictions. My favorite is that while Gomez admits that her image has been Photoshopped, the author points out, “she still looks absolutely flawless.” This isn’t sarcasm or irony; this is an utter triumph of illusion over reality. It doesn’t matter how things really are – as long as everything looks good, reality is unimportant. Evidently, even the reality that we don’t question when 23-year old young women feel the need to pose naked to promote music.
If we want our relationships to be more truthful, more real, more authentic, we have to really know and love persons as persons. When our first parents ate from the tree of knowledge, they imagined they would be like gods (Gen 3:5). But we didn’t become gods; instead, we just pretend that we are. We look in a mirror and see whatever we want to see and pretend that it’s real and that it’s good and that we don’t really need to SEE anyone else. But in truth, we only see through a mirror darkly (I Cor 13:12). Very darkly. But in the light of Christ, we can see one another “face to face” and then, only then, will love triumph over illusion.