Recently, I was reading an article regarding women and fashion in tech. The article lamented the struggles of women, in technology, to find ways to dress that weren’t considered inappropriate and/or have some options (like women’s sizes for company/product shirts) that currently are not available. However, one problem caught my eye; the problem of male colleagues and/or industry folk who make inappropriate comments or who deem an outfit too inappropriate. Now, I am not interested in judging someone’s clothing here; I will say that I find myself overly conscious of my own clothing, as I struggle with my own self-image and don’t measure up to my own expectations for myself, and I’m a guy. However, this article sparked a reminder of something that must be said now and again. And so, here we go!
Technology has largely been a male-centric industry, though not necessarily because of any attempt to keep women out. Even so, this post is neither about a woman’s appearance, in general, nor about the tech industry, specifically. Rather, this is a post seeking to call out an underlying issue so many ignore: the responsibility of men to call out beauty in their daughters, wives, and women they may influence (such as the ladies in a pastor’s youth group, nieces, or perhaps a co-worker). God gave men the responsibility to call out beauty, and often, we men make a mess of it, like a pig in a mud puddle.
Now, someone is going to misinterpret me, so let me say this: I AM NOT TALKING ABOUT PHYSICAL BEAUTY, FASHION (per se), NOR ATTRACTIVENESS!!!! Our culture has misinterpreted and contorted beauty to be something it is not! Beauty has to do with the person inside! The realities of the person, and personality, behind whatever glitz and glamor may be brushed on, attached to, or draped over the outside. Calling out beauty is the more explicit realm of drawing out the person God has made, and encouraging/building that person more than whatever accoutrements.
With this definition in mind, what am I talking about? Quite simply, I’m talking about how we, as men, are not to be cat-calling, not to be rating external beauty, and we are not to be ogling or otherwise lusting after some worldly definition of beauty/attractiveness. We are to have our eyes so firmly fixed on Jesus that when we see a woman, we see her through Him, as a sister in Christ, and appeal to her on that basis, or we see her as someone who needs Jesus, and we appeal to her on that basis! If men were to take this to heart, we would see a woman not based on her appearance itself, but we would see her for how we can reflect Jesus to her, and I guarantee you that Jesus would not be thinking on how she’d look naked.
Let’s get very real; we have a culture, in America, that is pornographic! It’s not just leaning that way, not just an aspect restricted to red-light districts, and certainly not something concealed in someone’s closet. It is in-your-face, can’t find a safe place to look, what was just thrown in front of me, GROSSLY present! I weep for my sons and the world they are inheriting! We can’t even have the ad-supported streaming plans, anymore, because the ads blast foul ideas/ideals into our home! Hence, I’ve had to get very choosy with our entertainment; just 10 years ago, this would’ve been unnecessary and maybe a bit insane. Just 10 years! Hence, it is no wonder that so many have lost their understanding of beauty and so many men have lost the understanding that we are to call out beauty.
“Wait a minute! You’re telling me women aren’t responsible to call out beauty? What?! Are you a chauvinist!?”
No. Some might characterize me that way, but those that know me can attest to the fact that I am not, at all, a chauvininst. Rather, I am trying to encourage the proper roles….let me try it this way; imagine that you can lift 150 lbs. That’s a very respectible lifting weight. But then, let’s assume there’s another person who can lift 200 lbs. Not a big diffference, but it is significant, no? Ok. Now, imagine that someone expected you to do that second person’s lifting job! It would be difficult, not impossible, but difficult, for sure. You might even hurt yourself, at some point, because you’re not equipped to lift that much! Now, imagine that we allowed people to do what they’re equipped to do? You’d love life a lot more, be hurt less often, and you’d be more at peace with your day-to-day.
Encouraging people to take up their proper place is no different. If I ask that 200 lbs lifter to sit behind a desk all day, they’re going to be miserable for some portion of it, because they have been equipped to do more. Hence, when we stop trying to make everyone exactly the same, and we start calling people into their proper places, we find many things start working out better, and we find that there is less pain and injury. Thusly, men need to step into our roles as those who encourage true beauty. (And while I acknowledge this may be a bit over-simplified, it still remains largely accurate!)
As a father of a daughter, I have seen the challenges this disgusting culture has created for my daughter. No matter where she looks, there are messages that she’s not good enough, not thin enough, not beautiful enough, and she’s not even a full-grown woman yet! Worse yet, when her mother decided to abandon her, the message was also sent “you’re not enough.” Try as I might, I will never be able to fully heal that ache (Moms, you ARE VERY important!), but with time and a relationship with Jesus, she can come to a place where she makes peace with the whole her mother made. All the same, I am constantly vigilant to call out my daughter’s beauty, and to attempt to provide some counter-balance against the world’s evil messages.
But what does it mean to call out someone’s beauty? Well, it’s both what it is and what it is not. In other words, I need to be careful that our entertainment doesn’t include some devolvement into inappropriate images. I need to be careful that the message of what we watch doesn’t somehow communicate to my daughter that outer-appearance is more important. And when something like that comes up, it is important that I address it, so I help her to build the defenses of her mind to not buy the world’s definition of beauty. Hence, if I’m watching a show and there’s a classic hint of someone undressing, we talk about the context (are they married? Is that appropriate of him/her? What should happen here?), and we try to avoid that happening again. Or perhaps we’re watching something and an ad pops up that’s inappropriate, it is appropriate to ask “what did you think about that?” and discuss what did or did not happen and why that was or was not appropriate. These things build her ability to process the messages she encounters and helps her to build defenses against the negative messages. (Similarly, my sons are, often, also present and a part of this interaction, such that they build similar defenses but also learn this way of helping folks process the messages they’re confronted with.))
In short, it is helping the women around you to feel supported in conforming to the image of Christ and expressing the person God has made them to be. Now, I was tempted to include a qualifier of “appropriately” in that above sentence, but I held off for one simple reason: if we are conforming to the image of Christ, we will express ourselves appropriately. It won’t need to be said. Additionally, if we are teaching our daughters (and likewise, encouraging our sons to be this type of man) to value true beauty, then there’s no end for the qualifier. A woman who values true beauty won’t feel the need to wear a skimpy bikini; more specifically, when she feels like wearing such a bikini, she will consider if that’s how she wants to be seen or judged. Similarly, a guy who seeks to honor Jesus, who values true beauty, won’t want to gawk at a woman in such clothing because he wants to honor Christ with his thoughts and his actions. Nor will he try to make a woman feel bad because of what she wore; more than likely, he will work to ignore it and/or find a way to lovingly encourage her into something more befitting a daughter of the Most High.
Hence, when we men take our place and call out true beauty, it is no longer about women vs men, nor about stumbling or making someone stumble, nor is it about “appropriate” and “inappropriate”. It becomes exclusively about Jesus and encouraging our sisters (or potential sisters) in Christ to have the true beauty He gave them and pursue Him rather than some worldly standard. It becomes an effort of love and hopefully encourages both women and men rather than being destructive.
As far as women’s fashion in tech, I really don’t have an opinion. I’ve known amazing women who’s appearance I never really noticed. I’ve also known some women who focused so much on their appearance, they dimmed their true beauty, and it was difficult to appreciate them. And yet, both of these groups are beautiful people who Jesus cares deeply for, as He does those who are not in technology, those who are struggling to understand true beauty, and anyone/everyone in between.
So, men, let’s be the warriors God has made us! Let’s kick back against the trend of this horribly-broken world. Let’s be rebels and warriors for The Almighty, who call out true beauty and do not conform to this world’s image of the classic, wandering-eyed man who only sees women for what they wear or what they’ll do. Let’s be the men that see and call out the beauty inside, the brains, the personality, the amazing daughter of Eve that God has created and with whom we have the honor of interacting. In short, let’s be real men!
Godspeed – 1 Corinthians 15:10