Recently, my teenage daughter and I began reading 5 Conversations You Must Have with Your Daughter by Vicki Courtney. We were instantly hooked on this book! It pulls no punches when discussing true beauty and self-worth compared to the false standard society wants us to believe.
The first section title reads, “You are more than the sum of your parts.” Yes! Beautiful truth poured from this book into my daughter’s heart (and mine, too). Refreshing. Empowering. However, less than 24 hours later, I stood speechless in the checkout line at the grocery store as one magazine cover caught my eye. It is a popular, mainstream magazine with its place marker square in the middle of the stand for all to see. What I saw on it, I wished I hadn’t. There was a woman, fully naked, donning the cover. Even part of the article title said so-and-so bares all. There was no ambiguity here…they absolutely put a fully naked woman on a magazine that will sit on mainstream stands across America, and who will see those magazine covers? You, me, and our children.
I was still digesting the powerful statements and facts 5 Conversations gave us the night before regarding the value of inner beauty and the ugly lies disguised in the latest fashion trend, when there I stood face-to-face with the antithesis of the book. A fury ignited in me. How dare people subject my sons to this! We prohibit movies, video games and books that have this kind of imagery in them, and all my tween and teen boys have to do is wait with me to buy milk and are subjected to an image they ought not to see. I was angry that my sons, who work deliberately and diligently at being gentlemen, would see this. Then another horrifying thought occurred to me. What if my daughter had been here? How do I justify this magazine after reading 5 Conversations last night? Of course she knows I wouldn’t outwardly rationalize and justify the nude, seemingly perfect body and everything it represents, but if I say nothing then I am sending the same message of approval.
After checking out, I asked to speak to the manager. I told him how disappointed I was that a grocery store that advertises itself as family friendly would put this front and center of the checkout line at young children’s eye level. I pointed to the article sidebar, …and make no mistake, she’s naked. The title even says it. He replied that he has seven children and understands my concern, but has no control over it. I agree that he has no control of what they put on magazines, but as the manager, he does have control of what he does with that magazine in his store. I offered three suggestions: remove this issue; move it to the back of the store where the other questionable magazines are; or, if by contract it needs to stay at the checkout line, then it should have a cover in front of it. He offered to remove this issue from the racks altogether.
The next day, I’m back in the store for a forgotten item, and to my surprise, there was the magazine back on the racks of the checkout aisles. I asked to speak to the manager again. He explained that the ones he removed were still sitting on his desk and that someone else must have restocked more copies. I reminded him of his seven children, and my children, and all children, and said, For this magazine, perhaps you should check on it more frequently until a new issue comes out. He said he would remove the new ones and ask the clerks to keep an eye out for future similar problems. To my delight, my third trip to the store several days later revealed not a single issue of that magazine on public display.
Was I an annoying, high-maintenance customer? Probably. Am I sorry? No. My children aren’t the only ones subjected to these magazines staring back at us in checkout lines. As a parent, I will remain vigilant to protect my kids from needlessly stolen moments of childhood. For my sons, it is so they will not be tempted and become desensitized to what should be held sacred. For my daughter, it is to reiterate that she is indeed more than the sum of her parts. If we don’t tell our own daughters this, who will?
It is our responsibility to speak up and prohibit society’s unattainable, mirage-like status from becoming status quo in our homes. Lives are at stake. Health is at risk. Self image becomes a slippery slope with enormous repercussions if not cultivated in the Truth that we are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). After all, if someone had taken the time to tell the woman who posed for the magazine that she, too, is worth more than the sum of her parts – she is a wonderful work of God – then perhaps she never would have sold her body for a fleeting photo in the first place.