Think of some of the most famous masterpieces of art – Botticelli’s Birth of Venus, Michelangelo’s David, or Alexandros of Antioch’s Venus de Milo. What do they all have in common, other than being hailed as some of the greatest pieces of art ever created?
They all portray beautiful, naked depictions of the human body. And millions of people visit them every year. They have been studied by art students for hundreds of years and recreated on posters, puzzles, signs, statues, and countless other ways. They are exquisite in detail and in beauty.
When Katie and I were in Iceland, we visited the Secret Lagoon. Before entering the lagoon, all patrons are required to shower. The rules are very strict about this and must be followed exactly, including showering completely naked before putting on a bathing suit. While this might not seem like an issue, Katie and I found it disconcerting that the other women had no inhibitions when it came to stripping and showering next to each with no dressing rooms, no shower curtains, no privacy of any kind. Katie was very uncomfortable, and even at my age, I was somewhat unsettled with the whole ordeal. I had very mixed emotions. I wanted to show Katie that it’s okay to be comfortable with your body while at the same time telling her to remain modest. Does modesty still count when you’re in a room of other females? Is it the “judging” of others that leads us to be ashamed or embarrassed, or is it what we’ve been taught about ourselves?
You see, we have been raised in a country where the human body has been greatly devalued. The media portrays the body as nothing more than a sex item with all exposure of the human body appearing only in pin-up magazines and pornography geared toward enticing sexual prowess. Furthermore, women with “perfect” bodies are glorified while any woman larger than a size 6 is chastised for her weight and size. For the most part, women, in general, are objectified rather than being honored for their skills, talents, and intelligence. We seem to have lost all sight of what is beautiful and what is vulgar, and the result is that females in our society don’t know whether to be comfortable with their bodies or ashamed of them. They don’t know what is acceptable or inappropriate. And how do we determined what acceptable or inappropriate is?
We teach our children to be modest, but society encourages premarital sex. We teach them about “good and bad touching,” but we allow them to watch movies, television shows, and internet content in which rape and molestation is the norm, even celebrated. We tell girls to love their bodies, but we fail to tell them how to have healthy bodies, which is the best way to love ourselves.
As the mother of young women, I often find it hard to know where to draw the line. So I do the best I can. I show them works of art, talk to them about modesty and chastity, teach them how to take care of themselves, and pray that they see their bodies as things to be cherished, taken care of, respected, but not dirty or in need of repression. It’s an ugly world out there at times. I hope we’re able to teach our children to see the beauty in the bodies that God gave us and to respect and honor everyone for whom they are, regardless of how they look.
What I was writing about one year ago this week: Six Reasons to Put Down Your Phone.
Amy Schisler is an award winning author of both children’s books and novels for readers of all ages. She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her books, Picture Me and Whispering Vines, are recipients of Illumination Awards, placing them among the top three inspirational fiction books of 2015 and 2016. Whispering Vines was awarded the 2017 LYRA Award for the best romance of 2016. Amy’s most recent novel, Island of Miracles, is now on sale.