History repeats itself.
Back when I was in high school I can remember the buzz among friends surrounding the release of SI’s famed swimsuit edition. Over thirty years later people are still talking and arguing about this annual tradition. Turn on FOX News and you’re likely to hear them discussing it; try and buy a copy of the Wall Street Journal at an airport newsstand and you’ll be visually accosted with displays promoting this issue.
It would be easy to dismiss this year’s release with the trite observation that “sex sells” – a true statement. It does. In fact, that’s the whole reason SI started running such photographs in 1964. Editors were looking for a way to try and boost sales during the lull between the end of football and the beginning of baseball season.
The experiment worked.
In the years between then and now, parents have rightfully lamented the messages this tawdry issue sends our kids – namely that the value of a woman is based on her physical beauty, and that lust is normal and healthy for men. Many of these same parents, however, appear to be “reading” right along. According to research, more American men between the ages of 18 and 34 look at the annual Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition than view the Super Bowl. One in three adults – 60 million – “read” the issue, and that doesn’t even account for the kids who sneak a peek.
But instead of simply bemoaning yet another example of the coarseness of pop culture, what can parents do?
Just yesterday I shared news about Billy Ray Cyrus’ big regret. At a time when his daughter, actress Miley Cyrus, needed a parent, he wanted to be her pal. He now sees the error of his ways. In his admission, I hope we see an answer to our own dilemma.
There’s no question that the tide of culture is pushing against us. It’s tough to be a parent, especially when our teenage sons are picking up this week’s issue of SI and our young daughters subconsciously think they have to look like swimsuit models. But if you think SI’s swimsuit issue is the apex of cultural debauchery, think again. What our children see every day from Hollywood, on TV, Facebook, and even the fashions at their school all fan the flames. But we don’t have to simply throw up our hands.
First to dads. Do we show value and respect to our wives in the way we speak and act? Do we avoid letting our gaze fix inappropriately on other women? Dad, if you have a daughter, are you affirming her for who she is as opposed to how she may think society wants her to look?
To moms. Are you helping your daughter make wise choices in clothes and friends? Are you modeling the same? Ironically, the same mother who may be aghast at SI’s skimpy pictorials may let her daughter wear a pair of pants with silly, or even suggestive, words scrawled across the rear end.
Moms and dads, it’s not just important that we talk with our kids – it’s crucial that we talk about the right things. It’s even more crucial that our words match our actions.
On today’s Focus on the Family broadcast, you’ll hear a very straightforward discussion on the subject of lust. Our guest is Pastor Joshua Harris, and he’s sharing concepts from his book, Sex Is Not the Problem, Lust Is. I’d encourage you to listen. I think you’ll find some very wise and practical help in honoring God in this critical aspect of our lives, and helping your kids do the same.