My response to the viral post "My Husband Doesn't Need To See Your Boobs" and why it's not REALLY about the boobs at all.
Last week, my cousin Taylor texted me a link to a blog post. Written by Lauren from Apples & Band-Aids blog, the post was entitled “My husband doesn’t need to see your boobs.”
In the post, Lauren goes out of her way to say she is not judging any woman who posts her bikini-clad self on social media but does ask if any and all bikini-clad women could just NOT. The photos were a “stumbling block” in her marriage and everything would be so much better if the photos weren’t there.
Taylor’s commentary was simple. “This bothers me.”
It bothers me, too.
It bothers a lot of you if the above Facebook conversation is any indication. It also CLEARLY bothered a lot of other people too because Lauren shut down the comments section because it had come a place of attack and “hatred.”
So, here’s the thing. I’m not here to shame this woman. If the post is any indication, she carries around enough shame already.
And the truth is I don’t know her and I don’t know her marriage. She admits to a certain amount of insecurity, which is something from which none of us are immune. We all worry - even a little bit - our spouse might find someone else (maybe Dean Cain… KIDDING) more attractive than us. We all worry that other people are focusing in on the bits we’d rather keep hidden. We all hear the societal message that we can do more, be more - or less in the case of weight.
To me, what seems to make Lauren different is that she feels like this normal human emotion is a part of some bigger battle - a battle she feels justified in asking perfect strangers help her fight.
She is a woman “fighting for her marriage.” She is “protecting his eyes, protecting his heart.” She is clearly a woman of strong religious beliefs and talks in her About Me section about living a life of “sanctified striving.” Other posts mention “dying to self” and “crosses to bear” and battling to let go of “selfish desires.”
And to that I say - Whew, sister, have I BEEN THERE.
I’ve shared before that I grew up in a strongly evangelical church and lived a deeply religious life through most of my adolescence. Buried deep in my history, I recognized the language Lauren speaks. The language of “stumbling blocks” and “temptation.” The language of not good enough.
Recently, my therapist and I were talking about self-compassion and how that’s something I am not very good at. (Understatement of the century. More posts on that coming soon!) She asked where that came from and without a hesitation I answered, “Growing up Baptist.”
Now, hold up! I know some of y’all are Baptist. I’ve got nothing but love for you! I long ago realized I had to stop making what happened to me about ALL religion or ALL religious people.
However, for better or worse, the message I got growing up was “You are full of sin and you better work your BUTT off to glorify God and prove you’re worth it.” Not having premarital sex before marriage? Great, now give up dating all together. Going to church every Sunday and Wednesday? Great, now make sure and wake up every morning and have your quiet time with God. Listening to Christian music to “protect your hearts” from Satan? Great, now give up ALL secular music.
And that message of not good enough - as Lauren’s post alludes to - was particularly strong when it came to women and sexuality. Sex was sinful, the temptation was everywhere, and it was all the girl’s fault. After all, I don’t see many photos of mother’s dressed up in ball gowns vowing to protect their son’s virginity.
I would have absolutely described it as a life of “sanctified striving” at the time but, let me tell you, all that life left me was sanctimonious and TIRED.
It has taken me years to reject that message. It has taken me hours of conversations with deeply spiritual dear friends and endless amounts of time spent reading and thinking and pondering (endless as in I still do it) to leave that framework behind.
And it took me finding a new spiritual home to realize the true meaning of grace.
That, no, I am not perfect and that is OK. That the acceptance and love of God is GIVEN - not earned. That grace is a place of deep and abiding peace - not a battlefield.
So, what I really feel when I read Lauren’s post is deep sadness. I see the chinks in her armor. I hope being a “soldier for Christ” leaves her fulfilled because all it left me was gun-shy and battle scarred.