Called Out to Get…Real?
I am feeling terribly, terribly disillusioned with “my” church right now (I say “my” because I am seriously considering leaving it). I’m blowing its flaws out of proportion, and shrugging its strengths off my shoulder, which of course isn’t fair at all. It’s just that this church makes it so easy to do. I know this post is going to be quite judgmental, but I gotta say…it’s time for another rant.
I spent all day the other day at a girls’/women’s conference put on by a bunch of people who travel the U.S. speaking to women about the importance of being a good steward of your life. It was an all-day event that focused on self-esteem, the importance of mentorship, and finding your identity in Christ. Don’t get me wrong – this is a very good thing to do. It’s just the way this group approached it was all wrong.
First of all, it was set up just like a church service. The ladies sat in the pews and were spoon-fed talks all day. Even when we broke up into adults and teens, we still didn’t do much discussing – we were just told what mentoring looks like and how it is our duty as women to mentor young people. After the speaking workshops, there was a concert by one of the organization’s singers…oh, and she also gave her testimony.
But that wasn’t what bothered me the most about this conference. What bothered me the most is that the speakers were all young, pretty superstars. One was sixteen and a singer who had recorded music videos and has her music out there for the public to consume. Another was a twenty-something woman who had formerly been a Victoria’s Secret model. She shared her testimony of how dehumanizing the modeling industry is and how grateful she is to God for freeing her from her life of sin. The third speaker – the one who shared her testimony in between songs for the concert – was also young, pretty, and marvelously talented (I’m not quite sure about her exact age).
I’m not trying to belittle the strength of these speakers, or claim that they didn’t have relevant and important things to say. Because they did. But what kind of message is it sending young girls when they are told to look on stage, listen to three beautiful, super skinny, young, extremely successful ex-models and singers give them advice? Even I, a young adult who is mostly happy with my appearance, career, and identity, felt insecurity rushing over me in waves as I listened to these speakers. So I can only imagine how much that feeling saturated the teenage audience (which the event was geared to)! It’s a big problem.
I also noticed something else as I was perusing their merchandise. I wasn’t interested in their t-shirts, but I listened in as two women sifted through shirts together. One told the other that she had already bought her daughter a shirt. She then proceeded to warn her to try the shirts on before buying them because the shirt sizes run so small! The woman’s daughter, who normally wore a medium, had to return her shirt and buy an extra large! What is that?! Do these people really not see the hypocrisy of warning kids that it’s not all glitz and glamour when you’re famous and talented and super-skinny, then turning around and selling a clothing line that runs two sizes smaller than normal? I just couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Not to mention their jeans were ridiculous. Skin tight, literally. Nothing modest about them.
It just made me so upset to sit through that conference. I felt like I was being sold a secular message with a Christian spin on all of it. Sure, we were told to find our identity in Christ, but when young, physically attractive girls and women were the ones telling us this, the message kind of lost its potency. I felt like they were trying to force Christianity into this hip, feminine, culturally conformative religion instead of one that defies cultural norms, transcends gender identity, and is anything but the “cool” way.
Long story short, the next time my church puts on a Called Out to Get Real conference, I’m staying far, far away.