It happened when I was fourteen.
Somewhere between encountering the sultry Victoria’s Secret model in a push-up bra and thong, and reading the “total body makeover” article (complete with a three-page bikini shopping guide) in the new issue of my favorite magazine, I made the decision. Somewhere between watching a beautiful young pop star swivel-hip on stage as thousands of guys lustfully cheered, and living vicariously through a perfectly-proportioned actress as she found true love with a hot guy in the latest romantic comedy, I decided what I wanted to become … an alluring young woman.
It’s not that I wanted to be seen as trashy or loose. But I wanted to be beautiful enough that guys would drool over me. I wanted to be the kind of girl who looked incredible in a swimsuit, the kind of girl who somehow achieved flawless skin, perfect hair, pouty lips, and dazzling white teeth while shrugging the whole thing off with an “I know I’m gorgeous but I don’t really care” attitude.
I was raised in church and accepted Christ into my heart as a child at vacation Bible school. Growing up, I knew that God had certain standards I was supposed to meet. I wanted to be pleasing to God. But I also wanted to be pleasing to the world. From the time I was twelve or thirteen, I began listening to lackadaisical Christian messages that justified my preoccupation with selfishness and pleasure. Fortunately for me, these were not hard to find.
“Five Ways to Have Fun with Your Friends” was the title of an article in a Christian magazine for young women that my parents had subscribed to on my behalf in the hopes that it would be a good influence on me. The article gave suggestions such as going to the mall and seeing who could buy the most creative thing for five dollars, staying up all night having a chick-flick marathon, and holding a lip-sinking contest to your favorite pop songs. In other words, spending hours at the mall listening to countless messages of “here’s how to be sexy” and “here’s the latest thing that will make you cool!” was perfectly acceptable. Drinking in Hollywood’s philosophy of romance and femininity was no big deal. And imitating a pop star’s sultry rendition of a song about love-gone-wrong was just harmless fun.