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I find social media super intriguing. Maybe it’s a direct reflection of the decade in which I grew up. I owned cassette tapes and cameras with film which required developing. I was forced to stretch the phone cord 20 feet to my bedroom for privacy while talking to my girlfriend, all the while hoping my mom or sister didn’t secretly pick up on another phone. Words like wireless, smartphone, digital and selfie never even popped up in conversations.

I’m also a Bible geek, but please hold off on putting me into that hateful, conservative, politically-fuel segment of American Evangelicalism. Yes, those folks need to repent. I realize many people think the Bible is some old, outdated book used to segregate and exploit certain people because, frankly, christians have a really poor historical record of wrongfully twisting scripture to do just that. However, from my studies I’ve found it profoundly relevant. The Old Testament verse, “…there’s nothing new under the sun” holds true to this day.

Competition Landscape

The addition of women’s fitness, figure, bikini and men and women’s physique divisions altered the landscape of the niche sport of bodybuilding. The additional classes provide opportunities for men and women to compete who either don’t possess the genetics or the desire to build massive, overly muscular bodies. On a fundamental competitive level, very little changed. It’s still all about presenting your body based on a set of judging standards for each given new division. What’s changed dramatically is the manner in which the competition is carried out via the invention of social media.

For many the pursuit of a trophy no longer matters. It’s all about the number of “likes.” This competition is often much fiercer and, arguably, lines are pushed further. A few months ago I touched upon the disturbing trend in which boys extend their adolescence into their 20’s and 30’s in my article Masculinity and the Growth of a Man, but today I want to turn the spotlight on the ladies. Granted, when it comes to gender discussions, it’s very difficult to completely isolate male from female. We live in a world in which each sex profoundly impacts the other so this isn’t 100% about girls. That said, are you ready? Cue Drake’s line from Truffle Butter, “Pretty women, are you here? Are you here right now, huh?” This article is for you.

A Gold Ring

Tattoos and piercings hit a cultural climax recently, such that those without them seem the exception vs. the norm, much to the chagrin of conservative Baby Boomers. Yet, there’s nothing new under the sun. Nose piercing dates its origin back to the Middle East roughly 4,000 years ago. It's also mentioned in the Bible in Genesis when several gifts including “golden earrings” are given to Rebekah. The original Hebrew word is debated as shanf or ne’zem, either of which can be translated — nose ring.

mark dugdale

Similarly, the significance and value of gold stretches back centuries to the beginning of recorded history. It continues to be traded as a precious metal for coins and jewelry. A gold ring connotes a commitment of notable importance, thus the reason many couples exchange them on their wedding day. It’s also the reason I buy each of my daughters a gold ring when they turn 13. It’s a ring I hope serves as a symbol and reminder of their dignity, value and the significance of their purity which ought not to be given away on a whim. My personal hope is they will maintain their purity until the day their husband replaces my ring with his wedding ring.

Proverbs 11:22

Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion.

So listen, check the source here. King Solomon wrote this line. Yeah, the same guy who had 700 wives, 300 concubines, wealth beyond measure and an empire that’s yet to be matched. Think this – a guy who makes Hugh Hefner, Bill Gates, and Donald Trump combined look junior varsity. More sex, wealth, fame and notoriety than any other man in human history. He’s seen and done it all. What’s he think of women inclined to licentiousness? A beautiful woman who lacks discretion is as sexy as a ring in a pig’s nose.

Identity Crisis

Beautiful women, so what’s your Instagram account look like? Selfie-fest? Pushing the limits of skin exposure? Seriously, why are girls posting these often half-naked, gratuitous images? Surely it’s for male attention, right? It’s highly competitive. Okay, dudes are doing most of the double taps, but the irony is these women aren’t necessarily out to impress guys. In fact, one recent study indicated women spend more time checking out other women than the opposite sex. They scrutinize everything from clothes, lack of clothes, hair, shoes, cellulite and complexion; in addition to how many comments and “likes” they’re receiving in comparison to other women. It’s got to be exhausting. I can’t help but wonder – this facet of social media is a grand cultural experiment in which the effects are yet to be fully realized.

It’s as though their entire identity and value as a women is wrapped up in what others think of their external appearance. What happens when it all goes away? You realize all the Botox in the world won’t keep you young forever, right? Surface praise is fleeting and if you don’t tap into an inner beauty that stands the test of time you may find your best friend is named Zoloft in another decade.

Maddie's earings

What’s at Stake?

We used to say don’t judge a book by its cover but now it is all about the cover. Today’s IG accounts are full of...

"Look how well I highlight my face. Look at my flawless hair today. Look at my impeccably lined, luscious lips. Look at my new outfit."

It’s a scream for validation and misguided attention.

What ever happened to judging a person based on their heart, motives and how many lives they positively affect? What message are we sending our kids and young girls while constantly posting up baseless photos? Where are we placing value? What are we saying about a human’s worth?

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I’ll argue that selfies are one of the most prideful ways in which this era of women express themselves, yet it’s erroneously passed off as self-confidence. A self-confident woman (or man) doesn’t need validation or “likes” from a selfie to know their worth. Personally, I hope my daughters’ lives are marked by the number of other people they poured into, rather than their picture perfect hair and makeup.  Otherwise it’s a long, wearisome road leading to nothing more than emptiness and pride.

The End Result

You’ve heard the saying, A leopard doesn’t change its spots.” Well, it’s true. If you hook the guy with your booty shot, duck-lip, cleavage-focused selfie, don’t wonder why he’s not faithful marriage material later on. You get what you bait the hook with. If he’s attracted to your intelligence, wit and propriety, then he’s likely not easily enticed by solicitous photos of other women. Just for the record, men, a real covenant ought to extend beyond your penis to include even your eyes.

Yes, much changed since my teen years. Many conservatives decry what they call the moral erosion caused by the digital age, but in reality that’s just a copout. There’s nothing new under the sun. The same issues of pride, arrogance, selfishness and the pursuit of that which leads to emptiness vs fulfillment existed thousands of years ago. We simply invent new ways in which to engage while technology makes it happen quicker and easier.

But all is not lost. So come on, ladies. Our young girls need you. Competition is good, but let’s save it for the platform or the stage. Don’t put a gold ring in a pig’s snout. Young girls will benefit from your example and the real men will respect you for it.