Are Nude Selfies Empowering?

Our nakedness should humble us, not empower us.

And so back to these nude selfies. They don’t glorify the woman; they cheapen her. When women publish nude pictures of themselves, they are succumbing to a longing for acknowledgement of a beauty that is exceptional and unique. But the effect is the opposite.
Yesterday I wrote about the state of our culture revealed by the spokesperson for one of our presidential candidates saying Marlania Trump’s published nude photos are nothing to be embarrassed about because she is beautiful. I then made a contrast with another woman who heard the opposite when she wanted to use her body for a weekend fling. She was rejected because her body was too wrinkly, yet was still able to stand naked in from of the mirror unashamed.  Please read that article in conjunction with this one.

But hey, everyone can get in on the 15 minutes of fame now without having to wait for a Playboy contract or even a guy willing to take you out for the weekend. Sure, celebrities are leading the way, but 46-year-old moms and teenagers alike are now encouraged to take pride in sharing their naked selves with the world. In their article for The Weekly Standard, Judith Miller and Ann Marlowe highlight Kim Kardashian, who kicked off a whole slew of celebrity support sending the message that they can be proud to post their naked bodies on social media for all to admire. The authors conclude, “Sharing nude selfies is just the latest form of ‘empowerment,’ or exhibitionism, at the expense of self-respect.”

What is it that makes women want to expose themselves in such desperate fashion, demanding strangers to venerate their bodies? And why do they have to keep assuring everyone that there’s no shame in it? Are their beautiful, naked bodies their glory?

But there is shame. 

It’s right there in Geneses 3. Before the fall, we read, “the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed” (Gen 2:25). But after they sinned, their eyes were opened to the fact that they were naked and needed a covering. Once they sinned, they couldn’t bear their nakedness. We’re not talking about a casual relationship here either. We’re talking about the very first married couple. Were they merely ashamed of their nakedness before one another? I don’t think so. Clearly, they shared their nakedness in sexual intimacy later. But this shame of being exposed is not only before one another, it is before the whole creation, their God, and even the angels. Man’s glory has been corrupted because man turned from the true glory of his Maker and his Maker’s goodness to seeking his own glory to rule by his own goodness.

And so even now, we see more attempts to recapture that counterfeit glory. As soon as you try to exploit beauty, you’ve corrupted it into something to consume. Sure, sinful hearts find pleasure in that corrupted beauty. Naked flesh becomes the object of desire rather than covenant union with the person. But we know it isn’t right. We all know. We know that true beauty does not need marketing and advertisement. We know that obnoxious appeals for attention are desperate. We know that a truly beautiful woman doesn’t need to tell everyone she’s beautiful—with words or naked pictures.

Beauty is not something we acquire over others. It is something that we share with others in an appropriate way.

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