Publication: One-to-One, Autumn 2012
You have probably participated in a form of human slavery. And so have I. We didn’t mean to do it. But we are part of a culture which has a way of commodifying the human being and desensitizes us to the worth of each individual person. This desensitization can lead to a willingness to be unaware, or even to more dangerous and seemingly unthinkable actions such as physically owning slaves.
For most of us, this process of losing sensitivity comes from the usual suspects: magazines, television, movies, music, advertising, and other media. Just one consequence of commodification has been the obsession our culture has with body image, which affects the way so many people live; not just women, but even men.
SLAVES TO IMAGE
While this has been widely reported among women, did you know that more than 10% of all people now suffering from an eating disorder are male? Men are now feeling the pressures of image. They have to market their image just right to feel a certain amount of acceptance. And what’s disturbing is that for men and women, what others think about us, or what we think about ourselves, in terms of worth, has become such a visual and aesthetic issue. Those things are often tied to sexuality. As they say, sex sells.
The people we worship in this society are beautiful. Many successful celebrities have beauty but lack ta lent, sending the message that success is solely based on how sexually desirable you are. So, men and women now believe they must appear sexually attractive in order to gain any success.
We are used to the pretty people telling us what to buy. We’re used to them using their bodies to get us to do what they want Sounds a bit like prostitution, right? And many people are enslaved by this way of thinking. People are no longer people in our eyes. They are commodities. You’re too ugly, fat, or old! Sorry, your number is up, and you are no longer useful. Disposable.
The more comfortable we become with this way of thinking, the easier it is to make things more tangible. The only difference between porn and prostitutes is that one isn’t physically in the room. Porn is just in front of your eyes, in your mind, burrowing into your soul. Those men and women are just images to consumers, not people. I think we all know that porn is a sort of “gateway drug”.
What was it that infamous serial killer Ted Bundy said, “That porn started it all for him.” Is our culture becoming a gateway to porn? I’m not writing this to be ashamed of beauty or the human body, but to say that there is a problem when all that makes a human worthwhile is what their shell looks like. If we take the whole God-created human being into account, everyone has the potential to be beautiful. Beauty is more than an image. The danger is taking the image and discarding the rest, forgetting that the model on the magazine staring back at you is a human being too. That the girl on the street selling herself is one. That the male stripper being commodified in sleazy Hollywood films is one.
“Man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart” (see 1Samuel 16 7) I think part of the reason God gave us those words is because without looking at the heart, we are at risk of losing our humanity.
Scripture Reference: I Samuel 16:7
VICTORIA GRACE SIMPSON recently earned her Bachelor of Science Degree in International Studies with a Minor in Professional Writing from Spring Hill College. She also earned her certification to teach English as a Second Language in Italy.