My Dear Girl:
Where did the time go? I just saw your picture on Instagram and could hardly believe how grown up you look. You are not that precocious five-year-old girl to whom I used to sing the Dora the Explorer song. You are technically an adult now. Wow!
But, as I stared at your picture, I wished one thing more than anything else. I wished I could Photoshop a sweater right over it!
Tonight my heart hurts as I analyze your image, one I know most of your 843 Instagram followers will also see. This photo tells a different story than the words I’ve seen you use of late. You say that sexual freedom has liberated you from the encumbrance of man’s opinions. You can freely play the field, getting physical affection wherever it’s offered because you are confident. You don’t need a steady kind of love.
But, that form-fitting bustier (I’d call it a shirt, but more cleavage is exposed than hidden and I see your nipples) and that segment of stomach peaking out above your jeans . . .They paint a different picture. They scream that you want men to notice and that the juvenile substitute of sex as love hasn’t filled the vacant hole of identity like you thought it would. You long for affirmation, to be wanted, and to know that you are beautiful.
You believe that looking hot leads to all you desire.
Please don’t hear any condemnation in my voice right now. I love you and I understand your choices because, once, not so long ago, I made the same. I wore the hot outfits hoping that the right silhouette would lead me to lasting and unconditional love. If, somehow, my body could please a man, then I would feel an acceptance I had never before experienced. I just knew it.
But it didn’t work.
It was never enough. The men who wanted me for my “hot” body had the attention span of a mosquito. They’d land, suck love’s lifeblood from my heart, and then move on to their next victim.
I thought giving more of me meant gain and showing more of me meant approval.
Instead, it yielded quite the opposite.
After a night of physical passion that to me signaled the certainty of deeper commitment in our relationship, one of these mosquito men had the audacity to say, “Heather, you’re comfortable. We have fun. You know we’d never make it in a real relationship.”
The message I internalized: Do better, try harder. You must not be hot enough to get the committed type of love you crave.
My dear girl, I’m not going to give you clichés like “Modest is Hottest” or that you should dress more conservatively because that’s what men really find appealing. Hot is greatly esteemed in our culture. Average, appropriately clothed figures hardly stand out in our hyper-sexualized part of the world.