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When Beauty Is Used To Exploit


Their names are Nina, Lily and Chrissy. And I just tossed them into the fire.

Beautiful smiles and, yes, lovely bodies. God is a master craftsman. So why did their beauty bring me to tears?

This week, Sports Illustrated unveiled its 50th annual swimsuit edition. A subscription to S.I. has been making its way into our mailbox as a “bonus” to my son’s basketball magazine, and today this issue landed in my hands. I already knew what the cover revealed. It’s been promoted during prime time coverage of the Olympic Games and touted as “historic” by the evening news anchor. The giggling cover girls have been interviewed on morning news shows, and a local hometown television station is claiming bragging rights to the winsome Miss featured on the back cover.

So, as I hold this piece of pornography in my hands, why am I surprised? And why the tears?

Because these lovely girls shoving their behinds at ogling strangers are somebody’s daughters, sisters, even wives. And they are allowing themselves to be used and exploited.

It’s no secret that the sex trade is a booming business around the world and here in the United States. According to a 2011 report by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, an estimated 293,000 American youths currently are at risk of becoming victims of commercial sexual exploitation. Worldwide, it’s estimated that 2.5 million people are victimized for sex. The majority of the trafficking victims are between 18 and 24 years of age. 98 per cent of those victims are women and girls. It’s a $12 billion a year business. (UN.Gift, the Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking)

The selling of sex rises when great sporting events, such as the Olympics, come to town. These lovely, healthy, wholesome-looking girls are contributing to the problem. It is not a far stretch to say that the glossy images offered to our men in living color prompt some to seek out satisfaction for the desires they stir. Sadly, those who are willing to pay will find someone willing to sell.

Beyond their unwitting contribution to an industry I am certain these young cover girls would abhor is the reality that they have decided to identify their own worth by this achievement — posing semi-nude before the world.

As the flames of our wood burner consumed the magazine, there was a knot in my stomach. My four sons get images like these shoved in their faces every day, while people who love them are telling them that sex is to be saved for marriage, that women are to be respected. It is no wonder they are confused. And perhaps disappointed. The women God gives them probably will not look like Sports Illustrated swimsuit models.

It isn’t easy to write about this. I risk embarrassing my sons and husband. Many will consider me a “prude”. But what I know in my gut is that girls like Nina, Lily and Chrissy could choose purity and modesty over self-promotion and easy sex. And they would still be beautiful.


  1. Karen

    I’m with you on this one! Years ago when S.I. was coming to our house the swimsuit addition came wrapped in brown paper! It was straight in the trash. When questioned as to when this issue would arrive, I said it probably wouldn’t. My response to exploiting girls also has been ” remember, that is someone’s daughter and sister.”

  2. Ingrid Lochamire

    Not even in brown paper this time……we’ve come that far.

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