Have you ever walked into a makeup store to find the perfect shade of lipstick? The last time I went, with both my young daughters in tow, I was shocked and appalled by the names on the tubes.
Hot and bothered.
Nearly every label I read contained a sexually suggestive name.
And the store was full of young girls! Teens and preteens looking for love and affirmation, but instead finding what the cosmetic industry sells: sex.
The cosmetic industry mirrors the double standard our culture holds for women. By and large, our culture wants to empower women. Culture wants women to stand up for themselves and be heard. Culture wants women to shatter glass ceilings.
But culture also wants sex to sell.
Culture wants to empower women to thrust their hips in a nude-colored leotard on national television. Culture wants women to exploit their sexuality to fit in or get ahead, but to stand up when they've been exploited. Culture wants women to advance, but at what cost? Can you have your cake and eat it, too?
Unfortunately, I think the majority of our culture is blind to the double standards. We've been sold sex for so long, it's almost as if we don't even notice it anymore. Our eyes gloss over as a sex scene unfolds during our favorite prime-time show, we sing along as our favorite musician performs in next to nothing for a sold-out audience, we shrug as the crop tops and short shorts our daughters request to wear get shorter by the year.
Sex for sale is the status quo, and the extent to which we've been desensitized is alarming.
Furthermore, if we're this desensitized, what about our children? This culture is all they know. This is their normal, and it's everywhere they turn, from their makeup to the Super Bowl to every single social media app on the iPhones in their pockets.
The statistics about adolescents are as startling as they are disheartening. Over half of U.S. teens have had sexual intercourse by age 18; one in four teens are sexting. Depression affects nearly one in eight adolescents and young adults each year. Up to 80 percent of college students report engaging in sexual acts outside of committed relationships. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for 15- to 24-year-olds.
When is enough, enough?
It's time that we start teaching our children about their true identities—what God says about them, not what culture says about them. It's time they know that they are bold, powerful and purposed by God for way more than their sexuality. It's time that we show the next generation that they are meant for more than what this world is selling them.
One night, in a dream, I was shown a makeup counter full of beautiful tubes of black and gold lipstick with the inscription "Psalm 34." I felt the Lord calling me to develop a line of makeup to remind women of who they are called to be. A former teacher, I knew nothing about how to launch a cosmetics line, but as God so often does when he calls us to partner with Him, he opened all the doors to make EverBe—the first-ever beauty brand to affirm a woman's God-given identity—a reality.
As I've embarked on this journey, my heart has been burdened for the adolescents who are trying to make their way through this world in the ways culture would have them. My eyes and ears have been opened to the sex-saturated culture they navigate. Psalm 34 speaks of how our countenance literally changes when we look upon the Lord, and I dream of how different life might look for the next generation if they were sold their God-given identities as brazenly and unmistakably as culture sells how they're seen by the world.
If they knew the depths of His love, would they engage in intercourse to seek affirmation?
If they understood their value and worth, would they send that nude photo?
If they knew they were forgiven and redeemed, would they take their lives?
Our culture can do better. The cosmetics industry can do better. And we can do better.
It will take a movement of women rising up to say no to the dirty, to the darkness, to the shame. We must join together to say no to everything that runs counter to our identities in Christ, and we must say yes to who God calls us to be—favored, fruitful, pure, humble, radiant and redeemed.
Being a woman of God is more than being meek and mild. We are compassionate warriors created to partner with God to reclaim all of His creation. We are loved deeply and passionately by our Creator, and following Him is the adventure of a lifetime. Whose responsibility is it to sell that narrative to the next generation? It's ours.
I want more for our children than what this culture is selling, and I'm willing to bet that you do, too. Enough is enough.
Candice Coffey is the founder of EverBe, a new beauty brand that affirms our God-given identity. She lives outside of Nashville, TN with her husband and daughters.
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