My youngest son just turned eleven. He is “all boy.” His older brothers tease him by asking, “How many girlfriends do you have now, David?” Such an idea elicits a quick and determined, “None! Girls are weird” response, which is precisely where I think he should be for an 11-year-old. His interests are much less complex: his entrancement with the NFL, the skill set of Philadelphia Eagles’ running back Darren Sproles, and playing sports and video games. That’s pretty much it. This is why I was struck recently, when, after taking him to Hair Cuttery, he was unusually pre-occupied with how his hair looked. This is surely part of his coming of age, but it could also be due, in part, to our current “selfie” culture. He sees his friends and older brothers constantly taking pictures of themselves and posting them to Instagram and Snapchat.
So where is this all headed? In the short term, I think our youth will continue to head in the direction of this new form of self-worship for the foreseeable future. We need to hope and pray that this self-absorption and narcissism ultimately reaches a tipping point. We need to hope that young people themselves recognize the absurdity and burden of such a preoccupation with one’s own bodily perfection, and that the pendulum begins to swing in the other direction—towards seeing the “other” as well as themselves.
There is already an interesting trend that has been developing over the past two years that does seem to respond to this unhealthy demand for body perfection- the body positivity movement. While far from perfect, I do think it is rooted in some truth and goodness. Stay posted. I’ll discuss this trend soon.