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'Dear Skanky Teenage Girls: Stop enticing my sons.'

Kimberly Hall and one of her sons, from her blog givenbreath.com
Kimberly Hall and one of her sons, from her blog givenbreath.com

By HARRIET PAWSON

That’s pretty much the sentiment expressed in an open letter sent by Kimberly Hall, Director of Women’s Ministry at a Presbyterian Church in Texas to the female friends of her teen sons.

The letter is currently going viral and not only because it was – bafflingly – accompanied by fun family photos of Hall’s teenage sons. Half-naked. In their cossies at the beach.

The open letter – which you can read in full here – goes like this:

Dear girls,

I have some information that might interest you. Last night, as we sometimes do, our family sat around the dining-room table and looked through your social media photos.

We have teenage sons, and so naturally there are quite a few pictures of you lovely ladies to wade through. Wow – you sure took a bunch of selfies in your pajamas this summer!  Your bedrooms are so cute! Our eight-year-old daughter brought this to our attention, because with three older brothers who have rooms that smell like stinky cheese, she notices girly details like that.

sexy teenage selfies
‘I think the boys notice other things.’

I think the boys notice other things. For one, it appears that you are not wearing a bra.

I get it – you’re in your room, so you’re heading to bed, right? But then I can’t help but notice the red carpet pose, the extra-arched back, and the sultry pout.  What’s up? None of these positions is one I naturally assume before sleep, this I know.

So, here’s the bit that I think is important for you to realize.  If you are friends with a Hall boy on Facebook or Instagram or Twitter, then you are friends with the whole Hall family.

Please understand this, also: we genuinely like keeping up with you. We enjoy seeing life through your unique and colorful lens – which is what makes your latest self-portrait so extremely unfortunate.

Those posts don’t reflect who you are! We think you are lovely and interesting, and usually very smart. But, we had to cringe and wonder what you were trying to do? Who are you trying to reach? What are you trying to say?

hall-family
The Hall family at the beach, from Kimberly Hall’s blog rom her blog givenbreath.com.

And now – big bummer – we have to block your posts. Because, the reason we have these (sometimes awkward) family conversations around the table is that we care about our sons, just as we know your parents care about you.

I know your family would not be thrilled at the thought of my teenage boys seeing you only in your towel. Did you know that once a male sees you in a state of undress, he can’t ever un-see it?  You don’t want the Hall boys to only think of you in this sexual way, do you?

Neither do we.

And so, in our house, there are no second chances, ladies. If you want to stay friendly with the Hall men, you’ll have to keep your clothes on, and your posts decent.  If you try to post a sexy selfie, or an inappropriate YouTube video – even once – you’ll be booted off our on-line island.

I know that sounds harsh and old-school, but that’s just the way it is under this roof for a while. We hope to raise men with a strong moral compass, and men of integrity don’t linger over pictures of scantily clad high-school girls.

sexy teenage selfies
“If you think you’ve made an online mistake…”

Every day I pray for the women my boys will love.  I hope they will be drawn to real beauties, the kind of women who will leave them better people in the end. I also pray that my sons will be worthy of this kind of woman, that they will be patient – and act honourably – while they wait for her.

Girls, it’s not too late! If you think you’ve made an on-line mistake (we all do – don’t fret – I’ve made some doozies), RUN to your accounts and take down  anything that makes it easy for your male friends to imagine you naked in your bedroom.

Will you trust me? There are boys out there waiting and hoping for women of character. Some young men are fighting the daily uphill battle to keep their minds pure, and their thoughts praiseworthy.

You are growing into a real beauty, inside and out.

Act like her, speak like her, post like her.

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These are the kinds of images that teenage girls are posting online.
These are the kinds of images that teenage girls are posting online.
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OK, breathe. I too am the mother of teenage sons. My boys are 14 and 16 and I have to say, there’s quite a lot here I agree with. While everyone is busy shouting down Mrs Hall (as she refers to herself in the letter), for slut-shaming teenage girls and for being an outrageous hypocrite by posting half-naked shots of her boys alongside the damning critique, I found myself nodding. A bit.

You see, not long ago, I did the same thing as Kimberly Hall. I went through some of the Instagram profiles of the girls who my sons follow. They may have blocked me from Facebook but because Instagram is open, I can search their names and look at the photos they’ve posted.

Oh my. Oh my my my.

My sons and their male friends post very few photos and those they do post are usually of food or sport. Sometimes nature or cars. Hardly any selfies.

But the girls are so very different. It’s true what Kimberly Hall says. It’s all posing and pouting and cleavage and topless with their hands over their boobs. It’s duck-faces and bikinis and sometimes underwear or towels. It’s close-ups of body parts and there are even shots in the shower or the bath.

sexy teenage selfie
And this…

I’ve been at dinner parties with other parents of boys and we’ve passed around our phones and looked at these shots of the girls with our mouths open in shock. Talking to another mother, we tried to drill down into what it was about them that bothered us so much.

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Was it the sexual nature of the shots? Well, yes but not in the way you’d think. I have no problem with teenagers having sex. Unlike Kimberly Hall who I imagine is all about keeping yourself pristine until marriage, it’s not the sex part that bothers me. If girls aged around 16 want to have consensual sex with boys who respect them – great! Enjoy! Be safe!

But it’s the overt sexualisation in the way they portray themselves that disturbs me. Because it seems so totally fake and manufactured and inauthentic. And it troubles me that they perceive that’s all they have to offer boys – looking hot and sexy.

sexy teenage selfie
And another one.

And I’m sorry – for those crying ‘hypocrite’ about the photos of Hall’s son in their swimmers – that’s totally different. I’m not a prude. There’s nothing wrong with bodies. The images Hall and I are talking about couldn’t be further from beach shots. They’re incredibly suggestive and sexual. Let’s not pretend there’s no difference. There is. It would be the same if they boys were holding their crotches maybe.

I understand that girls often mature sexually earlier than boys. But exploring your sexuality and becoming a woman is about so much more than getting your tits out in a desperate cry for validation.

And while I’m not about to start blocking those sexual selfie girls from my sons’ social media accounts, I understand Kimberly Hall’s dismay at what she sees. Girls? Put it away. You’re better than that.

Harriet Pawson is a pseudonym. The author is a writer and mother of 2 boys who lives in Brisbane with her family.

So where do you stand on teenagers selfies: harmless fun, or should young women be showing more ‘self-respect’? And are you worried about how young men perceive sexy selfies? 

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