The 2015 “Body Issue” of ESPN Magazine was released July 6, featuring 24 men and women of varying sports posing in the nude.
Among these 24 athletes was Bryce Harper, all-star outfielder for the Washington Nationals and member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
In May, American violinist Lindsey Stirling appeared on the red carpet at the Billboard Music Awards wearing a dress that, by some, was considered to be immodest; however, there was an uproar and controversy over a dress that only appeared to be immodest.
There has been little to no conversation on social media regarding a male LDS athlete who appeared naked in a magazine.
What made such a difference in the coverage and conversation about these two incidents?
One of the main differences is that one of these people is female, and the other is male.
“I guess I’m just very comfortable in what my body looks like, and I’m not scared to do anything,” Harper said in an interview with ABC.
Stirling’s response to the negative reaction she received for her dress was quite the opposite of Harper’s interview quote.
“I’ve received a lot of hate over the last 2 days and I’m sorry for anyone that I’ve disappointed,” Stirling said via her Instagram account.
She continued to apologetically explain and defend the modesty of the dress and her choice to wear it.
Before and after Stirling’s statement, comments and blog posts condemning her flooded social media.
The bulk of the conversation took place among LDS bloggers and social media users.
“Please don’t let fame cloud your judgment and ultimately steal away what is special and unique about you @lindseystirling,” according to an Instagram comment by @shelbell70. “Especially with so many impressionable followers … For some reason seeing you dressed like this made me so sad.”
Harper should not have necessarily been made to apologize or feel ashamed for what he did the way Stirling was for her choice of dress. But we cannot practice such hypocrisy when judging two situations of such a similar nature.
Modesty standards should be no respecters of gender.
Putting women on a pedestal and making them the example of modesty is sexist.
Unlike Stirling, in Harper’s interview with ABC, he was anything but apologetic.
“God gave me a body, so I’m gonna show it off,” he said.
Can we remember a single time a female public figure said something along the lines of what Harper said without being hated and condemned by society?
Maybe, but they have been few and far between.
If we were to switch the responses from Harper and Stirling, Harper would be a hero and Stirling would be viewed as a disgrace to her religion, as she was already largely deemed.
Consider the hypothetical situation of a female LDS athlete appearing nude in “The Body Issue,” or any magazine.
Might the coverage and reaction to that be a bit more extreme than that of Harper’s appearance?
This is not just a problem in the LDS Church.
July 6, Justin Bieber shared a photo on Instagram of himself from behind, standing naked on a boat.
Commenters made praising remarks, calling Bieber “sexy,” telling him to “turn around” and using other words not appropriate for all audiences.
July 2, Demi Lovato shared a photo of herself, clothed, on Instagram
Commenters called the outfit, and Lovato herself, “slutty” and “degrading,” among other things.
Although there were positive and negative comments on both photos, the overwhelming majority of the comments support the claim that society is much harsher on the modesty of its women than its men.
We should be more conscious of our hypocrisy when demanding more modesty from women than men.