An Open Letter to My Teenage Self: Shakira’s Hips Are Lying and She Really is Just Jenny from the Block

Dear 16-year-old Heather,

There’s a reason why you keep attracting all the wrong guys, feel sad, alone and like you’ll never be good enough.  It’s not because there’s something wrong with you.  It’s because there’s something wrong with what you’re believing.

It’s because you bought into the same message Shakira and J.Lo were speaking to the 16-year-old girls of this generation through their 2020 Super Bowl halftime performance.


Nineteen years ago, when you were 16, women like Shakira and J.Lo were very popular.  They wrote songs you jammed to on your way to school, work and practice.  But you see, Heather, their message then, is a similar message today some 19 years later.  It’s an alluring yet insidious message teaching you that your worth is found in how attractive you are to others or that less clothing makes you more beautiful.  Based upon what you learned from last night’s performance you might think that relationships are purely physical and for your personal pleasure.  You’d be tempted to think that unless you look like those women dancing on the stage, you’ll never be good enough in the eyes of others.

Heather, I know you’re 16-year-old self longs for young men to want you.  I know you want them to adore you as they did those women last night, but Heather, you are worth so much more than a man’s lust.  Heather, you see, at the end of the day, women like Shakira and J.Lo are so much more than their bodies.

They are people.  People with fears, insecurities, hang-ups, and doubts.  They come with pain and heartaches.  They don’t show that to you on the television screen.  It seems like they have pretty perfect lives with millions of people cheering for them and calling their names.  But, at the end of the day, they are just women.  Underneath all the make-up, shaking hips and big hair are two women with a heart and soul.

Those hearts and souls deserve honor, respect, and love, but you see, what Shakira and J.Lo were saying about themselves through their performances is that they deserve none of that.  What their message actually communicates is that they are objects to be used.  Their dancing, lyrics, and attempts to entertain you and others only draw you into a place of not seeing them as women, beautifully and wonderfully made for who they are in their personhood, but as objects to be worshipped and lusted after.

You see, Heather, last night, the hearts of many men were drawn into that performance and they saw and experienced those women in one way.  They saw them as purely sexual beings to be enjoyed for their own pleasure.  Heather, you are worth so much more than that.  The hearts of many women adored and worshipped these women because they had power.  Power over the hearts of men to draw them in and make them want them for their bodies.  Heather don’t misuse your beauty and your body in that way.  You are worth so much more than that.

I know you feel good when you wear something revealing and you get a lot of attention, but Heather, your personhood and your character are what matter most.  They are more beautiful than J.Lo’s dancing and Shakira’s hips.  Your inner beauty, just as J.Lo’s and Shakira’s has a message to speak to the world.  That inner beauty is something that is not meant for self-worship, but servanthood and sacrifice.  Heather, your life is not meant to draw people into worshipping you.  It’s meant to draw people into a place of love, comfort and care through the overwhelming love of God.  Until you see that and experience it first-hand, you will never be able to understand your true self as made in the image of God.

So, 16-year-old Heather, don’t get sucked into such a destructive message for your young and impressionable soul.  If you follow that trap of lies, you’ll only weave yourself into a story of heartache, pain, and emptiness.  At the end of the day, she really is just Jenny from the block.  She’s somebody’s mother, sister, daughter and friend and so are you.  Truly, that is enough.  It’s enough to know that you are a child of God, deeply loved by Jesus and forever held in His love.

Instead of dwelling on the message of last night, Heather, dwell on this message.

“For You formed my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Marvelous are Your works, and I know this very well. My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in secret, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all my days were written in Your book and ordained for me before one of them came to be.- Psalm 139:13-16

Heather, if there’s one thing I would want you to know now that I wish you knew then, as a young, impressionable teen, it’s that you are deeply loved.  Your worth, value and purpose is not found in what you do or in what the mirror says.  Truly, your worth is found in who you are, as someone made in God’s image, who is being used by Him to reflect His love and kindness to the world.  Heather, Jesus died and rose again so that you could have a brand-new life.  Embrace that today and you’ll find that your truest self is not defined by J.Lo or Shakira’s message but in the message of the gospel, which is one of love, selflessness, and sacrifice.  Now, it’s your turn to spread that same kind of gospel love with the world around you.  Not for your own praise, but to point people to the one who is worthy of praise.


3 thoughts on “An Open Letter to My Teenage Self: Shakira’s Hips Are Lying and She Really is Just Jenny from the Block

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