Where have you been? Where are you going? And why?
Before I begin, you must know that I hesitate to reflect on this. I have the utmost respect for those in the military and often think myself unworthy to stand in their presence. This story caught my attention and caused me to ask some questions.
Air Force Sergeant Michelle Manhart recently posed nude for Playboy. The issue will be coming out this week and thus the Air Force’s disgust is making headlines. The whole deal strikes me as paradoxical.
She’s expected to prepare our military, developing physical and mental strength in trainees. When they graduate from her leadership, they should be tougher, more focused, and the archetype of strength. Yet, amidst this, she goes off, poses for Playboy, and thus offers her airmen a chance to throw themselves into weakness. The epitome of weakness for a man is to be captivated by a nude magazine, drawing from the beauty before him and the fantasy in his mind, all without having to offer any of his strength or sacrifice. It feels powerful, yet it saps his strength. It is false.
Aside from the irony in that, I listened to Sergeant Manhart, who I now want to call Michelle, on the news and sought to see her heart in all of this. It strikes me that she is living in an incredibly small story (as we all often do). She has a military job to do in effort to protect you and me. But she abdicates this role for a smaller one on a stage where she is at the spotlight centerfold of things, literally.
Where’s her heart in this and what is its pull? She says,
“This has been a lifelong dream of mine, being in modeling, getting into acting…Growing up and looking into the modeling career field, I thought Playboy is definitely the cream of the crop. Everything about Playboy is just beautiful…Not even for a second do I wish I hadn’t done it. I am living out my dream.”
Her longing to be gorgeous is there. And it is valid. The core of her wants to be seen, noticed. Valued and appreciated. But my God, how far have we fallen? Playboy’s skewed version of beauty has become our society’s pinnacle. Indeed the extent of our distortion is revealed in Manhart’s statements. If we are ever going to be restored in our man-heart and woman-heart that God gave us, we will have to recover eyes for real beauty.