This is in response to a letter posted to teenage girls, at which I took umbrage.

Dear boys,

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 girls, and so naturally there are quite a few pictures of you handsome guys to wade through. Wow—you sure like to pose like big, tough, macho men!

It was interesting to see how often you don’t wear shirts.

matthew mcconaughy shirtless

It’s almost as if you don’t own shirts.

I get it, you’re allowed to walk around topless in your home, your yard, the sidewalk, the beach, the park, the mountains… pretty much anywhere you want to other than inside some businesses and at school. (Unless you’re on the field playing shirts vs skins!!) Still, I can’t help but notice the muscle man poses, the “come hither” smiles at the camera, the bulging boxers.

Why, it’s almost as if you’re flaunting your masculinity for all to see.

So, here’s the bit that’s important for you to realize. If you’re friends with my daughters on social media, you’re friends with the whole family on social media.

We do generally 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.

That picture doesn’t reflect who you are! We think you’re kind 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?

old spice ad

Real men don’t wear shirts.

And now—bug 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 daughters, just as we know your parents care about you.

I know your family would not be thrilled at the thought of my teenage daughters seeing you in your towel. Did you know that once a female sees you in a state of undress, she can’t ever un-see it? You don’t want my daughters to only think of you as a sex object, do you?

Neither do we.

And so, in our house, there are no second chances, boys. If you want to stay friendly with my daughters, you’ll have to keep your shirts on and your posts decent. If you try to post a sexy photo or a seductive YouTube video—even once—you’ll be booted off our online island.

pushed off island

No more shirtless men on our island. You tempting tempter you.

I know that sounds harsh and judgmental, but that’s just the way it is under this roof. We hope to raise women with a strong moral compass, and women of integrity don’t linger over pictures of half-dressed high school boys.

Every day I pray for the men my daughters will love. I hope they will be drawn to men with true inner beauty, the kind of men who will leave them better people in the end. I also pray that my daughters will be worthy of this kind of man, that they will be patient—and act honorably—while they wait for him.

Boys, it’s not too late! If you think you’ve made an online mistake (we all do, don’t fret. I’ve made some doozies. Lucky for me I was given a second chance. Too bad for you I won’t be paying that forward.) RUN to your accounts and take down anything that makes it easy for your female friends to imagine you naked.

censoring men

Cover yourself. You should be ashamed!

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

This is why I have to remove all temptation from my daughters’ lives, because I cannot expect them to act honorably, or keep their thoughts praiseworthy if there are shirtless boys on the internet luring them into sin. And clearly, no boy of worthy character would take a picture of himself shirtless in his natural surroundings while posing seductively for the camera. Only lascivious, lecherous and lustful boys would do such a thing.

You see, don’t you, that blocking you from my daughter’s life is so much easier than talking to HER about her desires, about her feelings, and her responsibilities to show all people respect. Judging you and labeling you as the problem allows my daughters to go on living their lives as a privileged class who can do no wrong. It is not their fault they are tempted by your teenaged chest. It is your fault for having a chest and brazenly showing it off.

You are growing into real gentlemen, inside and out.

Act like it, speak like it, pose like it.

Or I’ll blame you for sending my daughters to the fires of Hell.

I’m glad we’re friends.

Mrs. Puritan

About The Author

Bree Ervin is a certified sexual health educator at When she's not talking to youth and their adults about responsible sex, she writes about raising children in a "post-feminist" world, racial, gender and sexual equality, politics and of course, sex. Stalk her @ThinkBanned

20 Responses

  1. Denise Bertacchi

    Thanks for writing this. I did think it was a bit harsh of the first mom to say she would block any girl who took a photo of herself without a bra on. Sadly, lusty photos are a mainstay of modern marketing–teens need to figure out how to look beyond the skin and see the person. Or we could all just join the Amish.

    • BD Ervin

      Exactly. The funniest part of that, as my husband pointed out, is that bras were originally designed to titillate! They were meant to seduce, not cover up. It’s only recently that we’ve decided we must cover our milk ducts at all times!

  2. Meagan

    Switching the genders is a great way to expose the sexism in the original. I think her heart was probably in the right place, and teens (both boys and girls) need to learn some of the lessons (that other people see what they post, for example), but she really did hit that exactly wrong note of slut shaming. As the mother of boys, I hope to teach my boys to be lovely young men–but by teaching them to be responsible for themselves and that all people are people deserving of respect.

  3. Trish Whynot

    This is brilliant, Bree. Exposing the double standard by swapping out the girls for the boys. Clearly Mrs. Hall fears for her boys and wants them to have a healthy respect for women. That’s admirable but codependency won’t get those results. Teaching them personal accountability will. Codependency is when you need someone to change so that you can feel better, have integrity, be respectful, etc. It is a fruitless pursuit. Personal accountability begins with exploring why your panties are in a knot in the first place. What might these teenage girls be showing Mrs. Hall about herself that she is unaware of? What might she do to get attention that may be inappropriate? How did she express her adolescent hormones and insecurities when there was no fb outlet? Perhaps it is time for Mrs. Hall to make peace with her own adolescence? Mrs. Hall is asking the girls to discern before posting. Hmm… might she benefit from her own advice? Well I think that the postings together provide valuable and fascinating information. Life is not about the perfect post. It’s about having the courage to put ourselves out there. The girls got Mrs. Hall thinking and she got us thinking. Thanks Bree, for helping us to find a truth beyond the judgment. Thanks girls for revealing (with your behavior) some of the challenges teenage girls are struggling with these days and thanks Mrs. Hall for having the courage to voice your opinion so that we could all land in a wiser, more conscious and more compassionate place because of it or maybe more accurately in this case, despite it. I hope that Mrs. Hall will get off her high horse, apologize for her ignorance, post something that she has learned from her foible, and then thank those who had the courage to call her out as well as thank teenage girls for being catalysts for her healing and growth. Now that would be a powerful post.

    • BD Ervin

      Thanks Trish, and yes – wouldn’t it be great if we all learned from this one!
      I think the outcry about this post is an example of many people doing just that. I’ve seen some great replies that show so much self awareness. I haven’t seen it from Mrs. Hall as yet, but… sometimes the right thing takes time to settle in.


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