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In the latest popular rant on Facebook, which has been shared more than 10,000 times, a mom of three sons has penned an open letter to teen girls, with advice to be careful of how they present themselves on social media.
Kim Hall, of Austin, Texas, uses a friendly, yet fierce, tone in her blog Given Breath to remind young women – especially those who are friends of her teenage sons – that anything they post will be seen by the entire Hall family, who occasionally sit around the dinner table and share what’s on their various social media platforms, from Facebook to Twitter to Instagram.
In the post, titled "FYI (if you're a teenage girl)," Hall writes:
"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 skimpy pj’s 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.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."
Hall writes that while she knows most girls are “lovely and interesting and usually very smart,” some girls’ self-portraits make her cringe and wonder: “What are you trying to say?”
Hall says that in the interest of raising “men with a strong moral compass, and men of integrity” who “don’t linger over pictures of scantily clad high-school girls,” the family has a rule to block offensive posts, such as girls in towels or other forms of undress.
"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 quickly un-see it? You don’t want our boys to only think of you in this sexual way, do you? Neither do we. We’re all more than that."
The Hall family’s “zero tolerance policy” comes with no second chances, Hall writes.
“But, if you want to stay friendly with our sons online, you’ll have to keep your clothes on, and your posts decent. If you post a sexy selfie (we all know the kind), or an inappropriate YouTube video – even once – it’s curtains.”
Hall also tells girls that it’s not too late, and they can change their online mistakes by taking down “the closed-door selfies.” She promised: “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 – just like you.”
While the post has been incredibly popular among parents of both sons and daughters, some questioned Hall on being contradictory. Because, while her letter pointed out the impropriety of half-dressed girls, it was originally illustrated by photos of her boys – shirtless and strutting on the beach. (Granted, it was just summer and her sons were wearing normal bathing suits; it was by no means the stuff of Tumblr boys. )
As one commenter pointed out:
"This is well-done and I loved it until I saw the accompanying photographs of the boys. Ummm – shirtless?? Have you had the opportunity to hear what teenage girls say when they look at those pictures?? It absolutely goes both ways."
And another wrote:
“While I whole heartedly agree with your basic message here, as the mother of 5 daughters, you probably don’t want to know what they said when I showed a couple of them this picture of your boys posing all hot, flexed and sexy there on the beach…it would make any normal girl who didn’t normally struggle with wearing modest swimwear want to wear a bikini…it just seems like you might not be holding the same standard for the generic girls in this world as you do for your…boys.”
TODAY Moms reached out to Hall to ask about the post and the controversy about the photos, but did not get a response.
Hall seemed, however, to take the commenters' suggestions to heart. She reposted the letter a second time, but changed the photos of her sons. She added a note, thanking readers for their counsel: “Two days ago I wrote this post for my normal audience, which is usually very small. That said, I included recent pictures of my kids at the beach, and many new readers found that to be a grave lack of discernment, considering the topic. I agree, and have replaced them with different photos than the original post.”
What do you think? Do shirtless photos of boys and sexy selfies of girls fall in the same category or are they different cases altogether? Weigh in on the TODAY Moms Facebook page.