photo: Growing UP Duggar

photo: Growing Up Duggar: It’s All About Relationships

I thought that I had all the relationship and love advice I’d ever need from Dita Von Teese’s brilliant video interview. I actually spent 24 whole hours in self-confident bliss, thinking that I’d finally found the secret to a life of romance and self-love: be sexually adventurous but willing to say no, rock my sexy pants even if I’m not trying to get some, and make myself feel good before asking what a potential lover wants.

But I was so, so wrong. The Duggar ladies, who obviously know a lot about marriage because they’ve… not been married, actually, or had any sort of relationship at all ever, but taken very careful notes on their parents’ famous marriage and the Bible, I guess? are spilling even more of their relationship secrets in a new book.

Maybe you are tired of taking advice from harlots like me and Dita, who think it’s great when women know what they like to wear and what makes them feel good and choose it all on their very own. If you like your dating tips with a side of religion and shame, I have good news for you. You can now get your lonely, spinster hands on a copy of Growing Up Duggar: It’s All About Relationships, and Jessa, Jinger, Jill, and Jana will tell you how to build a solid romantic relationship (Hint: it isn’t romance). Don’t bother wondering if the fact that none of them are married or know what holding hands feels like damages their credibility. You’ll have plenty of time to think after you land a husband, because you won’t be allowed to work.

Start with your friends.

Pump the brakes, we need to learn how to be friends before we can handle dating. Walk, don’t run. If you currently socialize with people that share common interests, goals, or just showed up for pickup kickball until you started inviting them to brunch, you need to reexamine your priorities.

“The very best way to be a friend is to point your friends to Jesus.”

On the plus side, you’re kind of off the hook remembering birthdays or knowing anything about what the cool kids like these days. No more planning happy hour, because socializing in unchaperoned spaces is also bad.

Stop asking your friends for relationship advice.

Asking a friend what you should do about your crush is basically asking her to pardon your sin. See above. Rude. The Bible and your parents are the only advice you need.

Don’t call it dating.

I have never been awesome at no-strings hookups, and I’ve been officially single for (yikes) two years. Maybe the term “dating” is giving me the unrealistic expectation that wannabe lovers find out what cuisines and movies I like, and then take me to enjoy those things at a specified time. “Courting,” on the other hand, sounds more like a series of interviews in which your parent grills a potential partner on their 5 year plan while you daydream about touching his arm. Just through the shirt, nothing crazy.

Next time someone doesn’t text me back, I’m calling my dad to set them straight. Like a real woman who respects herself.

Being a trophy wife is totally chill.

One of the top four desirable traits in a Dugger beau is “monied.” You say “a good steward of his money with a goal of living debt-free within his finances,” I say sugar daddy. Because even the Duggars live in the real world. Girl needs her diamonds. Or denim skirts.

Luscious locks are good, plastic surgery is bad.

“We choose longer hair based on our understanding of 1 Corinthians 11:14-15…while it is a shame for a man to have long hair, a woman’s hair is her glory.”

“You can have surgery to change some of your physical features, but before you do, we hope you’ll carefully and prayerfully consider what God originally gave you when He created you.”

OK, fine. I am all for loving thyself. Hopefully the Lord blessed you with a bod good enough to nail the hubby of your dreams, because it looks really difficult to work out in a floor length skirt. I just feel like, if I wanted to pull beauty tips from scripture, I would maybe follow Bathsheba (basically the Dita von Teese of the Bible, fond of rooftop baths) or Song of Solomon (gloriously, exultantly hot), or Esther (girl got 12 months of spa days before landing King Ahasuerus, look it up, book of Esther).

The world’s sexual purity is your responsibility.

In case you missed it, women “have a responsibility not to dress or act in a way that builds up sensual desires in guys.” Girls, religious or not, have enough conflicting information on how to protect, display, or enjoy their own bodies without being told explicitly that it’s their job to keep boys from thinking naughty thoughts at best and committing assault at worst.

There are plenty of ways to encourage modest dress, and lots of men and women choose to cover themselves because of religious faith, cultural norms, or professional courtesy. Straight up slut shaming a girl who hasn’t done anything is probably not the best way to build confidence or a sense that she has worth beyond her physical body.

I agree with their fans that the Duggar ladies seem like nice, well-mannered girls that love their family and each other. I would never stomp on someone else’s religious beliefs that don’t step on my own, or tell someone living a long and happy life without tongue-kissing that they are totally missing out. Faith can be a really beautiful thing. But there is a difference between living your life however you darn well please, and packaging your fundamentalist religious beliefs as a lifestyle guide for young girls.

“Suddenly the girl who looked just fine yesterday seems like a total loser today compared to those cute girls at the mall . . . or your school . . . or your homeschool group . . . or even your church.”

Unless they just hired a bad ghostwriter, the book is clearly aimed at younger teens. Mixing not-at-all-kid-appropriate anti-choice rhetoric and the old body-shaming chestnut that modesty is a girl’s responsibility to protect male chastity next to American Girl-style passages like this just makes my skin twitch.