Elizabeth Brown

The worst part of my commute is that each day I drive by a billboard of a woman’s rear end.  The billboard is advertising Cowpokes (a restaurant?).  The woman is wearing shorts, but still the billboard reduces the woman to an object and issues a daily temptation to men commuting north on I-69 to think impure thoughts.

I’m never ready for the billboard.  I hate being confronted with that temptation each day.  My thoughts have been along the lines of “UG.” or “ARRRG!” and then making upset noises while I shield my eyes from gazing at someone else’s wife, someone else’s daughter.

Earlier this week, as I drove past the billboard (it was an “ARRRG!” day), I had an idea.  The billboard served to dehumanize the woman pictured — I don’t think it even shows her face, just her rear end — so I decided to try to re-humanize her.  That’s how I came up with the following:

Elizabeth wasn’t a Christian when the photo for Cowpokes was taken in 1999.  She really didn’t think much of the photo at the time — it was just a way to earn a little money.

Elizabeth is now a Christian, married with a son and a daughter, and her attitude toward the photo has completely changed.  “I am so regretful that I am responsible for a photo that leads so many men into sinful thoughts,” Elizabeth says.  Elizabeth has pled with Cowpokes and sent letters urging them to discontinue the use of her photo.  She has offered to return the money Cowpokes paid for the photo.  She has even threatened to sue.  Legally, though, there’s not much that can be done.  “I signed the release,” Elizabeth says.  “I’m living with the consequences now.”

Elizabeth has three brothers, all younger than she, and her father died several years ago.  The oldest of the brothers, Joe, says that he feels responsible for not looking out for his sister: “We let our sister down.  There’s no way we should have let Elizabeth continue in the kind of job she had without confronting her about it.  We thought we were being open minded, when really we were just failing to  reach out in love.”

So, with Elizabeth’s picture on hundreds of billboards nationwide, what is the Christian man to do?  Elizabeth’s husband, Jake Brown, offers this advice:  “When you see that billboard, don’t just take it at face value.  Remember that she is a daughter, a sister, a wife, and a mother.  Remember her father, her brothers, and me.  Remember our son.  Remember the repentance that followed in Elizabeth’s life.  Look away quickly and thank the Lord for a changed life!”

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