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Why It’s Great Celebrities Don’t Do The Whole Promise Ring Thing Anymore

Remember back in the days of yore when celebrities used to wear purity rings and talk such a big game of staying a virgin until marriage? Whatever happened to that? No seriously, I’m asking.

You guys know what I’m talking about, right? That thing where young-ish celebrities wore what was called a ‘promise ring‘ or a ‘purity ring’ on their left hand ring finger. That finger, if you will, in an attempt to make clear to the public that they’d made a promise either to God or themselves — or in especially creepy cases, their fathers — to stay pure until marriage. Man, you’re really gonna make me spell this out for you, huh? THEY SWORE NOT TO BUMP ANY UGLIES UNTIL THEY WERE MAN AND BEWIFED. No sex. At all. Until they were married.

It sounds pretty crazy now, but this was a pretty common thing as recently as…a decade and a half ago. (This is the moment where it sinks in that we are all old, and that we shall die alone and have our bones scattered by wild dogs.) Back in the late 90s and early 2000s, even if you weren’t rocking a full-on ring like Jessica Simpson, the Jonas Brothersor every member of Hansonyou might still be making a public pledge not to have sex until marriage like Britney Spears, Carrie Underwood, and Jordin Sparks did.

But as you may have noticed, all those celebrities I just mentioned have either gotten married or aged out of their old promises, and no one in the younger generation has swept in to replace them. Even unmarried Disney and Nickelodeon stars who used to be vocal about their virginity, like Selena Gomez, Miley Cyrus, and Demi Lovato, have quietly stopped bringing it up in favor of injecting increasing — and sometimes startling — levels of sex into their brands.

And you know what? I don’t think that’s a bad thing. As much as I’m often overwhelmed by the hypersexualized nature of our society, and specifically pop culture, one word that I remember coming up up a lot back in those promise ring days was ‘slut’. As in, that’s what you were if you didn’t save yourself for marriage. In the words of then-eighteen-year old Jordin Sparks:

“I just have one thing to say about promise rings. It’s not bad to wear a promise ring, because not everybody – guy or girl – wants to be a slut.”

In hindsight, it becomes clear to me that for most of the celebrities who made the choice to publicly save themselves for marriage, it was less about their commitment to religion or purity or Joe Simpson, and more about giving their brand that competitive edge. Their reasons for holding off may well have been admirable, but unfortunately I think in a lot of cases, the announcement of their intentions was designed to shame others who didn’t make the same choice. Not super into that.

And true, I’m not super into like…half-naked and gyrating human bodies onstage, either, but at least we aren’t casually throwing the word ‘slut’ around anymore as a euphemism for someone who’s unashamedly owning their sexuality. I think I can handle that trade-off.

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