Settling the Flag Debate
by Kirsten Andersen


I promised myself I'd never do a "Let's Talk About Me" column. It bothers me when other people write them, and frankly, I expect most people have better things to do than worry about Kirsten Andersen.

That said, the time has come for me to have a little heart-to-heart with the readers of this column. During the past two years, I have received innumerable e-mails from you. Most of you have never gotten an e-mail back, and for that I apologize. I actually have saved all of your letters (except the ones that start out by calling me "you stoopid [sic] slut..."), and they are in a big file just waiting to be answered thoughtfully. That's a major problem of mine—if I can't do something thoughtfully, I tend not to do it at all (including, unfortunately, writing regular articles).

Like I said, I have received more e-mails than I can count...but I think I can answer more than half of them in one paragraph. In a selfish bid to save myself a lot of time and energy, I will do that very thing right now....

No, I wasn't naked when that picture was taken. Really. I was wearing a fairly conservative strapless bikini (the same one I wore to the beach the whole previous summer) and standing behind the flag. When the picture was developed, you could actually see the bathing suit, but, technology being what it is these days, the editors of this website airbrushed it out. The reason the picture was taken in the first place is because the original title of this column was 'The Naked Truth'--and the 'naked truth' is, we did it mainly as a publicity stunt.

Of course, I am referring to the Flag Picture, available here for the very last time. That's right--the Flag Picture is retiring, effective today.

Many of you liked the Flag Picture...but more of you did not. Of the hundreds of e-mails I have received on the subject, the overwhelming majority were in some way chastising me for "demeaning my intellect" with "that silly picture." From the bottom of my heart, thank you. It's nice to know you see me as intelligent.

To those of you who did like the Flag Picture and told me as much: Thank you, too. Regardless of any pride I may have in my accomplishments as a writer, the fact remains that I am a woman. It's refreshing to be told I'm 'hot' once in a while, though I refuse to acknowledge or comment on the veracity of that claim.

Especially if you have no idea what this 'Flag Picture' thing is all about (it hasn't been widely available for months), you may be wondering why it's going away. That's why I broke my own rule to write this horribly self-absorbed letter to you all.

There are many reasons why the Flag Picture is going away for good, but the main reason is that I just plain want it to. The need for the picture has long since run its course--the column isn't even CALLED 'The Naked Truth' anymore--and besides, I never really liked it anyway. What woman WOULD like seeing revealing pictures of herself on the internet (unless, of course, she was very highly paid for it)?

The other reason the Flag Picture is being ceremonially banished is much more personal a subject.

I have been called to task by many of you for acting rather immodestly while publicly proclaiming myself a Christian--not to mention preaching morality and traditional values. At best, I have sent a mixed worst, I may have caused some of my brothers in the faith to stumble. The only excuse I can offer is that when that picture was taken, I was 19 years old and at a particularly difficult stage in my relationship with God and faith. Believe me when I say I am fervently sorry (for this, and many, many other things I did when I was 19. Aren't we all?).

The Bible tells followers of Christ to confess their sins to one another (James 5:16). From reading your e-mails, I know a significant number of you readers are also fellow Christians. Please forgive me for poorly representing our shared faith at different times in the past.

Many of you will think this article the highest form of vanity, and I don't necessarily disagree. But if you are a believer in Christ—or just plain hate hypocrisy—then I think you will understand why I had to write it.

Thanks for reading...and caring enough to let me know. Your letters mean the world to me. God bless you all.

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