Things that make you go, “Hmmm”.



On the heels of my mountain retreat last weekend, here’s something to think about:  Where do our perceptions of beauty come from?

Watch this:

Made you say “hmm” didn’t it.  Yep, I thought so. 

The (very hilarious) woman, Margot Starbuck Hausmann, who spoke at our retreat last weekend, showed this clip as a segue into one of her talks.  As the clip ended, I heard a collective gasp make its way through the room.  I sat there, mouth hanging open, ready to catch some flies.  I was completely blown away.  I leaned over to my sweet friend Kathy and said, “Well, if they can do all that, then what in the world do they need live models for?  They can apparently just computer generate them!”  Seriously.  It is shocking that THIS is what we see, every day, as the “standard of beauty” for women.  This air-brushed, computer generated, new and improved, “perfected” end result.  When, all the while, lying there underneath, is a “real” woman, zits and all.  Just like you and me. Only she has been molded and shaped into something that no longer resembles her true self.  Does she even recognize her true self?   

Dove is right:  It’s no wonder our perception of beauty is distorted.

And this is what our daughters are learning:  Who they are is simply not good enough in the eyes of the world.  They must cover it up.  They are unacceptable.  They are unlovable.  They are not okay as they are.

This is the message to us, as women, as well.  Don’t think that just because you are beyond a so-called “impressionable age” that you are unaffected.  Oh, far from it.  We, as women, are bombarded with these images all day long, everywhere we look.  We are bombarded by TV, radio, magazines and the voices of others around us.  As square pegs, we are told that we must fit into a round hole.

We live in a world where sex sells and thin is beautiful.  These things are important, we are told. 

Clear skin.  Name brand clothes.  Hollywood hair.  22″ waists.  Sex = Love.  Size 0.  Fresh breath.  White teeth.  Plenty of money.  DD boobs.  The “right” job.  The “right” car.  The “right” nose.  The “Better Homes and Gardens” perfectly clean home.  The “right” schools.  Et cetera, ad nauseam. 

So what is the result of that in the lives of many young women?  Boob jobs.  Depression.  Anorexia.  Bulimia.  Self-hatred.  Self-mutilation.  At the very least, poor self-esteem and not being who we were meant to be.  Even as we are striving and striving, we lie to ourselves, telling ourselves we can never measure up.  And we start to believe the lie.  I start to believe the lie.

It’s so easy to get caught up in all that stuff.  And I am as guilty as the next person.  Probably guiltier than some.  

Here’s where I have to change my perceptions.  I need look at myself the way God sees me. 

Yes, I’m going there. 

God.  The Creator.  Loves me because He created me.  Loves all of us with our big noses, wide hips, post-baby pouches, PMS, crazy hair, bad skin, messy houses, beat up cars, cottage cheese thighs and Mom jeans.  And He looks at us and calls us beloved.  He calls us His children. He delights in us.  We are loved.  Not because the world gives us its stamp of approval, but because the One who created us says we are worth loving.  We can’t clean ourselves up and make Him love us more than He already does.  And that’s enough for me.

So here’s what I’ve decided:

I am a curvy girl and I like it.  I love that I’m a goofball.  I am imperfect, but I do the best I can.  I am a loving wife and mother.  It’s what I do.  I’d rather hang with my kids than swish the toilet.  I don’t want to be who everybody else says I should be.  I like that I can make people laugh and can laugh at myself.  I am imperfectly perfect.  Oh, I definitely have my moments where I forget that I am okay as I am. Sometimes I forget that I don’t have to be “good enough”.  I still want to be liked and accepted.  And I get in that weird funky place sometimes.  And I do so long to look cute and to fit back in my size 10s.  But I know that even if I never get back in those size 10s, I am valuable, beautiful and loved.  Zits and all. 

That’s what I want to model for my daughter.  If I’m not okay with who I am, how can I expect her to be?  I want to be the voice cheering her on, saying, “YOU ROCK!  I wouldn’t change one thing about you!  Don’t try to be someone you are not!  Be who God created you to be!”  And I defy anybody else to tell her anything different. 




“The truth, even though I cannot feel it right now, is that I am the chosen child of God, precious in God’s eyes, called the Beloved from all eternity and held safe in an everlasting embrace… We must dare to opt consciously for our chosenness and not allow our emotions, feelings, or passions to seduce us into self-rejection.” ~Henri Nouwen

“It is amazing how complete is the delusion that beauty is goodness.”  ~Leo Tolstoy


Filed under Faith, Lessons

5 responses to “Things that make you go, “Hmmm”.

  1. Lena

    Great post, Joell!
    This perpetrated fraud has not only manufactured women with fake appearances and fake personalities.  Not to mention, the breed of shallow men who consider this the "bar" that women shoud rise above.  UGH.
    I look in the mirror alot.  Not because I\’m vane, but because I am so very happy with who I am, and I tell myself that daily.  I don\’t need anyone else to validate it but me.
    So a big AMEN to you sister friend!

  2. Jim

    Beauty comes from within.  Beauty is hows you treat yourself.  That is what I tell my daughter.   
    I struggle with this very topic.  First, I am a man.  Clearly.  Fairly typical, I guess.  I very rarely know what to tell my daughter.  Hect, I barely understand my daughter.  That being said, I am frequently scared of the "marketing" impact on her.  I struggle with her actually believing that ads are real life, etc.  They are motivating and efficient at establishing perception around what is beauty.  This worries me on a daily basis. 
    I want my daughter to know there is absolutly nothing a man can do that a woman can\’t.  OK.  Well, I imagine that, technically, there might be one or two but they are relatively unimportant.  🙂   But you get my point.  Woman are powerful.  They need to know from within that they are powerful.  They need to know this from the time they are girls.  I see it as my job as a father to estabilish her self sense of power.  I firmly believes this drives her self confidence, her self awareness, and her internal compass / guiding mindset.  All of this inturns drives her inner beauty which in turn drives her external beauty.
    All that and she has nice hair.  I would be shot down in the back yard by her if I did not say that.  See, her power at work already.  And she is only 13.  🙂

  3. Sarah

    When are we gonna get it?  When are we gonna start loving ourselves? 
    Whoa!  Yeah I knew this computer altering was happening in the mags, but I had no idea what they could start out with.  I think it would be kind of fun to see what my own face would morph into.
    I\’m the type who does my hair and make up in the morning, and forgets it the rest of the day.  I come home looking like a wreck with skraggly hair everywhere and mascara smearing down my eyes, and I just don\’t have the time to be perfect, but that doesn\’t mean I don\’t wish I could be.   Thanks for the words of affirmation!

  4. barnyardmama

    This is a wonderful post.  You are so right.  The question is, how do we differentiate between taking care of ourselves and being too critical?  Where do you drawn the line?  I guess, somewhere in your heart, right?

  5. Sheila

    Hey Joell!
    I really liked this post and I agree with your assessment.  The best thing we can do for our daughters and neices, is to be that example of a confident, self assured person who doesn\’t subscribe to Hollywood\’s definition of beauty. I am not saying that there aren\’t little things we can do for ourselves that make us feel a bit more attractive, but knowing when and where to stop is the important thing.  What most young girls don\’t realize, is that confidence is one of the most attractive things a girl can have. And when it comes to make-up, most men prefer a more natural look as opposed to the Tammy Faye look. Besides, if a lot of makeup is necessary to feel good about yourself, you will be in the mirror all day long, fixing that make-up to feel good about yourself! Not much time left over for anything else! Keep life simple, take care of what God gave you by eating right, exercising and getting enough sleep. Then the beauty can\’t help but shine through the zits and all of our other perceived flaws!great post! Sounds like you had a wonderful retreat in God\’s Country of North Carolina!have a great rest of the the week!hug hugs

I always love hearing from you! :-)

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s