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