I turn the shiny page. Red carpets, beautiful gowns, chiseled bodies, shiny hair. An advertisement for perfume. An article about how to get those eyelashes fuller. Flawless, tanned skin. Perfect, skinny, curvy bodies.
This past week, friends, I have been reading through all of the popular women's magazines available. Excited to contribute as a part of the new Quite Magazine's writing team, I have been reading and "getting a feel for" what's out there, what's made available for millions of American women to read on a monthly basis. Doing a little research, you could say. Honestly, I will not purchase more than half the women's magazines available. I won't spend money to support the lies they scream at women, the explicit sexual content, graphic pornographic photos and "sex tips" that no young women should be viewing or exposed to (especially underage girls.) Yet, as I viewed many of these magazines in their online versions, I see a common theme, a thread throughout them all: how to look prettier, be skinnier, sexier, hotter, more flawless. Basically? How to be beautiful.
"Plastic surgery: should you or shouldn't you?"
"How to stay skinny"
"Tricks for shinier hair and clearer skin"
"45 Ways to...", nevermind. Let's not go there. Trying to keep this place PG, people!
Now, I'm not saying there's anything wrong with striving to be the best we can be, to make the most of our natural beauty, to love fashion and makeup, doing our hair, and looking pretty! But, I'm sure you've seen what I mean, here- all you have to be is a regular grocery store shopper and you are bombarded with images on magazines every time you stand in the check-out line to simply purchase your week's meals. This topic has been stewing in my heart the last few days because of the research I've been doing for magazine writing. And it has me saddened and also, concerned. And I know I'm not alone in this. I know so many of you agree with me and share the same heart. I am outraged that our culture has taken beauty to a level that is completely fake, false and unattainable. And we need to be real, honest and upfront about what the media is doing to condition all of us to think we are not good enough, not pretty enough, not "hot" enough. I know people are smart. You ladies know what is true and what is false. But at the same time, when we are exposed to images day in and day out - on our computers, smart phones, iPads, TV's, billboards, catalogs we receive in the mail, magazines we read and see on the newsstand and signs at the store and mall - we need to remember the truth.
We need to be reminded of this:
Ladies, maybe it's not Maybelline. Maybe it's Photoshop.
photos found here, you can view more airbrushing examples.
Ladies, I'm sure you've seen before/after photo examples like this before. But seriously, I think we need to often and regularly remind ourselves and the precious women in our lives that the standards of beauty the media presents to us on a daily basis are big, fat LIES.
You ladies are smart. And our guys are smart too (Sidenote: I believe the same thing is happening to men in our media, but that is another post for another time.) Yet I also believe that our minds are impressionable. Our hearts are soft. And when we are constantly, daily, weekly, monthly, yearly exposed to airbrushed photos and unrealistic, impossible standards of physical beauty, it takes a toll. It truly does. Or at least, in my personal experience it does.
And from what I am learning, I am not alone. Lies scream at us from the perfect, airbrushed images - You're fat. You're not pretty enough. You're not good enough. You're ugly. In fact, no one will ever love you. Your skin is pasty and your thighs are huge. Your breasts are too small. Your waist is TOO BIG.
And on and on and on until we want to scream and run away. Or starve ourselves. Or cut our wrists. Or diet obsessively and take laxative pills. Or throw up in the toilet after dinner. Or spend hours upon hours in tanning beds under harmful rays (I am guilty as charged for doing that many times in the past...) It happens slowly, over time. Thoughts of self-loathing. That feeling that hangs over you like a dark rain cloud that makes you feel blah. That makes you feel like you will never measure up, never be quite good enough, never be loved, or wanted or desired. And sometimes, these thoughts are not even conscience. But if you're anything like me, they are there. Maybe to just a slight level - maybe you look in the mirror sometimes and kick yourself for not working out more. Maybe you roll your eyes at family pictures because you think your nose is way too big and your eyes are way too small. Perhaps you constantly tear yourself down with words of self hatred like I sometimes do: "My hair looks like a rat's nest! Do you see the bags under my eyes? Another pimple popped up last night, great. I look SO FAT!"
Lies, my friend. Lies from the pit of hell.
And so today, I want to remind you of some simple truth. I want you to know, to remember - that you are beautiful and you are loved.
You are OH so loved, my sweet friend. And you do not need to be skinner, healthier, prettier, sexier, more bronzed, highlighted, toned or plucked to be loved. You are loved - just the way you are. You are loved by God. The One who calls the stars into the sky at twilight. The One who created your heart. The One who made the world. He calls you beautiful, He calls you "Beloved." And He would know, after all... He made you!
Your worth is not found in how long and thick your eyelashes are. It's not found in how curvy your waist is or in the size of your chest. You are not worthwhile because guys turn their heads when you walk down the street. Or because you wear designer jeans. It's not because you have beautiful hair or sparkly eyes. Or because you have long legs or shapely arms. Your worth is not found in being pretty or skinny.
Tans fade. Hair turns gray. Fashion changes. Trends come and go. But nothing you can do can change what you are worth. Nothing can happen to take away God's love. Not acne, not wrinkles. Frizzy hair cannot take it away. And chapped lips do not matter to Him. He loves you no matter what. And you are beautiful because you are real. Because your soul is deep. Because you have dreams. Because of the way you love people, the way your mind works, the passion that bursts inside your heart when you think of all you want to do someday. That is real beauty.
Ladies, remember that you are precious, valued, and loved. Let's stop comparing ourselves to pictures of women that are NOT REAL. These lies we are force-fed. Don't get down on yourself because of something that does not even truly exist - airbrushed perfection.
And be on your guard, I urge you - do not let the Enemy rip you off! Stand firm and combat his lies with truth. That you are loved. Treasured. Valued. And that the images on magazines and billboards are fake.
"For You created my inmost being;
You knit me together in my mother's womb.
And I will praise You because
I am fearfully and wonderfully made."
Your works are wonderful
and I know that full well."
"You are altogether beautiful,
there is no flaw in you."
-Song of Songs 4:7
You are loved, beautiful girl.
Keep your chin up, darlin'.
He calls you beautiful.
Now let that sink in for a minute.
Note: these photos have been edited with fun overlays to add artistic interest, but they have not been airbrushed or touched up