By Laura Kurk
Today, I watched a news show, horrified, as a mother of six told the world she would soon have her thirteenth breast enlargement—making her bra size MMM—so that she could provide a better life for her kids.
A few weeks ago, Anderson Cooper made this tanning-addicted woman famous by putting her on his “Ridiculist” after she was accused of taking her five-year-old daughter into a tanning booth with her. He and his staff laughed and laughed while I tried to swallow around the emotions seizing my throat.
As movie Bella Swan would say, “Whoa. What. Is. Going on?”
These insane extremes are not new, unfortunately. You guys have to endure this kind of mess in the media constantly—the airbrushed photos, the ads for plastic surgery, the empty perfection of Hollywood.
If you let them, they’ll steal your confidence and joy. They’ll tell you beauty only has one look, and they can force what you’ve got into the mold. So sad. But maybe you’ve come to peace with all that and you know the truth about beauty. About where it lives and breathes. About how it transforms. I pray that for you.
But here’s what got me “all het up,” as my true Southern friends would say. Even as Christians, our reaction to these instances of the flesh ruling, is dangerously close to apathy. That’s how things creep in . . . a little at a time so we won’t notice.
Oh, we say get it. We read books like The Hunger Games that hold a mirror up to us and say, “Look what you’re allowing to happen.” We know we are living in the Capital. We’re already at a point where, like Peeta, we constantly ask, “Real. Or not real?”
It’s not too far from the tanning lady of our world to Effie Trinket of Katniss’s world.
We know, as a society, we are throwing all our energies, talents, time and money into looks. This addiction we have with our appearance is like an insidious disease threatening our ability to love ourselves and our Maker.
But how do we protect ourselves?
When you hear the murmurs around you telling you that you aren’t enough—tan enough, waxed enough, thin enough, pretty enough—I want you to remember these words written by Paul—
For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. (Rom. 8:5-8)
We see it around us—minds set on flesh that are hostile to God. I’d prefer the life and peace that comes from a mind set on the Spirit.
Let me try to interject some optimism here.
I’m going on record today to say that I believe there will be a time in the near future when our culture begins to value real beauty again—the beauty that is also called truth.
When it finally seems the majority of us have used plastic surgery and other means to look one way, our heads will begin to turn toward those who haven’t. Who might even have adorably crooked teeth. The beautiful, realistic curves of a woman. Hair with a life and a story of its own. A smile that knocks the breath right out of you. Arms with power. Faces that glow with innocence.
We will again love the strength represented by a person of character, and the way that character touches the face. Wrinkles will be lovely reminders. We’ll look for sincerity in the eyes and when we finally find it, we won’t be able to look away. This will happen. You will see it.
Good things are happening . . .
Look what your fellow teen accomplished when she started a petition to make Seventeen Magazine agree to never retouch photos! Julia Bluhm collected 84,000 signatures to get a response from the managing editor of the magazine.
I think the shift to natural beauty has already begun because of people like
Kate Winslet, who wins July’s Lola Award.
Kate, who is famously beautiful, is also famously naturally that way. She is outspoken on the issue of body image, and especially on the rush to surgically change one’s body.
In 2003, after a magazine used “digital slimming” techniques on her photos without her consent, she issued a statement saying that the photos were not accurate. She also sued a British tabloid that claimed she lied about her exercise routine and she won the case, plus an apology. She said she remains committed to the view that women should accept their appearance with pride.
She often says that she doesn’t want her own daughter to grow up believing that “body bashing” is the norm. “That’s why I talk solely positively about my body in front of my daughter,” she told Brigitte magazine. “I say things like, ‘Hey, look at my strong arms!’”
Here’s one final thought.
I know what it feels like to be a teenage girl. I know insecurity often hijacks your day, and worries with body types and shapes sometimes consume you. Hormones can create skin issues that make you want to hide at times.
And I know you don’t want to be made to feel shallow just because you reach for makeup before you head out the door. You’re okay.
I found this cool video on YouTube made by well-known cinema make-up artist, Lisa Eldridge. Lisa’s joy in life is helping girls and women find ways to use makeup without hiding all the beautiful textures and colors of their real skin.
If you’re trying to figure out how to balance being natural with hiding skin issues, take a look. What I like about it is how much grace she gives teen girls through this video. There’s no shaming. There’s no judging. Just good advice. She talks about the products she uses, but it’s really the technique that’s important.
See you in August!