Raw Beauty

Beauty is a short-lived tyranny.” ~Socrates

How do you define beauty? How do the people around you define it? Especially the 13-25 year old crowd?

My 14 year old daughter came to me recently with a copy of a popular magazine in her hand. “Mom, how can I look like this?!” she asked.

“You can’t.” I answered. “This is not reality. This is an illusion.”

“You’re just saying that!” she exclaimed rather passionately.

Oh the drama that is a teenage girl searching for her place in a fallen world. How can she ever find it when she is surrounded by images that falsely portray perfection?

This is an argument as old as time. Should beauty be important? Does God care about beauty? Is it a sin to want to be beautiful? Is it ungodly to pluck my eyebrows, shave, have nice hair, wear make-up? My answer to these questions is, “Yes. God cares about beauty. Otherwise, I think, He would have made the world colorless and with much less detail. I truly believe the answer relies much on your definition of beauty. No. It is not (in my opinion) ungodly to accentuate your beauty.”

(I realize that there are a million different opinions for these questions and a scripture to back up each one. Many of them, I have heard. Please do not waste your energy sending me hateful messages about how God wants all of us to be ugly and poor.)

After making excuses and suggestions, I realized that Bella has seen the Dove ads and the how-to for Photoshopped images many, many times and she still sees that as professionally done (which they are.) I had to make this personal…I did what my ego hates…there was no other way…after all, this is my daughter and her friends and my friends and friends of friends. This is the very reason that I speak openly in conversation, workshops and seminars about a 12 year battle with bulimarexia.

I had to remove the veil of post editing and show her what a real person looks like without any touch-ups or enhancers. I knew that person had to be me.

So, I asked Chris to take a head shot of me with a 100mm macro lens. A lens specializing in all of the tiny details that one would otherwise miss. The point was not to have a perfectly set shot, but rather, a spontaneous moment, as one would capture in day to day life.

I must admit to you that I did not even like the fact that my physical flaws were so exposed to my husband! My vanity does not want him or you or my children or anyone to see the fine lines (or pores on my face) for that matter!

However, it is no longer an option for the number on the scale, the size of my jeans or the fact that my dimples have turned into lines, to define me. To find my identity in such triviality is not only foolish, but possibly fatal.

I did not use Photoshop on the images. I used Aperture. The goal was not to morph into a super model, but rather show how easy and quickly a simple editing program can “fix” my flaws.

As shallow and self-absorbed as I once was, I never would have thought it possible that I now agree with Audrey Hepburn when she said, “The beauty of a woman is not in a facial mode but the true beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. It is the caring that she lovingly gives the passion that she shows. The beauty of a woman grows with the passing years.

Before touch ups using Aperture

After touch ups with Aperture

So to my friend who asked me the other day if I ever take a bad picture, I will say again, “It depends on how much time I spend editing.”

Related Post:
“Does this make me look fat?”


15 thoughts on “Raw Beauty

  1. This was a great thing you did for your daughter I think. Today’s kids need to know just how fake the world is around us. The worlds values are built on a show, what you can present as real, even when it is not. Heaven forbid someone should have a hair out of place, or some gray hair….

    By the way Joy, you are attractive in the untouched photo, that is real. A pic that has no “flaws” just does not look real! I myself prefer a woman that does not wear a lot of makeup…but that is just me. I praise your courage in putting that pic here, well done!


    • Thank you, Greg.
      I appreciate your feedback.
      It’s interesting. Since posting those pictures, the enemy has really been working on my self image. Some old thoughts have surfaced that I have not felt in a long time. I guess that’s how it works thought, right? When we choose to put ourselves out there in a certain way, many times that is the area we will be attacked. I just don’t want my daughter to go through what I went through. If I can spare her that, I will have succeeded at something great.

  2. Joy, I went through the same thing when I did the Model for a Day and professional photo shoot. The pictures were untouched and I could see wrinkles and not so flawless skin. I wanted to have them airbrushed and touched up so I would look like I was 25 instead of 60. Yeah I am vain like that too. Thanks for being brave enough to share. 🙂

    • I wish it wasn’t so hard for me! I wish I didn’t care. But I do, Cathy. I do care.
      When I’m feeling really brave, I’ll post one with no makeup!

  3. Pingback: Five Minute Friday: Identity | Even A Girl Like Me

  4. Well I think both pictures look great. The women that I find most beautiful are the ones where their passionate souls shine through. They love and are passionate about what they believe in and what they love….. that makes them beautiful.

    • I think you’re right, Mark. At least I want so desperately to believe that as I have been praying for many years that God would make me a light in a dark world. That I would decrease so that He may increase. Less of me and more of Him is such a beautiful thing.

  5. Well said, Joy. And Socrates may be right, but the DESIRE forr beauty is a LONG lived tyranny! Even at my “advanced” age I find myself thinking that someone might love me more if I could still get into a size 4 or could lose the wrinkles without resorting to Botox. If only we could find our worth in the “self” that God created! (Still don’t want one of those unretouched photos though). Happy Mother’s Day. You’re a great one!

    • If I’m being completely honest, I want to take the one down of me that’s not edited! I am as vain as they come! Sheesh! I have a lot more work to do, clearly!
      A size 4 is well in the past for me, but I just tell Chris that it’s more of me to love 😉
      Thanks for being a faithful reader! Love you!

    • You are very kind, Kathy!
      Thank you.
      It’s difficult to leave the unedited picture up there, but I know, for her and for me, it’s what I’m supposed to do. Looks fade and what you’re left with is what’s in side. As clique and silly as I once thought that was, it’s absolutely true.

      • You are not in that boat alone! I’ve been having my own little pity party about looking older too. It is difficult migrating into this “older” body at times. I have a mentor and we were talking about this very thing a few weeks ago about how I was feeling and she says for her the feeling of “vanity” has never gone away, she’s just become more accepting.

        Leave the unedited one up there chickie! You still got it!

      • Love it! Acceptance is key for me, my friend.
        Thank you for sharing that I am not alone. I’m really good at feeling like I am. (yet another form of selfishness)
        I am leaving the unedited pic up there. After all, who do I need to impress? 😉

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