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.”

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