This advertisement appears in the recent issues of Professional Photography magazine promoting an image retouching company. It juxtaposes an unedited, naturally pretty young woman to a heavily retouched doll that many people would identify as “flawless” or “perfect.”
Although this is simply the company’s attempt at drawing in business, I can’t help but think it characterizes the influence of the media on young women’s idea of beauty today. It screams, “See that girl on the left? She is not as beautiful as the girl on the right. You should try to look like the girl on the right!” But the thing is – the girl on the right does not exist! She is not a real human being, but the girl on the left is, and she possesses honest, natural beauty for which the world has lost appreciation.
When girls who are still developing their self-image and figuring out who they are begin to believe that the girl on the right is how they should look, no wonder their expectations get completely screwed up! We tell girls that their freckles, their flaws, and the details about them that make them unique should be covered up, smoothed out, and brightened more than they already are, and this hides their individuality and their God-given beauty. If we are made in the image of the perfect God of the universe (Genesis 1:27), why are we trying to cover all that up in the name of the world’s beauty? It breaks my heart when young women focus so much on meeting this unrealistic goal, which only gets higher and higher as they get closer to reaching it, that they miss out on nurturing and developing the incredible beauty that they already possess because of their Creator’s loving formation of them, knitting them together in their mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13-18). He designed them so that their definition of their beauty need not be focused on braided hair and gold jewelry (1 Peter 3:3), which are not meant to become their top priority because they fade away and do not last past a fleeting moment (Matthew 6:19). Instead, God knows that the appealing qualities in a woman that do not fade away and what have more lasting value and impact are a “gentle and quiet spirit” (1 Peter 3:4) with meaning and purpose.
While a lot of young women already know this, what they’re doing about it is an entirely different story and so many people need the reminder as it is so easy to just get caught up in the commercial realm of beauty that the world is constantly throwing at them. So are you defining yourself and other people by God’s definition of beauty or that of other flawed human beings?