You’re far too young to be aware of this, but, in the last few days, many people have watched a video of a model being “altered” by photoshop. It shows her artificial transformation from real and attractive to fraudulent and malformed — or, as they call it in the fashion world, “sexy.”
See, nowadays we use computers to “improve” images of real women, which is quite appropriate. After all, computers are manmade creations, just as our modern conception of “beauty” is a manmade creation. Modern “beauty” — or whatever you want to call it — certainly isn’t natural, and it most assuredly doesn’t come from God. It’s manufactured. It’s a product. True beauty, on the other hand, is art. It’s full of life. It’s unique and dynamic and vibrant.
It’s real. It’s you.
Hollywood and the fashion industry have concocted a “beauty” that is separate and apart from reality. What they sell is a marketing ploy. It’s assembly line sexy. It’s about as beautiful as the canned food aisle at Walmart. Those plastic, painted, stick-figures you see on TV and in magazines — they are androids. Half human, half machine. They start out as humans, until computers, camera tricks, filters, and silicone suck out their souls and turn them into size zero Frankensteins.
But that’s the price of living in a culture of consumerism, where we spend every waking minute surrounded by advertisements and product placement. Everyone’s got something to sell, and very few of them are selling anything you need. So, to compensate, the peddlers pull out their shotguns and blow giant holes in your psyche. Then they convince you that they’ve got the perfect thing to plug the gaps. They try to create a void in your conscience, so they can start pouring their poison into it. As far as this strategy goes, constructing an unachievable, inhuman, digitized idea of beauty is the ultimate scam. And it’s paid dividends.
Being rail thin, without blemish, perfectly proportioned and exactly symmetrical — these are superfluous, unattainable and unrealistic goals. But all the media has to do is inject into your head the image of a rail thin, blemish-less, perfectly proportioned, exactly symmetrical (and totally hallucinatory) woman. The allure of this fantasy human is enough to intoxicate and captivate a lot of people. They’ll spend the rest of their lives chasing beauty like a heroin addict chases heaven. What they both want is real, but they’re looking in the wrong places, and eventually the pursuit will destroy them.
When I think of all of this, I’m filled with a certain fear. You’re just a baby right now, but that will change sooner than I’d like it to. Lord, you’re beautiful. I’m telling you: you’re gorgeous. I have you lying here beside me, asleep, as I write this. You have this glow and this grace; it’s impossible to look at you and not smile. Impossible, I guarantee it. And then I think about the predators in the fashion industry and the entertainment industry. And I think about how they’ll try to tell you that you’re not good enough. They’ll try to convince you that you need a thousand pounds of makeup and designer clothing to really look appealing. They’ll try to sell you on the lie that beauty is a competition; that you ought to be constantly measuring your appearance against strangers.
You are a masterpiece, a treasure, a work of art, and they’ll try to persuade you to see yourself as a rough sketch; one that needs to be “edited” and “improved.”
But you’re an angel, daughter, and they are godforsaken liars.
Oh, believe me, so many of us have bought into their deception. Men and women alike, even if we aren’t chasing Hollywood beauty, we still dress ourselves up in some way. We present a façade, in hopes of appealing to the mass collective. It’s gotten worse now with the internet, social media, Reality TV. We feed that beast inside that wants us to care what strangers think of us. Of the entire population of the planet, only an infinitesimal percentage of them will ever be more than anonymous to us. Only the tiniest fraction will ever give us more than a passing glance, but we want even the strangers to feel something about us when they look our way. Feel what? Envy. Admiration. Inferiority. A combination of all three. We certainly can’t allow them to carry on their day feeling better, or more attractive, or smarter, or more successful.
But we gain nothing from living this way. We do everything we can to impress the unknown faces in the crowd, and where does it take us? Those faces are likely immersed in their own self absorbed psychological vacuums, and whatever impression we make on them will evaporate as soon as we leave their line of sight.
This is what’s become of so many of us.
I’ll do whatever it takes to make sure it doesn’t happen to you. I’ll do whatever it takes to shield you from the parasites who profit from this madness. Whatever it takes. I’ll set the TV on fire if I have to. I’ll probably dance around it while it burns. I’ve always had a TV, but I’m not sure that it’s ever brought anything but lies and false hopes into my living room. Well, that and football. So it isn’t all bad.
I’ll literally put blinders on you when we go to the grocery store so you can’t see the magazines in the checkout aisle.
I’ll move us all into a shack in the wilderness, so that this horrific culture, and the zombies who inhabit it, can’t touch you. I’d rather leave our “civilized” society behind than allow it to take your purity and innocence, and replace it with an eating disorder and a shopping addiction.
Or maybe these drastic measures aren’t necessary. Maybe Mom and I can just hold you close and love you, and maybe that will be enough. And when Dad tells you that you’re beautiful, maybe you’ll always believe him. Maybe it will be enough to make you into the sort of girl who laughs at the idea of spending thousands of dollars to keep up with “fashion trends.” Maybe it will be enough to stop you from ever wanting something as insane as cosmetic surgery. Maybe it will be enough to keep you from starving yourself, like the “supermodels” in the magazines.
I hope so. I pray for this. Remember, Mom and Dad are two of the VERY few people on Earth who will tell you the truth about yourself. The truth that, from your first moments in this world, you’ve been like a vision, full of beauty and light. You don’t need to be “photoshopped,” and you never will. You don’t need a “touch-up” or a “correction.” You were formed by God and given to us as a gift from Paradise. You don’t need to add fad diets, expensive shoes and forty layers of makeup to that. That’s the truth, but few will tell it. You will meet a lot of people, and many of them will want something from you. So they’ll attack your self image, make you vulnerable, and then try to take it.
That’s the game.
Never play it.
I’ll protect you from these forces for as long as I can, but that won’t last forever.
I hope you never need to read this letter. I hope all of these realizations come as second nature to you. But, if ever the time comes when you need a reminder: here it is. Whether it’s 17 years from now, or 25, or 40, or when your Mom and Dad are dead and gone. Here it is. You’re beautiful.
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