I am perfectly okay with reading a magazine. I am also perfectly okay with driving past billboard after billboard of photoshopped creations. What I am not okay with, however, is dealing with all the normal girls in my life.
Let me explain.
When I glance at a magazine, I expect to see perfection. I know I shouldn’t, but I do; it’s their reputation. So I am somewhat prepared to be smothered with images of perfection that I will never be able to attain. I count on seeing models the size of my right leg. I even anticipate looking at zit-free reflections and sighing with the hope that one day my face will be just a smooth and blemish-free as their faces appear.
Warped, I know. But so true.
Then I put down those polished magazines and look at the world around me. I see normal. I see average, everyday girls…and I feel helplessly inadequate. I compare more with the girl sitting next to me in class than I do with the woman staring at me from the magazine of perfection. I compare more with that mom (who still looks beautiful after having however many kids) than I do with the gazelle plastered on the billboard.
It’s not the picture perfect images that make me feel the most insecure; it’s the everyday girls and women around me.
We can give the media a lot of criticism for showcasing “unrealistic” images. We can talk about how the size of models is just plain “unacceptable”. We can even boycott those images and shun those super thin people.
But we can’t run away from real life.
We are always going to deal with comparison. It’s not the media that is the problem…it’s us. If the media and everything in its control were to disappear today, we would still feel inadequate.
Because there would still be beautiful girls and women around us. We would still compare. We would still despair. We would still be unhappy with our appearances in light of someone else’s beauty.
The other day I was complaining to my mom about some “giant” flaw in my appearance. (Yes, I too have my own insecurities.) As I stood there in self-pity, about to be consumed by the world of ugly, she said something that caught my attention:
“If you had no one else to compare yourself to, would it matter?”
Okay, I’ll admit, at the time I said “yes”. Give me a break; I was stuck in mirror-mode. I started thinking about it, though. I started wondering how much time, energy and thought I would give my appearance if there was no other woman on this earth. Want to know what I realized?
My appearance really wouldn’t matter.
I wouldn’t be concerned with the permanent shopping bag like features under my eyes. I wouldn’t care what the size of my jeans said. I wouldn’t be caught up in the image in the mirror. I wouldn’t be focused at all on the way I look because it just wouldn’t matter.
It would, after all, just be me. And God, that is.
I wonder, what if I lived like that? What if I lived as though there was no one else to compare with? Would beauty have less of a hold on my life? Would the mirror be just another object to pass by? Would clothes be just that…clothes?
It’s worth giving it a shot.
I can’t help but think of Peter asking Jesus the same kind of questions I ask God everyday. Peter asked Jesus over and over again, “Lord, what about him?” I imagine Peter was every bit as insecure as I am. I imagine he looked at the other disciples and wondered where he fit in. I imagine he felt helplessly inadequate.
Jesus did not feed Peter’s comparison. His response was meant to cut off all comparison for good. He continued to ask Peter, “what is that to you? You must follow me.”
Who are you comparing yourself to today? Are you following the Lord with your life, or are you chasing after the next definition of beautiful, trying to measure up to one girl after another? It’s hard to ignore her, I know. It’s hard to ignore the attention she seems to get because of her beauty. It’s hard not to compare to all of her outstanding abilities.
But how would you live if she wasn’t here?
It’s a question worth pondering.