Comparison and true beauty
When you flip through the pages of a glossy magazine
and find yourself face to face with a model
staring fiercely back at you,
it can be disruptive to the heart and mind…
Think about it. What feelings are evoked in you?
These ads are designed very intentionally to stir up many feelings in you as the consumer.
Feelings of want. Feelings of lack. Feelings of lust and desire.
Not necessarily in a sexual way
– although certainly many ads do play on that –
but what I’m talking about is the provocation of that deadly mix of both
pride and covetousness rooted deep in the hearts of women.
It’s a profitable mix; one which smart business corporations have come to depend on.
They know us. They know we are fueled, plagued, and driven by comparison.
By competition. By consumerism – that idea that if we buy this, or have that,
we will add value to our own worth.
That advertisement promises that if we do/buy/wear x,y,z
we will then be able to measure up to the standard that
this woman in the picture is telling us we should aspire to.
But here’s the thing. She’s a lie.
She is a man-made idol created with creative technology.
She is a painted and altered simulation of a girl who in reality
is just as discontent and self conscious as you are
-and in fact, I could almost guarantee you that she is less satisfied with herself than you are.
After all, I was her.
A model by it’s very definition describes something or someone
that serves as an idealogical example to others. Something that sets the bar.
And yet no model could ever reach that standard that
they themselves are used to propell and promote.
When I was modeling,
I would spend 4-6 hours posing for a photoshoot in which
there would be hundreds of photos taken in the most perfect of lighting,
after 1-2 hours of hair and makeup.
Of those hundreds of photos,
most would be discarded until the 3-4 best photos were selecte
d to be used in the editorial or campaign.
But usually it was only after all of that when the majority of the transformation happened.
Before I had even left the set, I would observe the photographer
or one of his assistants going to work in Photoshop, editing my picture.
Nipping here, tucking there. Elongating my neck. Widening my eyes.
Straightening my nose. Shrinking my waist. Eliminating blemishes with the click of a button.
Giving me a tan when in reality I was pastey white.
Many times, they would remove the texture from my skin altogether,
recreating a new complexion like that of a porcelain doll.
It was amazing in an artistic sense, and yet so defeating in every other way.
I thought to myself “Is this what we are supposed to look like?
Is this what other people are expecting me to be?”
And I started feeling uneasy and self conscious about telling
people that I modeled for a living. I hated when someone pointed out that I was a model,
because all of a sudden I could feel the gaze of every woman around me,
immediately sizing me up. Noticing every detail. Calculating every flaw.
And comparing me to themselves in every way. It’s what women do.
It’s how we are conditioned by the media and the beauty industry,
but it’s also something that lurks in our hearts as part of our fallen nature.
It was uncomfortable, but eventually I felt God leading me out of the industry
and calling me to speak and be vulnerable about it for the sake of others.
Idols must fall, and I had to become comfortable with
the idea of letting my own image get trampled in order to expose and lift up the truth.
All of our idols are lies. And all of them lead to death.
They kill our relationships. They kill our happiness and contentment.
They kill our kindness and our empathy. They kill our sense of wisdom,
judgment and truth. They mask and cloud our thinking.
They distract us from what really matters.
And they lead us down a path that leads to endless nothingness…
Like chasing after the wind.
There is only one standard we should ever aspire to reach…
And (spoiler alert) you’ll never meet it while you’re on this earth.
But here’s the difference. His standard is Truth. It is light…
and it never changes like the shifting shadows of this world.
When we look to Christ as our example, and humble ourselves beneath
HIS standard rather than attempting to measure ourselves or compare ourselves with others,
he carries us and keeps our vision fixed on an eternal goal
far above any temporary distractions on this earth.
He reminds us that our worth is only found in him. Our beauty is defined by him.
And his opinion, being the definition of truth itself, is the only one that matters.
We need to stop trying to compare, to define, and to “find ourselves” by seeking
after and measuring against these arbitrary (and fabricated) manmade models
of earthly beauty that we allow other people to create and define for us.
Jesus is the standard. He is the creator. He is the model!
And he is the truth. His word stands when all else crumbles.
If you are part of the bride of Christ, read Song of Solomon…
he is talking about YOU there, beloved.
Your beauty is defined by Him, and He has plenty to say about it.
Trust him, and don’t believe the lies.
“Then you will know the truth,
and the truth will set you free.”
– John 8:32-
Alicia is a wife and mom of 7 who was successful in the modeling industry for 5 years.
Alicia worked with Sutherland models in Toronto, and other agencies in New York City, Chicago, and Montreal. She worked on numerous photoshoots with Chatelaine, Fashion Flare, The Bay, TJMaxx, and Alfred Sung. Alicia also worked the runway for fashion week with many different designers. She now homeschools her 7 children and runs @thehautemessmakeupartist on instagram which talks about her history in modeling, true beauty, and showcases her makeup skills and products she sells.