Friday, June 28, 2013

To Emily Whenever I May See Her

My friends, I'm annoyed.  It came to my attention that a fellow Catholic blogger was on EWTN, and was later sent appearance-improvement tips by a viewer.  In response, I want to send my own message to her and any other woman criticized for the way she looks:

First of all, to the woman who received these remarks: in the words of Anne Shirley, "Mrs. Hammond told me that God made my hair red on purpose and I've never cared for Him since."  In contrast, I've struggled with God's artistic choice to make me a brunette.  ;)  But you He has chosen to crown with the sunrise, with eyes to match His sky and a smile that aptly communicates His joy.  

And to any woman reading this (yes, you): You are beautiful.  It is perhaps the hardest truth for any woman to fully and totally believe, that fact: that she is beautiful.  We know in our heads that what's inside is most important, and that we each are a unique reflection of the beauties of our Creator.  But it is hard to believe that in our hearts, since our appearance is so daily and constantly attacked, criticized, and room found for improvement in every commercial set we watch.  

Our skin should be smoother.  Our hair should be thick but sleek; it should be curlier and straighter and dyed but natural-looking.  Our makeup should belie our age: make us look older when we're younger, and younger when we're older. Our clothes should be newer, and make us look thinner.  And we should always be thinner, but not too thin, and not too thin in the wrong places.  We should all have perfect six-packs while remaining soft, our face should have an eight year-olds complexion with the eyelashes of an emu and the lips of a fish while we maintain the butt of a teen and the breasts of a woman three days after giving birth.  And we should do this consistently from the ages of 15 to 85.  

While we are just trying to cash out in the grocery store, we are accosted by female-centered, guilt-inducing merchandise on all sides.  On the right are shelves of chocolate which we are supposed to want to buy for endorphins to feel better about ourselves while at the same time we feel guilty for eating it because well, on the left, are magazines of gorgeous, air-brushed photos of women meant to exemplify the epitome of feminine pulchritude.  It is somehow completely accepted that an annual representative of such creatures from each state will engage in a televised competition where our kind are paraded about and judged like cattle.  Seriously, does half the population watch for the talent portion?  And much worse abuses of the female image can visit any smartphone...

Oh yeah, and guys?  You can shower and shave.  Or not.  

So many varying standards are set up as mirages of appearance achievement that each of us was probably once the ideal "type" in some century.  Years ago, a pale and full-bodied woman was considered attractive, whereas today we're to be skinny and tan.  I've wondered if the ideal of female beauty has something to do with her perceived wealth, since today slender, tan people communicate they have time to work out and lay around at the beach, whereas the full-bodied pale ladies of yore obviously had the luxury of staying indoors and the health and provision to put on some pounds...

Whatever the basis of Hollywood's current idea of what we should look like, it is just that: Hollywood's idea.  Someone else's idea.  Someone other than God's, other than yours, other than the ideas of those who love you for being who you are.  

Women have been fed this diet of self-criticism for so long, that not only do they believe they are doing themselves a favor by following it, but they actually believe they do others a favor by offering this processed critique themselves.  

My suggestions to any particular helpful soul, who under the guise of Christian charity wishes to pick apart someone's appearance:

1.  Take anything with the word "Makeover" in it off your DVR, which will doubtless empty it.  Actually, quit watching TV altogether.  

2.  Now limited to the radio, you will actually be able to hear and understand the message intended to be received in "Life on the Rock."

3.  Realize God loves what He made, loves it first thing in the morning before it encounters Dove, Speed Stick, Venus, Aveeno, Oil of Olay,or Maybelline.  As a spiritual exercise, go for a week without them and realize you are just as precious and valuable as you were before.  

4.  Find better ways to encourage fellow Christians on their walk with Christ.  Really.  I mean, really!

Sometime today, look in the mirror, and just give God a compliment on His work: you. 

"Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come." Proverbs 31:25


  1. I really like this post. My attitude is, "What you see is what you get. Take it or leave it." We'll be perfect in heaven and not before.

    1. Thanks. And yes! Perfection's in heaven. :)

  2. I think that's one thing I like about getting older, I've gotten wiser and as such, more comfortable in my own skin (even if that skin doesn't look 20 anymore)

  3. I told my husband yesterday that one of the joys of being in my seventies is that I know what's worth a fuss and what's not. Today I didn't even send my cold french toast back to the kitchen. I'm working on the inside a bit more these days.

  4. RAnn and Joann, wiser's just better. :) Lasts longer. Sounds good on the phone too. But you're worth warm french toast... I'da heated it up for you. ;)

  5. I agree with you and I love your comment to RAnn and Joann! Amen!