Often I hear people oohing and aahing over images. We live with beautiful images swirling all around us: winking at us on TV, staring at us on billboards, seducing us in magazines and intriguing us online. These images seem to take on a life of their own, and if we’re not careful can start living in our heads.
Are we forgetting that images are not real?
Images are manufactured pho-to-graphs.
Pho-to-graphs are not re-a-li-ty.
I know from personal experience that images are illusion. Back in the eighties when I modeled, my friends would comment viewing my portfolio, “Wow!” they would say, “You’re so beautiful.”
“No,” I would correct them, “The photograph is beautiful,” since I rarely resembled that passing image.
(No one knew that I was sweating under those hot lights, my face was caked with make-up, I had a clip behind my back holding the blouse tight and had repeated that circle and turn over fifteen times while dodging tangled cords on the floor to get that shot.)
In these photographs, gravity, time, stress and motherhood had yet to take effect. Also, I had obviously endured much fussing and fixing and faking. For example, in photography often a reflective board is used to redirect light greatly enhancing the beauty of the image. The difference in using this board can make all the difference in the beauty of the photo: a shadowy face with under-eye bags suddenly looks glamorous or angelic.
(No one knew that the heel of my sandal was digging into my leg, my wrist was hurting and the hardwood floor was getting really uncomfortable.)
Media celebrities and models are generally presented in venues that favor them: precise lighting, angle, background, and hours of make-up, hair styling, perfected clothing, etc. The issue arises when we are repeatedly exposed to these images. We become seduced to believe that the individuals are superhuman and look that way all the time. However, most celebrities are average looking underneath all the enhancement. Good to remember is that all enhancement adds up to one thing: fantasy!
When we wince at photos of celebrities on the street in grubs with no make-up, we are shocked from fantasy back in to reality. Except for the fact that they are well-known in our culture, we probably wouldn’t have looked twice at them. America’s Next Top Model has been a popular show revealing some of what goes into creating the illusions we see. Remarkable are the differences in the faces before and after enhancement. If you haven’t seen this process, there are many Youtube videos on the topic such as modelmakeover. They are helpful in educating your children on what is real and what is false in the media.
(No one knew that the wool turtleneck was extremely itchy and that I was holding back giggles trying to look so serious.)
Our love of beautiful images illustrates our innate need to enjoy beauty, but instead of appreciating the beauty that God created for what it is and then going on with life, we tend to bow to the images and obsess over them as if they possess life or contain innate value. The excess is indicative of our unmet need to worship.
Illusion and deception are the foundations on which the world system operates. For example, do you ever remember noticing an attractive person then later hearing him open his mouth revealing what was inside his soul. At that point, reality came crashing in. His outside suddenly didn’t look so attractive anymore because his inside was exposed as the illusion of the fantasy person shattered.
Natural beauty is God-created and wonderful, but in this culture of sensationalistic illusion let’s peer through the smoke and mirrors and keep beauty it in its place. Our bodies are all traveling along the unstoppable conveyor belt of time. As we travel down the belt our bodies age and change. We can do our best to maintain them, but let’s remember that these Earthsuits are not who we are. They are a temporary suit, tent or temple we live in while we remain serving in this realm.
Beauty is as beauty does. Allow your inner beauty to greatly exceed the outer which is perishing. The true self is the spirit man who will live forever. We care for ourselves inside and out all the while looking forward to the glorious moment we’re released to enjoy the fullness that awaits us in eternity.
2 Corinthians 4:16
Therefore we do not become discouraged (utterly spiritless, exhausted, and wearied out through fear). Though our outer man is [progressively] decaying and wasting away, yet our inner self is being [progressively] renewed day after day.
2 Corinthians 5:4
For while we are still in this tent, we groan under the burden and sigh deeply (weighed down, depressed, oppressed)–not that we want to put off the body (the clothing of the spirit), but rather that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal (our dying body) may be swallowed up by life [after the resurrection].
2 Corinthians 11:14
And it is no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light;