Just this morning, I was sitting at the dining room table, with my much beleaguered husband being pressed into service as a colorist, painting my hair medium golden brown. My failed attempt at red hair had resulted in a faint orangey tinge to all but the top two inches of roots, and I didn’t want to play “shuffle the budget” to make room for a professional job.
It’s the twilight years of my thirties, and, as always, I’m having a difficult time wrapping my mind around my age with my birthday looming in the horizon. Don’t get me wrong- I love my birthday. Any day that lets me be the center of attention is always a good one for me. Rather, it’s the whole aging process that’s always the struggle. No matter how many excellent articles I read about putting on that bathing suit, or a surprisingly touching and classy essay by an aging woman embracing her body, they’re all things that are good for other people. It’s good for people to be comfortable in their own skin, to be joyful for the bodies that God gave us, to be at ease with the union of soul and flesh that we were designed to have.
For me, there’s this sense of disgust, of constant self-criticism, of loathing for the flabby midsection, the lumpy arms, the nose that grows bigger year by year. All of it is so…unlovely. I wish I could be that person who was ok with the fact that middle age was here, and along with it a farewell to ever being considered attractive again. I wish I could just pull an Elsa and let it go (but an apple shaped, saggy chinned version of Elsa), and be comfortable inside this body. Like a fatter, less talented, Emmylou Harris.
Then I ran across this slideshow, which is the brainchild of Ester Honig, a Kansas City journalist who sent a photo of herself to 40 photoshop experts in 25 countries with the simple request of, “Make me beautiful”.
The results are fascinating, from a cultural standpoint. Give it a look:
(click on the slideshow to go to the fullscreen version)
Then I came to the American version, and I nearly spit out the water I was drinking. That was what American beauty looked like? It was like a caricature of a Glamor Shot. And the other countries didn’t do much better. Really, didn’t Ester look best as herself? I’ll take my big nose and lumpiness over that any day. And oh snap, did I just give myself a Very Special Lesson? I did, and I hate that I did.
But yeah, I guess I just knocked myself out of my own naval gazing and woe is me-ing. Ester Honig is uniquely Ester Honig, and she is a beautiful creation of God. Emmylou Harris is Emmylou Harris, and she is a beautiful creation of God. Cari Donaldson is Cari Donaldson, and she (gulp) is a beautiful creation of God.
And you are you. And you’re a beautiful creation of God. Don’t forget it.