We live in a filtered world.
A world where genuineness and transparency is no longer celebrated, but diminished—often, even scoffed at. A world where a woman posting a picture of herself on social media in which she’s not wearing makeup means she has to apologize and explain why.
A world that no longer accepts reality and instead demands that women master the charade.
Thanks to Snapchat, women no longer even have to post a picture of their actual selves. With a few swipes they can suddenly become a woodland fairy with butterflies nestled in their hair, don a crown of flowers, or turn their features into an adorable puppy.
There’s obviously nothing wrong with fairies and puppies. But why do you want to look like one? “It’s fun,” you said. “It’s silly. I’m just playing around.”
That’s fine too—if that’s true. But how many of women are telling the truth in those moments? I think deep down, if we really dig beneath the surface of the lighthearted “look at my silly post, I have polka-dotted ears and a button nose” we’ll realize that we’re hiding. We duck behind one mask after another, secretly wishing we could use these filters in real life and permanently hide. I’ve even see multiple posts lately with women stating exactly that. “Why can’t I look like this all the time?” Complete with a laughing emoji.
But part of me believes she’s not really laughing.
I recently had a trial run with makeup for my upcoming wedding ceremony. My friend who sells professional makeup came over and we sat at my kitchen table, talking and laughing and discussing the different color options. Then came the moment to wipe off my existing, every-day makeup so she could start with a fresh canvas.
As I used a remover wipe to cleanse my face, I felt so naked. Sitting there across the table with my friend, a woman I’ve grown up with since elementary school, I felt exposed and like I should apologize or explain my various blemishes.
No wonder we do the same on social media, where the masses see. We post an offering of ourselves, what we think is our best self, and still somehow hide behind the filter. It’s how we’re wired, post-fall. After all, Eve was naked and ashamed. And since then, our culture has spiraled out of control, attempting to sew together whatever form of fig leaf they can find.
There’s even filters now on various apps that gives you instant heavy makeup. The problem with that comes in the fact that makeup is meant to highlight your natural beauty, not create an entirely different—fake—version of it. For my wedding, I told my friend I wanted a natural look, yet a solid step up from typical. I wanted to show effort and be a little fancier for my big day, but I wanted to still look like me.
Because I’m working hard to try and like me more.
I watched a re-run episode of What Not to Wear on TLC the other night. The young woman they were making over was so incredibly made up in her everyday look, you couldn’t even see her features. She was an incredibly beautiful woman in both face and body, even by the world’s unforgiving standards, and yet she felt she had to hide behind layers of makeup, revealing clothes, and crazy hairpieces. It almost broke my heart, as it did the hosts. At first, the young woman insisted these crazy get-ups were “just who she was.” Her friends who signed her up for the show stated otherwise. And, sure enough, as the show went on and the cameras rolled and she opened up, the woman tearfully revealed how she felt as if no one ever bothered to get to know or respond to the real her.
Unfortunately, even though the hosts’ expertise morphed this woman into an incredibly attractive, appropriate young professional, the change didn’t last. The end of the documentary showed the young woman going back to hiding behind the old comfort of familiar, of false eyelashes and cleavage and extensions, all while insisting it was “just who she was”.
She refused to put down the mask.
Why are we afraid to offer our true selves?
I believe the root of it is because we frequently get stuck in the dangerous game of comparison—and 99.9% of the time, what we’re comparing ourselves to isn’t even real. We’re comparing our reflection to images on a magazine cover, TV show, stage, or social media post—all of which are fake, enhanced, sprayed, highlighted, and angled just right (and probably took about six tries to do so!)
We’re literally comparing ourselves to people who don’t exist. Then, we’re running ourselves ragged at the gym, draining our bank accounts at the makeup counter, and foregoing that leftover holiday candy, all in the name of keeping up with someone’s else face and body that isn’t realistic.
Don’t get me wrong—we’re women. We should be healthy and feel pretty. If going to the gym helps you feel healthy, go! And if wearing makeup helps you feel pretty, go for it. I know it does for me, and I’ll continue to do both! But there’s a balance to be found, and we’re consistently teetering on the extreme far end.
Consider the opposite end of the spectrum, and the freedom it would bring! There’s a young woman I know via social media who isn’t necessarily what the world would call gorgeous. But every post and picture offers such genuineness, strength and confidence, that I think she is one of the strongest, most beautiful women I know. I’m intrigued—and downright drawn—to her magnetism and sense of self. She might one day post a professionally taken picture with a dress and makeup on, then in her next post, she’s eating pizza and studying without makeup at all. She’s secure and unashamed, and it’s downright stunning.
If I had to choose, I’d much rather be like her than like the airbrushed, filtered models on the covers of magazines or in my Instagram feed.
And I think Jesus agrees with me.
1 Peter 3:3-4 “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”
This passage isn’t forbidding women to wear jewelry and a nice dress or fix her hair. The theme of this verse is found in the phrase “your beauty should not come from”—meaning, don’t let your identity be your outward beauty. Don’t let those efforts or those items define you and your worth, and become more important than the condition of your heart.
Trust me—this isn’t an overnight fix, ladies. It’s hard to retrain our hearts and shut up the lies of the enemy. But the effort is worth it. So let’s stop hiding. Let’s put down the mask and the excessive use of products that hide instead of enhance. Let’s stop playing the comparison game that’s a guaranteed lose-lose.
Let’s live unfiltered.
Image Credit: Unsplash.com
Betsy St. Amant has a heart for three things - chocolate, new shoes and sharing the amazing news of God's grace through her novels. She lives in Louisiana with her adorable story-telling young daughter, a collection of Austen novels, and an impressive stash of Pickle Pringles. A freelance journalist and fiction author, Betsy is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and is multi-published in Contemporary Romance. Her newest novel LOVE ARRIVES IN PIECES releases via Zondervan Fiction in June 2015. When she’s not reading, writing, or singing along to the Tangled soundtrack with her daughter, Betsy enjoys inspirational speaking and teaching on the craft of writing and can usually be found somewhere in the vicinity of a white-chocolate mocha. You can read more from Betsy at www.betsystamant.com and ww