Tuesday, February 18, 2014
Cover Model, SI
God instructed the ancient Israelites to construct a portable sacred ark and tabernacle out of precious materials so that His spirit could dwell with His chosen people in the desert. A curtain of fine linen separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place. After they were settled in Jerusalem, a magnificent temple was constructed for God’s presence which also included a curtain separating the spirit of God from the people due to their imperfections. When Jesus died on the cross, the temple curtain was immediately torn in half to finally symbolize our free access to God without priests and sacrifices. Before Jesus ascended to His Father, he promised that He would send a Spirit of truth to be with us always as an advocate, comforter, helper and counselor. And He made clear that this Spirit would dwell within each of us—within the temple of our unbelievable bodies.
If we really try to understand and learn more about the magnificent construction of our human bodies, they are truly a masterpiece of highly complex integrated systems working in harmony to sustain our mortal lives. And even though there have been billions of these models created, no two are exactly alike. Not even identical twins. There are an infinite variety of ways just our appearance can differentiate all of us, let alone how we think and act. Consequently, we all have a self-image that we relate to for both our inner being and outer appearance.
We now live in a culture that seemingly worships youth and beauty and perfection. “I’m not saying movies are the most important thing in the world,” noted 2014 Oscar host Ellen DeGeneres. “I’m not saying that—because the most important thing in the world is youth.” The tongue-in-cheek comment was a shot across the bow to the entire entertainment industry. Models and celebrities don’t look like the rest of us. We have a few bulges here and there, wrinkles and sagging skin, freckles and age spots, receding hair lines and split ends, irregular and off color teeth, eye glasses, shadow lines, etc. Constant media images fill our days with these ideal images, generally created to attract our attention and sell us something. DeGeneres poked fun at her celebrity audience when she welcomed “one of the most amazing Liza Minnelli impersonators I have seen in my entire life,” as the camera zoomed in on the actress’ lifted, nipped and filled face. “Just really, seriously,” DeGeneres added. “Good job, sir.” It was a sad commentary on a woman whose artificial quest for youth had reduced her to a sorry imitation of herself. The annual Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue now on the stands is a perfect example of our ideal-image worshiping culture. These young females are all touted as goddesses in bikinis! And they subconsciously leave a model of human image that is mostly unattainable for the entire human race, including the models themselves.
So it was very interesting to observe the reactions of four regular women who were recently invited to participate in a professional photo shoot. The women were attended by professional make-up artists and hair stylists. After the shoot, a Photoshop expert retouched the images to look like “cover models”. Their body lines were slimmed for more curvature and balance, skin was softened and lightened, eye shadows were removed along with all feature irregularities. Then the “models” were filmed as they were presented with the results.
Their reactions weren’t necessarily predictable. There was nervous laughter, surprise, shock to see their identity radically changed and immediate denial that these were the same people who were observing the images. They missed the little freckles and lines that added character to their unique identity. The Photoshop expert had literally stripped away their true self-image, leaving little authenticity. Having seen the flawless ideal they had aspired to, resulted in questioning why they had ever wasted their time. They resolved to be comfortable in their own skin and true to themselves, although it seems to be natural to aspire to something different. Ultimately, truth and substance represent universal beauty. And we should appreciate the temple that has been uniquely created for our care and the dwelling place of the Spirit of God.