This post is an intro to my tag Philippians 4:8.
One of the blogs I love reading is Male Pattern Boldness. In particular, I like to click on the tag "Clothing and Culture" and read all the archived stuff. Peter Lappin's quirky humor and thoughtful questions bring out the best in others, which accounts for the wonderful conversations that blossom in the comments section. Today I was reading this discussion, from 2010: (Re)touch me in the Morning.
It's a conversation about retouched photos of models and celebrities, and what emotions and reactions people have. A number of commenters made a distinction between retouching to hide blemishes and retouching to dramatically alter physical appearance and thus promulgate false and unattainable "standards of beauty". The former they understood, and had even done on occasion. The latter they execrated.
I understand that... I do not retouch my own photos--aside from adding captions to them for tutorials!--but I have been retouched by others. Orange Kraftwerks/Sepp Bernhard, a friend and professional photographer, has done several photoshoots of me, and always keeps the photos in post-production, working assiduously to make each one look its best, before releasing them. Sometimes he reduces glare or fixes red eye, or puts a color filter on for effect. But always he clears up my skin. In several of the photoshoots, I remember my face having a few scabs or pimples, but the photos he gave me have no such thing. I appreciate him taking the time to make me look my best!
But if he had photoshopped away my dowager's hump or several inches off my waist, or added a few cup sizes, or gave me that awful "thigh gap", I would not be so appreciative. Removing pimples makes me look more like me. Changing my body form would make me look like a stranger or a caricature. A fine line.
But back to the lively comments on MPB... one line that recurred all down the page was the one about how we can't do much about the photoshopping that goes on all around us, but we need to "have a talk" with our children about it. I have no children, but I do have a niece I love dearly, and I remember her saying that she was "too fat" because she didn't look like the animated heroines in Disney's Frozen. She was three at the time and had watched Frozen with her cousins. My sister (her mom) was dismayed, because they don't even have a TV in the house, so how had her child become so early infected with body image problems? When you love a little one, you start thinking about all the things that influence and shape her, so I began to wonder how my own words and actions and gifts contributed to this child's view of herself, her source of value, and her body. I know that simply "having a talk" will never be enough to counteract the world's relentless messages.
All this made me think of the Bible:
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things.
Philippians 4:8, NIV.
How often we do just the opposite! Either we focus on the negative (think of the websites devoted to making fun of people who look bad in public) or we praise what isn't worthy of praise. In the latter case, if every advertisement, movie, cartoon, and music video is telling my dear niece that beauty requires youth/thinness/big boobs/clear skin/perfect teeth/trendy cloths/ass... then the wiser people in her life need to be just as constant and vocal about what beauty really is. What is really excellent or praiseworthy. (Thankfully, my niece is blessed with parents who are just that!)
With this in mind, I am creating a tag called Philippians 4:8, to attach to posts where I consciously celebrate the good, as it relates to clothing and sewing (since that's the purview of this blog). That means I will include physical beauty (a lovely dress, a nice scene, a pleasing face), since the verse calls for "whatever is lovely", and I know God made the physical world and made us appreciate it that way. There's no wisdom in pretending that physical beauty doesn't exist. But let us look at it rightly, appreciating beauty when we find it, not deluding ourselves that it can be in unhealthy places. I aim to cultivate my aesthetic sense to appreciate reality and not nonsense. I'm brainstorming ways to be emotionally healthy in an unhealthy world.
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