The culture in the USA today is one of inauthenticity. We are quick to put on our public manners and publicly acceptable face. We airbrush our professional photos and carefully edit our social media presence so we look good and smell good to other humans. If you doubt it, consider just these two startling facts:
- 80% of women under 35 report they have altered their photo before posting it on social media.1
- Men’s hair care products to cover up gray is growing 1.5 times the average of all other products.2
It appears, whether we are a woman or man, we have been infected and taken over by Hollywood’s ideas of beauty and the advertising machine’s idea of acceptable. In short, it is not good to have an imperfect outside – and, the outside is all that matters.
When I ask people to name someone they admire from their own lives and why, they inevitably mention someone whose character or wisdom or simple kindness elevated them into the “admire” category. Not a whisper of how the body looked.
We have (almost) swallowed hook line and sinker that our outsides are what matter. It is no wonder. We are bombarded with these images from Hollywood and Advertising. We almost never hear the value of these other, inward traits.
I would say if ever there was a time to heed scripture’s admonishment to “encourage one another” (Thess. 5: 1), it would be today. We each are desperate to hear messages (perhaps from someone we already admire) that we are valued – that there is something worthy in us that is not about the outside of us. If God is pressing someone into your soul as you read this, why not take a moment to send them a text, email or note (or, gasp, actually call them up!). Dare to say something like, “I know this is coming out of the blue, but I just wanted to tell you how much I admire you. I admire you because ____________, and ________, and ______. I am thankful you are in my life and you have been a gift to me.”
It may feel awkward and out of character for you to do that. I get that. But this is just one more piece of evidence that we ought to do this – because apparently we are not in the habit of doing it (as we should be)! I mean, if we break out in sweat and chills to say a nice, authentic compliment to someone we know and respect, what does that say about our normal habits of communication? It does not speak to a pattern of “encourage one another, as you are already doing…”, does it?
I can promise you this, if you will persevere thru the awkwardness and send the note, you will give the other person a rare gift and the two of you will have a “moment” – the good kind, the kind that binds us to each other in authenticity.
If we are ever to banish the plastic, fake personas and jettison the corporate yoke that enslaves us (you know, “spend money on this so you can be younger, thinner, more like the air brushed photos, and more acceptable), we must start somewhere. If we are ever to have authentic relationships that transcend the state of our body (which morphs and is always less than perfect!), we must actively find ways to emphasize each other’s internal/eternal good parts. Encouraging each other to authenticity of soul is a low-risk, easy tool to wield against the gathering dark. Satan hates authenticity. So why not pick up a compliment and wield it today?
Yes, today. Now.
Today is a good day for that.
1 K-Love Host reported this statistic on 3/26/2021 on the air as part of an interview with female counselor. Also see Thinner, smoother, better: in the era of retouching, that’s what girls have to be | Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett | Opinion | The Guardian, accessed on 3/27/2021.
2 Beauty Services and Retail Show Growth – News – Modern Salon, accessed 3/27/2021