Superficiality Disclaimer: This post is not so much about Africa or Mercy Ships or helping people…it’s about wrinkles and arm flaps.
I downloaded one of those airbrush apps. Forget trendy filters – this lets you legit remove and reshape stuff on your face and body.
It started with a bad photo.* I donated blood on the ship and the bandage was wrapped tight (as to be expected). But the combo of the bandage, the angle of my bent arm and the extra skin that ensued was simply…unflattering.
Despite my vain brain, I sent it to my mom, sister and aunt to tell them about the experience, knowing they wouldn’t judge the not so great shot of me in the photo and instead be excited about the cause.
Still, I couldn’t let it go. I wanted so badly to snip this little piece of arm fat out of the photo in the case that I’d want to use it in a blog post to describe how the crew are the ship’s “human blood bank” (an AMAZING reality that’s worth sharing).
First, though, “a little fudging to avoid any judging.”
I’m embarrassed to say…I went to bed early but stayed up late playing with my new app, drifting into what felt like every girl’s dream – an image perfection playground.
I got to see myself with all different colors and styles of makeup. (How does it know where to paint eyebrows? Crazy.)
I was able to completely eliminate the wrinkles and imperfections on my face along with puffiness under my eyes.
I brightened my eyeballs.
I made my teeth electric white.
The one thing I couldn’t figure out was how to eliminate this extra bubble of skin on my arm – the reason it all began. I blurred it out but you could tell I was an amateur.
Still, the more I played, the more I noticed, the more I changed.
I went ahead and made my nose skinnier. And then straighter.
I attempted to add muscle tone to my arm (which didn’t go so well).
I kept tweaking. Everything became an imperfection needing erasure.
By the end, I had become something I can only describe as a creepy, sexy, malnourished alien:
As I moved my finger around the screen and watched my face change, I thought of God and what it must have been like in the moments he was designing me. (Did he use an app?) His finger deciding exactly where my cheekbones would be, how my green eyes would sparkle, how my face would be formed in what some would call “heart-shaped.” How my features would be a perfect blend of my precious mother and my dearest father. How hereditary traits from generations before me would be blended with something new and fresh – something unique to me. He determined it all – not randomly, but on purpose, specific details with a Windsor-intention.
When I see other women with perfect skin, features, figures – I’m sometimes hypnotized. My eyes blink twice to remove what feels like an Instagram filter – but there isn’t one. It’s real. I stare with a bit of envy. I think to myself, “I want that!”
But after last night, the more I thought about it, the more I realized – I earned this face. I went through joy and pain to get it. I use these arms – these are MY arms. That’s MY flap of extra skin. Those are MY bags. MY smile marks. MY angry or crying face lines. MY fervent prayer creases.
This face, these arms, this body – they’re my proof of life. A showcase of the results of my actions and others’ actions which impacted me – good and bad. My body is my truth revealed. Evidence of my journey.
My dad used to tell me (in his Texan accent), “Honey, there will always be someone better-off than you and someone worse-off than you.” And sometimes he’d substitute richer, poorer, smarter, dumber, etc., depending on what we were talking about. It’s a good truth to remember. Comparing is a tricky business, but if you’re gonna do it, be prepared to see both realities.
There are plenty of options within my reach (like weights lol). If I want toned arms, I have to work for it. It will take a lot more than a few swooshes on my app, but my body will show the proof of my efforts and my inner feelings of accomplishment will make it worth it.
There are plenty of things I can’t really change (without some serious “help”). Like wrinkles. For now, and I hope for many years to come, I’m just going to “embrace the face.” And arms. And body. Maybe the serenity prayer could apply here? “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot (or should not) change, courage to change the things I can (and should), and the wisdom to know the difference?”
And now, some final, contradictory thoughts to everything I just wrote: I wear makeup. I futz with my hair. I dig fashion. And while these are technically “enhancements” which make me look quite different than when I wake up and roll out of bed in the morning, I happen to enjoy them – a lot. I’ve given myself permission to indulge in what I consider a sort of artsy way of creating, using my ‘self’ as a canvas. However, someone (like my friend Renee who tells me all the time, “You don’t need all that!” – thank you Renee :)) could make the same argument I just made above about the other stuff…
Perhaps there are many degrees of beautification. Everyone gets to make their own personal decision. And we shouldn’t judge each other. We all have our reasons for behaving the way we do, don’t we?
In conclusion, I’ve decided:
- I will respect and honor the beauty of people around me – natural or otherwise, resisting the urge to feel envious or judgmental by remembering God is an awesome designer – of me and others.
- I will not airbrush myself with my new app. (I will, however, continue using harmless filters like those in Instagram, but will refrain from cutting off any arm flaps or erasing any lines or wrinkles.)
I will embrace my face. You should embrace yours, too.
*Shout out to Jenny Banakos who took a fine photo. The term “bad” was used incorrectly (but on purpose) for effect. Also, yesterday’s blood donation was the best I’ve ever experienced. Thank you Jenny – and God – for how the two of you got me through something I’m quite scared of.