Posted by: clevsea | June 9, 2009

Cultural Lies // Copyright Jan. 2007 by Clevsea

 

I do not know everything, I do not even know my own mind on some of these topics I am about to speak to but I do know this: Women are being lied to by society, the beauty industry, the entertainment business and by many, many companies that profit from manufacturing shoes, clothing and cosmetics, to name only a few.

 

One way to discern whether the fashion industry is misleading women or not is to watch them, as a conglomeration, change their collective minds. Eyebrows serve as a good example of this. In one decade the beauty experts will declare that the thick, full brow is “in” all the while leaving the tweezed generation of the former decade, with their tiny, little brows, wondering what happened.

 

Another easy example is with skirts and their hem lengths and/or pants with their various illusions they are capable on creating on the womanly form. Dresses can be and definitely have been used to create the look of the long torso or the hour glass with its diminutive waist. Pants change frequently as well and if you are old enough to have observed this then you already know it to be true. Bell bottoms and flare legs combined with high heels are plenty capable of adding more than 4 inches to ones height and helps to create an exaggerated long, and so-called sexy leg. Tight pants whether short or long, tapered or straight also create a totally different look. It’s as though deception is not only acceptable but it is encouraged. Making extreme attempts to look broader in one area and smaller in another is deceptive and the fashionable silhouette is in a constant state of change. Bustles and large shoulder pads prove to look strange after they have gone out of style.

 

It is true that we can be manipulated by the designers to follow one trend and then another. Even if you think you are not a follower of fashion, unless you sew and even draft most of your own patterns you are subject to one degree or another to the trends and the looks coming out of Paris and New York. Regardless of where you purchase your clothing, if you do indeed purchase it, then it was at one time designed and sewn with a certain style in mind. Even if you buy vintage, going out of your way to be “out of style,” whatever you come home with and wear was at one time created and it did follow a prescribed way of dressing oneself. Let’s take it further, let’s imagine that we decided to dress as pilgrims or puritans, even in Biblical robes, there is nothing new, nothing that has not already been thought of and worn.

 

Why then do fashions change? That is a gigantic question worthy of a book or two. The short answer is easy. It comes down to money in most cases. If you have to throw away everything that is brown in your closet because you read in a magazine that that was “last year’s” color or you have to throw away the wide legged pant because you will look foolish wearing them in a crowd of pencil legged people, then you will, hopefully, have to purchase more. It’s always about more if we are honest. And most companies, who are in business for profit, will easily admit that everything comes down to money and their bottom line.

 

How else are we lied to? I believe that we are told that only huge, sweeping, black eyelashes are acceptable. Blonde, skimpy, and unadorned eyelashes are not in vogue and our culture is constantly repeating this message to all people who watch television and read magazines. We become so ingrained in this notion that we have a difficult time thinking of anybody over the age of 20 as pretty, or beautiful, if they are presenting a naked eyelid and the natural eyelash. People will even ask other people if they are sick due to the lack of eye make up, not to mention foundation, powder, blush and any other colored enhancements one can name.

 

Let’s use an extreme example so that we can see how ridiculous our culture can be. If we were to imagine that later today some important, iconic fashion expert were to declare that lime green eye shadow and orange eyebrows to be the new mandatory “look” for Spring, I predict that you and I would see lime green eyelids and orange eyebrows on the magazine covers, on the actresses and on the college girl standing next to us in the grocery store line within weeks. That’s power and that’s marketing, but it is in any way valid?

 

I realize the chances of lime green eye shadow becoming the new trend is very unlikely but what is not unlikely is that there are countless articles on how to have the new look being written right now that will soon appear in the top selling magazines. Over the years I have read articles like these. One year the heavily made up look will be on top, therefore girls and women will look like raccoons, another year the “natural” look will be in style and the article will tell you how to spend an hour of your time to achieve it.

 

Even hair lengths, cuts and styles are subject to change. Why? So that you will feel self-conscious, out of date, even ugly if that is what is takes to get you to spend money on products such as hair dye and shampoo. If you live long enough you will see hairstyles change dramatically and that is easily proven when the media shows a montage of Hillary Clinton or Barbara Walters, perhaps Katie Couric. What do we see? The hair changing and the famous woman feeling a little embarrassed about all of her former looks.

 

To further explore ways we are lied to by the world I turn back to the mighty eyelash. How is it that we came to believe the lie that spider leg lashes are pretty in the first place? Why are women and wives concerned with the thickness and length of these little eye hairs? Beside the obvious, that it is causing women across the world to buy mascara, I think there is an evil to it. The insecurity and contentment of women is at stake because it is not just the eyelash, it is the waist line, the hips, the thighs, the breasts and the cellulite and the stretch marks—any and all of the so called imperfections that you might have but somehow the super model managed to conquer or avoid.

 

The comparisons and the constant messages are potent reminders that you are not good enough and what is at stake beside your self esteem? For some Christian married women the stakes are very high because she may feel that her marriage and her husband’s allegiance are contingent on her looks. If she is a stay at home wife, such as many are and others are returning to, then she is doubly at risk. What if her eyelids are droopy and not painted
? What if her bikini line is not identical to the swimsuit model? What if her middle is protruding with an upcoming menstrual cycle or even a baby on the way? Well according to some men that is grounds for divorce and they will leave one woman for another woman. Sad as that last sentence is to both write and to read, it is no less true for some marriages. We can think and really start to believe that there is a lot at stake, ones security, and life partner, the income and the potential loss of “Daddy” for the children.

 

However these terrible lies about beauty and its alleged importance came in existence is only partly important. The fact that Western society is fed a constant stream of these lies is the sickening and pathetic point of this writing. And that leads to yet another question.

 

What if…we could be secure in ourselves and our marriages? What if we could rest in Christ, in the love of the Father for His children? What if we could just relax and be and live? That would be glorious to me and I sincerely hope and pray that many, many, more women really feel like this than I know of. I hope that they exist and they never doubt in the privacy of their own minds whether they have chosen the correct path, the modest path.

 

As for solutions I am leaning more and more toward the very easy, very well known phrase “garbage in, garbage out.” We have all heard this and we apply it to whatever degree we choose. Let’s look at some examples. There is a popular song blasting out of our televisions and stereos and it has a refrain that goes something like this, “Don’t ya wish your girlfriend was hot like me? Don’t ya wish your girlfriend was a freak like me? Don’t ya?” Okay, maybe that one is easy for the average Christian wife to see through like a pane of glass. That’s wicked, that’s a lie, we might immediately think to ourselves as we walk by the stereo department in the store. But does everybody automatically think that? Does every teenage girl in Western society think that when she hears that song playing? Or…does she start questioning her value and her worth as a human being, as a girlfriend, as a female? Is that possible? You know it is. Somewhere, there is a young lady singing along with that song right now and it is promoting her choices to buy sexier clothes, and the perfect cheek color and best high heeled boots she can find. She is starting to think and strongly believe that her ability to attract and keep a mate, boyfriend, a husband is dependant on her ability to look good…but what she thinks looks good is being dictated by music television and other media. If her insecurities take her far enough she will possibly choose plastic surgery to add something on or remove something unpleasant. But how did she come to think that any body part was disgusting enough to have sawed away or suctioned out of her God –given body? I will answer that. She believed a lie. She believed that her shirt had to be short or tight and that her pants had to be low or tight and that caused her to show her stomach on a fairly constant basis. Currently, our society says that the female tummy has to be trim, firm and in shape, not to mention out in full view of everybody.

 

You see, if that same girl wore clothing that hid her mid section it would not matter whether it was flabby or flat as a board. She wouldn’t suck her stomach in and look into crash diets and worry about any of it for a second. If every young lady she knew wore something a little more blousy and not so form fitting then they, as a generation, would not give it so much importance.

 

If instead of listening to song lyrics she fed her mind with Scripture then she might be reassured. She might think on this, “Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.” Prov. 31:30 She might have this committed to memory, “Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel— rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.” I Pet 3:3-4

 

She and I and you might all rest from our worries and we might relax into Christ who cares for us far more than the beauty industry does. Heb. 13:5 says, “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’” and “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matt 11:29-30.

 

 The above verses are truth because they are in the Bible. The Bible is the word of God and for that matter so is Jesus Christ. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” John 1:1-5

 

No, the darkness did not comprehend it and neither will the filth and darkness of our culture comprehend a happy, contented, secure Christian woman who dresses modestly and prays fervently. Fashion magazines and even friends may constantly tell you “if you got it, flaunt it” or “you’re letting yourself go” or even “you’d look so pretty if only you’d….” and they may have the best of intentions for you, if they are indeed your friends. What can we do and how can combat this type of message?

 

I think the answers are almost infantile they are so easy, so simple yet so often ignored. Read the Bible as often as time allows and spend quality time with the Lord. Pray for help and wisdom. Ask the Lord to help you to be “abiding” because apart from Him you can do nothing (John 15) and that includes rising above the current message the world wants you trapped by. In addition to this consider not listening to fashion and beautification advice from the world. Consider looking away from the magazine covers in the grocery store, Consider not watching television even if there is one going in every room of your house. And all the while feed your mind the Godly wisdom and the pure Truth of Scripture.

 

Allow me to add
that this article in not my attempt to condemn make up, looking nice and attractive clothing. If you personally have a blemish to conceal or some other type of adornment that you habitually prescribe to I am not condemning you and I am not asking you to stop. This was not intended as a treatise to bring back the burlap bag or an essay on cosmetics. This was about being lied to by an industry who relies on imperfections and insecurities and who will seemingly stop at nothing until they have created the most hedonistic society and the most addicted to false “externals” that has ever had the privilege to live on the planet. This was written to help us to resist and even to reject the barrage of lies that has infiltrated our society.

 

Clevsea, Jan. 2007

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