Check out the photo of this young woman.

What do you think? She’s cute, right? Big brown eyes, adorable little nose, big, bright, white smile. Would you like to meet her? Get to know her? Be friends with her? Maybe work with her? She seems professional.

Spoiler Alert: That’s not what she looks like in real life!

Keep that in mind. We’ll come back to our friend here.

A couple of weeks ago, I talked with the Jr High students about true beauty and the lie that Hollywood, media & society are telling us. We started out with a little game to get things rolling. Here are a few of the questions they were asked.

How tall in Tom Cruise?

How old is Rob Dyrdek?

Who in this group of women is older?

Identify this celebrity without makeup.

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The answers might surprise you.

Tom Cruise is 5’7”. (He’s an inch shorter than me!) This is hard to believe because his movies make him look larger than life. He’s the same height at Simon Helberg, who plays Howard Wolowitz on The Big Bang Theory.

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He’s also the same height as…

Rob Dyrdek, who is 40 years old. Other stars that turn 40 this year include Alyson Hannigan, Eva Mendes, Jimmy Fallon, Kate Moss & Leonardo DiCaprio.

Also 40…

Idina Menzel, who is the oldest of these ladies.

Katy Perry is 29 & Bailee Madison is 14.

Lastly, this is Tyra Banks.

Crazy, right?

Let’s get back to that cute little girl we saw earlier.

Wait…that’s not her, is it?

Yes, it is. This is The Photoshop Effect. Photoshop is a computer program used for creating graphics. It allows you to edit any digital image and the possibilities are seemingly endless. After hours of editing, she looks like this:

This is Hollywood in a nutshell. No wonder our sense of beauty is off! No wonder our self worth is in the gutter! Because we’re trying to be something that doesn’t even exist. This is what you see in movies, TV, magazines, on Billboards, etc. Everything has a filter!

We are constantly fed lie after lie after lie. We’re not tall enough, we’re not pretty enough, not muscular enough, not thin enough. We’re too old, too young, whatever!

But God says we are enough.

Song of Solomon 4:7 ESV – You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you.

God sees us as beautiful. He is our creator & He loves his creation. So, we should be happy with ourselves no matter what we look like.

I recently went to my cousin’s graduation in Arkansas. We were out at the creek in our bathing suits talking and we started talking about our flaws. My cousin Jason (man, I admire this dude’s ability to not care what others think) said, “you guys need to quit worrying about what you look like and have some confidence.”

Hello! Eye-opening. (At least it was for me.) Was I really trying to hide myself around my family? Around the people who seriously love me no matter what?

I realized, I am 30 years old. I’m a photographer. I have seen what computer programs can do. I’ve seen men & women go through plastic surgery, cake on makeup & workout like mad dogs. All for what?

NOTHING!

He was right! Who cares what I look like as long as I’m happy with myself? And, am I really still struggling with this at my age? Am I still believing the lie even though I use the same computer program the big shots use? Yes I am. I still have days where I feel ugly. I still desire to rock my new clothes and cute shoes and straighten my hair and work out…but no matter what I have to be happy with me. (And if I can be honest, I’ll choose the cheese fries over the salad every time.)

Psalm 139:14 ESV – I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.

I think many times, we need the reminder of our beauty, no matter what age we are.

I say #NoFilter. And some days that is easier said than done. But, I want to encourage you to learn to love yourself. You are beautiful the way you were made. Let’s help each other feel beautiful rather than tearing each other down.

–Whitney

See the full photoshop transformation timelapse video of the photo here.

Check out Colbie Callet’s video for her new single Try, where she strips off her makeup for the cameras.