The Fiction of Cultural “Beauty”

“Comparison is the thief of joy.” – Teddy Roosevelt

In a world of teenage millionaires, celebrity athletes, and Instagram supermodels, not comparing ourselves to other people in basically impossible. How thin we are, how strong we are, how talented we are, how “beautiful” we are, how in-shape we are, and how popular we are all become immediately evident based on everyone else around us. Everyone from the rich and famous to our neighbor next door’s private lives are publicly broadcast for the world to see and measure themselves against.

But the truth is that the measuring bar of comparison that has been set by culture is (quite literally) unrealistically too high.

Ladies, the women you are comparing yourselves to are not real. Through makeup, lighting, professional stylists, plastic surgery, and (maybe most significantly) digital manipulation, the natural beauty of a woman is taken and made to be something completely unnatural and unattainable.

For proof, look no further than Dove’s “Evolution” commercial, which you might have seen before:

And for all the dudes out there, it’s no different for men.


In an article I found this past week (link below), I read about all the incredibly unhealthy and extreme things fitness models do to their bodies before a photo shoot so their body will look off-the-charts “fit” and “strong.” While their body might look great, the problem is that the models themselves are far from healthy. Most of the time, the person you see in fitness photo shoots are on the verge of passing out due to malnutrition!

Truth Behind Fitness Photo Shoots: The Crazy Unhealthy Things Fitness Models Do Before A Photo Shoot.

From starving the body of energy, massive dehydration, and taking supplements that ravage their digestive system, fitness models ironically push themselves to the limit of unhealthiness in order to try and look like they’re at the peak of health.

According to the article:“It makes a mockery of [the health and fitness industry] that to get into that condition you have to be incredibly unhealthy…” It even says models have ended up in the hospital because of the way they’re required to prepare for a shoot.


All that to say, stop comparing yourself to the bar that culture says is the goal! It’s completely unhealthy and more importantly, completely unattainable!

Yes take care of your body, yes exercise, yes eat healthy, yes practice discipline and self control and even practice seasons of dieting and fasting. But don’t try and achieve some level of “fitness” or “beauty” that the media is 100% manipulating to look realistic when it’s not!

Nobody would try and compare themselves to the muscular level of The Incredible Hulk or the physical proportions of a Barbie doll. They’re fictional! And yet the media around us is dangling the carrot of attractiveness that will never, ever be achievable.


In the most encouraging way I can say, you will never be:

  • As strong as Dwayne Johnson or Jillian Michaels
  • As funny as Steve Carell or Kristen Wiig
  • As athletic as LeBron James or Ronda Rousey
  • As rich as Mark Zuckerberg
  • As culturally “beautiful” as professional models

And that’s ok! You’re not supposed to be! You’re supposed to be you! God created you with incredible beauty and gifts and a personality and a purpose for you and you alone! Don’t waste energy trying to be like someone else! Just be the best version of you that you can!

Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. For we are each responsible for our own conduct. – Galatians 6:4-5

Instead of trying to attain some impossible goal, just be:

  • You
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