Tuesday, July 19, 2016

You Look the Same

Thirty years…sigh. This year I’m celebrating the thirtieth anniversary of my High School graduation and I can’t believe it. As it happens, I’m in Panama right now so I was actually able to attend the festivities that were organized to commemorate this occasion. It was wonderful to walk around our old High School and hang out with some of the people who were so very important in my life back then. It was moving to reminisce…but it was also very revealing.

In the evening, the celebration switched from an informal gathering of old friends and acquaintances to a fancy party filled with glittery lights, delicate drinks, delicious foods, loud music, professionally styled hair and makeup, high hills, tight jeans and very…how shall I put it…extremely hip blouses. When I open the doors to the party hall I thought I had stepped into the set of the Kardashians or the LA’s Young and Rich show. It was surreal and it did not fit the idea I had in my mind of what a high school reunion would look like for a crowd of people nearing their 50s…

I was not sure what to do, how to act or what to say. People kept coming up to me whose names escaped me and whose faces I did not recognize. And among half-hugs and flying kisses they all uttered a comment over and over again to me: “you look the same!” At first, I took it as a compliment. As the comment kept pouring out of the brightly colored lips of those women I went to high school with, I began to realize that given my past history of whom I was when I was in High School, the words were not meant as a compliment. They were expressions of pity, lamenting the fact that I had not evolved. I was still the same plain, simple, not-fun, boring, not-interesting, nothing much to look at old self, unable to morph into the flashy, highly stylized model-type that most other women had become.

To say that I left the party early is an understatement. I walked away from the palace-like party hall feeling not even like the ugly step-sister, but rather like the smashed pumpkin that got kicked to the side of the road by the caravan of Cinderellas on their road to the ball. I know…dramatic, huh? But it was an eye-opening experience to say the least.

From that night on, I’ve been thinking a lot about women and beauty. Since I really don’t have much of a social life, I have not really had much opportunity to have a face-to-face encounter with the cult of image and the obsession with youth and beauty that exists not only in the United States but also in small countries like Panama (I mean…have you seen Panama on a map? I dare you to find it!). It is such a waste of time in my opinion, but it is a reality that has cost millions spent on therapy (physical and emotional) as well as created a culture void of warmth and real depth of soul and spirit.

If this is the situation for the almost-50, I’m not sure things may be any better for young women out there. I think this is tragic and I am saddened by the state of things in today’s world. However, I am hopeful that as society disintegrates in front of our eyes, God’s plan will prevail and people will turn their eyes toward His face. I pray that as parents, we do as much as possible to disable such trends and impart purity, modesty and the need to cultivate the Spirit in our children so the cult of the body and the superficiality of materialism end up losing ground.

Let’s hang on to God’s Word and proclaim it to those who walk in the darkness of this world, hypnotized by the deceptions of evil so we can follow the light and seek the beauty within…the only one worth striving for. Let’s hang on to the One Who ALWAYS stays the same, so we shall not be shaken or sunken in the quick sands of today’s murky societies.

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. 1 Peter 3: 3-4

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