So's Your Face
Well I'm not sure why. With all the creepy spiders that crawl on my Facebook page, why did the Internet powers that be decide to give me this particular advertisement in my newsfeed? But there it was: Facetune.
This is an app that you can buy and download on your phone or iPad to doctor all your pictures. You know, make it look like you don't have any freckles, pimples, or circles under your eyes. Heck, with the before and after shots, it looks like you can even add make-up, whiten your teeth, airbrush things up a bit, and look like your own supermodel. This brings the selfie-age to a whole new level. You could look ten years younger, or not even like you!
Don't wait for the perfect shot.
That's the catch-line. I have to admit; I look in the mirror some mornings and think a face tune-up would be nice. It sure would. Now, I can forget about expensive creams or surgery. I don't even need to worry about gaining a few pounds, or laugh lines, or, gasp, a blemish! No way, Jose! Now, for just $2.99, I can be like the celebrities who aren't confident enough to show us their real faces either. I can Facetune it, post it, and forget it. We can post artificial pictures to go with our artificial perfect lives, right there in our authentic newsfeed for all our friends to hit like.
Only, I guess things might get a little weird when people see me in real life. That could be a little bit of a let down. "Wow, Aimee, you've been looking so fab on social media pictures; are you having a bad day or something?"
But seriously. Are we so in need for acclamation and validation that we will doctor our photos to change our appearance? Can an app really make me feel better about myself? I have to say that I was happy to see the message that Colbie Caillat is sending in her new music video, Try. My daughters have been playing the song around the house and in the car, and I'm glad to have a wholesome song about beauty targeted to them amongst all the twerking and wiggling songs out there. This is a move in the right direction.
And yet, we do long for affirmation. And we want to be beautiful. Every one of us. Ethan Richardson articulates our dilemma so well in a Modern Reformation article, "Alien Authenticity." I've written about it before, but it's worth a repeat. We are seeking a proclamation to our identity that we do not have, and Richardson provides an answer:
It is the way God justifies man in Christ--we are given an alien righteousness, in light of Christ's suffering on the cross and obedient life.
The characteristic that we long for--that we long to see validated--is the righteousness we know in better terms as "authenticity." In the world of "likes," with our Facebook profile, a Twitter feed, and a resume, we are often tempted to create a closed-circuit imputation system. Our hope is that, by way of the profile we curate publically, we can impute to ourselves the self we long to be. Social media, in this sense, serves as a platform for our own self-mediated authenticity, and ultimately for our own self-justification (15).
Isn't it just amazing how this need reveals itself in every part of our lives? We can't really blame social media and airbrush apps. We are stirring our own pot, using every method available to promulgate our needs. Only, our true needs can't be met in this kind of affirmation. We need to hear we are good from God alone. That's why our appetite for affirmation is so insatiable when we try to fill it by social media. "God in Jesus brings the only imputation that doesn't need reloading" (15).
When we are honest about our own depraved authenticity, we can embrace the good news of the gospel. When we find true authenticity in Christ, we don't need piddly affirmations that cannot sustain. And then we can become comfortable with the fact that Christ, our groom, is making his bride beautiful through a very humbling process.
But first, let me take a selfie.