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Poll results: who’s reading Haley’s Halo?

22 May

I discovered that unless I’m willing to fork over some cash, I have a limit of 200 responses.  Since I’m not willing to part with money for a survey, I have closed the poll for now.  Thanks to everyone who participated!

The results confirmed what I had always suspected, but here’s the breakdown:

1.  Males were 75% of the respondents; females 25%.

2.  Suburban readers were 56% of respondents; urban, 31%; rural, 14%.

3.  Almost 2/3 of respondents (65%), sit on their butts all day at work in an office.  22% work from home or have some other nontraditional job.  13% are blue collar/labor intensive workers.  I realized after I created the poll that I neglected to provide an option to select “student.”  I’m guessing that the students and SAHMs marked themselves in the work from home/nontraditional category.

4.  As I expected, the majority of readers (65%) who responded attend a casual-style church.  29% attend a dressy/upscale church, and 6% admitted that their church is full of superfrumps.

Overall, the results describe a pretty average contemporary American Christian person – you work in an office, you wear jeans to church (and probably sing songs about rivers that flow to God, or how God takes your breath away, or something like that), and you don’t live in the bowels of a major city.  What this means as far as my comments about fashion is:  the average reader probably doesn’t have to push it as far as I recommend in order to get good results.  It really all depends on what level your community generally plays at.  If wearing non-sandals qualifies as dressy in your area, then wear those.  Just aim for a notch above what the rest of the guys are doing.  If your officemates are still wearing the ’90s cube-dweller uniform of pleated khakis and a blousey blue button-down shirt, then wear some slim flat-front pants and a colorful plaid shirt.  It’s still the same basic outfit, but in a more attention-grabbing way.  And GET IN SHAPE.  The clothes often do make the man, but the body often makes the clothes.  Clothes look better on better bodies.


Take the survey and help me help you!

17 May

In light of my last fashion post, I thought it would be helpful to have a better idea of the sartorial status and needs of my readership.  Please take a minute and answer the following survey.  It’s only four multiple choice questions!  This (I hope) will help me get a better idea of where my readership is at, fashion-wise.

Thanks in advance!

ETA:  On Question 4, if it is common in the summer to see people wearing baggy T-shirts, shorts, and flip-flops at church on Sunday, then you do not attend a casual-dressing church.  Ahem.

Wear clothes that fit.

7 May

This is a looks post.  Insert standard disclaimer about inner beauty, yada yada yada.

The best ways to look better (and sexier) are to (a) be in shape and (b) have clear skin.  You can’t really separate the two, because a pizza face will defeat a bangin’ body, and nobody will care about your luminous, dewy skin if it houses a 300-lb. body.  Body and skin are two areas where pretty much everyone has room for improvement, too.  Unless your job is to be professionally fit and beautiful, there’s always a next level you can achieve in these areas.

But let’s say you have a decent body and decent skin – are you undoing much of the good of those attributes by dressing poorly?  I’ve talked about this before, but FIT is the number one thing that can make the difference between frump and fantastic.  Clothes that fit properly advertise that you are put together, savvy, and confident.  Clothes that fit poorly suggest that you are sloppy, complacent, and/or timid about yourself – NOT that you are so focused on God that you can’t be bothered with the ~things of this world~ like fashion.  Also, fit is not about sexy, plunging necklines or short skirts (for the ladies), or leaving half of the buttons of your shirt undone (men).  It’s about wearing clothes that are correctly proportioned to your body type.  When you wear clothes that accentuate your body (as opposed to showing it off in a trashy way), you’re basically saying, “I’m comfortable with my body, and therefore myself.  I’m a person you want to get to know.”

Hipsters aside, most Americans wear clothes that are too baggy.  Part of this is probably because too many Americans are also obese or overweight, but how is anyone supposed to see what is good (and sexy) about you if you are hidden inside a fabric bag?  This morning at church I sat behind a row of five twentysomethings, and the frump was plentiful on the part of the women.  The woman who put the most effort into her outfit was overweight, and the other two were wearing jeans and boring knit tops (and no obvious hairstyling or makeup).  Zzzz.  The guys looked like they had put more effort into their looks than the women (the guys, too, were wearing jeans that sort of fit), but they could have bumped things up a couple of notches, easily – like going for darker, fitted denim and collared shirts.  This is the pickings for singles in the church?

It’s just…if you are single and would like NOT to be single, then stop making it harder for other people to see your inner beauty!  If you LOOK like you have inner beauty (yeah yeah yeah, I know, we shouldn’t judge people on their exterior – but when you see someone dressed like a thug, do you not try to move away from that person?  so much for not judging people on their exterior…), then maybe people will be more inspired to talk to you to see if you DO have inner beauty.  If you’re making people look past 50 extra pounds or through swathes of fabric of an XXL shirt on a M body, you’re just making it harder for someone else to connect with you.

Also:  I’ve really come around to the idea that men should always tuck in their shirts.  It just looks sloppy (and kind of stuck in 2001/wannabe member of Rascal Flatts/”cool guy church dad”) to leave it untucked.  Even for knit polo shirts.  Tucking in the shirt and pairing it with a nice belt adds a subtle but nontrivial level of polish to an outfit.  NOTE:  the shirt needs to FIT – tucking in a billowy blouse-shirt is NOT sexy.  But billowy blouse-shirts aren’t sexy and should never be worn in the first place.  NOTE 2:  the pants need to fit as well.  NOTE 3:  do not attempt if you have a big ol’ gut.  But having a big ol’ gut isn’t sexy, either.

Make every day a hot day.

18 Dec

I don’t know if I’m just getting punchy before the holidays or what, but lately I’ve been feeling really irritated at how frumpy so many women are.  Frumpy clothes, frumpy hair – and then they wonder why no guys are paying attention to them, or they’re only getting attention from the guys they don’t want.

It’s not just frumpiness of style, either; it’s also plain old being plain.  Timid.  Unimaginative.  If you look like the personification of beige yet remain stumped as to why a guy can’t see the beautiful personality that your mom, grandma, and all of your female friends see, wellllll.

Sometimes you got to help a brother out.  Men are visual creatures.  Make it easy for him, not harder.

In other words, make every day a hot day.  Don’t wait for an occasion to look hot; make looking hot your regular look.  If you wait for a perfect occasion for looking hot, chances are it’ll never happen.  Stop looking for excuses, and just do it.  You feel a little fat today?  Doesn’t matter, make it a hot day.  Got a zit?  Doesn’t matter, make it a  hot day.  You’re tired?  Doesn’t matter, make it a hot day.  You’re not going anywhere special?  Doesn’t matter, make it a hot day.  You don’t think you’re pretty?  Doesn’t matter, make it a hot day.

Just to clarify – a hot day doesn’t mean dressing like you’re going to the club.  It means looking attractive, on top of things, classy, intelligent, and interesting.  Aim for smart-sexy, not club-trampy.

Do you need a style revamp?  Consider your answers to the following questions:

Do people regularly compliment your outfits?

If you are not getting regular compliments on what you wear, then you probably need to step it up a notch or two.

Has anyone complimented your haircut when you’ve just gotten it cut?

If no one has told you that your hair looks good after a haircut, then you’ve been paying someone who doesn’t deserve your money.  Find someone new to cut your hair, and keep going to someone new until you start getting compliments.

Do you read any fashion magazines or blogs?

If you don’t, I recommend People Stylewatch.  Its specialty is accessible (read:  normal person) fashion, not couture, and showcases clothes at a variety of price points.  I also recommend the TLC show What Not to Wear.  Stacy and Clinton tend to style everyone the same, but it’s good for middle-America office-worker fashion and tips on how to put together outfits, and most of the people they make over are average-looking.

If you don’t have anyone in your life whose opinion your trust about your appearance, feel free to send me some pictures for a critique.  I will give you an honest assessment and won’t share your photos with anyone.

P.S.  This is most likely my final blog post of 2012, as I am leaving for my hometown on Friday and won’t be back until the new year.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all.  Thanks for reading!

What women mean by makeup vs. what men mean by makeup.

25 Oct

I’ve been meaning to do a makeup post/series and have just been procrastinating on it, but since Heartiste just did a makeup post, I figured that was motivation enough.

I think it’s obvious to any woman that men who claim they like women with NO MAKEUP WHATSOEVER don’t really mean that.  Unless they’re a true blue granola worshiper or truly get turned on by armpit hair or whatever, most men want to see women wearing some makeup.  They just don’t want to notice it.  (Maybe that’s the man hamster at work; if he doesn’t notice it, then the woman is genuinely that beautiful, meaning he has great taste, aims high, can land hotties with no trouble…as opposed to the ego-crushing truth of “that girl is just average.”)

Basically, a normal woman looks like this with zero makeup:

She has blemishes, uneven skin tone, and dark circles under her eyes.

Now, if she wears makeup, she can look like this:

Her skin tone is evened out, her blemishes and dark under-eye circles are concealed, her brows are defined, and her lips and cheeks are a pretty pink.  Her eyes are defined with mascara and liner, along with some neutral eyeshadow.  This look is what women typically call “subtly enhancing your features.”

MOST MEN WILL NOT IDENTIFY THIS LOOK AS MADE-UP.  MOST MEN THINK THIS IS A “NATURAL” LOOK AND SOME WOULD NOT BE ABLE TO TELL THE GIRL WAS WEARING MAKEUP.  Even if the girl used foundation, concealer, highlighter, translucent powder, eyeliner, mascara, multiple eye shadow colors (possibly including a primer), false eyelashes, brow pencil/shadow, lip liner, and lipstick and/or lip gloss, many men would swear she looked completely natural.  (A skilled makeup artist can use all of these items and produce a fresh, natural look.)

The reason men think that this look is “natural” is because men typically identify THIS as “makeup”:

Then they swear up and down that they HAAAAATE makeup (perhaps it makes them unhaaaaaaapy?) and that NO WOMAN OF THEIRS shall ever be caught dead wearing makeup!11!1!!1!!!!11  Because only ugly, desperate sluts wear makeup or something.



Disciplined eating.

12 Aug

This post is sort of off topic for the blog, but it relates in larger context to the ongoing “unrealistic standards of beauty” meme that is constantly going around in Christian singles discussion, and the MSM in general.  Basically, I no longer have time to listen to girls who whine about their body type/not being able to lose weight but still chug Starbucks and constantly circle around the candy jar at work, or who cling to starvation diets in the hope that a miracle will occur.

Since May, I’ve been doing a DVD-based workout program.  Basically, I’d gotten tired of my longtime exercise go-to’s and was having a hard time motivating myself.  I knew that I needed something to revolutionize my exercising, and I figured that if this guy in the videos trained Victoria’s Secret models, then he was probably doing something right.

What I didn’t realize when I ordered the DVDs was that the kit comes with a small booklet called “Fat Burning Foods.”  This booklet contains simple recipes for 12 breakfasts, 12 lunches, and 12 dinners, along with a bunch of “savvy skinny” snack options and advice on the types of foods to order when you are at various types of restaurants.  Each breakfast is around 250 calories, each lunch around 350, and each dinner about 400, with an emphasis on protein and fiber.  I decided that if I was going to give BBL a go, I needed to follow the diet, too.

I quickly realized that I wasn’t going to succeed in sticking to the meal plan unless I put myself on a schedule, which made me realize that undisciplined eating was a big problem for me.  I didn’t have the problem of constantly going to McDonald’s or eating half a sheet cake at a time, but I did have a problem of reaching for convenient snacks because I didn’t keep much food in the house, the idea being that I didn’t want to keep temptation around, or waste food that I no longer had an interest in.  But the thing is, if your stomach is completely empty, you’re not going to reach for those raw baby carrots first, or start gnawing on celery.  That’s where the problems start.

My solution was to go full-on nerd and make myself a spreadsheet accounting for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day, as well as two daily snacks between meals.  Then I would make a grocery list and buy everything for the week all at once.  This way I was locked into my meal plan – the investment had already been made, and I had no excuses that I didn’t have those particular foods available.  Additionally, I prepared everything in advance that could be prepared, in order to remove laziness as an excuse not to follow the plan.  If fruit could be cut up in advance, I cut it.  If I was going to be eating quinoa, I prepared that all at once.  When you are tired, even the tiniest amount of chopping or boiling seems like work, so I wanted to make sure I wouldn’t cheat because I felt too lazy tired.

That first spreadsheet worked.  What I found was that having an actual meal plan freed me to eat.  I no longer felt a food dilemma at every meal, wondering what I should have, or worrying that it was too fattening, or not wanting to eat because I snacked too much earlier, or rationalizing a meal out.  I no longer felt guilty about snacking because I had calculated snacks into my meal plan.  Since that first spreadsheet, I’ve made a spreadsheet every week.

The meal plan had other benefits, too.  First, it re-normalized my idea of correct portion size.  When you’re measuring most of your food with a measuring cup, and you see it on your plate, you start to get a feel for how much you should be eating at a time.  Second, it kept me from ever feeling like I overate AND it kept me from ever feeling ravenously hungry.  When your hunger level stays pretty even keel all day, the desire to dig into bad snacks greatly diminishes.  Third, it reset my taste buds.  I’ve only had butter a handful of times since starting the meal plan, and I can’t say I really miss it.  I almost never put salt on anything anymore.  And, maybe the biggest change, I don’t have much of an appetite for junk food anymore.  I don’t have cravings for cake or cookies the way I used to, or for chips, or desserts.  I still enjoy these foods, but, for example, if I eat one cookie, I don’t have the desire to eat a bunch more.  Doritos don’t hold the same appeal.  This was probably the most unexpected of all the results of changing the way I ate.  Usually when you think of following a diet, you think of denial and wanting all of the foods you’re not supposed to have anymore.  But I’ve found that eating right isn’t really denial, because your desires for the bad stuff subside.  Fourth, my digestive system is much happier now.  (TMI or not, it’s true.)  And fifth, my skin now has a glow that no amount of exfoliation could have ever given it.

I can’t say that what happened for me will happen for everyone if they just do what I did.  But I do think that a lot of people who are basically healthy and active but keep struggling with weight that just won’t disappear are probably dealing with eating discipline issues.  If this is you, I encourage you to examine your eating habits and see if undisciplined eating is holding you back.

God’s perfect timing = hamster food?

25 Apr

One of the most difficult explanations to counter in churchly circles is that of “God’s will,” a.k.a., for dating/marriage purposes, “God’s perfect timing.”  See, if God is all-knowing and all-powerful while you’re just a broken, measly human with sinfully compromised reasoning capabilities, then pretty much no explanations, short of outright contradicting Scripture, can disprove “God’s will.”

But is God’s perfect timing just fancy hamster food?  In a recent Boundless article, Candice Watters answers a reader who sounds like a typical Christian beta girl.  Reader writes:

I’ve never had a boyfriend. To love a man with the love God has given me for others is one thing I desire above all else. But I’ve yet remained “invisible.” Is something wrong with me? Every person I know tells me “Oh, you’re the sweetest person I know,” “You’re so loving,” and so forth. From others’ compliments I don’t think I’m hard to get along with, and I think I’m average looking.

I try to get myself involved with different social circles and activities, but I’m invisible. And the guy friends that I’ve thought, Maybe there is something here, end up dating other girls. I’m happy for them, but it makes me wonder what’s wrong with me? What is your suggestion for shaking this feeling of “something-must-be-wrong-with-me” syndrome that I seem to be struggling with?

Now, if Watters were a member of the manosphere, she would probably first congratulate the girl on keeping her virtue intact because everyone knows that even a pretty ugly girl can go out and extract sex from some random dude, so isn’t it a miraculous accomplishment that this girl hasn’t turned into the vilest of slutty slut sluts yet, not that anyone believes truly virtuous girls actually exist.  Then Watters would probably tell Reader to lower her expectations, not to get promoted at work, and become wildly sexually attracted to someone she’s not that attracted to, because 30 is on the horizon and the mewls of the cats are getting louder.  Tough love, you hear.

But that’s not, of course, what Watters does.  Instead, Watters launches her own story of how it was not her chubbiness during her 20s that kept her from finding her husband — it was actually God’s will.  Watters says:

Boy, can I relate to your question! I was sure something was wrong with me. Being overweight in college and for most of my 20s, I was certain that if only I could lose 30 pounds, I’d have a boyfriend. That feeling was intensified by all the “you’re such a great gal; some guy is going to be very lucky to get you,” comments I heard from older, married Christian men. I could almost hear the subtext I assumed went with their complements: “You’re a great gal, though a bit on the chubby side, but you sure are nice and have a pretty face.”

Ugh. The longer I went with failed dieting attempts, the more frustrated and lonely I grew. If all that was keeping me from a good man and a godly marriage was a smaller dress size and if I lacked the self-control to lose weight, then it was my own fault for being single for so long.

Thankfully, there was a lot about that “what’s wrong with me?” way of thinking that wasn’t true. Yes, I was overweight. And I suspect there were guys who may have found me attractive and asked me out if I’d been thinner. Maybe. But even more important in my getting married was God’s timing.

So Watters admits that her weight was likely the reason that men weren’t finding her attractive, but she refuses to accept that that ultimately had anything to do with her finding a boyfriend and getting married.

She then goes on to talk about how each person is God’s special creation, which is par for the course for this sort of advice, but she then discusses how we all have a role to play in getting married.  Among the resonsibilities are “striving for sexual purity; being a good steward of your time, talents, and treasure, as well as of your opportunities and your fertility; seeking out and actively participating in Christian community; and waiting to date someone who is spiritually mature (being equally yoked). In short, you’re called to discipleship (2 Peter 3:18).”  But…losing weight isn’t a part of that, when every woman knows deep down inside that thin women are more attractive to men?

Watters then issues her St. Crispin’s Day speech:

Do you think you’re too fat? Too thin? Too tall? Too short? Too shy? Too outgoing? Too ugly? Too pretty? Too blonde? Too old? Too spiritual? Too something? Or maybe you think you’re not enough. Not funny enough. Not thin enough. Not smart enough. Not spiritual enough. Whatever it is that you think you’ve identified about yourself that’s keeping you single, it’s not the whole picture. There may be some areas where you need to mature, and if you’re persisting in sin, then certainly you must repent and turn away. But it’s possible that it’s simply not time yet. This became clear to me when Steve started dating me before I started shrinking. I talked before about finally losing weight. And though I’m glad for that, I’m equally glad that our relationship took off while I still had weight to lose. Turns out there wasn’t anything wrong with me. It’s simply that before Steve, it was the wrong time.

It’s hard for me to make this kind of thinking jive with reality.  If there is no such thing as a soulmate, and you could conceivably have a decent marriage with any number of men, then how is something the “wrong time”?  Is is not possible that Watters could have found someone else to marry had she been thinner younger?  And that they could have had as good a marriage as Watters currently has with her husband?  Is it truly “not time yet” that keeps people from marrying?  This all comes off as pretty ironic, given Boundless’s consistent drum-beating that men have to get off the Xbox and hurry up and march down the aisle with one of the nice, available single Christian women in their congregations.

I mean, I believe in “God’s timing,” but I also think that God’s timing is often used as hamster food.  If no one is attracted to you, then you’re probably doing something wrong.  This goes for both men and women.  I mean, MAYBE in your case it’s God’s supernatural forces preventing anyone from being attracted to you until it’s “the right time,” but given that there are specific attraction factors for each sex, that tend to work regardless of someone’s character (the proof’s in the unmarried pregnant pastor’s daughters), it’s hard to believe that God’s timing is usually REALLY the reason nobody wants to date you.

But you can’t really bring this up to someone who believes in God’s timing, right?  Because if you say, “Well, it’s probably God’s timing that you can’t lose those 20 pounds,” you’re not going to have any more friends, AND you’re going to lose because the rebuttal to that is just, “Well, MY GOD is bigger than 20 pounds.”  And that settles that.  It’s not your fault.  It’s all in God’s hands.

Alpha body language.

14 Nov

I’m a big fan of the Just Dance games, and when I saw these two dances from the most recent edition, it struck me that they are pretty good examples of what is and what isn’t alpha body language.  Both dancers are very good (and the routines are exhausting just watching them), but one displays a lot of swagger, and the other one…doesn’t.  (Not that the songs themselves aren’t really obvious giveaways.)



The costume choices and background settings also highlight the differences.  “Pump It” guy is wearing a vest that conjures military uniform associations (masculine!) while Scissor Sisters guy is wearing sparkling pants and a cropped, fur-trimmed jacket.  “Pump It” guy’s background setting is stark and bold and has magenta rock formations bursting out of the ground, while Scissor Sisters guy is dancing in front of a cute igloo (that transforms into a glittering disco ball) while it is snowing (and has a cartoon penguin pop out of the ice occasionally – there are igloos in Antarctica?!).

It’s worth noting that in the comments of various uploads of these dances that “Pump It” guy is considered very attractive by female commenters, whereas Scissor Sisters guy’s maleness is sometimes questioned.

Of course, all this is about a cartoony game where everyone is dressed in neon.

Translation: she’s not hot enough for him.

7 Nov

Boundless, how I hate hate to love love thee.  Thou art truly the gift that keeps giving.  Without thee, this blog would not have nearly as much reason to exist.

John Thomas has a new column up today called “Wondering Eyes,” in which he advises a male reader on what to do about his girlfriend:  namely, that he intellectually recognizes her as quality but his heart’s not in it anymore.  Reader self-castigates this as “pride.”

In his response, Thomas spends a lot of words telling Reader how he needs to have God’s Spirit transform his mind and examine the why of his desire to see what other girls are out there.  (Does it really require examination and prayer to explain a man’s desire for variety?!?!)  Says Thomas:

You’ve got to come to a place where you are grateful, excited and entirely content with the gift of another person in your life.** But where pride is blooming in the heart, there is no room for true gratefulness.

(**Insert manosphere railing against Thomas’s underlying pedestalization of “the gift of another person,” i.e., women.)

But really, Thomas could have saved himself a lot of virtual ink, because the problem is evident in Reader’s first two sentences:

I’ve been dating a wonderful girl. She is witty, intelligent, adventurous, talented, and above all she loves God in a way that I really see as a gift. She has a true passion for Him.

Notice how he NEVER MENTIONS THAT SHE IS GOOD-LOOKING TO HIM.  And he KNOWS she is below his SMV, because later he says:

I’m a good-looking, guitar-playing, God-loving man.

Right on, bro.  Jacob Fink approves.

But more seriously – Where Thomas sees Reader’s problem as an issue of lack of gratefulness, the real issue is a very simple one:  she’s not hot enough for him.  At least Thomas correctly advised Reader to break up with his girlfriend.

ETA:  On further reflection, I’ve also concluded that Thomas is wrong that Reader is immature and is not ready for marriage.  I think, based on Reader’s comments, that he WOULD be ready to move forward toward marriage IF the girl in question met his physical attractiveness requirements.  But she doesn’t, hence Reader’s gut telling him to bail.  And now I’m REALLY hating John Thomas for criticizing this kid for both immaturity as a man and as a believer.

Women and the pressure to be thin.

2 Nov

One of Boundless’s bloggers, Chelsey, recently became engaged and is now thinking about writing a series for the blog entitled “Bridal Battles.”  In Bridal Battles: Part I, Chelsey talks about all of the stresses she now has due to becoming engaged.  Among these stresses is one that she considers completely unnecessary:  losing weight.

In support of this opinion, she cites her friend’s advice to her:

Before I was even engaged, one of my best friends gave me some awesome advice: “Chelsey, just never forget that he loves you for who you are. Promise me you won’t be one of those crazy brides who tries to lose 20 pounds and order your dress four sizes smaller.”

But that attitude definitely does not permeate the bridal industry, as she experienced:

Last week I tried on a dress that was a little too small. Logically, I turned to the attendant and said I would probably need the next size up. She stared at me like I was the bride from Mars. “Well, what do you plan on doing for the next eight months? You could probably lose a few pounds and get this one.” I stared at her, took the dress and hung it back on the rack. Then, the next day I received an email from “Dear Chelsey, congratulations! Your wedding is only eight months away! Now it is time to get in shape….”

Chelsey writes:

As if there isn’t a big enough pressure on women to be thin on an average day of their life, why not pressure them into losing even more weight for one of the most important days, right?

Okay, why is it that I always feel like churchly arguments about looks always tend toward the extreme when citing rebuttals to “the world’s view” of beauty?  If you put yourself on a diet, you’re going to have an eating disorder, or you don’t value God’s beautiful creation, or whatever.  (Similarly, if you drink alcohol, you’ll become a divorced, homeless bum.  If you see a picture of a naked lady, you’re going to destroy your marriage with a porn addiction.  If you smoke, you’ll get lung cancer.  Etc.)

Yes, there is pressure on women to look good, and there always has been.  These days the bar has been raised very high due to increased wealth of the average person and improvements in and affordability of diet, exercise techniques, and plastic surgery/rejuvenation treatments.  And we all know what we could possibly look like due to constant exposure to pictures of beautiful people in magazines, TV, film, and advertisements.  So I get that there is a perception that there is an “unrealistic standard of beauty.”

However, unless you live in a mecca of beautiful people, such as Los Angeles (and even here the homely are not exactly nonexistent), genuinely highly physically attractive people are more the exception than the rule.  It’s kind of like when you get older and then you look back at your high school yearbook and wonder how everyone could have thought so-and-so was so devastatingly gorgeous, when in reality she was just a big fish in a small pond.  The truth is that Hollywood levels of beauty are really only found in…Hollywood.  (You will never find a place with more attractive waiters.)  So in my opinion, all the wah-wahing about unrealistic standards is a hamsterism for possibly more unpleasant actualities.

Going back to Chelsey’s beef about the pressure on women to be thin…welllllll…there might be pressure on women to be thin, but how many of them are pro-actively dealing with that pressure by keeping themselves in shape?  Some people are just naturally thin, but any cruising around the average mall on a Saturday reveals a lot of women for whom the pressure to be thin doesn’t seem to be registering.  So do we laud those women for their nonconformity, or do we ascribe to them even more pressure because they’re obviously incapable of attaining a Hollywood body despite their wishes to be thin and beautiful?  I see both responses being used by the “I’m beautiful just as I am” crowd.

And then Chelsey regurgitates the standard evangelicalisms about looks:

Sisters, please don’t believe the hype. I’m not saying you can’t try to look great on your wedding day; I’m just asking that you don’t let society convince you to be someone you are not. No. 1, you are a daughter of the King and, therefore, made in His majestic image. And No. 2 (for those who are engaged) your fiancé should love you for you.

There are so many other important things that should be done during engagement, and it breaks my heart to see how our culture eats up all that time with improving physical appearance. I challenge all the engaged couples out there to step back today and remember what this stage is all about. Ask yourself, “What would God want me to prepare for right now?”

Regarding the first point:  Okay, seriously, how many women are killing themselves trying to be unrealistically thin for their weddings, versus how many women are buying plus-size dresses for their weddings?  (Has anyone seen Say Yes to the Dress?  That show regularly features plus-size brides-to-be and has even devoted an episode exclusively to plus-size women.)  How many women are REALLY spending the majority of their engagements exercising and eating bird seed instead of doing all of the other prep work that goes into putting on a contemporary $25,000 wedding?  And does God’s majestic image really include, say, a size 22?

Regarding the second point:  Yes, obviously the man loves you if he’s willing to marry you, but that isn’t a license to ignore your body ’cause it just isn’t your thing.  If you’re a size 6, and he’s marrying you, then it’s not important to him that you become a size 2.  So you can stop worrying about that.  But if you’re a size 12 on your wedding day and you blossom into a size 24 by your tenth anniversary, are you really doing right by the man who loves you for you?

I just think that in this culture, people have lost grip on reality and realistic standards of attainability.  The self-esteem culture has really seeped into the church, and now we strive to equalize the beauty of every woman.  But the truth is that some women are just more beautiful than others, and no amount of “you’re beautiful at any size and shape” or “God sees your beautiful heart” is going to give a 4 and a 9 the same standing.  I think if we were more willing to accept our limitations and work to make what we do have the best it can be within realistically attainable standards, there would be so much more happiness and contentment among women.  Ironically, in trying to bolster women’s self-esteem, the whole “everyone’s beautiful” movement just makes it harder for women to have any self-esteem.