My word! It has certainly been a long time since I’ve penned something personally.  Life in and out of the office is a little crazy right now. It’s hard for me to believe that the end of the school year is just around the corner.  Time, slow down!

I’m kinda a news junkie.  I’m not sure where it comes from.  Maybe my grandfather, who despite having more than 200 television channels available to him, never changed the channel from Fox News for his last six or so years of life.  It could be that I worked at a newspaper for three years, and spent some time on the staff of my college newspaper. Or, it could simply be because I’m a nerd, and the news simply interests me.

Whatever the reason, I tend to sniff out very, we’ll say, interesting news stories.  My latest find could possibly outdo the rest.

I was recently introduced to Human Barbie.  Valeria Lukyanova, or Amatue as she refers to herself, is a young Russian whose concept of beauty has led her to adopt a doll-like appearance. Valeria sports platinum blond hair, a surgically enhanced chest, and a seemingly impossible waistline of a mere 19 inches.

Just a quick Google search brings up pictures of a woman who looks more like a Japanese animae character.  Her waist is tiny, her eyes seem huge, and her complexion is flawless.  A jump over to YouTube offers makeup tutorials on how to achieve her look.

Valeria admits to having breast enhancement surgery, but justifies her trip under the knife by asking who doesn’t have that procedure done?  In her mind, it’s pretty standard practice.

Interestingly enough, admitting to this solo surgery still draws criticism.  Not because she had the surgery, but because that seems to be the only one she has had (though there is plenty of speculation of a surgery to have her lowest ribs removed.  Who knew that was even possible?) Human Ken, as Justin Jedlica has come to be known, calls Lukyanova an “illusionist,” adding "she has extensions. She wears stage makeup."  Jedlica himself admits to around 90 surgeries to achieve the look he has today, and spent over $100,000 to have the “perfect” body.

So, what does this say about us?  What does it say about our culture when people are willing to go to such drastic measures to achieve “perfection?” Remember Heidi Montag, who famously had 10 plastic surgery procedures in one day?

It says that ours girls aren’t good enough.  It says that beauty is a platform to be reached, yet seems out of the grasp of those outside of Hollywood. 

Every day, I deal with young teenage girls that feel like they are “not good enough.” They feel like they aren’t pretty enough, skinny enough, tall enough or “blessed” enough.  But, here’s the problem propagated by people like Lukyanova, Jedlica and Montag. Though we know in our hearts that they are the extreme cases, we forget that there’s really only a small difference between what they have done and what a magazine does.  Both are presenting unrealistic and unattainable standards of beauty.  Magazines just use computers to do it.

A few months ago, Target found itself under fire for an image on their website.  Embracing the unhealthy concept of a “thigh gap,” their Photoshop pro went a little too far with a couple of pictures on the store’s website.

Thankfully, several people stepped in, arguing the unhealthy body image promoted by these ads.  And several spoke out against Human Barbie, saying “Seems like a logical extension of our celebrity-crazed society. How is this any different in kind from celebrity runway photos? So thin is in? How about crazy-thin? So you want perfect complexion? How about crazy-perfect, dead-white complexion?” Another added, “Completely not my cup of tea (I prefer natural beauty), but this gal is just reflecting back to us what our society values.”

But where are these people when teens look through Seventeen Magazine or Teen Vogue? Where are the voices crying out for real beauty as a teen looks at these images? Slowly, they are stepping forward. Recently, a few teens have stepped up, asking the magazines to stop photoshopping and airbrushing their models.  Swimwear companies are creating modest swim attire. Teens are creating businesses selling undergarments that are for real people. Even Heidi Montag has admitted she regrets her surgeries, saying she was young and gave in to pressure.  What a voice of reason in a world where our teen girls have no voice.

 

I challenge you to do the same. Make sure your teen knows what beauty is.  Make sure they know that beauty on the outside is an overflow of the beauty they have on the inside.  Encourage them to go without the make-up or the hair curlers.  But, maybe you should take it a step further, and go without it yourself.  Is that challenge accepted?

Sound off in our forum here!  Do you believe our culture places too much importance on physical appearance?  Do you think we are addicted to going under the knife to reach perfection?  Are you willing to accept the no make-up challenge to encourage your teen? Let us know!