Wow! Can I just say that you look fantastic?
Though, if I’m completely honest, I’m a tad embarrassed at how much of the fantastic-looking you I’ve seen lately. The crazy-revealing dress you wore to your 46th birthday party this weekend made quite a statement, and now I’ve got a statement I want to give back to you: YOU’VE GOT A GREAT BODY. WE GET IT.
Jen, I’ll be honest. I think you’re belaboring the point. Your sparkly booty from this spring’s Met Gala is still all-too-fresh in my mind. Because I can’t UN-SEE that.
And, now? Now, a lawsuit for “tarnishing women’s honor” in Morocco? Have you finally shaken your booty so much that a country’s government wants to put you in jail?
My dear Jennifer, I’m afraid for you. I fear you are going too far to prove your own hotness.
You are selling yourself short.
Know you have a friend here. To me, you’ve always exuded both talent and sweetness. I’m a fan who wants the best for you. Not another critic. You have enough of those. To me, you’re just Jenny from the Block. (And, I’m not fooled by those rocks that you got.)
As a spectator watching your life, sometimes it seems I can see who you are deep down—a woman who remembers her humble beginnings, someone who knows the difference between what is real and what is pretend.
A few seasons ago on American Idol how you told a very overweight and not especially attractive (by our culture’s standards, that is) male contestant that you could see a light in him. It surprised me. You asked him if he grew up in church and he responded, “Yes, Ma’m.”
Again, you said, you could tell. “I see that light.” You repeated.
Could it be that you do recognize that true beauty demands more than a hard body and provocative outfits?
Then other times I’m confused.
It feels like you are pretending—trying too hard to be lust-worthy. It’s as if you believe that what’s on the outside determines your value. (Your Billboard Awards dress for example? It made me blush.)
The plot-line to Maid in Manhattan comes to mind. I watched it no fewer than twenty times during my single years. (And I searched high and low for a knock off of that white suit!). I wonder if deep down you fight a lie that says you have to play a part in order to feel loved.
I wonder if you are just pretending.
I’ll admit—it takes one to know one. It’s easy for me to spot because I’ve spent a lot of time pretending too.
I thought my value was tied to my appearance that the more perfect I looked; the more people would love me.
But, it never worked out that way. I still faced betrayal, hurt, struggle and disappointment.
Every time I see too much of your globally-coveted backside or excessive amounts of your voluptuous bosom, I groan inside. Not because I’m annoyed by your physical beauty. But because I see you buy that same lie–the one that whispers, “Everyone will love you if you look hot. Work harder so you can be hotter!”
Having four children helped me come to grips with the fact that “hot” doesn’t last forever. You have more money and staff than I do, so your physique will likely last a while longer than mine did. But, I worry for you. What happens when you’re too old to sprawl your body across a stage?
Where will you find your value when gravity takes its toll on your assets?
And then I think of our daughters. I tracked your glamorous pregnancy on the tabloid covers while waiting in grocery store lines to purchase microwavable cakes that helped me balloon through my own. I know both of our daughters are seven now and I worry for them.
What will this beauty-focused culture scream to them about their worth over the next ten years?
What will they learn about their worth from mothers who obsess over their appearance?
Will our daughters grow up to believe that unless they look like that airbrushed model no one will love them?
Then I go back to your interaction with that young Idol contestant. You could “see the light.” You could tell he grew up in church. You saw something beautiful inside of him that had nothing to do with his skin, shape, or sex appeal. You saw God’s light shining through him and you found it lovely.
I wonder if you’d ever believe that beauty like that could shine through you?
Can I tell you something?
I know it could, it would. If you’d just let it.
In all my years of chasing beauty—working to attain the perfect body—I’ve never felt more comfortable in my skin than I have now. No, I’m not as thin as I once was. My cheekbones don’t pop like they used to and the skin around my eyes and mouth gets more crinkly each birthday. But I’ve shifted my focus. Now I try to spend more time cultivating that inner light–which comes from my relationship with my savior, Jesus Christ–than I do struggling to win life’s beauty contest.
And this pursuit has set me free from the body image bondage that once held me.
I pray that for you too, Jen. I pray that someday I’ll look at you and not just see a physically beautiful woman, but a spiritually beautiful one, too.