John Paul II would have approved.
Recently, I came across a powerful music video by musician Colbie Caillat. This video has been making its way around Facebook and is profound in its ability to highlight the dignity and beauty of the human person as expressed through our bodies. Colbie Caillat said in a recent interview that she was upset because she was “getting a lot of pressure to be someone I’m not, both musically and image-wise.” She relates how women in our society so often try to please others and hide who they really are. She says that “everyone is trying to hide their faults” through make-up or using Photoshop to digitally alter their appearance.
Colbie said that there is a lot ofpressure to be perfect and to look perfect all the time. She said that “When I see gorgeous models and singers and they look perfect on their album covers, it makes me want to look like that too, and it makes me feel like if I don’t Photoshop my skin on my album cover, I’m the one who’s going to look a little off and everyone else is going to look perfect. And that’s what everyone is used to seeing.”
After shooting her music video “Try,” Colbie now says that she is excited at the chance to be in the public eye without any make-up. She said that “it also felt really cool to be on camera with zero on, like literally nothing on. And then when it got to the full hair and makeup, I actually felt gross.”
In the end, this experience helped her realize her own beauty, and that she is beautiful no matter what. It doesn’t matter if she has tons of make-up on, she is beautiful just the way she is. That is a powerful message, one that our society of the “perfect” image badly needs.
Dignity of the Human Body
All of this reminds me ofSaint John Paul II and his “Theology of the Body.” In it he stresses the dignity of the human body and the reality of our own innate beauty. One passage that I am reminded of is in regards to portraying the human body in art. John Paul II writes:
It is well known that through all these elements [artistic quality, mode of reproduction or artistic representation of the human body] the fundamental intentionality of the work of art or of the product of the respective media becomes, in a way, accessible to the viewer, as to the listener or the reader. If our personal sensitivity reacts with objection and disapproval, it is because in that fundamental intentionality, together with the concretizing of man and his body, we discover as indispensable for the work of art or its reproduction, his simultaneous reduction to the level of an object.He becomes an object of “enjoyment,” intended for the satisfaction of concupiscence itself.This is contrary to the dignity of man also in the intentional order of art and reproduction. By analogy, the same thing must be applied to the various fields of artistic activity—according to the respective specific character— as also to the various audiovisual media. ( St. John Paul II, Ethical Responsibilities in Art, emphasis added)
Colbie was right to react with “objection and disapproval” in regards to the excessive use of make-up and Photoshop. Instead of highlighting the dignity of women, it makes women “objects” to be looked upon and only valued for their perfect beauty.
In the end, I commend her for doing what she did. She gives us all a very important lesson: that we are all beautiful in the eyes of God, just the way we are and we are not meant to be objects for other people’s pleasure.
Here is the video in case you haven’t seen it yet:
Here is another great video that shows what all is involved in preparing a magazine cover: