http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xgxxxKwlra8

For five and a half years (2006-2012), the girl in today’s video took photos with different “looks”. In 50 seconds, you will see more than a thousand photographs of her face and changes in look (and age). Her video quickly went viral and currently has around 8 million hits. On twitter, she defines herself as a “growing narcissist”.

Apostolic objective

To give physical beauty its rightful place; not to expect more from it than it can give us. Furthermore, to understand the spiritual dynamic behind care of the body.

Apostolic elements

1. There is nothing bad about changing our image: let’s start here. We do it for two basic motives: in order to make over or to improve our appearance. I doubt that anyone changes their look in order to look worse; even those who explicitly worsen their looks (EMOs for example) do so, at bottom, to see themselves better.

And why do we make over or seek to improve ourselves on the outside? Two reasons, the first with reference to ourselves: because a good look reflects our identity, and this gives us self-confidence, self-worth etc. And the second, with reference to others, is because looking good and pleasant (in the external terms of which we are speaking) is something which is satisfying to the majority (at least of those people I know).

2. On the other hand, I don’t think I’m wrong in thinking that physically liking something is only one aspect of our deepest longing to be recognized, liked and loved by others (we are a unity of body, psyche and spirit). With respect to ourselves, caring for our appearance is a sign of the right love we should have towards our own person. If this is true then changing our look is an external (if not superficial) sign of an interior dynamic: the search for love.

Having said this, it’s obvious that anyone looking for love will never find it just with physical appeal. No mother, friend or girlfriend loves because her son, friend or boyfriend is nice to look at, and the fact that someone thinks I’m nice-looking could never be a serious reason to love me. This leads me to think that whoever wants to win the love of others must change their “inner look”. That is, they must change their heart, become a better person, convert more. It’s logical: whoever wants to reap spiritual fruits must sow in their spirit, not their body.

3. That’s why, if I’ve been clear, this video grabs my attention. I think that our society is a little obsessed with physical beauty (there are nearly 2000 “looks” in this video!) and is deaf to the spiritual longings which support it. External appearance is a gift from God which, in our hands, bows according to the weight we place on it. We want to reap love from it, when we have plowed it with hairdryers and scattered it with make up. I believe that love of others and right love for ourselves can only be reached through the beauty which love itself gives rise to. Love cultivates my heart and makes me grow as a person; only love can heal hate, resentment, anger, envy, slovenliness, that is, every vice which sullies my soul and neither allows me to love nor others to love me.

Questions for dialogue

How much am I expecting from my appearance? Do I cultivate my heart and my interior as carefully as my body? What should I make over in myself to reach the love I long for?