fake perfection.

When I was in my teenage years, spending a vast majority of my free time perusing Seventeen, Cosmopolitan, and Glamour, I wish I would have known what I know now about pictures in the media.

Almost every photograph displayed in magazines has been modified by Photoshop.

I would say “all” instead of “almost” all but that’s like saying that Lysol kills 100% of germs. You just don’t go there. Ergo, if Lysol only kills 99.9% of germs, Photoshop is only used on 99.9% of pictures in magazines and in doing so only distorts the image of beauty to about 99.9% of people who are exposed to the photographs.

Thank GOODNESS for Photoshop because man, this woman naturally has the biggest waist EVER. Phew.

Cameron Diaz is obviously such a troll without Photoshop. Psh.

Faith Hill? HA! More like Faith MOUNTAIN! She's so huge without Photoshop.

(I really hope everyone on the Interwebs knows I’m joking in these captions. If you’re unaware, though, rest assured. I am being all kinds of sarcastic here.)

When used properly, Photoshop can be quite useful to photographers. It can actually enhance pictures by brightening shadows, bringing out brilliant colors, adding accents in soft focus effects, etc. And in that vein, I am perfectly okay with the use of Photoshop. As a matter of fact, if that was the extent of it, I’d be all about Photoshop being used on 100% of photos in magazines.

It’s when editors use Photoshop to distort people that Photoshop becomes an enemy.

Most of the time, Photoshopped images aren’t perceived as fake. That’s why they are so dangerous. Photo editors are so bloody good at making real people look perfect. And I can’t speak for most young girls (the target audience for a huge chunk of magazines chock full of Photoshopped models) but at least for me, I didn’t know what Photoshop was when I was younger, and I certainly didn’t know how much it was used and to what extent the photos were modified .

When Teenage Lindsay gawked at a flawless starlets in magazine spreads and did not find a single pimple, scar, or even PORE on anyone in the magazine, and compared them to her broken out, porous, normal face, she became so very aware at how far away from perfection she was. And, just two pages later, Teen Lindsay would find a picture of a stick-thin model in a bikini, with not a single dimple, roll, discoloration, or crease in all the places Teen Lindsay had them (not even in the crook of the model’s arm! How is that possible?) And then, a couple pages later, Teen Lindsay would stumble across an article entitled something along the lines of, “How to Drop 10 Pounds and Get Your Best Bikini Body THIS WEEK!” or “Easy Ways to Get Rid of Nasty Zits and Unsightly Pores” or “You Really Look Like Shit. You Should Feel Like Shit, Too.”

Teenage Lindsay did some semblance of research by buying more and more and MORE magazines, until she finally realized the harsh truth (“truth” being the only logical conclusion that can be made without the knowledge that Photoshop exists): every person in a magazine is perfect. You can’t be photographed in a magazine if you’ve ever had a zit. If you’ve ever had a scar. If you’ve ever had body fat. I concluded that not only is perfection the accepted norm but perfection is clearly attainable, because if it weren’t there wouldn’t be such stark evidence of it in stacks of magazines on newsstands the world over.

After coming to the conclusion that you must be perfect to be in a magazine, I asserted that there must be something wrong with those of us who aren’t perfect.

It’s crushing, really, to believe that you are not the normal one in this scenario. Rather, you are the oddity, you are the unnatural, you are the wrong.

So many years later, as a twentysomething self-love warrior fully aware of Photoshop’s presence, I still find myself falling victim to photographs in magazines. Even though I know in my head that the pictures I’m seeing are 100% fake, I still sometimes find myself believing that if I could only look like that, life would be better. If I would just work out a little harder, if I just let my ED relapse, if I lost 50 pounds, if I got microdermabrasion, if I got a tan, If I changed…

I could look like that. I could look like her. I could stop looking like me.

Lindsay, au naturel baby!

But the truth is, I could diet/exercise/cake on make up/flat iron my hair/make myself miserable all day everyday and I still wouldn’t be perfect. I’d still have stretch marks on my boobs (I got C cups for Christmas my freshman year of high school) and pale skin and all the zits in the world and body hair in places I can’t reach with a razor and soccer-player thigh muscles and…

a waist that isn’t smaller than my head:

Same model. Left = Reality. Right = WTF?!

Nope. Photoshop is the only thing that can make your dreams of perfection (and freakishly disfigured abominations) come true.

For more Photoshop disasters, check out this amazing site!

the importance of support.

The best thing about being married is knowing I get to spend most of my time with someone who knows me inside and out.

The worst thing about being married is knowing someone knows me inside and out.

Someone knows me inside and out and still chooses to fall asleep next to me each night. Wow. That’s pretty rad.

After every blog post I publish, I always ask my husband what he thinks (mostly because I think he’s a much better writer than I am.) Not only do I hope he appreciates my writing skills (or lack thereof) but his thoughts on women and self-love are so important to me. Of course his opinion matters — he’s my love; but it also intrigues me because he’s a dude. And I write about things that most dudes wouldn’t want to read.

But he’s married to a self-love warrior. And that means he’s fighting a battle, too.

While he’s definitely immersed with me in the war against self-hate, he’s not on “the front lines” with me. He’s in the background, tossing me ammo and armor and encouragement, hoping I get out of each battle alive.

So. I asked him to weigh in on the subject. And he obliged. Enjoy.

Disclaimer: His blog post is way more “Lindsay centered” than I thought it would be. It’s hard to read and then publish something that someone wrote about me and not feel like a total douche.

Photo Credit: Ashley Poole Photography

What could I possibly have to write to my wife’s readers? She’s the self-love warrior. She’s the one pursuing domestic diva status. She’s the one that fights against the evils of a waffling Victoria’s Secret ad campaign and against a society that markets “diet” things mostly to perfectly proportional women. She’s the one who hogties the lies of a Photoshop-addicted “beauty” industry like Wonder Woman with her lasso of truth.

I’m just the husband. What do I matter?

Today Lindsay and I had lunch with a friend who wanted advice on how to help another friend of his through a time of self-doubt. He said that Lindsay’s perspective matters because she’s been through something like it, and he said that my perspective matters because I was there to help and support.

“Help” and “support.” That’s about all the advice I have to offer in this post.

Lindsay’s journey over the three years we’ve been together (half of that time, married) has been nothing short of epic. She has gone from a college girl who thought all she had to offer men was her body to a woman who fights everyday to believe the truth that she is beautiful and valuable simply because of who she is, not what she does.

And that journey has mostly been hers. If awards were being handed out, she’d be nominated for Best Actress, and I might be lucky enough to get a nod for Best Supporting Actor. (And, let’s not forget, God would be the landslide winner in Best Original Screenplay for Lindsay’s Life.)

If I have played any role in Lindsay’s (continuing) transformation, it’s that I’ve helped her by confronting her with the truth and supported her in her “Lindsayness.” Though I haven’t been anything near perfect in these pursuits, I think Lindsay would agree that everyone who takes up the fight against an oppressive, misogynistic society needs a strong support system.

Every day, the monster fights; some days, it wins. That can be quite exhausting, and I know that my role is to show Lindsay how much I love her for who she is: her curves, her soft skin, her beautiful blue eyes, her determination to run a half-marathon, her humor, her smile, etc., etc. etc.

On the days when my wife wants to give in to the pressure to lose too much weight, to be a size 00, to wear too much make-up (which is “any,” in my opinion), or to be “Playboy perfect,” I have to tell her—and sometimes rather aggresively—a resounding “no.” I have to say to her that that is not what I want, that is not what God wants, and none of that is necessary for her to be worthy of anyone’s love.

Lindsay has picked a fight with a slew of relentless lies about her, her womanhood, and her sexuality. These lies don’t get tired, but she does. And that’s why she needs help and support.the importance of support.

My hope is that you, her readers, will join Lindsay in this noble fight and prepare for the hard days by finding someone to help support you with resilient love.

I’m not perfect, but I believe in my wife, and I believe in anyone else who is smart enough to fight these lies!

oh yes i did AGAIN — ANOTHER blog about sex.

Photo Credit: Ashley Poole Photography

sexy [sek-see]
– adjective

  1. concerned predominantly or excessively with sex
  2. sexually interesting or exciting; radiating sexuality
  3. excitingly appealing; glamorous

A couple weeks ago, I was sitting on the love seat in my living room watching TV when my husband came home from work. After throwing his bag down and offering maybe a sentence or two of small talk, he blurted out a question to me without sitting down first. It appeared he was a bit fired up about something.

“Would you give up sex for a year if it meant that you’d lose twenty pounds?”
“Of course,” I replied almost immediately.
He was astonished. “You WOULD?” For a whole year?”
“If it meant I’d lose twenty pounds, of course I would. I don’t see what’s wrong with that. I don’t need sex that badly.” I didn’t see the problem with my answer.
“You would really do that to me?” he protested.
“Well, I wouldn’t be doing it to you, I’d be doing it for you. Is that so wrong?”
“You’re sexy just the way you are! I couldn’t care less about you losing twenty pounds,” he exploded.

Me? Sexy?

Dan went on to tell me that evidently I wasn’t the only one who would give up sex for skinniness. Fitness Magazine asked 2,400 women the exact same question that he asked me. They found that over half of the women surveyed would forgo sex for an entire year if it meant they’d be a bit slimmer. After talking it out a bit more, I realized that my husband was probably so passionate about our discussion because, if anyone, his self-love warrior wife should have seen right through this ridiculous inquiry.

But I fell for it. I failed.

And then I got pissed.

I can’t speak for all 2,400 of those women, but I can say that I came to my answer so quickly because at my current weight society doesn’t find me sexy. So, ergo, by proxy, over the years I have succumbed to the idea that I’m not sexy. If you hear a lie long enough, you eventually end up believing it. That conclusion hurt to come to; I desperately wanted to be sexy. But I’m not airbrushed. I have rolls in my stomach sometimes. My thighs rub together when I walk. My hair frizzes. And, according to the BMI scale, I’m overweight. All of these things are the antithesis of the female sex icons society idolizes. So that’s that, then. I’m not sexy. My body isn’t sexy.

When I don’t feel good about my body, the last thing I want to do is have sex. I don’t want to be naked, I certainly do not want anyone else’s eyes to fall victim to laying upon the giant monstrosity that is my body, and — DEAR GOD — I do not want to be touched. And since society has now convinced me that I’m not sexy, I guess that also means that I shouldn’t have sex even if I want to (or am encouraged to in order to maintain a healthy marriage) because sex is reserved for sexy people only. Naturally.

But! If I were to lose weight and shimmy my skinny way into the “sexy” ideal that society has impressed upon me, then I could finally earn the right to have sex. Only after becoming what society deems “sexy” would I be allowed to partake in the wondrous phenomenon that is sexual activity. Therefore, giving up sex for a year in order to slim down is what I’m supposed to want, right? I mean, it’s my own fault for being too chubby to be considered “sexy.”

Like I said, I can’t speak for the 51% of women who selected “yes” on the survey. But for me, this is why I ever so quickly jumped on the affirmative.

I envy men sometimes. I really do, mostly when it comes to sex. They don’t have to feel good about their bodies to have sex. They don’t have to do anything to have sex, really. Dan has been known to practically tackle me the moment I come home from work/a sweaty three-mile run/a church lock-in/jeans shopping/whatever without any context. He (along with the other men I’ve been with) is capable of going from  zero to one hundred in ten seconds flat. It really seems as though he can become sexually aroused no matter the circumstances. Day. Night. If we have to be somewhere in fifteen minutes. If we don’t. If we’ve been fighting. If we’ve been watching Passion of the Christ. If I just tried on a pair of jeans at the mall that I thought were my size but evidently have shrunken since my last shopping trip and have thus become the catalyst to a mid-mall-meltdown. Whatever. If I’m breathing and still have girl parts, sex is an option.

But how could he possibly want me when I’m not even close to sexy? I mean, I need to lose like a hundred million pounds and put on layers upon layers of make up and shave everything and wear push-up lingerie and–

Wait, wait, wait. Lindsay. WAKE UP. What did he say at the beginning of this conversation?

“You’re sexy just the way you are!”

I texted my husband just now to find out what that means. How am I sexy just the way I am?

His answer: “Your eyes, your curves, your soft smooth skin, your laugh and smile, just everything about you.”

Everything about me. Everything. Even my thighs that touch. Even my tummy rolls. Even my naturally curly hair. Everything.


Suck it, society. Screw you and your dumb ideals. I don’t care what you say about me. I’m sexy and I don’t need to do anything to be so. You’re probably just scared to admit that a woman can be sexy just the way she is because that would destroy everything you stand for.

And that’s so unsexy.

pray for japan.

I, like many of you, woke up this morning as if it were just another day. I hit the snooze button five times, woke up at the very last second, threw some clothes on, kissed my husband on the forehead, and headed to work.

But when I got to work and opened my Internet browser, my heart broke into a thousand pieces.

Today is one of those days I wish I could have done something to prevent this tragedy. If only I would have been praying harder, or being more intentionally in contact with my friends in Japan, or something, this wouldn’t have happened.

But remember, we are not in control. And despite the fact that our hearts are broken for Japan and we don’t have the answers, our God is greater than this.

You give and take away.
You give and take away.
But my heart will choose to say,
Lord, blessed be Your name.

Click here to donate to the Red Cross’s relief efforts in Japan. Every little bit helps. Together, we can make a difference.


day one!

Here I am, sans make up, hair product, or hair straightener. Check out those gnarly God-made waves! Here’s hoping that I learn to love them at the end of these 40 days!

au naturel

P.S. Who else is totally digging my sweet cubicle pictures?

40 days.

Happy Fat Tuesday! Or, as Tyra Banks would call it, “Fiercely Real” Tuesday.

Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, which marks the start of the season of Lent. Starting tomorrow and lasting until Easter Sunday, Christians the world over will remove certain things from their every day lives (read: “fast”) in an effort to bring God back to the center of their focus.

Does it work? I don’t really know. I always fast something for Lent, usually a food item. But it really doesn’t ever make me think more about God as much as it makes me think more about the thing I’m fasting.

“Ughhhhh I can’t wait till Lent is over till I can have caffeine/soda/fried food/ice cream/whatever again.”

Shouldn’t Lent be a bit deeper than that? I mean, if we’re shifting our focus to God and, more specifically, the time Jesus spent alone in the desert being tempted by Satan, shouldn’t Lent really be a time to dig deep within ourselves and remove harmful vises? If we are really equating Lent to Jesus’ temptation in the desert, shouldn’t Lent be more than just saying no to french fries for 40 days?

Last year, Lent really did change my life for the better. I gave up all beverages except water and, after going to the ER with the worst caffeine withdrawal EVER, I swore off caffeine for good, which helped me kick my insomnia as well. So for the past year I’ve been really stressing over what I’d give up for Lent 2011. I recently gave up meat independent of Lent (after reading this goodbutseriouslyjarring book) so, apart from that, I was stumped.

About a week ago, my friend (and fellow self-love warrior) Lauren posted on my Facebook wall to inform me that she was giving up talking bad about herself for Lent. I thought that was incredibly brilliant.

Now, to some of you, that may sound silly. We choose things to fast that are meant to be sacrifices. That way, we can have some iota of an idea about what Jesus went through when He was tempted. And so, you may be thinking that one giving up talking badly about themselves is hardly a sacrifice.

But for self-love warriors and women in this society, it very much is.

People are marketed to based on the simple concept that we are not acceptable as we are. Each and every day we are subject to MILLIONS (not thousands; millions) of messages in advertisements/articles/blog posts/commentary/TV shows/movies/magazine covers/whatever else that convey the idea that we have to change ourselves to be beautiful. And not only must we change to be beautiful, but we must change to be acceptable. To be normal.

So, naturally, after a while, these terrible messages start coming out of our own mouths. At first, it feels weird. At the beginning, it doesn’t feel right to say something like, “I hate my thighs and I wish they were smaller,” or, “I hate the way my hair has a crazy cow lick on the left,” or, “I hate that I was born a brunette. I wish I was naturally blonde.” But after a while, it doesn’t feel weird anymore. It feels natural and normal to bash ourselves.

And then, one day, we realize that we actually believe the things we’re saying.

So we turn to the products who told us these lies in the first place. We run out and buy diet supplements. Face creams. Girdles. Appetite suppressants. We subject ourselves to crash diets. Eating disorders. Self harm. Hair dye. Colored contacts. Flat irons.

Then, everything is backwards.

Someone (your boyfriend, husband,  best friend, mentor, favorite blogger) comes along and tells you that you’ve been spouting off lies to yourself for x years and that you should look at yourself in the mirror and say what’s true.

“I love my thighs because they are so strong and take me everywhere,” or, “I love the unique way my hair flips up on the left,” or, “My brown hair is so unmistakably gorgeous and sleek.”

So you say these phrases. But then, you feel just as weird as you did at the beginning when you said you hated yourself. You’re back to square one because now, seemingly all of a sudden, the truth feels weird to say.

The truth feels like a lie.

The fact that Lauren is giving up talking badly about herself is absolutely a sacrifice because society makes it that way. She’s sacrificing believing the lies that society has beaten into her brain since she was young. She’s sacrificing what it means to be a “normal” woman in today’s world. That is, a woman who can’t love herself. It takes a strong woman to do that these days. It really does. I’m so proud of her.

Now, after all that, I’m sure you’re just dying to know what I’m giving up for Lent.

The answer? My hair straightener.

When I was in middle school and saw Clueless for the first time, I realized that my hair wasn’t straight like Cher’s and, therefore, wasn’t beautiful. Ever since then I’ve been using my flat iron daily in an attempt to make my hair some way it was never intended to be, that is, straight and blonde like Cher’s.

For the next 40 days, I’m going to let my hair do what it wants to do naturally in an attempt to learn to love it the way it is.

I’d like to encourage you to try this, too. Maybe you don’t believe in God and so fasting something for Lent isn’t really your bag. That’s okay. But for the next 40 days, what can you remove from your life that will help you learn to love yourself a little better? Maybe it’s a hair straightener. Maybe it’s your make up. Maybe it’s talking badly about yourself, like Lauren. Maybe it’s talking bad about other people. Whatever self-hate vise you’ve got (and let’s be honest, we’ve all got them) can be sacrificed for 40 days in an effort to bring you back to the reality that you are fearfully and wonderfully made.

(You know, on a totally religious note, how freaking awesome would it be for God if His children decided to love themselves just the way He made them, even for just 40 days?)

dear self… i’m sorry.

whenever i feel like a failure, i hide in my hair.

Can I be a bit honest with you guys?

I’ve been a really sucky self-love warrior this week. Truly awful. I can’t seem to catch a break from my own negative self-image to save my life. And, to top it all off, I’ve been making some mad crazy life mistakes to further perpetuate the negativity.

I don’t like it one bit. BUT, as my husband pointed out to me, this is a battle. And when you’re in a battle, you’re bound to get shot a few times and that doesn’t mean you should give up and stop firing back.

And so…

Dear Self,

I’m so sorry. I really am. I’m sorry for all the mean and nasty things I’ve said about you this week. I’ve been so cruel to you that I hardly recognize myself. You didn’t do anything to deserve this treatment. Please forgive me.
Hair: I’m so sorry for flat ironing you all the time. Your natural waves are so beautiful. They are bouncy and fun, just like me. When I flat iron you, all of the life and body you have is smushed. It’s not fair to you and I’m sorry for being so obsessed with perfection that I don’t let you run wild like you were created to do.
Face: I’m sorry for yelling at you for breaking out. I understand it’s not your fault and that the cause of acne is way more than skin deep. It has to do with hormones and genes and stress and dirt, and all of those are very normal things. Sure, I’m 25 now and society suggests I should be old enough to not deal with acne anymore. But screw society. You’re allowed to break out. I’m sorry for being so sensitive about it. And I’m also sorry for putting make up on you. That doesn’t help, I know.
Eyes: I really love you. You’re such a gorgeous shade of blue. I’m sorry for neglecting you while I was on a face-hating rampage. You can’t physically ever break out and I love that about you. No matter how pimply my face is, you’ll always be shining brilliantly against my pink (and sometimes irritated) skin.
Smile: I’m sorry that I’ve hidden you for the past week. You really are one of the best things about me, and I don’t know why I’ve been keeping you under wraps. Come out and play a little bit.
Arms: Thanks for being so unbelievably strong that you can hoist me over five-foot walls and pull me up and over rope nets. Yes, you’re big and muscle-y and society says girls aren’t supposed to look like that. But I’m glad you do because it makes me look and feel like I could punch a big dude in the face and knock him on his arse.  Not many girls can say that about their arms.
Breasts: I think I’m sorry to you the most. I’ve been so mean to you. Your size has no bearing on my self-worth. I’m sorry for saying it’s your fault I can’t wear tank tops without looking “slutty.” Really, because of you, I shouldn’t wear tank tops because too many men (and possibly women?) will stare at you and lust after you because you’re gorgeous. You’re magnificent and natural, and I’ve known women to pay thousands of dollars to get implants that look like you. Thanks for being so undeniably enviable.
Stomach: You’ve always stuck out a little bit, and now that I’m older, you stick out a little more than you used to. You know what? That’s okay. I’m sorry for yelling at you and telling you to shrink. You’ve always been the way you are and no matter how much I yell at you, you’re not going to change. I promise to take better care of you by doing more crunches and rubbing bubbles over you in my baths.
Thighs: I’m so sorry for being so incredibly upset with you this week. I’ve never been so mad at you for being big and, after all, you’re only that big because I played soccer while I was growing up. You didn’t know any better. You knew that in order for me to play soccer, you had to be big, buff, and tough so that I could run all over the soccer field with ease. And, when I decided to change my focus and become a ballerina, you stayed big and strong because regardless of what dance culture says, you’ve got to be strong to hold me up on my toes for hours on end. You’re really incredible, you know that? Your size isn’t a bad thing. It’s a testament to how amazingly strong you are, and I bet that after I used my big arms to punch that big dude in the face I could use you to snap his neck in half.
Feet: I’m so sorry for being mad at you for being “different.” Again, it’s not your fault. I shoved you into ballet shoes for several years and made you the shape you are. You’re always a great conversation starter and I can’t deny that you’re uniquely mine.
Personality: I’m sorry for being so hard on you, especially. I really do love you. And lately I’ve been upset that you’re not like someone else. I’m sorry for wishing you were less silly and more serious. I really don’t want that. In my opinion, you’re the perfect amount of silly and serious. And best of all, you’re an incredible lover. You love all kinds of people, even people who don’t love you back. You’re unbelievably loyal, friendly, and joyful. Yes, you say inappropriate things sometimes. But you never mean any  harm, and you usually garner a few belly laughs in the process. I’m so sorry for being so hard on you and I promise to work with you on trying to accept love and grace from others.

I really do love you, even when I don’t act like it. I love you so much because you’re the only you there is. You were knit together in my mommy’s womb by a loving Creator and He broke the mold when He was done. That’s pretty rad.


I feel better already.

i love this girl.