Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Real Versus Myth: Teaching Our Children About Digital Enhancements

Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. 
Proverbs 31: 30

Last night, David showed me an article on his iPad that was very interesting. At Dartmouth College, some research has been done to develop a computer program that will rate the pictures we see in  magazines and advertisements on a scale based on the amount of photo enhancements that have been applied to the photo. In case you are not familiar with digital photography, you can use any number of computer programs to change a digital image into whatever you want it be, and if you are good, the viewer of the photo won't be able to tell reality from the myth of the digital changes.

Everyday we see these digitally enhanced pictures everywhere we look. For women (and girls), we begin to form an image of who we want to be, on the outside, based on what these pictures look like. But, the reality is, these pictures aren't real ... they are a myth created with computer knowledge and artistic enhancements. No one is as perfect as the people in those pictures. Comparing ourselves the artificial beauty created in these pictures is pointless because even the most naturally beautiful women are digitally enhanced in most pictures that go to print.

Take time to read the article in the link above. It even includes before and after pictures so you can see the differences in each photo. (Warning: Some of the women are in skimpy clothes. Be prepared for this when you show it to your children). The article mentions a push to make a rating available on every picture based on how much digital enhancements has been applied to the picture. Great idea but we shouldn't wait for the government to "teach" our kids about digital enhancement. However, parents, you can use this article as a teachable moment for your children, female or male. Female's will learn to value their God-given beauty. Our young men, and even our not so young men, need to be reminded that those pictures they see of "perfect" women are only perfect because of digital enhancements. God made every woman beautiful but they will never be as perfect looking as a magazine advertisement.

Taking It Home
Ask your son or daughter what constitutes real beauty. Make a list of all the descriptive words. Ask your child how they know that is real beauty. Can they find examples? (You could even provide a few magazines and let them pick out beautiful pictures. Or, print the ones from the website above and ask which ones are beautiful. You will know the slight differences are digital enhancements and will be able to share that later).

Next, read to them Proverbs 31:30.
Ask them: What does it mean that charm is deceptive? Beauty is fleeting? 

Tell them, "Our culture is a very deceptive culture. What we see is not always reality. Some people know how to act nice, even when they don't have God's heart for other people. They deceive their friends by being friendly and then treating them with disrespect later. And, as you saw with your list, our our idea of beauty is often set with pictures that we see in books and magazines. But, in our culture, those same pictures maybe a lie."

Pull up the pictures from the article and show them the before and after pictures. You may also use the Dove Video: Evolution.

Talk to your child about what they see, their impressions of the changes that are made to each person.

Read to them Psalm 139:14. Remind your child that they (and their friends and/or future girlfriends and boyfriends) are fearfully and wonderfully made by God! He made them exactly the way He wants them. Each person is beautiful in their own way. And, the most beautiful people, are the ones that have a faith built strong in God.

Pray with your child that they are always able to see God's beauty in themselves and those around them and that they are not deceived by the tricks of the world.

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