Guest Columnists

Real Beauty Is Being Comfortable With Ourselves

By Karen Osborne

Have you paid attention to the man behind the curtain?

In the famous movie, “The Wizard of Oz,” Dorothy, her friends and her dog Toto journey through the magical land of Oz to reach the wizard, the only person who can send her back home to Kansas.

When the group travels to the wizard’s inner sanctum, they’re stunned: They see burning fireballs, a green floating head the size of a building and other unbelievable sights. It amazes Dorothy, until she looks behind the curtain in the room and finds that they’re special effects run by a gentleman who is no more magical than Dorothy herself.


Attempting to salvage the situation, he cries, “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!”

Someone showed us some real-life ‘Wizard of Oz’ recently when a number of untouched, unfinished photos of the famous singer Beyonce were leaked.

A Normal Human Face

Beyonce Knowles, above, in a file phot from the 2009 movie “Obsessed.”

In the photos, her face didn’t look like the kind of face you see on the cover of a fashion magazine. It looked like a normal human face, the kind that peers out of billions of bathroom mirrors at billions of people every day.

We saw bumps and pockmarks from adolescent acne, the slight redness in the corner of the eyes from staying up too late,  lines around the mouth that everyone gets in their 30s.

I thought she still looked beautiful, but some trolls on the Internet called her ugly.

Can you imagine that? Beyonce, ugly?

The flawlessness that we see in advertising takes a lot of work. It takes publicists, creative directors, makeup artists, wardrobe people, camera assistants and photographers.

Once the photos are taken, they go to a professional who retouches them. This person, this “man behind the curtain,” will smooth out the bumps, soften the curves and perfect the makeup, turning a real woman into a goddess.

Isn’t that amazing? Even the makeup they’re trying to sell can’t hide everything that’s human. They need a computer to finish the job.

Not ‘Perfect’ Enough
None of what you see in advertisements is real. Retouching photographs for “flaws” is prevalent today. You can assume that every photo in every advertisement or magazine cover you see has been corrected, fixed-up and processed. It floors me that in today’s society, even someone as naturally beautiful as Beyonce isn’t considered “perfect” enough.

That’s why we should stop trying to be perfect. Nobody is perfect. We should forgive ourselves for the “flaws” in our bodies that aren’t flaws at all. God gave us the teeth we think are too weird, the waist we think is too big, the nose we think is too ugly and the feet we think are too large.

Knowing there’s a person behind the curtain means that we can be comfortable with ourselves.

The truth is, you don’t need a camera crew, a publicist or a makeup artist to show others that you’re great. Be confident in yourself and your skills. Be helpful to others. That makes you more attractive than any makeup or special effects.

Karen Osborne contributes to a syndicated column for Catholic News Service.

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