Authenticity and the Deceptive Allure of Perfection


Authenticity. It’s a big word and it’s everywhere today. We want an authentic life with authentic friends, even down to attending church with an authentic preacher. But sadly, we, myself included, are often guilty of measuring ourselves against the impossible: the manufactured image of perfection we hear, watch, and read about. These works of populist fiction become our target in real life.

I must congratulate my fellow marketers in succeeding selling us plastic perfection but derailing us in our pursuit of an authentic self.

But no matter how philosophical I get, I find myself going back to the old adage, “beauty is skin deep, but ugliness is to the bone.” So I try harder, run longer, hit the gym at 5 a.m. and pass up on the chocolate cake that beckons for me every time I walk into the kitchen. My insecurity demons emboldened by the latest picture of the shirtless, buff and Photoshopped (as in touched up, enhance, beautified by software) Brad Pitt, have their way with me as I try, still unsuccessfully, to measure up.

I want authenticity from people around me while I try to sell everyone on the Photoshopped version of myself. I sell it to those around me as “giving it” my best, but is that my real motivation?

Do you feel pressure to look, behave or become someone other than whom you believe God has created you to be?

  • Sally Epps

    This is a long one for me. I'm not sure I have enough time to open the can of worms. Suffice to say, I have never measured up to my parents' expectations. It has grieved me all my life.

  • I think everyone does at some point or another. There are moments when I try hard to look my "best". Exersize. dress up. makeup. etc.Then there are other times (which prob. outnumber the looking my best moments) when I just think, who cares? I put my hair in a pony tail and go. But you are right. We are brainwashed into thinking the exact opposite of what God programmed us to think: that we are beautiful!

  • You know the odd part about the Dove commercials though? They try to show women as beautiful, important, and such. But, the very same company who makes these commercials owns the Axe brand which objectifies women through it's commercials through being blatantly sexual. I guess it's all about the marketing, eh?

  • Chris, You're right. In this case they're targeting the demographic with the brand message: Dove hits middle-aged women, while Axe teenage boys. My two boys think Axe spray = no need to shower.

  • Great post Maurilio. Thanks for the reminder…

  • jonmalstrom

    Maurilio – this is a topic that I have become pretty passionate about over the last year. God's been revealing a lot of stuff to me about the way I've been living my life (not always easy to grapple with) and the spotlight seems to be on the concept of living an authentic life. He's showing me that my pride has kept me from being who I really am, and more importantly I've not been living as the person God designed me to be.

    That's really the purpose of my blog – to just lay it out there, "this is who I am." Yeah, some may be a bit TMI (you've read enough of my stuff to know this!), but what I write about really represents the real me. I'm quirky, weird, insecure, unsure of myself…but willing to finally not take myself so seriously. There's so much freedom in this. And I think it resonnates with others who struggle with the same things.

    I wrote an early post that really, for me, sums up these thoughts, "Dropping the Mask": I think it echoes a lot of what you wrote here.

    Thanks for the continued challenges in your blog!

    • Being open and bringing our struggles to the light is a hard thing to do, but you grow so much from it.

  • Such irony isn't it? We all crave the realness but yet we still fall prey to the game. It's just like when we say titles don't matter but then go to a party and flock to the haves vs the have nots. We say we want authenticity but our actions don't usually measure up. We want people to accept our faults and flaws but are we really willing to accept theirs, I mean are we really? We say we are but that normally only works for someone who we're really close with. Outside of that, we judge, even if we pretend that we don't. Rough cycle. I can't stand it. I'm not looking for anything from someone else that I am not first willing to give in return.

  • The pressure, or influence, is everywhere… I need this continual reminder to just try to be me… and to just try and be happy being me.

  • Thank you for being authentic in your own insecurities. I have struggled with those insecurity demons at some level most of my life, especially when it comes to the portrayed idea of what a “real” man should be. I gave up on that pursuit a long time ago, but that insecurity does rear its ugly head every now and then.

  • Promisetowin

    I’m not sure where the unworthy spirit came into our lives, maybe from our parents, maybe from Adam and Eve, but it is the front door to insecurity; which operates through all of us.  A pursuit to be perfect or to appear perfect is high maintenance.  That’s why love is so important, not what you do or how you do it, but the unconditional love that accepts one another just the way we are…..You will know who really loves you, when you fail them!

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