Billy the Billboard

Victoria's Perfect Bodies, Rene Z's Face+The Truly Perfect Body

You've probably seen it by now----10 young women
posed casually in underwear while "The Perfect Body" hovers in the center of the spread. We don't notice the underwear at all, of course. Victoria's Secret is not selling underwear. Their new campaign is all about selling bodies. 

I had a perfect body like that once. For a year, maybe two. All I did to get it was to stop eating. Almost entirely. 

So---these models' bodies are perfect----for what? For selling underwear, maybe? (And--perfect for igniting a national firestorm!) Because we all know just by looking that they are far from perfect for much else. Not perfect for any kind of work or sports or athletics. Not perfect for bringing children into the world.
Not perfect for anything requiring strength, endurance, even simply the energy to get through the day. Look closely.

This same week, I've looked at Rene Zellweger's new face a dozen times already, fascinated and horrified along with nearly everyone else. I cannot help but mourn for her. For all of us.

What are we doing?

We've  come to see our faces and bodies as plastic, man-made material to be shaped and hacked for our whims, our needs, and for others' greed.  

It makes sense. If we are no longer God-made, God-sustained, God-loved, we must find other meaning and value for out bodies and faces. 

For the consumer, bodies are billboards, auctioned off to the highest bidder,

                                                            (Billy the Billboard)

For the technophile and transhumanist, bodies are machines, their failing flesh perfected by metal and gears.

For the aging, bodies and faces are skin to be nipped, tightened and plumped to a facsimile of who we think we once were. 

For the fashion industry, bodies are hangers, the clavicle spaced just right for a designer's drape. 

For athletes and spectators, bodies are meat-and-muscle, bred for bulk or height or heft.

And this is only the start. For too many, our bodies are commodities, and everyone is after "perfect." The highest good, is that we feel good about ourselves. (See Rene Z.'s explanation of her new look here))

I'm not young anymore. I’m trying hard to feel good about myself too, and my increasing, visible changes, but feeling good isn’t enough. I've read articles that instruct women to start their day by standing in front of the mirror, wrapping their arms around  themselves, and reciting, “I love you! You're so beautiful!” for as many times as they need. 

 Surely there’s more to feeling good about ourselves than feeling good about ourselves. I think there is.  I see it on the faces of a few women I know in their 70’s and 80’s, women with wide waists, sagging chests and creased, smiling faces, faces brightly turned to others. These are women who feel good about themselves, but clearly they feel even better about others. 

 My vanity still props me against the mirror every morning massaging high- promise creams into the latest creases and lines. I’m always trying to lose 10 pounds. I  wear shocking red lipstick, splurge occasionally on a fru-fru coat, fret about my varicose veins. I still want to look and feel good.  But more than this and more than ever, I want to BE good.  I want to be the kind of person who sees beyond herself  to others around her. The kind who loves her neighbor like herself, who knows her body is not hers alone but is meant for the good of others. That kind who does for her neighbor what she would like them to do for her, two golden rules that never show their weight or their age. 

Until we know whose bodies these are and what they're for, we'll always get it wrong. 

But when we see women who get it right,  it's so beautiful and perfect---

we should put it on a billboard. 

We should even start a campaign. 

"The Perfect Body"


Cyborgs,SuperModels+ Billy the Billboard:10 Ways to Hack the Body (of Christ)


  I dreaded going to bed that year. Every night I would lie down tentatively, my stomach gnawing. I knew I wouldn't sleep without food. I could function during the day without food, but not at night. And, of course, I couldn't eat. That's the sickness. It is almost impossible to eat. 
      I had no food in my room or money to buy food----but my roommates had a fridge. And one of them had peanut butter. I would wait until everyone was in bed and would sneak to the fridge, my toes cracking in the silence. Furtively, I would grab the jar and a spoon, my heart pounding, and eat several mouthfuls, then put it back and slink to my room and bed, finally to sleep. I did not do this every night, just the nights I had to. One night I opened the jar and found a note inside: "Be sure your sins will find you out."
   I was caught. Guilty. I never ate her peanut butter again. I just kept starving myself.  But the sin I felt guilty for was the wrong sin. My sin wasn't stealing. It was hating my body and trying to make it disappear. 
   We have so many ways of hating our bodies.  Have you seen them?

Bestselling books tell us how:

 The 4-Hour Body:

From the website:

"Thinner, bigger, faster, stronger . . . .  Is it possible to reach your genetic potential in 6 months?
Sleep 2 hours a day and perform better than on 8 hours?
Indeed, and much more! The 4-Hour Body is the result of an obsessive quest, spanning more than a decade, to  hack the human body."

For women, hacking the body looks a little different.

So we have competitive shows –the Biggest Loser---that hack the body in alarmingly short periods of time. (And now poor Rachel is the object of worry and scorn.) But what do we expect when the body is the enemy that must be starved and hacked and exercised 6 hours a day?
Or-----simply starved. 

 But we know that perfect, hacked bodies are very useful---for selling things: 

And we don't need whole bodies and faces. Just pieces of bodies are enough.  

These perfect bodies can be used to sell anything, even 

Yes, cancer research . ....
(But, thank goodness, some industries are safe, beyond sexualizing. What can they do to my family's occupation----commercial salmon fishing in Alaska??)


Who knew?? 

And—down that same road, instead of using bodies in ads, why not use the body AS an ad, like "Billy the Billboard," who auctions off space on his face and body to the highest bidder.

OR---there’s another direction we can go. We can overcome the limits of these fleshly bodies by slicing them open and inserting transdermal implants. 

These are real life people—who do indeed call themselves cyborgs,  a subset of transhumananism: man and machine as one being. Man's mind is really only the useful part. The body? Oh so much better as a machine. 

And when the body and face start aging, we can hack that another way too:

Some of this is new---but under the skin of it, we’ve been doing it for millennia.

We've believed for thousands of years that this body is mine. Your body is yours.  It's my property. I can do what I like with it. I can hack it, starve it, sell it, pierce it, scar it, ink it, magnetize it …. It’s mine. (And after 6 years of pregnancies and 6 years of nursing,I wanted my own body back soooo badly!!)

At the heart of all of this, in what might look like a glorification of the body and the celebration of the body and its beauty and sexuality---in fact, it’s the opposite. For all of our modernity and all of our technological advances---we hate our bodies now more than ever. The faster and further we pursue technology, the more we resent our fleshly mortal humanness, which limits our true potential. (We could be so  much MORE!! 2 hours of sleep!)

It  sounds just a little familiar . …
"One bright morning when this life is over, I'll fly away
WHen the shadows of this life have gone, I'll fly away
Like a bird from these prison walls I'll fly . . .
I'll fly away . . .. " 

  And there we are----us good Christian people dreaming of wings and halos and a fleecy airy heaven in the same company with cyborgs, transhumanists, supermodels and Madison Avenue,  all of us either turning the body into a commodity, or ignoring it altogether, and eating whatever we want, allowing ourselves to mushroom into diabetes and ill health, unable even to climb the stairs. We long for another because we're wasting the gift we've been given. 

Dear Friends, as someone has said, "We do not have bodies; we are bodies."
And so shall we ever be. We will never not be a body.
Nor do we own our bodies, ourselves. 
"Or -----didn’t you realize that your body is a sacred place, the place of the Holy Spirit? Don’t you see that you can’t live however you please, squandering what God paid such a high price for? The physical part of you is not some piece of property belonging to the spiritual part of you. God owns the whole works. So let people see God in and through your body."  (1 Cor. 6, The Message)

Did you hear that?

God owns the whole works."

"Let people see God in and through your body."

I am working on this, too. 

Friend, don't punish what God loves.

Don’t despise what God made.
Don’t trash what God cherishes.
When you do that, when you hurt your body, you’re hurting all of us, the Body of Christ. Our body.
Don’t you know? 

Don’t you know??
Your body’s not yours. Love it like it’s God’s. 

Because it is.