Illusions: Red Carpets, Outward Beauty, and the Grammys

Janelle Monae, Grammy nominee and CoverGirl Model, poses on the red carpet for the 2013 Grammy Awards (Photo credit: Adriana M. Barazza/Newscom).

I just love awards season! Although I rarely watch the shows, I can hardly wait to get a peek at those red carpet photos. You see, I love everything about style and fashion—hair, shoes, clothes, makeup, and of course, accessorizing. Growing up, I thought for certain I was going to be a fashion designer. In high school, I spent several evenings walking the runway preparing for local fashion shows. Somewhere around eleventh grade, reality set in (I couldn’t even sew) and I set my sights upon more promising academic and professional endeavors. Although I have given up the dream of becoming a fashion designer, the interest in style has never really left me. I don’t have much time for fashion now, but it is certainly nice to watch art occasionally come together in that perfect shot on the red carpet.

We know when it happens. We all look for it. We know when they get it right and we know when something is just a little bit off…and we definitely know when Joan Rivers, the fashion police, and bloggers are going to rip them to shreds on the next day. “Oh no she didn’t!”

I actually get happy for the newcomers to the arena. When they step out of their limousines and onto the red carpet, I can almost imagine their excitement and the butterflies in their stomachs. I’m sure the red carpet makes several of those young girls, like our Olympic gold medalist, Gabby Douglas or the youngest Oscar nominated actress, Quvenzhane Wallis, feel like real princesses for the first time. They get an opportunity to celebrate their beauty and that is not a bad thing.

In recent years, however, particularly in light of last year’s Grammy awards, watching some of the veterans has made my sad. I’m troubled that even the Grammys’ had to issue a “no skin” dress code, and apparently Jennifer Lopez, Kelly Rowland, Katy Perry, and Rihanna didn’t get the memo. Thankfully, Carrie Underwood and CoverGirl’s Janelle Monae went with more classic presentations, but Beyonce returned in a quite underwhelming look.

Although some of the women looked nice, thanks to LL Cool J, Justin Timberlake, John Legend, and Nas, the guys appeared to shine this year. In spite of the glitz and glam of the red carpet, we must go behind the smiles, diamonds, amazing dresses, tuxedos, fancy shoes, and high end make-up. Because of the rise in celebrity “news” and social media, we are constantly exposed to the hardships celebrities face throughout the year. Like the rest of us, they experience divorces, family strife, financial hardships (though on a much different scale or in the form of tax evasion), heartache, betrayal, ridicule, and medical problems.

Inside Truth Behind the Glitz and Glam

When we look beyond the physical beauty and realize there is a real person with real life problems, all of a sudden they don’t look so beautiful anymore. It’s kind of like when the comedian and actor, Owen Wilson, attempted suicide…I could no longer look at him and laugh. This year, I’m heartbroken over Chris Brown, who recklessly totaled his car the night before the Grammys. He appears to be a ticking time bomb waiting to go off, and all we do is watch for it to happen. It’s nearly impossible to watch the Grammys and not reflect on the lives and untimely deaths of gifted people like Whitney Houston and Michael Jackson.

The problem with the red carpet is not really vanity. Let’s face it, we are all a little vain…well at least I am. The trouble with the red carpet is the illusion that we are better than we really are. The red carpet makes us believe that if we just dress ourselves up a little bit on the outside, we can convince ourselves we are good people and have a great day.

Let me tell you, “I have done that.” I can remember a few occasions when I awoke from sleep feeling quite sick, yet knowing that I still had to go to work. So what did I do? I put on make-up so I would look better than I felt. Once I applied make-up and looked at myself in the mirror, I did feel a little better. It doesn’t appear Jesus has much heartburn with this practice. Jesus’ point here is, “Just because you are downcast, you don’t have to draw extra attention to yourself. Present yourself in a becoming manner, and get real with your Father while you do it.” We all need to look beyond the illusions and get real with our Father, God.

Our outward appearance does matter to God, and therefore, we should take care when considering the way we present ourselves to others. Likewise, Jesus’ acknowledges that in this world we will have trouble. The religious folk and Jews of Jesus day often fasted at the sign of trouble; they went and humbled themselves before God. That’s appropriate because God is the one who sees our true faces. He is not impressed with our talents, he is not impressed with the red carpet, and he is not impressed with our show. We find out who we really are when we are in his presence, and only then can we present our true selves to the world whether or not there are lights, camera, or action. Let’s be true, shall we?