I sit down to write these weekly blog posts when there is an experience or thought or message that seems to merit sharing. Sometimes we send them out the same day I write them, sometimes we send them months later. I wrote this email prior to COVID, the death of George Floyd, and the ensuing protests and then riots. I had to pause and consider its fit in today's context.
The issue of perceived "perfection" is strong and relevant in our young people. Perhaps the current events amplify the need for us to focus on what is truly important, and not the silly measure of beauty or worth or value that society and social media have imposed. I hope this message creates some conversation on how we measure ourselves and each other.
I think humans have always been obsessed with "perfection." However perfection is defined by the societal context, us commoners have always held up some folks as embodying physical perfection. Whether Nefertari, Clark Gable, Twiggy, or Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, we've always tried to emulate in fashion or style the people we see as genetically "gifted."
Something has changed, though. Social media makes the perfect look attainable. Because of online camera filters, angles, lighting, makeup, and plastic surgery, you can become "perfect" online. Appearing free of flaws, the influencers and social media celebrities of the virtual world imply we should all be perfect. The children, and frankly many adults, who become caught up in this world begin to see themselves as ugly, dumb, boring, unimportant, and unforgivably imperfect. If you've ever seen the TV show "Botched" about plastic surgery...it's a frightening view of the search for perfection.
And, that is one more thing for children who come to the Ranch to carry on their shoulders. On top of the trauma and abuse and neglect they carry, we live in a social media world that tells them who they are will never be good enough. In fact, on top of the passive messages of perfection that come at them, the very active bullying that happens online is brutally demeaning.
At the Ranch, we work to help each child see they are perfectly themselves. That the best self they can be is exactly who they are meant to be. Not like someone else. Through treatment and programming and individualized schooling, they learn to be their own strongest advocates. They learn to be in their own skin.
In some ways, it reminds me of a hat my dad sometimes wore. My dad was mostly bald. He had some hairs he arranged on his head, but it was mostly skin. He had a hat that said, "God made some heads perfect, the rest He gave hair." He embraced who he was, and celebrated it!
The truth is no one, including these social media stars, is perfect in this world.
Yet, as God's children, we live in Christ's perfect love. Regardless of our height, weight, skin color, IQ, or propensity for acne, we are perfectly His.
He accepts us all, and we are challenged to do the same.
In His love,
Joy Ryan, President/CEO
Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch
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