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A Real-Life ‘Barbie’ and Other Self-Delusions

Wednesday, May 10, 2017 @ 11:01 AM
A Real-Life ‘Barbie’ and Other Self-Delusions Ed Vitagliano AFA Executive Vice-President MORE

If, for one reason or another, a man strips down to his boxers and howls at the moon, I will most certainly call the police – especially if he’s howling in my front yard. But I know that’s not where he’ll end up. He’s going for a short stay at a nearby mental health institution. 

Now, if he’s doing this in my yard just to tick me off or somehow get even with me because my yard looks better than his – this is just hypothetical, of course – the police will suffice. But if the guy actually believes he’s a wolf, well, thus the need for the guys in white coats. 

Valeria Lukyanova is a Ukranian model who has been nicknamed the “Human Barbie Doll” because, well, just look at her in the photo. 

Now, take a glance at Rodrigo Alves, the “Human Ken Doll.” He recently had his 50th surgery during his “transition,” but insists he’s not addicted to cosmetic surgery. 

 

“You know when you need some work done,” he told the British daytime television show This Morning. “Most of us have tried to change ourselves somehow. If I don’t like something, I just change it.” 

One of the weirdest things I’ve ever seen is the recent story of Luis Padron, a young Argentinian who has spent a lot of money to transform himself into an elf, according to the Daily Mail, a paper in the U.K. He’s had a nose job, removal of all body hair, surgery to change his eye color, and liposuction on his jaw – which I had no idea was even possible. 

 

“The fantasy genre makes me happy and because I didn’t have many friends when I was younger, I submerged myself into it,” Padron said. 

Obviously, the existence of these individuals does not signal the imminent overthrow of Western civilization. No doubt, the average person considers these sad souls to be what we used to call “side show attractions.” Like the fans that sit in television audiences for programming such as The Jerry Springer Show, most folks look at the freaks among us with an amused shrug of the shoulders. 

But Lukyanova, Alves, and Padron are not freaks. They are human beings made in the image of God. A Christian should not dismiss anyone as a freak – if by that we mean less than human. Followers of Jesus Christ should have compassion for the self-deluded. We should also ask the Lord for wisdom. How do people like these become so lost in the recesses of their minds as to attach themselves to a fantasy and believe it to be real? 

In one interview, Padron said something that startled me. “I consider myself trans-species, in the same way transgender people feel,” he said. “I need to become how I feel inside; I don’t expect people to understand but I ask they respect it.” 

Let’s unpack this. This confused young man doesn’t just want to look like an elf; he wants to be an elf. He wants to become a this-world version of J.R.R.Tolkien’s Middle Earth elf, Legolas. 

“I want to be an elf, an angel, and a fantasy being,” he said. “My aim is to look inhuman, ethereal, graceful, and delicate. I have my own beauty ideal and want to achieve that no matter what.” 

His confusion is remarkable. “I want to have my ears cut to become pointy like an elves [sic],” he said. 

The problem is, there’s no such thing as an elf. He wants to become something that doesn’t exist. Even if we grant Padron that there are images of elves he could emulate – say, from The Lord of the Rings movie franchise – they still aren’t real. He can’t actually become an elf. 

What could trigger such a mind-twisting delusion? It would no doubt have to be something fairly traumatic. Padron hinted at this when he explained: “I was bullied as a child, and as an escape, I would submerge myself in fantasy movies like Labyrinth and The NeverEnding Story, as well as other fantasy tales.” 

Almost all of us remember just how brutally cruel kids can be to one another, and there’s no telling what kind of pain and rejection Padron experienced as a kid. 

But then something happened. “Over time things changed, older teens liked me because I was unique and that’s what encouraged me to start turning what I felt on the inside into a reality,” he said. 

In other words, the rejection caused him to identify with the fantasy world as an escape; when his identification with that realm later created acceptance, Padron fully embraced it. He apparently loved elves as something “out there,” creatures of perfection that were not a part of his real-life, painful world. When others later admired his “elfish” side, Padron believed there was only one path to peace. He had to become fully elf. 

Is this psychological babble? Maybe. Let’s examine Alves’s delusion. 

“Thanks to plastic surgery I became the man I am today,” he told the befuddled hosts of This Morning. “I regard myself as very happy.” 

Even though he insists that his surgeries have made him “the man I am today,” with every surgery he undergoes, Alves becomes less and less like a real man. One critic Tweeted in response to Alves’s television appearance that he had spent all that money “to look like he’s been sat too near the fire.” Cruel, perhaps, but also insightful. It’s one thing to be maimed in a tragic accident. It’s something else to do it to yourself in an attempt to become like a Mattel dress-up doll. 

Note Alves’s pronouncement: “I regard myself as very happy.” He has found peace becoming something not real at all

There’s true self-delusion here. These folks actually see themselves this way. Lukyanova looks in the mirror and sees Barbie. Alves looks in the mirror and sees Ken. Padron looks in the mirror and sees an elf. 

Something inside has gone completely off the rails. Lukyanova, for example, is also a convert to something called “Breatharianism,” which claims it is possible to live off only light and air. 

“In recent weeks I have not been hungry at all; I’m hoping it’s the final stage before I can subsist on air and light alone,” she said. 

Well, if she hasn’t been eating, she’s probably hitting something of a final stage all right – of an eating disorder. 

But this is a key, is it not? Isn’t the malady – or maladies – from which Lukyanova, Alves, and Padron are suffering quite similar to those who suffer from eating disorders like anorexia? They look in the mirror and see a fat person – a person who isn’t really there and who is actually the complete opposite of the truth. 

As you’ve probably guessed, this blog isn’t about Barbie, Ken, or Legolas. It’s about the transgendered among us. A man can never really become a woman; a woman can never really become a man. It doesn’t matter how much surgery they undergo, and it doesn’t matter what they see when they look in the mirror. 

But transgendered people aren’t freaks, either. Inside their minds, they apparently really do see themselves as the gender opposite to their bodies. 

We who are not transgendered should be able to comprehend this, at least on some level. Self-image is a real thing. Don’t we all see ourselves as something that might or might not be true? Failure. Sinner. Loser. The problem with self-image is that we often see what isn’t real. We don’t have to pay 50 cents to stare at a Lukyanova, Alves, or Padron to see delusion. We can often stare at ourselves for free. 

So what’s the solution? There is only one mirror that is trustworthy – the Bible. James states that the Word of God is like a mirror (1:23) that shows us the truth. What we see, what we feel, what we think, do not ultimately matter. Through the gospel, we are given the exciting prospect of turning away from what we are and transition – truly transition – to what God calls us to be. 

That might seem overly simplistic to a young man who sees himself as an elf – or a woman – but it is the only starting place for a journey that ends up, not in Middle Earth, but in heaven.

 

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