“sometimes everything you ever learned about yourself is wrong.” the tagline adorns the listing for a novel by Katie Ganshert, and i was privileged to receive the book from publishers to read and review.
it boggles my mind how true this statement can be. last week a good friend taught at church taught about sin and the fall, and how our God works through our brokenness to shine His light and give His love. i’m amazed at times how it seems my own failures seem to best magnify His perfection, and his redemption.
A Broken Kind of Beautiful, by Katie Ganshert, is a novel about a fashion model with a history of rejection and fear. abused in a way that’s socially acceptable in many circles by a family member who should have her best interest at heart, she hides her broken spirit and broken mind behind a body that is beautiful. when she’s offered love and respect, it comes in forms she can’t recognize or accept, and her journey toward healing takes an unexpected path. the book is understated in its spiritual depth, and the story has a thread of familiarity, in that many of us can relate to the habit of hiding in a desperate attempt to guard our hearts from more hurts.
recently, i’ve wrestled with my love for the show so you think you can dance. for season after season, this girl who once taught dance, and longs still to don my shoes and spin and leap, has dropped everything to watch in wonder as young artists stretch body and spirit for the chance to be adored by america and to gain critical acclaim in the world of dance. i’ve stretched my own level of acceptance as at times, the themes of the dance were outside my comfort zone. as a theatre major and as a writer, i embrace the idea of addressing social issues, digging into relationship and exploring the human race through the arts. recently, however, i have realized that like the proverbial frog in the pot, i’ve failed to notice the potentially fatal effects of a growing use of the show as a platform for social issues i don’t espouse.
in particular, the most recent episode featured a guest judge who repeatedly made sexual innuendos regarding the dancers. he went so far as to poetically announce his physical attraction toward more than one of the performers, and it was laughed at by the fellow judges. i found myself mentally defending the dancers, barely “legal” in age, who had to stand on a stage and take these comments. they were not in a club, and no one was paying for such a performance, yet it was somehow deemed acceptable. the fact that they stood on a national stage in front of a life television audience left them little choice but to smile and take the advances in stride as if they weren’t invasive and dishonoring.
i have thought further about this issue and realized that had the judge been of a different race or sex, the comments most likely would have been considered socially unacceptable and created an outcry. instead, producers allowed what in any other circumstance was utterly unprofessional and dishonoring, in the name of “art.”
i’m chewing on the issue, but for now, i am heartbroken; i feel betrayed by an industry that has great potential to literally change hearts and minds, but in this case, i believe is abusing the young artists whose trust is placed in the hands of those further along than they are, well respected and considered wise. i’m concerned that an abuse is taking place, and it’s accepted because the subject is the darling of current media, and because the young artists being abused are “legally of age.” i’m mentally wrestling with the idea of the arts as a method of social expression (not new – from the beginning of time art has expressed social and moral beliefs), the ethics of using children and impressionable young adults as the artistic “tools” for this expression, and the responsibility of adults to protect their innocence and their honor.
a broken kind of beautiful explores to some level the performance industry, and it opens for discussion the abuses that take place when children are placed under the care of “professionals” who may not have their interest at heart. i’d love to know your thoughts on this issue. in the meantime, i’d also love to hear your thoughts on the book. (the clickable link is an affiliate link – if you choose to use it to purchase the book, i receive a small commission.)