True Cost of Vanity

Oh, what we ladies do to be beautiful. I probably have at least 1000 different items related to my beauty regimen.  While I’ve been attempting to declutter my house, it seems that the beauty items are the most difficult to pare down. My sink, shower, linen closet were so full with such items that I purchased a rolling cart to hold the rest of the crap.  Really, it is getting out of control. Then there is the weight loss side of beauty that is its own subject.   But this makes me consider the larger issue at hand.  We are so self-imaged obsessed. We spend so much money and time trying to look like someone else; I’m just not seeing the point anymore.

Remember in middle and high school where we are taught about advertisements, and the objectification of women for the sale of products?  I have to be honest. I never really understood what “objectifying women” truly meant. It means “sex sells” right? It means women are portrayed as objects, not people or individuals, right? But what does that really mean? Middle and high school students can only understand so much about “objectifying women;” at that age, we don’t have enough life experience to truly comprehend it. As of late, I think I’m starting to get it.

After watching the series the Way of Seeing, on YouTube, I’ve become hyper aware of all this vanity stuff. In the video series, the narrator addresses the fact that women are constantly being looked at, by themselves, men, and other women, and it is essentially what drives women’s vanity and obsession with appearance.  He analyzes the nude in art to illustrate his point. I absolutely agree with his interpretation. To take it a step further, knowing that we are constantly being looked at plays a role in our really messed up body image. There is an expectation of what we look like, if not met, makes us feel like crap. And this my friends, comes from advertising.

What I’m about to say is a tad cliche (at first), but hear me out. We are bombarded with advertisements that tell us what we need to do to be beautiful: what a beautiful woman wears, how she dresses, how she styles her hair, etc.  On some level, we understand that the images aren’t real, but we have internalized that message from society. We want to be that beautiful, confident woman who has maintained every inch of her hair, nails, body and skin, and nonetheless is perfect. It doesn’t matter that in school we were taught that the images in magazines are fake. The message to be perfect is so ingrained that it doesn’t matter if we know consciously that some fat nerd shaved 2 inches off the model’s waist and plumped up her boobs with a few mouse clicks. We still look for that image of ourselves every time we look at ourselves naked in the mirror.

The problem is we are looking for something that isn’t real or attainable.  I know you know this with your conscious mind, but every time you pinch a bit of fat on your belly when you are well within a healthy BMI (don’t get me started), says that you’ve been brainwashed into believing there is something wrong with you. Currently I’m 5’1 and 128 pounds and I would like to be 10 pounds lighter. Why? I don’t even look fat and a recent doctor’s appointment reveals that I’m perfectly healthy.  I’ve been brainwashed like everybody else, and only now wondering, “Why?”

I read an interesting post on The Belly Project where the author quotes a student saying that this is all a conspiracy by CEOs and the like to get us to buy crap. So we buy and we buy and we buy, just so we can look like someone else, who in that particular image, doesn’t look like themselves.  People don’t look how they look in magazines. And if they do, they have to be obsessed.  That is not a way to live.  We’ve wasted so much time and energy, some people just don’t think its worth it anymore.  It is getting ridiculous.

Think about painting your nails for a minute.  You take a bottle of colored liquid, use the little brush and paint it on your fingernails. Then you have to wait (forever if you are at a salon) for it to dry completely. And if you do manage to get it dry without ruining them by unbuttoning your jeans an hour later, you wear the color for a few days, before it starts to flake, peel and chip off the day you wash any dishes. What is the freaking point of that? It looks pretty? Is that the best you can come up with? See, and all this occurred to me right after I spent 30 dollars for an ocean blue mani/pedi.  There is no point. Sure, removing dead skin is nice, so are foot and hand massages. But the polish? An absolutely pointless endeavor.  And we have hundreds, if not thousands of similar, pointless rituals: pointless vanity rituals.

Am I saying that I am the perfect human who avoids all vanity rituals? No. Will I ever avoid all pointless vanity rituals? No. I really prefer having two eyebrows. (Then again, who says I have to). But if you need to save time, money, and energy, your vanity may just be the place to look.

Next week I’m going to be talking about how to find balance between perfection and reality… stay tuned, have a great weekend, and I’ll see you on Monday.