Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Vanity run amok

Vanity: is the excessive belief in one's own abilities or attractiveness to others.
Reality TV - definitely "vanity run amok." Me upon waking - definitely a "hot mess."

The older I get, the more insecure I get about the way I look. I think this is very normal, BUT - I don't like how it makes me concentrate on what I look like.

I find that I glance in the mirror more often than not. I reapply the lipstick. I am back to carrying a brush with me. *shudder* These are all of the things I did when I was a teenager. Constantly concerned about the way I look. The difference now - I weigh sooooo much more, I have more lines appearing on my face, and there are these deep dark circles under my eyes. *sigh*

Take a look at these two pics below. One is my senior picture. Honestly, it was taken in our high school cafeteria. (Anyone from Southwest can attest to that!) And yes, we were all that glamorous in the late 80s, early 90s. Right next to it is the most recent photo (that is clear) of my face. BIG difference. I think:

These two pictures are 20 years apart. Yes my friends.. vanity run amok. 20 years and dozens of pounds different.

Why are we as a society consumed with the appearance of things?? Historically/culturally, when did this happen? How did it happen?

Prior to the 14th century, vanity did not have such narcissistic undertones, and merely meant futility. The related term vainglory is now often seen as an archaic synonym for vanity, but originally meant boasting in vain, or unjustified boasting; although glory is now seen as having an exclusively positive meaning, the Latin term gloria (from which it derives) roughly means boasting, and was often used as a negative criticism.

In many religions vanity, in its modern sense, is considered a form of self-idolatry, in which one rejects God for the sake of one's own image, and thereby becomes divorced from the graces of God. The stories of Lucifer, Narcissus (who gave us the term narcissism) and others attend to a pernicious aspect of vanity.

Philosophically speaking, vanity may refer to a broader sense of egoism and pride. Friedrich Nietzsche wrote that "vanity is the fear of appearing original: it is thus a lack of pride, but not necessarily a lack of originality." This is my worst fear. See - vanity run amok.

One of Mason Cooley's aphorisms is "Vanity well fed is benevolent. Vanity hungry is spiteful."

In Christian teachings vanity is considered an example of pride, one of the seven deadly sins. This list evolved from an earlier list of eight sins, which included vainglory as a sin independent of pride. In Orthodox church, vanity is one of eight sinful and diabolical passions, the fight against which is a major task of every Orthodox Christian.

In Western art, vanity was often symbolized by a peacock, and in Biblical terms, by the Whore of Babylon. (I LOOOVE peacocks... oh lord.. art therapist back OFF now.)

During the Renaissance, vanity was invariably represented as a naked woman, sometimes seated or reclining on a couch. She attends to her hair with comb and mirror. The mirror is sometimes held by a demon or a putto. Other symbols of vanity include jewels, gold coins, a purse, and often by the figure of death himself.

In his table of the Seven Deadly Sins, Hieronymus Bosch depicts a bourgeois woman admiring herself in a mirror held up by a devil. Behind her is an open jewelry box. (I LOVE Bosch)

A painting attributed to Nicolas Tournier, which hangs in the Ashmolean Museum, is An Allegory of Justice and Vanity. A young woman holds a balance, symbolizing justice; she does not look at the mirror or the skull on the table before her.

Vermeer's famous painting Girl with a Pearl Earring is sometimes believed to depict the sin of vanity, as the young girl has adorned herself before a glass without further positive allegorical attributes. All is Vanity, by Charles Allan Gilbert (1873-1929), (see above picture) carries on this theme. An optical illusion, the painting depicts what appears to be a large grinning skull. Upon closer examination, it reveals itself to be a young woman gazing at her reflection in the mirror.

In the film The Devil's Advocate (one of my absolute favorites), Satan (Al Pacino) claims that "vanity is his favourite sin". Such artistic works served to warn viewers of the ephemeral nature of youthful beauty, as well as the brevity of human life and the inevitability of death.

Our obsession with looking perfect is (unfortunately) deeply seated in the mixed messages fabulous editors/directors/photographers have placed before our eyes. I see it as amazing art. For some poor girl or boy, it is an irrational reality.

I am now 37, creeping closer and closer to 40. At this point in time I scoff at plastic surgery. When I attend functions (and lord knows, my job requires it) I constantly judge the women around me. The ones with plastic surgery that is. Botox (too much is sooo not good) - the duck lips (collagen injections) - tummy tucks that will need to be re-tucked in 5 years, and my absolute favorite to laugh at - fake breasts. They look fake. What is the point?

This is what I say now. Will this change in 10 years? Ahh.. vanity.. run amok.


Anonymous said...

You are sophisticated and beautiful... and a lot less flamable than you were twenty years ago. Celebrate and enjoy what nature has given you!

Nicole said...

hahahahahaa - ROFTL - LMAO - Flamable. LOl

Shannon said...

Hey your beautiful just the way you are! Have a great day!

wordygirl said...

I think your two pictures arent as off as you may believe.
This post made me think. I was accused of being vain by a teacher in high school. I was very worried about my lipstick being uneven or black smudges under my eyes and checked alot. I was actually very, very insecure and thought the simplest flaw would be made fun of or somehow show who I really was. I also have OCD and some of it was this horrible compulsion to repeat and repeat certain acts.
I was raised by women that put A LOT of thought into make-up, hair, and clothes. They were very "vain" but it was all about hiding the truth. If you looked unkept then people would ask questions or know your secrets. They were raised or formed putting on this charade. Like putting on a mask or makeup for Halloween. It frees you to act in a way you wouldnt normally. The makeup freed us to act "normal." With age I have noticed that when I dont care about how I look I am often depressed but at the same time I normally wear less makeup now than ever before. The weight hasnt made it any easier and the fact that I will probably see more lines as I lose the weight is a little daunting. I just hope I can age gracefully and learn more about self love and acceptance. I also think that women have been pushed into vanity but at the same time we are portrayed as evil or bad for doing what society wants us to do. I always hate it when a woman caring for herself is equated to something evil. Vanity can be taken too far but caring about and for ones self is also normal. Not caring seems much worse to me.
By the way, you are very beautiful and I keep a brush in my car and no less than 5 lip items in my purse.lol. Kaprial

Nicole said...

Ahhh - Kap - acceptance. Yeah - that's a bone I pick with myself daily. I go through days where I feel - heck yeah - aging gracefully. Other days.. BOOOO. Joys of aging.. as gracefully as possible (and keeping it real!)

LBR said...

Nicole your pictures look exactly the same! (minus the hair of course) :)

Nicole said...

And OOOH what a lot of hair there was Laura. ;-)


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