Vanity is a Drug (Newsletter No. 0)
I saw an article about how ppl are having cosmetic work done to look like how they do in their selfies, and it was another reminder how vanity is like a drug that needs 2 b used responsibly. That ppl, whether— it’s because of age, or a propensity towards an addictive personality, should be careful about being honest about their usage. Like how it’s totally acceptable to joke about needing caffeine to function or alcohol to chill out and not acknowledge how bad the drug dependency might be, we don’t always want to admit that the recent boom of the beauty industry colliding with better mental health awareness is resulting in coopting self-care and self-love to sell vanity. Because capitalism always worms its way into your heart.
I see it in a certain vein of celebrities I follow like candy, because I THINK I have enough control and degree of separation to feel like I’m observing rather than absorbing. I see it in the influencers I DON’T follow cuz it seems less obvious and more insidious, and therefore more liable to soul-suck. Conflating #authenticity self-love with an obsession with displaying our face and body to sell a certain image to others and ourselves, I see it in some (not many) friends I follow and it’s so crazy to actually see the causation in rapid real time— influencers...influencing.
I see it in the language. Stuff like (which totally can’t get away with saying so I’m sorry for your visceral embarrassment): Eyebrows on fleek, that glo tho, feelin’ myself.
Vanity, like drugs, is amoral. BUT sometimes it might make us feel more bad than good, and if we’re not okay with feeling bad because of it, we should be honest with ourselves how much of it we are ingesting.
In a world of crazy robot algorithms ready to obsessively feed our short-term pleasure centers, we should make sure we’re honest about, how much is, “doing whatever we want, it’s a free world”—because how free are we really? How do we know it’s a choice we’re actually making and how much of it is a false dichotomy? Do we shave because we prefer it or because society told us body hair is icky. Are we working out certain body parts because it’s healthy, or has society told us that a certain body shape is perfection, but maybe being healthy and strong doesn’t really correlate at all to how sculpted we look. Or are we not wearing a stitch of traditional makeup but tinted moisturizer, or lash extensions, tattooed brows and liner, or investing in pricey skincare and treatments, or camera filters, because society cares, but told us we can only care secretly. Is taking selfies self-love or feeding an obsession with a certain version of ourselves, that only exists in a certain facet of reality, spurning us to fruitlessly chase to make sure that image exists in all forms of recorded reality. And what is this certain version? Is it the one WE like best, or the one that society told us is the closest to the fictional ideal everyone else is projecting? Is having more diverse models for beauty companies making people feel more included and confident, or is it just more people to sell products to?
If u know celebrities, u ever notice how Kim Kardashian & Krew and Cardi B and Ariana Grande, are all starting to all have the same gist of a face?