Saturday, September 29, 2012

on the cost of looking good

Lanvin evening satin broiderier paillettes clutch; yours for only $2,350.

Our local paper has this supplement thing they put out weekly which just, well, just bugs me. They call it "Urban; A guide to looking good", and the name alone seems to capture all the shallow, frivolous ostentatiousness of a modern, moneyed lifestyle, caught up in luxuries and externals.

Don't get me wrong -- I am daily thankful for all the urban comforts we enjoy, but at the same time, I can't help feeling that there's this intangible point, where basic comfort and well-being gets enmeshed with excessive vanity, pretentiousness and extravagance.

Most of us use some sort of moisturiser, for example, but how many of us use Peter Thomas Roth's $120 Laser -Free Resurfacer, or better yet, Dr Brandt's $190 Crease Release with Gaba & 3D Lift (Gaba? 3D Lift?). And oh! I see here there's something called Sampar Glamour Shot Eyes for $447 -- now, that has got to work.

These wondrous items were among a bunch featured in a write-up on "skincare potions which promise to turn back time instantly". Testers had even been roped in to try the things and give their verdicts (I was intrigued to read that while Sampar Glamour Shot Eyes "impressed" one lady, "the fine lines reappeared once I stopped using the product". Well, never mind! The readers who were seduced by this profound article can just shell out another $447. And another...). I have to say at this point that I think my $13 L'Oreal moisturiser works pretty good.

Then there's this thing they have called "Beauty Secrets". I think magazines like Vogue and such have similar features, where they ask some possibly famous, but clearly affluent, person what they use to look so amazingly good.

Invariably, I find these are people with money to burn; therein lies their real "beauty secret" I think, not the fact that they use $260 Hermes perfume or that, in answer to the question "What's the most ridiculous thing you have ever done in the name of beauty", they "flew to Paris for a weekend because my friend told me about a very good hairdresser based there... I spent about $1,000 in total on the air tickets and haircut" (she did add, "I never went back; it was too expensive to fly to Paris on a regular basis just to cut my hair". Yeah, y'think? Well, doing it once is ok, I guess).

Then there's "Style Watch". Have you seen Fashion Police? It's this show where Joan Rivers and a bunch of other hosts give their largely negative, scathing opinions on celebrity fashion. Well, "Style Watch" is like a tiny printed version of that. Except the people doing the critiquing are even less qualified than Joan Rivers to judge, if that's possible. The feature shows some celebrity in two different outfits, and the writer -- who will probably never have to deal with even an iota of that continual pressure to look perfect in the public spotlight, and who will likely never say such things to the person if they were ever to meet -- goes into this detailed analysis of what they're doing right or wrong.

I don't know; all this stuff just bugs me. I recall they even had this segment where they'd take pictures of people at parties (for some reason it's not in this latest issue) -- young people at the height of their looks -- and ask them what they were wearing, and how much it cost. Each mini-interview would end with the question, "Do you think you're good-looking?", and ask them to rate their looks on a scale of 10. And there'd always be people happily posing and answering this stuff. Like, ??!

You might have read my post on beauty here. In it, I quoted Thoreau: "The perception of beauty is a moral test". All this judgment and criticism; this perpetuation of shallow, mistaken notions; superficial, illusory standards requiring wealth that a large percentage of the world's population can ill afford; why do we support these things?

I'm not referring solely to that silly supplement now -- for that is thrust upon us whether we like it or no -- but to other "fashionable" publications that many otherwise decent people purchase with monthly zeal and regularity. A $1,200 Sacai cardigan? Valentino boots for $1,500? A Celine clutch for $2,450? Articles on diets, plastic surgery, starting anti-aging regimens younger... ad upon ad of all the potions you need to save your decaying self, at $100, 200 a pop.

If you actually had $2,000 to spare, could you really purchase that Celine purse with a clear conscience? Don't get me wrong; I'm all for enjoying beautiful clothing and accessories, and treating oneself every now and then, but $2,000? If you actually could fly to Paris for a haircut, would you? When there are causes like this in the world?

As the apostle Peter wrote: "Let not yours be the [merely] external adorning with [elaborate] interweaving and knotting of the hair, the wearing of jewelry, or changes of clothes;

"But let it be the inward adorning and beauty of the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible and unfading charm of a gentle and peaceful spirit, which [is not anxious or wrought up, but] is very precious in the sight of God" (1 Pet 3:3-4).

"Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also," it says in Luke 12. What's the most expensive thing you've ever put on your face or body? For me, it might be my $80 Levi's jeans (I've since found $30 ones from Old Navy which I love). Or my old $150 boots. What about you?

"The Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart" (1 Samuel 16:7).


The Cranky said...

Well said Janice, and so true...with so much good to be done with that money it behooves us to think about where it most needs to go.

AntiquityTravelers said...

Choir over at this end! It seems the more money people have, the more they want to spend. My husband and I could not see spending all the money on the extravaganza that is today's wedding - we eloped. Put the money in the bank and bought a house. But that's because I was raised to be practical. Doesn't mean I don't like pretty things, but pretty things don't have to cost as much as a car.

Therese's Treasures said...

Hi Janice,
It is mind blowing the waste that goes on in this world by the rich while so many go without. I try very hard not to live beyond my means, which means most of my purchases come from WalMart.

Miss Val's Creations said...

Lavishness gets on my nerves too when there is so much poverty and others struggling in the world. Luckily, due to my upbringing, I was never materialistic. I admit I use anti aging items on my face but they are reasonably priced Olay and Loreal brands! Even if I hit the lottery I would still live simply but may upgrade my Honda to a hybrid! I would never buy something like this ridiculously priced purse.

Plowing Through Life (Martha) said...

Amazing post! I truly enjoyed it. We live in a society obsessed with youth and beauty. I'm not sure what the point of all that is. I have absolutely no interest in it. The extravagant level that many in our society reach is ridiculous. I prefer to live in a simple manner and enjoy the beauty that life and this beautiful planet of ours has to offer. And with so many causes in this world in need of our attention, I cannot - with a clear conscience - be that self absorbed. Be good to yourself. Pamper yourself. Treat yourself. But be reasonable about it. And stop looking for the fountain of youth in a bottle. Age gracefully, and live each day to its fullest.

Kay G. said...

Instead of spending tons of money on products to keep them young, they should just smile and lot and that means that you squint and then you can't see things quite as clearly. That works for me!
Very thoughtful post, thank you and God bless you.

The Dancing Crone said...

A post from the heart if there ever was one. Is it any wonder the "Occupy Wall Street" movement got started? It is more than hjust a divide between rich and poor, it is a divide between the caring and the uncaring. You made many excellent points!

Libby said...

So true! This week on the news there was a woman wearing a bikini, standing by the road trying to get donations so that she could get breast implants. And because of her faithfulness in doing so, a surgeon donated the $6,000 job to her and now she can fill out her swimsuit as she wished. And I wondered two things: (1)Was there nothing more important in life than to ask for donations for something like that and (2)If I were to donate $6000 for a procedure that I could do, could it have not been spent on someone who needed a surgery more significant than purely for cosmetic reasons? *sigh*

A Very Sweet Blog said...

I think it's horrible! Designer beauty products are astronomical in price and do no better then what's at your local drugstore. One time I spent a lot on La Mer and was so turned off by the outcome. I saw NO difference. It was the last time I spent money foolishly. It's really gotten out of hand. Excellent post!

Contemplating Beauty said...

I so agree with you so desperately. It's the exact same reason that I won't do What I Wore posts. It's the reason I stay away from magazines, and celebrity news and fashion blogs.It's all icky and it's not focused on meaningful stuff--it's so empty and non-Kingdom, so I admire you for writing this post! That would bother me if my paper had an insert like that, glad to know I am not alone in this media driven, materialistic world that is devouring us!


Brooke said...

Oh my - how i absolutely adore everything you said here. You are right on the money, no pun intended. I love this post! May be my fave of yours...not sure. They arr all so good. Thank you for always being hobest and sharing truth with others! You rock friend. Xo

Beth said...

Oh, Janice...what a wonderful, well-written, profound post. You have expressed exactly how I think and feel, but far more eloquently than I ever could. Thank you.

When I read of the ridiculous extravagances of the very rich, I feel such despair because all I can think of is how many truly good ways in which that money could have been used. I simply cannot imagine how they can take real pleasure in such vanity.


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