I’ve been thinking a lot about vanity lately. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become very camera shy. It was a big deal to post that photo of me in last week’s post. Somehow, the camera never seems to catch me looking like I think I look. Or is it hope? Because the truth is, I’m not a slim, cute 20 year old anymore. Why do I hold myself to that standard? Like Bella Swan, why are we so desperate to cling to youth and beauty?
Maybe photos are my particular Achilles’ Heel. Vanity takes many forms, and almost all of them are found on Facebook. You have the 14 year old girls who post dozens of webcam shots of themselves making funny faces and the 14 year old boys who post videos of themselves lip-synching to funny rap songs. You have the moms who post about how their kids say their prayers and read scriptures without being reminded. There are the daily to-do checklist posts. There are the check-ins from exclusive clubs or the beach. Facebook is a jumbo jet flying us all to Vanity Island, and I’m in first class, diligently untagging unflattering photos of myself.
In 1497, supporters of the Italian priest Girolamo Savonarola collected and publicly burned thousands of objects like cosmetics, art, and books at the Mardi Gras festival in Florence-the Bonfire of the Vanities. Any object that might tempt one to sin was thrown on the fire, even musical instruments. Now, I can NEVER get behind the idea of burning musical instruments, but the idea of a bonfire to rid ourselves of vanity sometimes has its appeal, especially on mornings when I’ve braided my 12 year old’s hair three different ways and she’s still not happy with it, or when I feel annoyed at my 6 year old for wearing mismatched clothes, or when I’m embarrassed that I drive a minivan that has a lot of crumbs on the floor. I can see the appeal of dressing Plain like the Amish on days like that.
What role does vanity play in your life?