In reference to Carly Simon’s song, “You’re So Vain,” and according to Mr. Webster, vanity is having too much pride in one’s appearance. As I shrink to a svelte, strong, kettle bell-wielding woman, I view my body with a great sense of self-respect. Fitting into clothes without tampering by a tailor, watching my happiness glow in the mirror, and confidently striding, strutting my “stuff” all correlates with tremendous pride with the physicality of my results. Deeply viewing the external frame of my existence has realigned life’s priorities only temporarily.
As soon as vanity starts to hit the mirror, I spot things, like a cyst on my back, a dime-sized, red, scaly patch above my eyebrow, and a skin outbreak around my left eye. Finding a dermatologist applying an anesthetic, removing the lump from my upper back, sewing a couple of stitches with needle and thread, returns me “back” to my senses. Zapping my forehead with a cryosurgical device, freezing a scaly patch, and destroying the diseased or abnormal tissue relinquishes any vanity. Priorities quickly change when relevance and perspective annihilate ego, realigning values and importance.
Though nice to walk tall and confidently into a room, reality strikes midnight on a regular basis to shake us from the self-centered space we enter. Survival, life, internal well-being has vitally greater importance than my skin not shining, my back bandaged, and my face needing constant explanation of “what happened?” I may be lean, strong, and comfortable in my body, but needing to glance in the mirror repeatedly has come and gone. My wrinkles represent wisdom, my stretch lines correlate with mastering motherhood, and my silver streaks that line my hair reveal a lengthier life lived well.
Yet vanity has its value. Without scouring the details of my body, noticing pre-cancerous cells may have gone awry. As my exercise community thins out “figure-atively,” discussions arise about fine lines enhancing as fat flushes away from our faces. With skin care spreading smooth contour dreams, eradicating wrinkles, and touting an everlasting youth serum, we may engage with vanity that overshadows our core value that diminishes our self worth. Vanity has its working order, allowing us to walk tall, proud, and confident. Yet if you thought this song, dance, and theme were about you, priorities await reevaluation.