One of my favorite and most enduring Momisms from my childhood is “The only difference between a plain woman and a beautiful woman is God or a boatload of money.” Setting aside the whole “inner beauty is the only true beauty” argument that has been gaining foothold in our culture over the years, I’ve found that, at least on a superficial level, Mom was right.
What Mom didn’t say was that what God giveth, He can taketh away if we don’t step up and show a little gratitude for our gifts by working diligently to sustain or improve them. It appears that the 7 Deadly Sins refers not only to our character, but also to how we look to a society that worships the Good Lord and thin thighs. Committing these sins displays either the arrogance of youth (“I look fabulous and I always will, because I’m just…well, fabulous!”) or the apathy of middle age (“Screw it. I’m 60. Who cares anymore?”), and will bring about plagues and locusts in the form of back fat and butt cellulite.
1. Lust. That wildly expensive handbag that your BFF carries everywhere. Her flashy little sports car. And, if you’re being totally honest, her drop-dead gorgeous husband. You want them all. You daydream about her unfortunate, premature demise (something painless, because you’re really a good person inside…really, you are), where she leaves her convertible and the contents of her walk-in closet to you, and her brokenhearted hubs comes to you for consoling, quickly confessing that he’s secretly been in love with you for years, all because you’re just so deserving and all this should be yours. Be careful with this one, and remember, karma can be an even bigger bitch than you are.
2. Gluttony. If you want it, you can’t get enough of it. Your philosophy is “If a little is good, a lot is better.” Closets stuffed with clothes you don’t wear and shoes you can’t walk in, and makeup drawers crammed with unopened products and samples. This is not about buying lots of things. It’s about having them. Lots and lots of them. Any suggestion that you purge some of your overly abundant beauty bounty and share it with the less fortunate (say, your girlfriends or your sister) is instantly dismissed with a horrified expression and “No can do. There’s barely enough here for me.” Relax. Soon you won’t need any of this crap, because you won’t have any friends left to go out with.
3. Greed. This is a “What’s your is mine, and what’s mine is mine” approach to beauty. You’re always eager to have others share their clothes, products, and beauty secrets with you, but you remain steadfastly resistant to returning the favor. A girlfriend wants to borrow that gorgeous shawl you got in Italy? It’s at the drycleaners. It’s always “at the drycleaners.” Another asks about your gorgeous skin and what products you use? Pigs will fly before you’ll admit to those ridiculously expensive sheep’s placenta facials you get at Nordstrom’s day spa twice a month. “Whatever’s on sale at the drug store,” you smile. And when she asks who does your Botox (which you’ve been getting every three months for years, and it’s obvious because your forehead hasn’t moved since 2010), you respond with a huffy, “I would never get my face injected.” Yep, I see back fat in your future.
4. Laziness. First you say, “I want to lose weight.” “I want to get fit.” “I want better posture and increased movement.” “I know I should wear sunscreen every day.” “Yes, I look better with a little makeup.” “I really need to get out of these yoga pants once in awhile and wear something actually fashionable.” But then you say, “I can’t give up brownies and wine. It’s too hard.” “I don’t like to exercise. Besides, it’s too cold outside and there’s a weekend marathon of Downton Abbey scheduled on TV.” “Stretching is so boring.” “Sunscreen isn’t necessary in the winter anyway. Is it?” “Makeup is pointless and I don’t have time.” “Yoga pants are comfortable, damnit.” Okay then. Butt cellulite for you.
5. Wrath. Exhibited by repeatedly stomping on your scale, then slamming it into the wall after starving for two weeks and gaining a pound. And the first person who says “Relax. It’s just water weight” dies. If you have a particular habit (like daily morning weigh-ins) that cause you to launch your scales out the bathroom window and into your neighbor’s arborvitae, regularly sending your beloved Shiatsu diving for cover, you might consider dialing down the frequency to once a week. You’ll be less stressed, and Fifi won’t be so terrified every time you eat an entire pepperoni pizza before bedtime.
6. Envy. This is identified by frequent, inner wailings of “What about meeeeeee???” We look at other women and their seemingly picture-perfect lives, and instantly assume their beauty means they have a wonderful life. We tell ourselves that if we looked like that, if we had legs like a gazelle, high cheekbones, a flawless smile, and an apparently unlimited spending allowance, our lives would be perfect. Hubs would fall in love with us again, the kids would be proud to be seen with us, and other women would all want to be us. Are you sure about that? If youth, beauty, and a money tree constantly sprouting cash in our back yard was a guarantee of perpetual bliss, how do we explain Hollywood?
7. Pride. As in “unwarranted arrogance.” After years of trying every bizarre and unhealthy diet known to womankind, you finally manage to lose those last 15 pounds, and now you’ve become overtly critical of women who still struggle with their weight. “Well, I did it. If she really wanted to lose that extra weight, she would.” Seriously, girl, you didn’t cure cancer. You lost a bit of muffin top. Enjoy it. Quietly.
Now let’s go work on that “inner beauty” thing.