Monday, January 31, 2011

Oh Vanity!

Two articles came in my Google Reader today:  Atlanta gave a new perspective on wedding dresses that I've never thought of before, and Steph has an explanation for why Utah is high on the anti-depressant and general vanity lists.  Here's part of what she said:

I’m obviously not an expert on these sociological matters, but I think I can see where some of this struggle originates.  LDS women are like other women throughout the world; we have struggles and sadness and insecurities.  There are also rampant mental health issues throughout our society, to which we are not immuned.  As I have become more and more of an adult, I have begun to see how many people, including many friends and family, struggle with depression, anxiety and consistently high stress.  Life is a pressure cooker that seems to take a great toll on our mental health.  We often need help.  It is safe to say that we all self-medicate.  When pressures are high and our ability to deal with them feels low, we turn to something to help us feel better.  Within the LDS faith, because of our doctrinal principles, we do not turn to the same things that many, many other people turn to in times of stress– drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, pornography or self-serving sexual behaviors, for example.  Perhaps our anti-depressant numbers are seemingly skewed because of this.  Other people with the same struggles self-medicate differently.  (I want to make clear that I do not have an anti-medication stance.  At all.)  Perhaps this also explains, in part, the obsession with beauty issues.  When women feel overwhelmed and empty, they look for ways to make themselves feel better, and for LDS women, fake eyelashes is not “against our religion.”  Whatever the reasons, which I really don’t know, I think we all need to do a better job of turning to the right place for help.
2/2/11:  I was thinking about the vanity thing this morning and was continuing to wonder why the Utah culture falls into it so much.  I was wondering if at least part of it is that "everyone else is doing it."  A few years ago we lived in a neighboring neighborhood.  Many of the people who lived there just happened to not be into "the bling" (gobby jewelry, purses, fancy pants, boots, etc.)  so it made it easy to go out without makeup, or to have very plain hair, etc.  In the neighborhood we live in now, many, if not most, people are into "the bling," and I admit, I do feel pressure to wear more makeup (at least some) and to look put together to be accepted.

An example, I showed up to a group activity a month or so ago.  Everyone was commenting on each other's tall, trendy boots.  All 5 other ladies were wearing them.  I wasn't; I don't have any, nor do I plan on getting any.  I was wearing my clearance mesh top summer shoes that I haven't bothered to replace with something warmer for winter yet.  So, I did feel a little left out because I wasn't wearing my trendy tall boots for everyone to admire, but then again, I don't care enough to go get some, particularly because it's a fad.

Once I asked my mom about this phenomenon, too.  Growing up we lived in a lower-economic and simple part of Salt Lake City.  When we grew out of that house, we moved to a more affluent city and my mom noticed the same thing happening.  Because some people were into "the bling," others felt pressured into it, too.  And if they didn't buy into it, they felt less acceptance by the blingers.

So, in sum, perhaps part of the reason we Utahns fall into the trend trap is that so many others already have, and we feel pressured to do so because everyone else seems to be doing it.  If we're lucky enough to land in a neighborhood where bling isn't a big deal, count your many blessings; simplicity will rub off on you, too!

2/17/10:  I've been thinking about this post and have to make a confession -- I'm not too vain about clothes or makeup, but, boy am I vain about my weight!  There ya go.