Vanity, thy name is…


I don’t think we ever outgrow vanity in some form or another. I remember when I was young, my eyesight was so bad that I needed to wear thick glasses. I wore them reluctantly, and would remove them whenever I could though it left me quite blind. Unless I wore those thick lense, my world was draped in blurred images like the time years ago, when I was in a play at a theatre in L.A. Though I was part of the Greek chorus, every evening before running on stage I left my glasses upstairs in the dressing room and made my way down to the stage. To this day, I couldn’t tell you who was in the audience. We could have been playing to an empty house as far as I could see.

Hating to wear glasses as a young girl was understandable then. During my teenage and young adult years I was very aware of the saying “men (boys) don’t make passes at girls who wear glasses.” More than a few times I and my other spectacle-wearing friends suffered under the moniker “four eyes” hurled by some cruel member of the opposite sex or, heaven forbid, being labeled a “nerd.” Today, glasses are fashionable prompting some who don’t need them, to wear them because they are “cool.”

Not wearing glasses when necessary is not the only form of vanity competing with sensible healthy choices. I’ve seen women whose feet were obviously killing them persevere in those 6 inch heels despite the possibility of doing serious damage to their ankles. It’s difficult to look cute when your feet are killing you. But what the heck! it’s the style.

Some forms of vanity can be more hazardous to your health than others. A friend told me he wouldn’t use his cane at his volunteer job in a hospital because he didn’t want people to know and feel sympathetic or worst, lose his job. He has fallen several times because of lack of balance. He’s 87 years old. We’ve suggested a walker or perhaps a scooter. At the moment he rejects those ideas.

Perhaps the worst case of vanity replacing good sense is one I recently heard. A woman who has spent her life smoking heavily now has COPD. When her doctor told her if she wanted to continue her mobility, she needed to carry an oxygen canister around with her. She refused declaring she’d rather be dead than carry an oxygen canister.

These are just a few examples of vanity dictating the choices we make. There are many more. Hopefully, as we age we realize that some forms of vanity not only can harm you, they may even kill you.

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