Vanity Scalpel-Deep


As stubborn as I seem sometimes, intent on insisting that my attitudes are more rational, principled, and morally justified, I am capable of changing my attitudes and views. This doesn’t require some life-changing revelation or born-again revival that inspires me to spread a new gospel. And, quite importantly, these changes mostly relax judgments instead of developing new ones.

The example I have in mind at the moment is cosmetic surgery. A common attitude was, and I guess still is, that it’s shallow and nobody should be so focused on their appearance that they go to great and expensive lengths to change it. I extended my distaste for the actual procedures to reflect the characters of the people receiving them for the purpose of vanity. I echoed the arguments behind this – that nobody’s quality of life should depend on the size of their breasts or lack of wrinkles or fullness of their lips – and cast the accompanying judgment. But now I know it’s really none of my business and not worth having this opinion at all.

Part of that is to avoid the hypocrisy, as I have a few things that I would get done if I had money for it. I could say “but this is different” to get scar removal, acne and otherwise, or surgically shedding excess skin as a reward for weight loss. These things are only addressing parts of my body that have affected my life overall, and other people, I would presume, use similar reasoning. I don’t think this affects the quality of my character because I still have other things to pursue for deeper reasons than appearance alone.

The image, the stereotype I held in my mind in earlier times of the shallow character of those vainly going under the knife does not take into account anyone’s backstory. It’s probably true that a sizable segment of the population who has had these things done would not impress me with the larger picture of who they are, and I would find no reason to socialize any further. If somebody wears hipster-esque clothing or has a trendy kind of tattoo, engage in a conversation that organically leads into why, and make your decision from there. I don’t blame you for flaring your nostrils in their presence from then on. Gut instincts can often be right, but it doesn’t prove any strength of character in yourself to go by that alone, and all the people you look down upon will have equal reasons to flare their own nostrils at you.


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