Then I looked on all the works that my hands had done and on the labor in which I had toiled; And indeed all was vanity and grasping for the wind.
Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor; I cast you to the ground.
Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.
Between 9 and 14 million Americans had cosmetic procedures in 2011, spending over 10.4 billion dollars under the knife, the needle or the beam.* Sales of beauty products topped 10 billion dollars and clothing, 82 billion.
Obviously, we want to look good. But when does the desire to look good become vanity?
'There's nobody in the world like me. I think every decade has an iconic blonde, like Marilyn Monroe or Princess Diana and, right now, I'm that icon' (Paris Hilton).
'Thou knowest that the fashion of a doublet, or a hat, or a cloak, is nothing to a man... What a deformed thief this fashion is' (William Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing).
'Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature... For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart' (The Lord God, 1 Samuel 16:7).
The most studied Book in the world influenced the most studied playwright in the world. The latter agrees with the Former: appearance is just a surface matter, and obsession with it robs us of good judgment.
Too many of us enroll in a different school and learn from a different teacher: a seductress named vanity. She seems to have the world at her feet, but she lies.
What's the antidote for vanity?
In one word: truth. Add a second word: modesty. 'Do not let your adornment be merely outward--arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel--rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God' (1 Peter 3:3-4).
One day soon, vanity will be cast into a burning lake, along with every other evil. The world is not her footstool, but God's: 'Heaven is My throne and the earth is My footstool' (Isaiah 66:1, Acts 7:49).
Any star who uses vanity to get a foot up will have that leg kicked away. So get real. Eat right. Exercise. Dress for success, but not excess. Allow truth and beauty to lift you. Deny vanity.
To Be Continued...
*I confess to being one of those 14 million to have a cosmetic procedure, and I am praying to God for clarity on this growing cultural obsession.
2011 Fast Fact link to the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. http://www.surgery.org/sites/default/files/2011-quickfacts.pdf; see also the American Association of Plastic Surgeons, http://www.plasticsurgery.org/News-and-Resources/Press-Release-Archives/2012-Press-Release-Archives/138-Million-Cosmetic-Plastic-Surgery-Procedures-Performed-in-2011.html; see also Huffington Post article http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/18/plastic-surgery-spending-up-2011_n_1435512.html
P.S. To read the other devotions in this series, please see the Celebrity Poison series.