She’s So Vain, She Probably Thinks This Post Is About Her

Three summers ago, I read Jen Hatmaker’s book, “7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess,” which led me to try my own experiment with simplicity. For one week (compared to Jen’s full MONTH), I wore only 7 items of clothing AND I completely gave up wearing makeup. GULP. For a makeup addict like me, that was a big deal. Here’s the story of what happened.

Hi Friends,

I know you’re expecting full disclosure on my experience wearing 7 items of clothes and no makeup.

Here it is. Wearing 7 items of clothes is brilliant. I am fully prepared to part with most of my wardrobe now. Why didn’t I think of this sooner? My family also participated and our conclusion is, clothes are stupid. No wonder they were part of the punishment for sin.

As for that other crazy thing I did, wearing no makeup was DREADFUL. Full of Dread. Dreadly and full of dreadfulness. Here is the real and true and horrible reason.

I want to be beautiful.

I want to be more beautiful than you.

I want to be more beautiful than everyone.

I want every man, woman, and child to reflect upon the beauty that is me.

I really want this. I know you think I am being tongue and cheek or dramatically confessional, but this week, I realized that I do want everything to be about me. (Apparently I am 4 years old.)

When I walk into a room, I am subconsciously (HORRIBLY) comparing myself to every single woman in the place. My head goes something like this.

Cuter kids.
Uglier kids.
Bigger Boobs.
Too much eye shadow.
Weird hair.
Cute Earrings.
Atrociously tight pants. The slut.
Looks tired.

Maybe younger. (Stop to ask my husband. “Does that woman look younger than me?” Deeply wise, he scoffs, “Noooooo, definitely not.”)

I somehow accomplish the rapid fire comparison in a mere nano-second and then categorize everyone into a sophisticated mental caste system. (HORRIBLE!) I pattern my behavior and confidence upon my ranking within the elaborate caste I’ve created. Of course, very little of this information has anything to do with ACTUAL SUBSTANTIVE reality, fact, or character traits.

It is all shallow, fleeting, and petty.

I could go on, but this is too mortifying. Basically, my naked face caused me to realize, to my horror, that suddenly a mental space opened up in my brain and instead of confidently strolling into a room feeling ready to take on the world, I felt bad, old, and inferior.

Is makeup really that powerful?

Where am I getting my self worth?

This preoccupation upon the gradually sliding cells of my face is beyond ridiculous. BEYOND.

Of course, breaking through this self-deprecation was the occasional realization that the person that I am and should be has NOTHING–as in NO THING– to do with my appearance, but that internal reflection was just as likely to point out that I am GROSSLY VAIN.

It’s GROSS. It’s gross that SO MUCH of my mental space and sub-conscious awareness is wallowing in SELF, SELF, SELF. Despite the truth of God’s Word that I know, I have apparently been soaking my brain in the lies of vanity.

Ughh. Do you hate me yet? Don’t answer that because first . . I’m going to beat you up a little bit. Are you ready?

A few months ago a close friend of mine wanted to lose the last few pounds of her baby weight by exercising and eating healthfully. Her weight had gradually crept up, and while she still looked fine, she didn’t feel good and decided enough was enough. On several occasions when she shared about her weight loss plans, I heard other women tease and belittle her efforts, saying, “You look fine, or you don’t need to lose weight.”

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I even heard friends try to encourage her to cheat, eat sweets, or abandon her goals. She confided that this really frustrated her. She said, “If you saw a fit-looking man coming out of the gym, would you tell him that he is really wasting his time, that he looks fine, and that he doesn’t need to keep trying to look better.”

Her experience really made me think about the way that we relate to each other. (Here I go with the beating up part.)

Ever since I’ve begun attempting to dig out and change the crap that’s clogging up my overgrown life and heart, many of my lovely and closest Christian friends have unknowingly

  • Helped me RATIONALIZE, telling me how you do the same selfish or vain or excessive things. It’s okay then, right??
  • COMPARED me to other people or yourself who are worse, more indulgent, or not convicted for a particular sin I’m struggling with.  If your hoarder friend has way more clothes than me, my bulging closet isn’t a prob, right?
  • PLACATED me that I’m already non-excessive enough and don’t need to change.  Because composting and recycling are basically all Americans are really expected to do for the earth.  I mean–that’s gotta be enough, right?

Y’all, let’s not be this kind of friend anymore. When God has done the work of convicting His children, then it’s time for us, His Body to help bring about that change and growth, not discourage it. 

I’mma preach a little now and say that again! When God has done the work of convicting His children, then it’s time for us, His Body to help bring about that change and growth, not discourage it. 

It’s one thing to love unconditionally, but it’s not okay to fight conviction by cozying up to our sins.  Instead of placating each other and discouraging each other from really rooting out the ICK in our hearts and habits, let’s say, “WOW, I’m proud of you for acknowledging that MESS. These issues ARE a big deal! I have them too. Let’s pray for each other.”

This no-make-up wearing thing made me realize that I have some seriously CORROSIVE SIN CLOGGING up my heart. I need help. I want help. And I intend to get into the Word to allow the Lord to do some spiritual surgery transforming this head. I  would love your prayers! But PLEASE don’t tell me that I’m fine because you do the same thing, your friend is worse, or I’m a pretty decent person.

Let’s NOT encourage each other to minimize, rationalize, and accept prideful, indulgent, or complacent behaviors that keep us mired in sin.

. . .since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. Hebrews 12: 1-2 (NIV)

I’d love to hear you comment on how can we better MOTIVATE each other to change where it’s needed.

(To see the loveliness that is my face without make-up, check out my blog. ;))

Katrina Ryder
Hi! I'm Katrina. I'm an editor here at To Save a Life. I'm married to an elementary school music teacher and am mom to three crazy kids. Formerly a high school teacher and missionary, I now stay home and give myself pedicures and eat bon-bons, while never avoiding sarcasm. Ha! I blog at about faith, finances, food, and family.  I love Jesus, missions, hip-hop dance, gardening, country music, Henry James novels, talking too much, wearing makeup, and eating crusty bread.

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