One of my favorite and most enduring Mom-isms from childhood is “The only difference between an ugly woman and a beautiful woman is either God or a boatload of money.” Setting aside the whole “inner beauty is the only true beauty” argument that has been gaining a foothold in our culture over the years, I’ve found that, at least on a superficial level, Mom was right.
What Mom didn’t say was that what God giveth, He can taketh away if we don’t behave ourselves, play nice with others, and share our bounty. It appears that the Seven Deadly Sins refers not only to our character, but also how we appear to a society that worships the Good Lord and thin thighs. Committing these sins displays either the arrogance of youth (“I look fabulous and I always will, because I’m just…well, fabulous“) or the apathy of middle age (“Screw it. I’m 60. Who cares anymore?”), both of which will bring about plagues and locusts in the form of back fat and butt cellulite.
Lust. That wildly expensive handbag your BFF carries everywhere. Her flashy little red sports car. And, if you’re being totally honest, her drop-dead gorgeous husband. You want them all. You daydream about her unfortunate, premature demise (something quick and painless, because you’re really a good person inside…really, you are), where she leaves her convertible and the contents of her walk-in closet to you, and her brokenhearted hubby comes to you for consoling, quickly confessing that he’s secretly been in love with you for years, all because you’re just so deserving and all this should be yours. One week later, you discover that her car is being repossessed for non-payment, her handbags are all knock-offs, and Hubby has been sweating up the sheets for years with your granddaughter’s 27-year-old ballet teacher. Be careful what you wish for.
Gluttony. If you want it, you can’t get enough of it. You have “If a little is good, a lot is better” on three plaques throughout your house. Closets crammed full of clothes you don’t wear, shoes you can’t walk in, and makeup you don’t like. This is not about buying lots of things. It’s about having them. Lots and lots of them. Any suggestion that you purge some of your conspicuously abundant beauty stash and share it (say, with your girlfriends, your sister, or maybe the homeless woman who’s walked by your house every day, wearing the same clothes since 2013) is instantly reacted to in the same manner as being asked to burn down your house. With your dog inside. “Ooooh, no can do. There’s barely enough here for me.” Relax. Soon you won’t need any of this crap because you’ll have no friends and nowhere to go.
Greed. Aka “What’s yours is mine, and what’s mine is also mine.” You’re quite comfy having others share their clothes, products, or beauty secrets with you, but you steadfastly refuse to return the favor. A girlfriend wants to borrow that gorgeous shawl you got in Italy? It’s at the dry cleaners. It’s always “at the dry cleaners.” Another asks about your gorgeous skin and what products you use. Pigs will fly before you’ll admit to those stupidly expensive sheep’s placenta facials you get at the day spa twice a month. And when she asks who does your Botox, that you’ve been getting every three months for years, (which is obvious, since your forehead hasn’t moved since 2009), you respond with a huffy, “I would never get cosmetic intervention. I just have good genes.” Yep, I see back fat in your future.
Laziness. You want to be better. But what you don’t want is to have to do anything to make that happen. First you say, “I want to lose weight.” “I want to get in shape.” “I want to quit smoking.” “I know I should wear sunscreen every day.” “I really should get out of these yoga pants once in a while and step up my game.” But then you say, “Give up brownies and wine?? Not a chance.” “I hate exercising. And really, I’m just so busy. So, so busy.” “I’ve tried to quit smoking, but it’s so haaaard.” “But tan fat looks better than white fat. Everybody knows that.” “Yoga pants are so comfortable, and Hubby doesn’t care anyway.” Okay, then. Cellulite on the ass for you.
Wrath. Exhibited by repeatedly stomping on your scale, then slamming it into the wall, after starving for three weeks and gaining two pounds. And the first person who says, “Relax, it’s just water weight” dies. If you have a particular ritual (like daily morning weigh-ins) that causes you to periodically launch bathroom hardware out your bedroom window and into your neighbor’s Koi pond (scaring the bejeesus out of Lolita, your Boxer, and sending her diving under your bed for cover), you might consider dialing your routine down to every other day. You’ll be happier, and Lolita won’t have night terrors every time you take down an entire pepperoni pizza for dinner.
Envy. Identified by frequent, inner wailings of “What about meeeee???” We see other women and their seemingly picture-perfect lives, and we instantly assume their beauty means they have a wonderful life.We tell ourselves that if we looked like that, if we had flat bellies, legs like a Victoria’s Secret runway model, a megawatt smile, and an apparently unlimited spending allowance, our lives would be perfect. Hubs would fall in love with us again, our kids would introduce us to all of their friends, and other women would all want to be us. Are you sure about that? If long legs, perfect teeth, and a money tree in your backyard was a guarantee of perpetual bliss, how do we explain Hollywood?
Pride. As in “unwarranted arrogance.” After years of trying every bizarre and unhealthy diet know to womankind, you finally manage to lose those last 15 pounds, and now you’re overtly critical of women who are still struggling with their weight. “Well,” you say to anyone who will listen, “I did it. She must like being fat. If she really wanted to lose that weight, she’d find a way to do it.” Seriously, woman. You didn’t cure cancer. You lost a bit of muffin top. Enjoy it. Quietly.
Now let’s get to work on that “inner beauty” thing.