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The cost of vanity: paying for the placebo effect

November 24th, 2004 · No Comments

Last month I did something I thought I would never do. One afternoon, I spent a large amount of money on a tiny tube which promised to fix a facial flaw. I succumbed to my own dissatisfaction and surrendered to the cash register.

This product required application twice daily for at least eight days to produce the desired effect. At first I was devoted in my observances. I followed the instructions and then I would stare at myself in the mirror, waiting to see my money manifest itself in my face.

I realized that I had two options, now that I was actively battling my complexion. Using the product could give me confidence, so that I would no longer feel needy. I’d glance at myself in the mirror and smile, knowing my flaw was not as noticeable. Or using the product could make me more self-conscious of my supposed problem, as I continually looked to see if something was changing in me.

For all I knew, I had purchased fancy Crisco. As days passed and my face seemed the same, I wondered whether I had simply paid money for the placebo effect. After all, wouldn’t eating, sleeping and exercising benefit my face and physique too? What if I drank more water and relaxed more often? What if a placebo would provide the same effect as this expensive practice?

What had I bought? A tube of mysterious age-reducing ingredients? Or had I bought into a superficial definition of myself? Why was I trying to look like I was twelve? Was I so skin deep?

Soon I lost my faith in the product and my facial fad seemed silly. Why was I afraid to have flaws? Why was I putting so much energy into preserving something that wasn’t going to last?

Vanity is cheap. But it can also be an expensive lesson to learn.

Tags: journal

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