when vanity goes too Far. 6 comments

In high school when it was time to pick a Confirmation saint, I picked the one I did for one reason, and one reason only: her name went smoothly with mine. I didn’t want to have some out there name stuck in the middle of mine. When I went through Confirmation I could have cared less. Each week, going to class was a constant battle with my parents. Even though it was a huge struggle at the time, I’m glad my parents made me go, dragged me out of my closet hiding space (that was a thing, even as a freshman in high school) and took me to class. As it turns out, that saint has had even more of an impact on my life than I ever thought she would.

The saint? St. Rose of Lima.

Rose wasn’t her birth name, but she was so beautiful that the name Rose just stuck. However, she wanted to be a religious sister. In order to deter men from wanting to marry her, she would rub her face with pepper so as to make it blister and be unattractive. That alone is reason enough that she is the patron saint against vanity.

Makeup has been a long struggle of mine. While I don’t use very much, it is still an internal battle to see myself as beautiful without the makeup. When I’m at home with just my husband and daughter, I don’t mind, but if I’m planning on leaving the house for any reason, I’m hard pressed to leave the house au natural.

Every now and then I challenge myself to go an entire week without makeup. While such a challenge certainly saves me time during my morning routine, it also gets at my heart. Do I really see myself as beautiful? Why do I wear makeup at all? Is it for others or for myself? And now, as my husband and I raise a daughter, I also find myself considering how my choices will change the way she sees herself. If I won’t leave the house without makeup on, will she someday be the same way? Will she believe that she is beautiful just as she is?

Most people look at babies and see nothing but beauty. Some people look at babies and think they all look funny. Recently I was gazing down at my daughter, snoozing in my lap and I noticed her eyebrows and thought, “Those hairs are kind of stray – maybe I’ll pluck them one day.” Then I snapped back to reality. What was going on with me that my sweet, sleeping daughter suddenly needed fixing? Why wasn’t she perfect and beautiful just as she was?

The problem, of course, is with me. She is beautiful and perfect just as she is. Not a hair on her head or eyebrows is out of place. Our standards today get to be so crazy, so rampant, so ingrained that we (or at least I) project them on to innocent babies. That moment I had to take a step back (not literally because I highly recommend not waking sleeping babies) and say a little prayer to the saint who claimed me before I ever knew how much I needed her.

St. Rose, help me. Teach me to surrender my ideas of beauty to the will and the eyes of the Father. Ask Him to show me what real beauty is. Destroy these false ideas that pervade my mind and trick me into thinking that I – or anyone else, for that matter – am less than beautiful, less than the wonder God created me to be. 

Time and time again I am so grateful for this saint who came to me for whatever reason. I’m grateful for her intercession, especially in an area that is a constant struggle. I pray that she gives great grace and wisdom to my daughter so that she may see how beautiful she is, just the way she is. But I also pray that St. Rose would help me to see my own natural beauty so that this, and any future daughters would see such beauty when they look at their Mama.

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