I’m fancy—I might even be a little prissy and I am definitely girlie.
I am a self-professed high heel and handbag aficionado, as well as a lover of all things cosmetic-related.
I enjoy it—I read the blogs, I write a blog (sporadically—you haven’t heard of it) and I don’t remember a time when this wasn’t something that appealed to me.
One of my earliest memories is watching my mother sit at a mirror and put on makeup, and then don a pair of go-go boots to go out for the evening. She was a single mom in the late 1960s, and she got me a pair of boots that matched hers; I haven’t been the same since.
Not long ago, someone mentioned to me that my little shoe fetish (okay, not-so-little) and love of eyeliner makes me a “bad Buddhist.” I’m not “natural” enough—I am too engaged in craving and desire, and don’t have a deep enough understanding of true suffering, if I’m hosting a kick-ass shoe collection and 24 shades of Lip Tar, or I own more than one designer handbag, or I use shampoo.
I’m sorry, what?
I’ve met a lot of Buddhists throughout my journey; very few of them were obviously unwashed, and as far as I could tell, most of them were wearing shoes. So I will take a moment to thank my acquaintance, for sending me back to the teachings of the Buddha for my answers and a deeper understanding, rather than marinating in a pool of anger and continuing to move forward in darkness.
As we all know, the Buddha was born into a life of wealth and privilege. He chose to leave that environment to seek enlightenment at the age of 29, realizing that luxury could not provide the keys to life’s happiness. I feel strongly that while I enjoy shoes (and purses and makeup and all the other “girlie” things), as long as I do not attach spiritual and emotional happiness to them, it does not interfere with my spiritual journey.
Likewise, individuals pursue hobbies and purchase things for those hobbies; at no point in Buddhist dharma does it discourage the pursuit of a hobby nor is it indicates that the only true path is one of pure asceticism.
I feel equally strong in respect to the disposal of my clothing, shoe and handbag items; for example, when I tire of things, I dispose of them through donations to charitable organizations or I give them to people that I know can make use of them.
When I purchase products, I purchase from corporations who demonstrate responsible business practices.
I purchase items made from sustainable materials, whenever possible. I recycle my containers (many companies have their own recycling programs, now—MAC Cosmetics immediately comes to mind, where if you save five containers and return them to the counter, they’ll reward you with a new lipstick).
Responsibility is key, and it’s all about being personally mindful.
The things that I enjoy, and my desire to enhance my appearance, do not interfere with my personal journey toward enlightenment. I have a good grasp of the concept of impermanence based upon the relationships in my life, both those I have and those I’ve lost.
Trust me when I say that it’s a lot less painful to break a heel on a favorite pair of shoes than to suffer through the loss of a 12-year marriage—the lesson of impermanence and “letting go” has been well-learned on more than one occasion.
If I had to walk away from it all tomorrow, I have a strong grasp of the concept.
So, all of this to say?
There’s no longer a crisis of conscience here.
The dharma side of my personality walks holding hands with the diva side, and they both respect and complement each other nicely.
Being a Buddhist doesn’t mean that you can’t be pretty; being stylish doesn’t mean you’re living a life at odds with seeking the truth and walking path toward enlightenment.
So look for me in your next yoga class: I’ll be the one wearing waterproof mascara and lip gloss.
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Asst. Editor: Edith Lazenby/Ed: Bryonie Wise