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Wednesday, February 8, 2006

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Vanity Fare, conclusion

A mere seven hours later as I was taking the same bus back into Manhattan, I perused through the issue of Vanity Fair that had come in the gift bag. Immediately I was swooned into fancying the glimmer and pining for the glamour of the glossy pages that I was skimming. I realized the fallacy of my trivial pursuit and stepped back to ponder how facile it is for celebrity rags to pull us in and sell us on a life we do not have.

For not only were the 365 pages rife with advertisements, enticing innocent consumers to “be somebody,” if only by material affiliation, but there’s also the chock full of photo essays and exposés that convey how the rich and famous live quite unlike most of us. And thus they prey upon our innate desire to be what we are not, what we vacuously delight in feigning to be, yearning to be fawned upon and seen in the same celebrated spotlight that drew us in, in the first place.

It is no less ironic that the iconic nature of the celebrated heroes and heroines of Hollywood is based on pretense itself. That is that actors and actresses are lauded for being something and someone they are not, and that their roles in turn become the personas that many fans become infatuated with. For rarely do we see the real people who live behind the mask of the thespian. Unless, we accept those grossly prurient makeup-less portraits taken by prying paparazzi as representations of who they really are.

And yet, in our daily lives, we too act as actors do, because life is one big fat lie because truth is relative and so hard to swallow and dole out consistently when it does not always conform with what others erroneously expect of you.

The night before my swanky affair The New York Times Magazine published its lead article “The New Science of Lying.” A few excepts underline my point:

Each day we walk a fine line between deception and discretion. “Everybody lies, ”Mark Twain wrote, “every day; every hour; awake; asleep; in his dreams; in his joy; in his mourning.”

First there are lies of omission. You go out to dinner with your sister and her handsome new boyfriend, and you find him obnoxious. When you and your sister discuss the evening later, isn’t it a lie for you to talk about the restaurant and not about the boyfriend? What if you talk about his good looks and not about his offensive personality?

Then there are the lies of commission, many of which are harmless, the lies that allow us to get along with one another. When you receive a gift you can’t use, or are invited to lunch with a co-worker you dislike, you’re likely to say, “Thank you, it’s perfect” or “I wish I could, but I have a dentist’s appointment,” rather than speak the harsher truth. These are the lies we teach our children to tell; we call them manners. Even our automatic response “Fine” to a neighbor’s equally automatic “How are you?” is often, when you get right down to it, a lie….

“Lying is just so ordinary, so much a part of our everyday lives and everyday conversations,” that we hardly notice it, said Bella De Paulo, a psychologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara. “And in many cases it would be difficult, challenging and stressful for people to tell the truth than to lie.”

I, of course, am as human as everyone else and thus proved to be no exception to this wayward course of realizing our identities and so-called worth. For when I arrived home a little after one AM after the evening at the Waldorf, I too decided to indulge in a bit of acting, lying of sorts and plain old narcissistic Vanity Fare.

Feeling a bit empty since I had not fully and duly exploited my sporting look by going out on the town, I spontaneously decided to take advantage of the pompous costume by taking a set of vanity shots (i.e. “self-portraits”): Vanity Fare.

“Do not read beauty magazines. They will only make you feel ugly.” ~ Mary Schmich

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