Monday, December 22, 2008

A Cultivated Disdain for Vanity

I can’t recall the first time in my life that I became aware of my appearance. More specifically, I can’t remember the first time I demonstrated my independence for making statements of fashion. Like other young children, initially my attire selection was subject to the inclination of my parents. As time went on and I wasn’t reliant upon an adult to dress me, finally I was able to acquiesce to my nascent stylistic leanings constrained only by my limited wardrobe.

It can be said that revisionist history judges nothing more cruelly than fashion (it can be said by me anyway). Viewed from the lens of current style, what once seemed hip, now seems tragic. Understanding this, only time separates the judgment that what we are wearing now will some day in the future be deemed a catastrophe.

For the most part, I never deviated from the fashion norm and I certainly was not immune to trend conformation. Without hesitation I eagerly strapped on tube socks pulling them up to just below my knee. Though I never had aspirations of becoming a painter, I never hesitated to wear the pant of choice of these artisans . Further, while being extremely allergic to horses, I have previously donned a cowboy boots and a cowboy hat.

As mid 80’s fashion began to take hold, I began to find myself in a predicament. You see, the expression of hair as an accompaniment to fashion was particularly strong. As I was losing my hair (not so much losing it but just finding it in different places like the shower drain, and my pillow case and comb), my ability to compliment the latest fashion in my follicluraly challenged state left me on the outside. I felt like the instrumentless lead singer of a band during a guitar solo. Though I could go and lean against the guitarist and shake my head while offering a cool look of endorsement, I might as well have been out of the spotlight. Further I finally understood what it was like to be the page that reads “This Page Left Intentionally Blank.” Not only did it label me with having no purpose, but I felt that being told this using a split infinitive was adding insult to injury. Ultimately this feeling of alienation embittered me and morphed my resent for fashion and all things vanity.

Much like its fashion counterpart, health and beautification (H&B) techniques also have trend-like tenancies. I can recall a famous picture from Tour de France in the early 1900’s showing cyclists sharing a cigarette prior to a mountain climb. At the time, it was believed that the tobacco expanded your lungs. While the long-term benefits of tobacco use* are irrefutable and have stood the test of time, many other H&B fads continue to come and go.

* In today’s difficult economic environment, I have taken up second-hand smoking. It has all the health benefits of first-hand smoking without the cost. Simply stand outside any office building or a bus station, breathe deep and enjoy. Repeat as necessary.


Living in Boulder, the appetite for the latest H&B trends is insatiable. Given this, Boulder is ripe for the latest treatment or therapy. The other day I was walking by a Boulder spa adjacent to an outdoor ice rink that is in place for the Winter when I saw the sign below.
The sign reads.

While the kids skate, come in for a quick
• Focus Massage
• Mini Facial
Foot Facial


Though my disdain for H&B trends is pretty strong, it becomes vehement when preached by a spa. First off, the advice to leave the kids as prey for local sex offenders while tending to one’s vanity is beyond reproach. Second off, what the hell is a foot facial? Was this just some new trend that has easily slipped under my radar?

As I always do, I turned to the Beacon of all Truths (a.k.a. the Internet) for guidance and I was in luck. As it turns out, not only did a reputable news source do a piece on the foot facial, they also blew the cover off of having to submit to spa treatment with their investigative expose, “How to Give Yourself a Foot Facial.” The investigative journalism came courtesy of ABC’s Good Morning America. Though I have not seen the piece, it has all the earmarks Diane Sawyer and I am almost certain that it earned her a daytime Emmy.

Here are some excerpts from the piece:
To keep their feet looking attractive in summer sandals, celebrities and other spa-goers are spending as much as $225 for 90-minute "foot facials," a procedure that used to be reserved to the face. – First, I can only say that it is about time that face-reserved procedures made themselves available to other body parts. I dream for the day when botox can be applied to all my extremities!

A podiatric surgeon at New York Hospital, Cornell Medical Center, appeared on Good Morning America to demonstrate foot facials, and to explain how you can try some portions of the foot facial at home — at a fraction of the cost. - Take that spas! From now on, all foot facials in the safety and comfort of my own home. After I drop my kids off at the skating rink, of course.

First you would massage a special paste onto your foot. Combine: 1/2 cup kosher salt (very coarse), 1 tablespoon Epsom salt, 1 tablespoon… - For those that don’t know, Epsom salt is the gentile counterpart to Kosher salt. While it can’t efficiently draw blood out of a chicken, it can help to provide a relaxing bath, a face scrub or a hair volumizer. Seeing these two salts, which are symbolic of the Judeo-Christian ethic, work together in harmony makes my heart happy.

At the spa, the second step would be to use microdermbrasion (a sandblasting machine that is used to blast off hard skin), which is also done in facials. - A sandblaster? Why not just use the Zamboni from the skating rink? At least you will be able to monitor your kids?

Additional procedures: Botox - Though it is normally associated with the face, on the feet, botox is not used for wrinkles, but to combat odor and hyperhydrosis (severe foot sweat condition). - Botox use now available outside the face? Dreams can come true!

Thanks for reading and Happy Holidays!

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