"Believe in yourself," said our well meaning elementary schoolteachers. "Good self esteem is the key to success," said our high school teachers attempting to uproot us from our black-clad goth get-ups. "I've got mad skillz," you proclaimed during your urbanized-I-understand-the-ghetto phase. "Take some pride in yourself," said my mother during my grungy could-I-get-any-more-dirty-hair-in-my-face stage. Yes, the notion of pride is woven into the very fabric of our self worth.
Yet, according to St. Thomas Aquinas, Dante, and other more modern morally upstanding right wing evangelists, pride, or vanity as it is often called, is the sin from which all others arise. Officially speaking, pride is an excessive belief in one's own abilities that interferes with the individual's recognition of the grace of God. Pride is a sin, a big fat punishable-by-death sin.
"What? How can that be? I've plowed through so many self help bookslook how far I've come!" you say. I hear you and at the risk of blasphemy and an eternal life in hell, I say bahooey to these antiquated notions. Let's take a quick stroll down history lane and ask where we'd be without a solid dose of believing in ourselves:
If the Founding Fathers didn't believe in their ideas of democracy, would we have the good ol' USA that we know today?
If Thomas Edison didn't think he had mad skillz in science, would we have the light bulb?
If Tyra Banks didn't think she was the most beautiful girl in the world (which she is of course), would we have America's Next Top Model (ANTM)?
The benefits of self-belief are obviously enormous. So excessive self-belief, moxie if you will, can only yield more progress personally and globally. Let's take a minute and revisit the idea of supermodels (aka beauty super heroes) and how they can change the world.
My own rise and inevitable fall as a supermodel was due to a lack of the aforementioned moxie (and general awkwardness). Okay, so my modeling stint only lasted a weekend, but I was poised for greatness had I possessed a little more moxie. Age 18, five foot ten and one hundred pounds, I was the epitome of heroin chic so popular in the early 1990sperfect for modeling and downright ugly to the average kid on the street. I learned to swallow food through a straw without smudging my MAC stained lips and had eyebrows plucked and pubes waxed in an assembly line fashion all for the sake of the perfect picture. But unlike the 16-year-old glamazons around me, I just couldn't believe that my sickly pallor was going to inspire anything or help me strut my twiggy legs on the runway... I lacked pride.
Had I known the power of fierceness, so often referred to on ANTM, maybe I too could have become a top model full of radiant beauty, which translates to lots of cash that could then be used to end world hunger or poverty or international bad hair days or something. You see, had I posessed a little more pride I could have changed the world. I missed my mark and will forever be sorry for my lack of belief.
I have grown greatly, admiring the vanity of others since my shameful anti-glam modeling stint. Luckily, we have celebrities who are always pretty and prevail in situations where the average kid cannot. Take heed, as they set the ultimate example for us. Just look at the demise of Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt's sacred union for example. Not once did they look all tuckered out from the big split. In fact, they've never looked better or accomplished more. Brad and his moxie have boldly taken on fighting poverty in Africa with his One Campaign. Jennifer and her year-round tan have been seen hitting the hot spots with Vince Vaughn. No down time for these celebsthey have a responsibility to upholdthey need to believe in their own celebrity so that we can believe in what they do with it.
Okay, so we understand the role of celebrity and how it benefits the world. But believe it or not, we too can be contributors. The more we crave ways to look our best, such as anti-aging creams and needles dripping with Botox-like products the more scientific research can be completed. Pharmaceutical companies always look for ways to multi-task products: it's the best way to make a profit. Creating a drug that simply cures cancer isn't cost effective. The drug also needs to fight wrinkles or remove facial hair: that's where the real profit lies.
For example, eflornithine, a drug produced by Bristol-Myers-Squibb, Dow Chemical, Akorn Manufacturing, and the French-German company Aventis, was first created to treat the fatal sleeping disease that afflicts millions of Africans each year. However, it wasn't released in Africa because no one had enough money to purchase it. The drug was shelved until just recently, when it was found that not only can it save people from dying, it also has the power to remove unwanted facial hair. The repackaged form, called VANIQA®, has been tremendously successful in removing and slowing the growth of facial hair for women. Because of this success, pharmaceutical companies can now afford to donate doses of eflornithine to the World Health Organization to combat sleeping disease.
So get drunk with dignity and fuel your own self-promotion. Not only will you benefit from your renewed self-confidence, but the world may too. And, don't worry about sin. St. Aquinas and Dante never knew the power of wrinkle creams, Botox, or celebrity. Had they had a sense of what they could accomplish by their own good looks, they wouldn't have issued such fatal proclamations.
: Vanity : Gluttony
: Envy : Sloth
: Greed : Anger
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