Coveting Cover to Cover: Why I Gave Up Vogue for Lent
My junior year of college, I gave up Vogue for Lent.
Some people fast for forty days. Some give up sugar, or pray for someone daily, or get really crazy and give up Facebook. I gave up a pretentious, ad-filled, once-monthly magazine. And since Lent is forty days long, that amounted to … one issue.
Writing that now, it feels pathetic. But in so many ways, it changed my life.
I love fashion. I write about it a fair amount on my blog, and Oscar night is like Christmas to me. And I think that's okay. Cliché though it may sound, what you wear can be a great expression of who you are, what mood you're in, what interests you.
But I had gotten to a point with what I read in Vogue and other magazines that I found myself, in my free time, thinking about how I could expand my already-large closet, and how I looked in comparison with the people in those pages and the people around me.
More than wanting certain things, I had grown to want a certain lifestyle. It wasn't just the $400 cashmere throws or gorgeous jackets that cost ten times our monthly rent. It was that I wanted a lifestyle that would provide me with whatever I want, whenever I wanted it. I grew to believe that this lifestyle would provide real security, especially against the anxiety that I've struggled with most of my life. If anxiety could be measured in units, I would simply buy them away, one boutique purchase at a time. After all, the people in the glossy pages of these magazines looked so happy! So contented by their overstuffed white furniture and handmade leather boots and month-long trips to the Amalfi Coast. If I could just have what they had, surely I would be happier, more at peace.
And now, I know why not coveting is important enough to have made it into the Ten Commandments. It will eat away at your heart. Nothing (and more importantly, no one) will ever be good enough for you, because you live in a world that doesn't exist. Coveting is the business of, as my mom has often said, comparing your insides to someone else's outsides.
This may not be Vogue for you. It may be who brings the best cupcakes to the neighbor's birthday party, or how clean your house is, or how well you do relative to your colleagues at work. We all have our unique issues – and mine, I have learned, goes beyond clothes and appearance much more deeply into image.
In John 21, Jesus makes a post-Resurrection appearance to some of the Disciples and asks Peter, in a lovely echo of Peter's earlier denial, if he loves Jesus. Three times, Jesus asks, and three times, Peter responds. Jesus continues the conversation remarking on how Peter will die. (This is very uplifting stuff.) Peter, in his poignant and earnest and eminently relatable humanity, looks back at John and says to Jesus: "What about him?"