Moral blemishes can’t be covered by one’s makeup

I sat down late Wednesday night to write a column on the Yasser Arafat scarves, more commonly known as Keffiyeh. Somewhere between Rachael Ray’s Dunkin’ Donuts commercial controversy and looking up pictures of Jay-Z, I realized this topic wasn’t entirely pertinent anymore. The scarf is here to stay, despite false claims that the wearer supports Jihad and terrorism.

I refuse to fill modules with mindless text about clothing, runway shows, shoes and Lady Gaga every other week. While these topics are, of course, luxurious and among some of my life’s passions, they aren’t real. A fashion column should extend beyond the boundaries of wearable style, and I fully intend on doing so.

As the saying goes: “You can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still just a pig.” President Barack Obama quoted this proverb in regards to the GOP and his promises to change this great nation, but I prefer the more literal usage. The stuff – yes, it’s all just stuff – we admire in ourselves every morning in front of a mirror is merely superficial. You won’t spend your whole life with the clothes you’re wearing now. But the person you are? That’s forever. And if you’re just a pig, countless tubes of Chanel lipstick won’t change that.

Thursday evening, I was still plagued by my lack of inspiration and creativity. I attributed my ineptitude to recent drama in my personal life that compromised my happiness and the happiness of those around me. Thoughts of vengeance swirled in my mind, engulfing any threads of Keffiyeh or fashion.

I abandoned the column for the night and resolved to muster all my courage and strength to get the sweetest revenge. Before I immersed myself in scheming and maniacal laughter, something stopped me.

Within most people exists a dichotomy of personality – not in the schizophrenic way, but more like your conscious. Within yours truly, I struggle between the vindictive, vengeful, Blair Waldorf-like side, and the ladylike, empathetic and forgiving side, which I envision as Jackie Onassis. When I decided against getting revenge, it was as if Jackie O. body slammed Blair and took the gold medal.

These two sides – whatever they may be in each person – are not your conscious, though. I believe the personality battle I witnessed that night was a struggle between primal instincts and developed human intuition.

That night, I read a New York Times article by Benedict Carey, published July 27, 2004. The article, “Payback Time: Why Revenge Tastes So Sweet,” compiled scientific studies and personal encounters as to why people desire revenge whenever wronged. The answer Carey and scientists came to is that revenge is coded in our genes; the urge to find justice dates back to our Neanderthal days, as primitive beasts who lived without law or order.

Jealousy, revenge and territorial tendencies – these primal instincts keep humans from fully developing away from our caveman cousins. To allow these instincts to distract us from our moral compasses makes us, well, metaphorical pigs.

I stopped myself from getting revenge for one reason only: I’m better than lowering myself to the offenders’ level. Be it because I was raised better, or because evolution prefers me over those super pigs, I refused to give in to my Neanderthal urges.

I suppose the moral of this slightly fragmented story is this: If you’re a pig, a rat or just a cowardly little mouse, no number of retail therapy sessions can change that. The person you are and the manner in which you impart that personality on those around you should be the most beautiful part of you. Kitschy? Yes, but it’s also true. There is nothing more fashionable than treating yourself, and others, well.

I have, for a long time, loved Sophia Loren – her style, her grace and her wisdom – so I will leave you with her words: “Beauty is how you feel inside, and it reflects in your eyes. It is not something physical.”

Alexis Sachdev can be reached at asachdev@temple.edu.

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