Last week, I once again felt in need of some consumer therapy. I decided, therefore, to treat myself to something expensive. So, despite a sneaking feeling that none of the outrageously-priced face creams, serums, peeling masks, etc. were actually going to turn back the clock and make me look twenty-five years old again, I decided to go for Lancome rather than Nivea. My list included serum, night cream, face powder and blemish concealer. Somehow, I ended up with day cream, eye serum, "lifting" makeup, and a "polishing kit" which, if the blurb on the back of the box is to be believed, will gently polish the skin’s surface with aluminium micro-crystals and then, by means of a unique Radiance Renewing Serum, containing Vitamin C, prolong the tone, clarity and radiance of my complexion.
I would like to go on record here as saying, that I am by no means an easy mark for sales personnel. If I allowed myself to be talked into spending NIS 3000 (three thousand shekels!), it was because I entered the shop willing to be persuaded.
It was only afterwards that I began to feel angry – not with the salesgirl, but with the cosmetics companies that are raking in the money hand-over-fist, by selling an impossible dream to millions of women. And guilty – at spending such a sum on self-indulgence, when there are women whose entire monthly income is scarely more than what I frittered away on vanity, who have to support a family on less.
But then I realised – it’s the Jewish Mother Syndrome. The guilt, I mean.
After all, damn it, it’s my money. I worked for it and I can do what I like with it! My denying myself is not going to improve the lot of the world’s poor, is it? In fact, when you come to think of it, the Lancome laboratories provide employment to hundreds. Furthermore, the salesgirl no doubt receives a commission on what she sells, so when I spend my own (hard-earned) money on such frivolities, I am helping another woman to support herself honourably.
I am reminded that, in Jewish tradition, the highest degree of tzedaka (charity) is to help a fellow Jew establish himself in business and thereby support himself. Or, as someone else put it, "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him to fish and you feed him for life."
So, Charity does, after all, begin at home.
Oh, and in case anyone is interested, my skin does actually feel smoother. I don’t, however, notice any decrease in the pigmentation marks yet. Let’s see how it looks after a couple of months…