John Donne versus the L’Oreal lie

No man is an island



No man is an island entire of itself; every man
is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;
if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe
is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as
well as any manner of thy friends or of thine
own were; any man’s death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind.
And therefore never send to know for whom
the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

John Donne

I’m sure you’ve probably hear the first line if not the entire poem; Hemingway used the final line for his novel on the Spanish civil war.

Now we have Donne, where does L’Oreal come in?

(I must confess right now, as an aside, that I am one of those tree-hugging hippy types, but I can assure you I do use deodorant, am not an ascetic and do eat meat at times. I just object to unneccessary testing of cosmetics on animals; I can see the case for medicines but am sure there is a better way.)

You’ve almost certainly seen the ads that feature an airbrushed, glossy, impossibly perfectly featured bimbo or himbo, advertising some gloop or other than promises everything but making you tea in the mornings, and end with the words, “Because you’re worth it!”. I usually scream at the TV, “And the bunnies aren’t?”

Now, me and rabbits have an odd relationship. I have a very nasty scar on my hand left by a pet rabbit when I was about two. They are not my favourite beast. I handle wild rabbits from time to time, and have never been bitten but I am in no illusion that bunnies are all sweetness and light. Attila the Rabbit made sure of that. But that said, no animal should have to suffer for face cream; the fact that the product is shite is irrelevant. It still wouldn’t be right even if it did knock twenty years off your face over night.

It’s the “Because you’re worth it!” I take especial issue over. Why should I be worth it? It’s all about consumerism, in the end, and about convincing people to spend money they don’t have in the belief that this will bolster or express their self worth. It is, in the end about focussing  purely on the “I”.

  And this is what creates the problems we see all around us. Well, some of them anyway. We are interconnected, and yet we constantly deny it. Things I do affect every living thing, even if I never see it. The words I write may have an effect I can’t tell. And the same with everyone else. We cannot know how we affect others.

And this is important to remember. I’m not being sentimental here or Pollyanna-ish. Remember, I’m a lifelong depressive; I have my first run-in with it when I was six years old. Most people who know me from work don’t realise I am ill; I don’t talk about it and I seldom show it. This is for complex reasons, not the least of which is that work is NOT the place to discuss it! I try to stay positive; I smile at random strangers. 

I am worth it but so are you and you and you and everyone; to get what I want or dream about I will not trample on the dreams of others. This in the end is the L’Oreal lie, that you and only you are worth it; this is the lie of believing the world or the universe revolves around you and only you. We are all in this together and we need to remember that we are ONE people, the people of the Earth and we must help each other, in whatever ways we can. 

Because I am less when you are less; I hurt when you hurt, even if I don’t know why. The closer the person the more powerful the effect. There are said to be six degrees of separation between any two people on earth; I don’t know how true this is in reality, but in essence I agree. This is why people you never meet can have such a profound effect on you. This is why the internet is such a powerful thing.

Let’s remember today our connectedness.   


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