Vanity: A Celebration of Separation 

I wonder what Aryn Drake-Lee was thinking 13 years ago when she married Jesse Williams. I wonder what he was thinking, too, but it’s irrelevant. He’s leaving. She’s not putting up with anymore BS. It’s about time. Let’s celebrate. 

Jesse caught people’s attention as a new, pretty face on Grey’s Anatomy (ABC). He joined the cast well after the show established itself and creator extraordinaire Shonda Rhimes. Within the last two years, Jesse has been able to use his name and words to speak up for Black people and against police brutality. He won a BET award. Gave a “fiery” speech. People were inspired. I watched. He thanked his wife. Let’s celebrate!

Something was wrong. 

Williams has received undue attention because he is a mixed black man with light eyes. In some pictures they look blue, in others, green. Who cares? This is not his talent. His talent is convincing people he’s telling the truth. Let’s celebrate! 

He’s a good speaker. He used to be a teacher. You have to be convincing. His ability to perform in front of a class is imaginable. It’s NOT rare to find beautiful or attractive people working in education, they exist everywhere. Let’s celebrate!

“It’s the heart that matters most.”

~Nichiren Daishonin 

It’s also not rare for a man to grow his ego 100 times the size of his heart. It’s not rare for a man to want to be with other people when he’s been in a long term relationship. It’s not rare for vows to be broken and contracts reneged. It’s not rare that someone fall for the trappings of celebrity. What is rare are people who stand (stubbornly) behind their values. People who refuse to surrender to Ego and are able to check themselves. People who see the value in those who have offered unconditional support through many years and changes. Let’s celebrate!

But a lot of folks out there think they are better than, or above, the partners they draw. What is our own worth once we have betrayed ourselves for vanity? Why did we attract this person, what did we need from them, how did we treat them, where do we go from here. Or, I’ve improved so much, how do I leave them? I would never advocate that anyone remain in a relationship that does not work for them, detracts from their development, or causes harm. But for what (or whom) is worth changing ourselves? This question would apply to all persons in the relationship. It’s not about making changes someone else has laid out for you. It’s about identifying what you have to alter about yourself in order to be happy. Let’s celebrate!

So, if the Williams’ need to break up, then more power to them. If you need to part from someone, challenge them with your absence. Take some quiet time to reflect on whether or not you want them in your life. You don’t NEED someone to validate you. If anything, they’ll deplete any reserve you have and not apologize, or realize. And their green-blue eyes won’t save them from their own delusion that the color of ones eyes makes them more desirable. If anything, perpetuating beauty myths and theories of attraction will only backfire as a symptom of manufactured partnerships and desperation.

We cannot simply be in the business of telling people what they should do. We have to be an example of it. Otherwise it’s akin to the hypocrisy felt in adolescence. Adults must adult. Define it and move from there. 

It’s devastating to experience this type of loss. It’s disappointing to hear words and see actions that contradict them. Do something worthy of celebration! Build something lasting! Be honest with yourself and others. 

Celebrities are NOT role models. Actors, directors, producers, artists, and writers can be role models. Celebrities can be elevated and destroyed in the same breathe. Celebrity changes your brain. It hurts people. We don’t do that to people we love. 

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