The seven deadly sins are a list of capital vices canonized by Pope Gregory the Great in the 6th century: pride, envy, sadness (which was later changed to sloth), gluttony, anger, lust and greed. I’ll admit this particular grouping of verboten nouns is pretty much the precise cocktail of emotions I experience on an average weekday, which suggests that perhaps their reputation isn’t as baldly black and white as history makes them out to be.
There is nuance to any vice — a reality that History Professor Aviad Kleinberg explores in his book 7 Deadly Sins: A Very Partial List. To quote Harvard University Press: “What is wrong with a little sloth? Where would haute cuisine be without gluttony? Where would we all be without our parents’ lust?”
The same probing questions can be applied to any perceived fault, hence the reason Vices Month on Man Repeller came to be. In honor of this sentiment, a seven deadly sins fashion editorial was born, replete with outfits inspired by each so-called transgression to celebrate them for the positives that accompany any and all negatives. Keep scrolling to see them all and read my impassioned explanations for why these infamous vices are not without merit.
I suppose my biggest bone to pick with this particular sin is that there’s a big difference between pride and egotism — the latter of which I would define as pride void of humility. I am (humbly, I hope) proud of so many things, a few of which I will delineate here because I’m a cheeseball: my writing (most of the time); my style (when it feels especially “me”); my newfound ability to make really good French toast (I’ve only burnt one slice so far); my aptitude for reading other people and better empathizing with them as a result (though occasionally I get so wrapped up in trying to interpret what someone else is thinking that I overanalyze, but that’s a train of thought for another time); and my refusal to indulge in millennial flakiness (I may not want to show up, but I always will. TYSM for inviting me.)
Envy has displayed a strong potential to motivate me on more than one occasion, and maybe it’s taboo to admit, but I’m not mad that it seems to have that effect. If desiring something someone else has emboldens me to work harder, speak up, ask, pursue self-improvement and put myself out there more, I wouldn’t call it a vice so much as mechanism for modeling myself off of something I perceive as preferable — and, in some cases, deserved. I don’t think I would have studied half as hard in school, sent nearly as many cold emails about job openings my first year out of college, or asked for a single raise if it wasn’t for the little splinters of envy that lodged their way into the squishy parts of my psyche and told me there was a chance I could have exactly what I wanted, if only I put in the effort.
Lust is defined as a “very strong sexual desire,” to which I say: “So?”
I didn’t intend to play favorites, but sloth might be my favorite deadly sin. For one, it immediately makes me think of the beloved arboreal mammal famed for slow movement and hanging upside down. But also, slothfulness — when deployed in moderation (a caveat that probably applies to all potential vices) — is one of life’s greatest pleasures. There are few things more restorative, more necessary, more harmlessly indulgent, than spending an entire day just “vegging,” as my mom likes to call it. And vegging can actually be quite challenging to accomplish given all the things to do, people to see, texts to respond to and bicep curls to execute, but giving yourself permission to try can be worthwhile in its own right.
Gluttony’s bad rap is likely owed to its association with eating past the point of tummy-ache (which honestly isn’t that big of a deal if it happens on special occasions), but enthusiastic consumption isn’t a bad thing in and of itself — it all depends on what you’re consuming. I, for one, am attempting to be a glutton for books in 2019 (my goal is reading 52 total, which may or may not happen and that’s okay). Other things I intend to consume with gluttony this year include: time with friends, sleep, vegetables, french fries, vacuuming, good TV shows and, yes, clothes — but ideally only ones I am confident I will wear and cherish for years and years.
I am conflict-averse by nature. My tendency is always, always, always to soften myself — to measure my words, to temper my temper — but especially when whatever thoughts or emotions I’m happening to be experiencing are loaded with something raw and explosive (in other words, whenever I feel angry). And while there are times when I’ve been glad that I took the time to pause before speaking, there are others when I wish I’d had the confidence to unleash the complexity of my vulnerability in its sharp, undigested form. I’m still learning to shorten the space between suspecting and knowing when my anger is justified, but even simply acknowledging that it might be is something.
I frequently tell my boyfriend, Austin, that I am “greedy” for information about him, not because I think he is hiding stuff from me, but because I am endlessly fascinated by him as a person. I feel this way about many of the people I love — voraciously enthralled with the prospect of knowing them even better — and it’s a kind of greed I not only personally enjoy but also recommend for universal consideration.
Not so deadly after all.
Photography: Mia Rankin
Styling: Monica Morales
Hair: Gavin Anesbury
Makeup: Joel Babicci
Styling Assistant: Olivia MacQuillan
Models: Susanna Oinonen, Sandali Jayasinghe, Alice Yang, Gee Gee Ferguson, Sanne Jackson, NyaLuak Leth and Zhoe Trotter