When Vanity is the Salvation to Self-Confidence
What is Vanity?
I quickly look vanity up on the definition, and I found this particular definition fitted for the blog’s content.
excessive pride in or admiration of one’s own appearance or achievements
(From Oxford Languages)
Then, the boy digs deeper into the etymology of the word vain.
c. 1300, “devoid of real value, idle, unprofitable,” from Old French vain, vein “worthless, void, invalid, feeble; conceited” (12c.), from Latin vanus “empty, void,” figuratively “idle, fruitless,” from PIE *wano-, suffixed form of root *eue- “to leave, abandon, give out.”Meaning “conceited, elated with a high opinion of oneself” first recorded 1690s in English; earlier “silly, idle, foolish” (late 14c.). Phrase in vain “to no effect” (c. 1300, after Latin in vanum) preserves the original sense.
From Zero to a Hundred
It is interesting to see the dichotomous evolution of the original meaning of vain, which broadly refers to emptiness and worthlessness that departs from an empty value to become a word that describes excessive pride in one’s appearance and worth. Perhaps the connection is the deceptiveness of such an opposing opinion. If we examined closer, could it be a compensatory desire to make up for the void? Can we assume that vain people come from a place of emptiness and the lack of self-worth?
Is Vanity Bad?
We often perceive vanity as a negative quality, a quality that propels people to focus too much on their appearance. However, it can be healthy to want some vanity in our lives. Healthy vanity strikes a balance in self-image and perceived-image, a synchronized and mitigated image. We want to look presentable and pleasant when we meet people, and even for our satisfaction when we look into the mirror.
Self-Image and Self-Worth
When we look cleaned-up, we propose an image that we care adequately for ourselves; that we see value and worth in ourselves to deserve our time and effort. In other words, we exude self-confidence and pride. Self-worth is often lacking in people who are depressed or approaching a depressive episode. We start letting everything go, including the most superficial item – appearance. While I am not encouraging excessive vanity, I am dismantling the stigma of attaining vanity to boost the self-worth present in self-image.
When we stop checking on how we look, we don’t have a primary reference to how people perceive us on the surface level. Imagine that I go out without checking how I look while having streaks of dirt on my face and start noticing that people are staring at me. I could have an inaccurate assessment of people’s reactions and behaviours and could develop a negative feeling about it.
When we become depressed, we lose interest in most activities, and we don’t see the point of cleaning ourselves up since we are not going anywhere to meet anyone or do anything meaningful. The detrimental thinking and behavioral pattern is a downward slide down the slippery slope. Before we could gain some traction, we could be well down the darkest pit.
Starts Small with Self-Care
Many people start encouraging us to get out of the house, do something, meet some people. Going out could be too big a step when you are in a gloomy mood when even the weightless air feels like a ton weighing us down. Let’s do something simpler to meet the basic needs. Let’s work on making sure we wash up, shower, and wear clean clothes. Now, we can work to regain some baseline vanity. Increase the time spent on self-care on improving our appearance and self-image.
Like everyone else, I am equally susceptible to burnout and depressive moods. What works for me is some vainness intervention! It is too easy just to pretend to be a giant pillow, among other pillows in my bed. It is too tempting to postpone the self-caring routine and just watch another episode of soap drama and carelessly transit to the slumberland. That’s when we have to do everything we can to pull ourselves together and perform the self-caring task. My personal choice is a facial sheet mask as a starter, but some people may prefer paste mask concocted using natural ingredients.
There are steps to follow to achieve the optimal results of applying a sheet mask. First, a cleansed face, so that requires me to get up from the bed and walk to the bathroom and wash my face with the cleanser. Then, I head back to my room. Next, use a facial cotton pad soaked with toner and wipe the cleansed face. Then, tear off the sheet mask packaging and remove the mask from the package. Carefully apply the sheet mask to the face. Set timer for 15 minutes, I just instruct my Google mini to set a timer for 15 minutes.
Then, carry on with watching the paused drama. When the time’s up, I get up from my bed again, sit in front of my mirror, remove the mask and wipe off the excess essence, and tap on my face to let the skin absorb the essence. Then, I apply the eye cream and face cream to finish the skincare regime.
By stating the steps pedantically, I am trying to show that if we can just do this, we unknowingly invest quite a substantial effort and time to care for ourselves. The quiet underlying message is that we are worth our time and effort. Self-confidence and self-worth cannot be sustainably gained through external validation, although validation from others can surely reaffirm the direction that we are taking.
Many people are generous in giving their time, money, and energy to other people other than themselves. It feels more comfortable to gain a purpose by putting ourselves through hardship for the sake of other people; conversely, there are people from the other end of the spectrum who are solely self-serving. Self-caring is not the same as selfishness. Self-serving is yielding a beneficial gain for ourselves at the expense of others. Self-caring, however, is dedicating a fraction of the time that we so generously give to others, to tend to our own needs, at our own expense.
Nothing Too Dramatic
While I am not against cosmetic procedures, it is never a good idea to indulge in dramatic changes when you are not in your best frame of mind or mood. Unless it’s an emergency procedure, be mindful of what you are altering. Try something less invasive and permanent, but can yield a long-term optimization outcome. Get something that requires some effort on your part to make it work. Consider something like a face ionizer, a face massage roller, or even a mist dehumidifier with oil diffuser function to create a relaxing mood.
Let People Love Themselves A Little Bit More
I say that I hope to dismantle the stigma of vanity as a value-boosting to self-worth. I say this because I am unashamed to admit that I am vain. You could imagine how frequently I hear people frivolously remark that I am vain and focus too much on my appearance while neglecting the inner substance. It is probably true that I am invested in my outer image, but it doesn’t mean I lack inner substance! I am one of the most curious people that I know in attaining new knowledge (fair enough, I know very few people!). I am always learning new things, and acquiring new knowledge, including the latest buzz in skincare and cosmetics! That is dedication (insert happy tears emoji)!
The Empty Vain-Pot
I am also someone who struggled with extremely low self-worth and self-esteem. I never thought I was intelligent enough even when I got A’s for school work. I couldn’t fathom that I was attractive enough to deserve a handsome other even when I was pursued by one. I didn’t think I was capable enough to ask for a promotion at work even when I outperformed in every assigned task. I never imagined I was creative enough, even when I won an inter-school art competition. I always assumed that I was not enough.
Let people embrace some vanity as long as it is not set out to hurt us. When we mindlessly criticize others for taking care of themselves through vanity, are we prompted with envy and self-consciousness of what we fail to do for ourselves? Or are we just so used to riding on the moral high horse freely giving unsolicited advice on how to be a perfect human being?
If you are feeling a little low in your moods, try pampering yourself with self-caring vanity. Sometimes, the baseline vanity is your salvation in a depressive mood; your first baby steps on the journey of recovery in mental health wellbeing.