When Vanity is the Salvation to Self-Confidence

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.

vain (adj.)
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 Etymonline)

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 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 it closer, could it be a compensatory desire to make up for the void? Can we assume that vain people come from emptiness and a lack of self-worth?

Is Vanity Bad?

We often perceive vanity as a negative 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 balances 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; 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. 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 behaviors and could develop a negative feeling about it.

broken mirror vanity

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 gaining some traction, we could be well down the darkest pit.

Starts Small with Self-Care

Many people encourage us to leave the house, do something, and meet others. 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 ensure we wash up, shower, and wear clean clothes. Now, we can work to regain some baseline vanity. Increase the time spent on self-care to improve our appearance and self-image.

Like everyone else, I am equally susceptible to burnout and depressive moods. What works for me is some vain intervention! It is too easy to pretend to be a giant pillow, among other pillows, in my bed. It is too tempting to postpone the self-caring routine, watch another soap drama episode, and carelessly transit to Slumberland. That’s when we must do everything possible to pull ourselves together and perform the self-caring task. I choose a facial sheet mask as a starter, but some may prefer a paste mask concocted using natural ingredients.

mask vanity


There are steps to achieve the optimal results of applying a sheet mask. First, a cleansed face requires me to get up from the bed, walk to the bathroom, and wash my face with the cleanser. Then, I head back to my room. Next, wipe the cleansed face with a facial cotton pad soaked with toner. Then, tear off the sheet mask packaging and remove the mask from the package. Carefully apply the sheet mask to the face. Set a timer for 15 minutes; I just instructed my Google Mini to set a timer for 15 minutes.

Then, carry on 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, 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.

Purposeful Vanity

By stating the steps pedantically, I am trying to show that if we can 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 others 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, indulging in dramatic changes is never a good idea when you are not in your best frame of mind or mood. Be mindful of what you are altering unless it’s an emergency procedure. Try something less invasive and permanent, which can yield a long-term optimization outcome. Get something that requires some effort on your part to make it work. Consider a face ionizer, a face massage roller, or even a mist dehumidifier with an oil diffuser function to create a relaxing mood.

face roller vanity

Let People Love Themselves A Little Bit More

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 can imagine how frequently I hear people frivolously remark that I am vain and focus too much on my appearance while neglecting my 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 I know about 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 schoolwork. 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 could ask for a job promotion even when I outperformed in every assigned task. I never imagined being creative enough, even when winning 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 caring for 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 recovery journey in mental health wellbeing.

Lis Sun Crandall

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