According to Miriam-Webster the top definition of VANITY is:

  1. inflated pride in oneself or one’s appearance
  2. something that is vain, empty, or valueless

This is the fact portion of the blog.  Now I will proceed to the anecdote

I wrote a chapter for my book that I brought into writing class for dissection.  I wrote a scene where my protagonist is preparing for a date.  She tells the reader her grooming ritual and states that she is not vain.    One piece of feedback I received was “Character  seems vain.”

Character seems vain.

Is using make-up and moisturizing creams vain?  Are these grooming rituals that I go through myself considered vain?  Does the fact that I have a daily grooming ritual make me vain?

I wear make-up most days of the week.  I don’t do it for others:  I do it for myself.  I like eye shadow and liner and blush and mascara.  I enjoy this portion of my morning where I either listen to music of the news and get myself ready. I like when I am going out at night and I do something a little more dramatic.  I admit, I like the way I look with make-up on.  To be fair, I am also happy with myself without make-up.

Does my wanting/liking make up make me vain?

I also have a very elaborate skin care ritual.  I wear moisturizer and serum and eye cream.  I wash my face thoroughly at night.  I like clean, and I like when my skin feels soft.  My products all use some form of the words “anti-aging”.  I don’t buy these things to appear younger- I buy the products that are best for my skin.  I am oldish- I need different things than my teen daughter does.  But does my wanting to take care of my skin in an age appropriate manner make me vain?

What is the line between self care and vanity?

I think vanity means different things to different people.  If my Mother does not have a full face of make-up on, she will wear sunglasses.  Doesn’t matter the time of day, or if he is indoors, she will put on sunglasses because she doesn’t want anyone to see her without make-up.  See, to me, that is vain.  That’s my definition.  My Mother can’t understand how I go out without make-up.  I am 53, and she will still say to me “Lipstick.  Why aren’t you wearing lipstick?” (OK- here’s my thing- I wear lipstick at night, but during the day I wear tinted lip balm.  I don’t care if you can’t see my lips from across the room- I am fine with just a hint of color, but full on protection from chapped lips)

So, for my first real blog of 2018, I ask you all the questions:

What is vanity?

Is being vain bad?

Does caring about yourself reduce your “value”?

This is going to be a multi part blog, as I will look at different aspects of self care in the next few weeks, and look forward to different thoughts on this topic.

 

 

 

71 thoughts on “Vanity

  1. Your character is doing normal skincare as are you. So let go of the vanity comment. And heck, she’s your character in your book so she’s allowed to be whomever you want! Don’t fight it. Go with the flow. Caring about yourself is necessary. Period. It increases your value because if you don’t love you, care about you, then how do you expect anyone else will? Personally I put myself on the back burner for way too long. This year, I guess I’ll be vain according to your reader because I’ll be taking care of my skin and me too! LOL

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Fuck people & their stupid ideas about what women should be and do. Fuck society and fuck all the negative messaging that bombard us daily to try and program us to always feel inadequate. Fuck anybody who thinks I’m vain for wearing eye makeup and fuck anybody who thinks I’m “less than” for NOT wearing eye makeup. Fuck this and fuck that and fuck trying to morning before my second cup of coffee because I have no filter.

    In all seriousness, I say “you do you” and to hell with what anybody else thinks because we women can’t win for losing. We’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t, so we might as well just do whatever the fuck we want, right?

    Liked by 6 people

  3. I’m vain and I know it! I think a good vanity is accepting that you are, balancing when you let it happen and understanding the line you might cross. When you obsessed or start comparing to others and telling yourself how much better you are, then that’s probably the foray into dangerous! 🙂

    Liked by 5 people

  4. Interesting. I have noticed that often when I wear lipstick during the day to run a few chores …I am reminded of my mother’ s generation. The other day, I was out shopping and saw a shopper wearing slippers. This is not the first time I have seen this. I think sometimes the younger generation takes casual too far. Sometimes I am surprised by what teachers are wearing in the public school system: it seems too casual. I use my clothing as a prop to assist with my presentation as with my makeup. I don’t wear makeup to the gym as I am not trying to pick anyone up! LOL and I doubt whether anyone would notice. It is a serious working gym with mixed company and I don’t want them to notice me! I take good care of my skin and always have. One time, I asked my husband to pick up a moisturizer for me and he couldn’t get over how expensive it is to be a woman.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Your charecter said she wasn’t vain. Why did she say this?To whom? “Show dont tell”…
    I wore make-up for sales clerk jobs,job interviews,&dates(when I was single)If make up disappeared tomorrow I wouldn’t care. Getting it right and not clownish has always been a struggle for me. Love seriums &creams for happy skin and yes chapstick by the bucket load. Tinted chapstick was my christmas wish.Overall I view make up as a pain in the a**.The idea that its a mask bothers me.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I’m writing first person, conversational, so basically the character is talking to the reader. My writing set up is to be like my protagonist is letting you into her life like a friend. I like when my skiing is soft….it’s itchy if I don’t use moisturizer!!

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  6. Seems to me this is not about the character of your book being vain, but the person hit a nerve with you that triggered a memory of your mother who “you” would consider vain, so now the writing assignment is more about “you” and “your mother” versus the “character” of your book. What does it matter? Gaston from Beauty in the Beast is vain! Leave it at that. I think it is time for the FROZEN song: Let it Go! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L0MK7qz13bU

    Have a good day! If you are going to become an author be prepared for nit picking readers and good/negative reviews. Got to just LET IT GO, let it go…

    Liked by 5 people

      1. i guess I dont even think of the word much, because I am not “Gaston.” That is a clear and cut case of being “overly vain.” I mean I do put my lipstick on out of habit, but life is too short to worry about vanity – smiling, I have more important things to do — LIKE write my next Post! Finish my children’s book…. See what I mean. :).

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  7. If your character couldnt pass by a mirror without checking herself out, that would be vanity. Just wanting to feel/look nice isn’t vanity. It’s caring about the image we present. I’m the least girly girl I know—but I do wear a bit of makeup every time I go out. I’m partly afraid people will recoil in horror if they see me sans makeup. So, really, I’m providing a public service.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. This blogger has what I think defines vain. Looking professional, dressing neatly and taking time to care for skin, hair, teeth are beneficial. Grooming can aid self confidence and have positive social skills.
      Vain is a fixation with our looks, preening in front of a mirror excessively.
      I think feedback is a good tool and I encourage it but I don’t expect it always to be right, or even relevant sometimes.
      Do what feels right for you. I’m a guy and I like seeing women who take care to have their lipstick etc and rarely is it because they are vain.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. What you do to please yourself can hardly be called vanity. And to take care of your skin, body and health is wise stewardship of your time. I applaud you.
    P.S. In no way are you “oldish”. I am ten years older than you and I am not oldish. My mom is going to be 86 next month and she is not yet “oldish”! Old is a state of mind not a birthdate.

    Liked by 4 people

  9. Maybe your character doesn’t think she is vain but maybe she really is. I think sometimes we when we write we don’t realize our character changes through our words. Maybe you didn’t want her to be vain but maybe she needs to be because of something that is going to happen down the line your book. Go with it and see what happens.

    Liked by 4 people

  10. I ask myself this all of the time. My husband doesn’t seem to understand that I need time to get ready before heading out of the house. Maybe the definition of vanity is different based on gender. There is so much more a woman needs to do to get ready in a socially acceptable manner. Is a man considered vain if he shaves before going out? I don’t need to wear makeup every day, but when I do I often feel better about my appearance. If that makes me vain, so be it!

    Liked by 3 people

  11. It’s always strange how society ‘requires’ women to wear makeup and have a certain appearance (i.e., wanting enough makeup, but not too much; to be dressed up, but not too dressed up), then criticizes us for being vain.

    Is your character (or you, for that matter) vain for having a basic skin care routine? No. You need to maintain a basic level of health and well-being, and skin care is part of that. Are you vain for wanting to look nice when you go out? No. It’s when you obsess over every last molecule of makeup and strand of hair that you become vain.

    Are you vain when you ‘indulge’ in self-care? No. You need to take care of yourself, or you won’t be able to help anyone else. It’s like what they say about oxygen masks on airplanes: “Ensure that your own mask is in place before assisting others”.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I know exactly what yo7 mean. Shouldn’t it be ok to wear it if we want, and ok to not wear it if we don’t? I don’t think I’m vain if I take care of myself, nor am I “giving up” if I throw my hair in a ponytail and run out the door. There should be a no judgement zone.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. This world teaches us, from a very young age, that looks matter. We can avoid it or deny it, but it is true nonetheless. I think all people are preoccupied, to some extent, with how they look. I do not believe that is a bad thing at all. Look good=feel good and vice versus. Vanity is only bad when done to the detriment of another. That’s the way I see it. As for your book, you answered it with your blog. How do you make someone not appear vain? Be ambivalent, question the motive behind the act.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Not all counsel is wise counsel. Might just be your source. Some will embrace your character and some won’t. As the saying goes… “Never let criticism go to your heart and never let praise go to your head.” Easier said than done, I know. It’s your book and you get to write it… your way. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  13. In my humble opinion, taking care of yourself and wanting to look nice are different from being vain. Being vain is “showing” a high opinion of yourself. There’s a difference. I personally don’t want to hang out with vain people. That’s just me.

    As far as book characters–I don’t know why people dissect book characters. If book characters were all perfect or all ideal then how good would the book be? I was really surprised to see people complain about Olivia in Watching Glass Shatter and let that influence their review. People are all different, but I’ve been guilty of doing this myself! I read The Policewoman this year and had issues with Sarah. She was perfect and vain and annoyed the heck out of me because she kept telling her boyfriend that he had a potbelly and needed to exercise. I originally gave the book 4 stars because I wasn’t happy with multiple small parts of the story, but also because of her character. I reread it and changed my rating because he revised it, but he didn’t change Sarah’s character. I finally realized that it wasn’t fair to remove a star because I disliked Sarah’s personality. It was just the way she was and honestly, most people just complained about how she was “too” perfect and overlooked her vainness. But, she was a professional popicewoman and that’s the way the author wanted her to be.

    To me if someone’s vain, it’s obvious. People that think they are better than others could be that way for multiple reasons, even because they’re insecure.

    I can keep rambling on this subject, but I’ll top there. Lol. I think your book character is fine and I don’t think you’re vain!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I always suffer with the question, are we supposed to like a main character in a book or movie. I read “my name is Lucy Barton” and I hated the main character. Now, I hated the book for other reasons, but I did feel the main character was ridiculous. I think my character needs this little personality trait, so I’m keeping it in, but 8 wonder why we tear wom3n apart so much

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Vanity is in the eye of the beholder? But I think chrissy above, makes a good point. Fictional characters have a tendency to go their own way. And I’m sure you didn’t take page after page showing us how your character put here face on. Did ya? But it could just be that your critic was backhandedly pointing out that many first novels can be painfully autobiographical. Not quite all made-up.

    Liked by 3 people

  15. My wife has a ritual of putting on makeup, and caring about how she looks. She is the least vain person I know. She just wants to feel good about herself, and look good for me. I think she’s beautiful without makeup, but it makes her happy. Vanity is bad when you put yourself above other people because of how you look. You could be the handsomest man in the world with six-pack abs, and not be vain, if you just be yourself, and not strut around, pose, stare lovingly in the mirror at yourself, and feel superior to others.

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  16. For me vanity involves projection and/or judgment. If someone is doing something solely because it brings them joy, peace, contentment, happiness, whatever then not vain. When it shifts to doing it and then judging others for not, or doing it differently, or projecting why you do it onto others and their behavior, then it’s vain. So your mum when she crosses to judging and projecting onto you for not making the same life or self care choices as her, that’s vain to me. You going through your self care rituals because they bring you happiness, but not judging or projecting onto others who don’t follow the same or care to the same degree you do, not vain. To me vanity involves and element of looking down your nose at someone else

    Liked by 2 people

  17. well, i think vain has a different meaning to every one. it has levels, it has depth. if wanting to look good to feel good makes you vain, i think that means we are all vain . and so is my five year old daughter.
    i don’t wear make up – never did, except for transparent mascara and some eye liner back during my teens – before i went blind. my daughter, who is only five, likes to wear lipstick and dress up, even to bed

    Liked by 1 person

  18. I am vainer than vain then, I wear make up every single day, cleanse tone & moisturiser every single day. I’m not even entering those pearly gates when it’s time without my makeup bag! 💃

    Liked by 2 people

  19. I don’t think putting on make-up before a big date is vain, and I wear a little make-up most days. But I think women wear a lot more make-up today and I wonder why. Teen-agers don’t need heavy foundation, false eyelashes and heavy eyeliner, which look garish. I prefer a more understated natural look most of the time.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. I would have to agree that how your mother acts without makeup on would be considered vain. When I first started wearing foundation, it was because I had awful acne. I was 11 I think. But my mom wouldn’t let me start wearing eyeshadow, eyeliner, mascara until I was closer to 13. By that point I was convinced my beauty standards were judged on me wearing makeup all the time, even if I just ran inside a store to pick up a couple items. That to me is along the lines of vanity! I am no longer like that. I like wearing makeup, but am also more than fine going without AND going out in public. I think that was a lesson I needed to learn.

    But I disagree with the comment you received in your workshop. Self-care routines are different than simply disliking the way someone looks without all the extra layers. I also agree there may be a line; you don’t use the anti-aging creams to stop the process of aging but because you have found of that particular type works better for you. Then again, would it be vain to use that particular brand even if the goal was to diminish signs of aging? I’m not sure. I suppose it depends. I think getting Botox for Botox’s sake is more along the lines of vanity. (I do know people who have had to use it for medical reasons.) One last point: are we saying we are vain creatures for showering daily, for wishing to dress nicely? I don’t think so.

    Thank you for the thought provoking post AND for making it all the way to the bottom of my comment. I have the tendency to ramble. Apologies! Kelsey 😄

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m with you on Botox….I think anyone who has to put poison in their face so there aren’t any lines is nuts…..but….if it’s that important to them, should I criticize? I use anti aging stuff not to look younger, but to keep my skiing healthy. Those creams are made for a woman with older skin. My skin is soooo dry. I need the thickest lotion possible, which is only found in anti aging stuff.but no, I don’t think I’ll ever look 25 again….

      Liked by 1 person

  21. Vanity is a term often applied to women as a put down. Also I suspect that mentioning self care routines in a book may appear as if your character is vain because you called attention to it. Sometimes these aspects of daily life (like toileting) are mundane and don’t need attention called to them or readers pick up on it being awkward. I would ask why it is important that your character notably undertakes a self care routine – if it makes an important point about her, fine, but if it is too much information and does not serve a purpose, then cut it. As for your mother, she is part of a different generation who applied very high standards to women’s visual appeal, and all those quaint phrases like ‘keeping her figure’ and ‘trim, taught and terrific’ that remind me of the 1940s and 1950s boxed women into a certain way to look and behave. Thankfully, we are more free to be ourselves now and I say, go the lip gloss if you feel like it!

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Ok using creams and a bit of make-up because it makes you feel better is not being vain. Not being able to pass a mirror/window with out looking at yourself is, continually touching up your make-up and redoing your hair is, constantly looking around to see if anyone is looking at you is, and that god-awful throwing of the hair over your shoulder is. Ok maybe not the last one, that’s just a thing that really winds me up 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  23. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with taking pride in how you look. By that I mean being clean, neatly attired and presentable. I think it becomes vanity when a person obsesses about their looks and spends an inordinate amount of time on their appearance; and criticizes others based on attractiveness alone.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. I suppose I would say that vanity is about looking good to other people, but that wanting to feel good about ourselves (including our looks) is self-care. Although I have a feeling that is over-simplifying it, because lots of people have expensive and painful procedures done so they can feel they “look good.” Ultimately, I’m not sure exactly how to draw the line!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I know! I have a friend who is one of the most down-to-earth and kind people I know, but she had a facelift because her saggy chin drove her nuts! I also have a saggy chin, but am not willing to undergo surgery to get rid of it. So is her action vanity, or self-care? I honestly don’t know. But I really don’t think of her as a vain person, because she’s not the slightest bit shallow. And when it comes right down to it, it’s her choice to make.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I think it’s totally situational, and also based on motivation. If someone thinks there life will be “better” than there might be an issue, but otherwise….I know what my lines are…no Botox, no plastic surgery….but I do color my hair, so, who knows!

        Liked by 1 person

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