Here’s a topic we’ve discussed before, but that definitely merits re-visiting: Vanity.

I take photos of my outfits and post them to a public blog. I am constantly encouraging women to find clothing that they adore, learn to express themselves through personal style, and embrace outer beauty as an integral component of holistic self-love. I write about figure flattery, fun shoes, shopping, hair care, and the power of compliments. I believe that loving your own body, just as it is, is absolutely vital.

And I’ve been asked, on occasion, if any of these behaviors or beliefs might be perceived as vanity. And they might. But not by me.

In my opinion, a behavior or belief becomes problematic when it impedes normal functioning. The dictionary definition of vanity is excessive pride in one’s appearance, qualities, abilities, achievements, etc. Excessive being the key word, there. Enjoying clothing, playing with makeup, deriving pleasure from looking at your own reflection, feeling genuine love for your physical form are all healthy, normal behaviors. Doing any of these things to the point of obsession, feeling compelled to impose your views of your own beauty or importance on others, or sapping your personal resources for the sake of furthering efforts to either beautify or glorify your own image? Entering Vanity Territory, perhaps. It’s imbalance, fixation, and strong feelings of superiority that tip the scales.

But in the grand scheme of things, I see vanity as a relatively benign “problematic behavior.” Our society vastly prefers that women bathe in vats of self-concocted self-loathing, and any sign of body- or beauty-related pride creates an excuse to vilify the culprit. Truly vain people are irritating and tiresome, but since they are so self-focused any damage they might do is to themselves. And I’m inclined to believe that a little public vanity by some strong women might help those of us who struggle to merely ACCEPT ourselves feel a little bolder.

At least, that’s my opinion. What is vanity to you? Do you feel that exercises in self-love or lessons in personal style verge on vain? Are there any times when you, yourself, have felt vain? What were the circumstances? Did you feel shameful afterward? Any idea why? Does vanity irritate you? Anger you?

Image courtesy gotnc.

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