Ask A Woman: Do Vanity and Shallowness go hand in hand?
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This week we had reader Dan write in with three completely separate questions. Talk about efficiency. I’m going to answer the first question and maybe later on I’ll tackle the others.
Hi Beth — I’ve been wrestling with a couple philosophical questions and I’m interested in your perspective
1. is it possible to be vain and not be shallow?
Lord help me, I hope so. Let’s define some words, Dan. Vanity is possessing “excessive pride” in some aspect of oneself. Shallowness, like the literal meaning of the word, means you lack depth. As in, what is on the surface is all there is.
News flash: everyone here is vain. “But Beth, I’m not excessively proud of my appearance; most of the time I’m just trying to avoid looking like a douchebag.” Yes, I know, but I think we need to reevaluate the word pride as well. Lexicographers may disagree with me, but I think pride can mean caring about or attention to. If I say that I take pride in my appearance, for me what that means is that I like to wear flattering, well-fitting clothing, appropriate to the occasion. It also means I take care to make sure I’m well-groomed–showered, hair arranged, makeup applied. It does not have to mean that I spend an hour or two or three getting ready in the morning. It means I am simply intentional about how I present myself, what I put on my body. Also, I don’t think vanity means you think you’re better than someone else. I can like how I look and still admire the dame next to me. So yeah, we’re vain, the whole lot of us. Cheers.
Well, when it’s the obvious truth…
Shallowness, in this context, would be if I ONLY cared about what I looked like. The suffering of others, my dog’s need for a walk, the upcoming election, serving my community, my commitments to my friends and family–these are all issues that are on my radar, that I care about deeply, that I spend time thinking about and acting for. My day is not consumed with finding the nearest mirror, and when I hear that another dog-fighting ring has been busted up, I don’t tune it out in order to plan my outfit for tomorrow. Having pride in my appearance, whether Mr. Miriam and Mr. Webster think it excessive or not, is merely one of my interests. But it doesn’t constitute my entire person.
Since we’ve been delving into more theoretical questions of style here lately on AAW, I’d like to open it up to the readers, and see what you all think about this topic. I’m especially interested in what I suspect is behind Dan’s asking the question in the first place; I wonder if he feels a certain measure of guilt that he cares about his appearance, about nice clothing, about trends, when so many other people don’t have the luxury to worry about such things. It’s certainly a feeling I’ve experienced. Men, thoughts?
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