Our Individual Beauty Journey
I think there are always things about ourselves and our appearance that we don’t like. But why do we feel like we are being vain if we are attempting to change those things? I wonder if it comes from being a part of the post-women’s lib movement society. Or maybe it’s from a psychological perspective of accepting ourselves exactly as we are. Honestly, I don’t know the answer to this question. What I do know is that there are things about myself that I don’t feel are beautiful, and I want to change the ones that I are in my power to do something about. At the same time, I don’t think I’m a vain person.
If you search the term vanity, you will quickly be led to definitions that involve “excessiveness.” Excessive pride, excessive concern for others’ opinions, excessive self-absorption. I also found reference to a more ancient understanding of the term, equating it to futility (see Ecclesiastes). What I quickly determined is that it has more to do with how much of our resources (time, energy, finances, thoughts, etc.) are tied up in whatever it is we are pairing the word “vanity” with. In this case, our physical appearance.
This understanding of excessive use of my own resources to change my appearance quickly reminded me of some incredibly wise people throughout my life who encourage me to always choose relationship over task. To apply this logic to a specific appearance-related topic, I thought about my smile. I love coffee and have loved it since my first cup. Years of coffee drinking have left me with stained teeth. I don’t like my teeth to have stains because they look dirty to me. Am I excessive in my concern about this? If I brush my teeth with a whitening toothpaste and use a whitening rinse, is this vanity? Let me check. I don’t take time away from my relationship with my husband to do these things. It doesn’t deplete more energy to do this than brushing with a different type of toothpaste, the toothpaste is approximately the same cost as a different type and because the rinse also has fluoride, I actually save on treatments at the dentist office, and I really only think about it when I am buying toothpaste and rinse and brushing and rinsing my teeth. Things I would be doing anyway. And caring for my teeth helps maintain my physical health, which in my estimation means I am being a good steward of my body. Thinking through this exercise quickly led me to what I think might be the key – excessiveness. I’m not sure this is the answer, but I am going to apply it to more situations related to my appearance and see if it continues to prove out. I’ll probably revisit this process. What do you think about it?
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