When Vanity Became a Virtue | #MyFridayStory №167

It’s a choice to be ambivalent about the motives of vanity.

Fortunately, we humans are complex and although we are similar, we’re also very different. You are born with such unique coding that you are a once-in-a-lifetime miracle. You are born with features and characteristics that identify with your parents and your ancestors. Within your DNA lies the ‘rules’ that govern everything from your propensity to inherit a genetic disorder, to what your nose will look like and how tall you are.

Apart from the characteristics we are born with, we are influenced by the environment we grow up in. For example, a person who might have been tall genetically but was undernourished as a child, could be stunted. The signals and experiences we receive after birth helps shape the traits we inherit. And this raises the debate that has baffled many for centuries:

Nature v nurture.

This is where the tyranny of, “or” gets in the way of the genius of, “and.”

We are all given both. You are made up of a combination of un-inherited (genetic) inherited (environmental) inputs. None of which you have any control over. Your appearance, your health, your status in life thus far, has been out of your control.

Vanity is defined as excessive pride in or admiration of one’s own appearance or achievements. That pride and admiration for one’s self can lead to believing you deserve special privileges.

Vanity becomes a virtue when your appearance or achievements are accepted as qualities that make you more worthy.

Vanity has gained popularity over the last few decades. The global beauty industry is worth over $532 billion with massive growth expected over the next 5 years, especially in the men’s category. For both men and women, ageing means losing status. But, older men are less likely to find a job than their younger counterparts. Male use of cosmetic surgery and beauty products are said to correlate with business cycles. In a recession, men want to “ look powerful and in control” to combat the 20 or 30-year-olds they must compete against.

According to Dr. Teresa Ghilarducci in Psychology Today, economists have long been observing how beauty is a premium. Whether it is in labour markets, in negotiations, or organisations, physical attractiveness can help boost a person’s success.

If there is any doubt about the prevalence of vanity and its acceptance as a virtue, take one look at the many reality shows on TV. The plethora of varieties spawned since The Osbournes, Big Brother, and Keeping Up with the Kardashians, offers confirmation of our belief that vanity is a worthy quality.

To me, vanity is ego made visible.

We came into this world with an identity we had no influence over. Our appearance and achievements should not be indicators of how we are treated or how we treat others. The characteristics and traits that are virtuous are the ones that make us generous, caring, empathetic, kind and loving towards each other.

Ask yourself: How much privilege do you deserve?

If you are honest, it’s less than you think.

Have an awesome weekend and please be generous! 😄

As always, thanks for reading 🙏

Originally published at https://www.leapfirst.co.za on December 17, 2020.

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