Lim: A little bit vain

·3 min read

While we all have different goals in life, all of us probably desire to hit the trifecta of life goals—to stay alive, to stay healthy and to look good.

For almost all of us, staying alive is the foremost goal. But for many of us, staying alive is not enough. We also want to stay healthy so we can have the capacity to pursue a life that matters.

And yet, beyond survival, success and significance, some of us still want more—we also want to look good. And why not? Is it a sin to want to look good?

It might have been my Catholic education that drummed into my head the idea that vanity was a sin. And it probably is if such self-absorption consumes you to the point of dysfunction.

Too much of anything, after all, is never a good thing.

And yet, society demands that we look good—to be accepted, to be admired, to be praised, to be loved and even to be hired.

So, to be vain cannot be all that bad. After all, to look good, you must care about how you look. And to care about how you look, you need to be a little bit vain.

How many of us, after all, are born with good looks? How many of us look good naturally without the need to do anything?

If you’re one of those people who look great first thing in the morning, then congratulations on your good fortune but know that you’re an aberration. The rest of us don’t wake up like that. The rest of us work hard to look mildly presentable.

We are ordinary mortals. We don’t look horrible. We just don’t look great. We look ordinary. And there should be nothing wrong with ordinary except that ordinary invites criticism.

You are derided for being ordinary and for staying ordinary, for doing too little or nothing at all and for letting yourself go because who can look good naturally and forever without extraordinary measures?

And yet, you are also disparaged when you strive to look extraordinary and do too much to get there.

In a world with changing beauty standards, those who can’t make the cut are criticized and relegated to the ranks of the invisible. So, is it a sin to want to be seen? And to seek to be seen through the lens of an admiring gaze?

Is it a sin to be a little bit vain?

Books are also judged by their covers. Why else would publishing houses hire book jacket designers? It is their hope, of course, that beyond admiring the jacket cover, people will also pick up the book and read the inside pages.

The world worships beauty. That is the reality. All things being equal, the one with good looks gets the job.

Stop shaming those who resort to all kinds of potions and procedures to look good. Stop shaming those who succeed in looking good. There is no shame in wanting to look good, in trying to look good and in flaunting it.

It’s not a sin to be a little bit vain. At any age.

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