AIM: Is Vanity Fair?

logo: Adventures in Maintenance with photos

What role, if any, does vanity play in our weight maintenance? Debby prodded us to explore that question in this month’s Adventures in Maintenance topic. I have all sorts of thoughts on vanity churning through my mind, but I’m going to try to keep this on or close to the topic of weight maintenance.

To get started, it might help to clarify my understanding of vanity, at least as it pertains to ME. Your definition might vary, and that’s okay. I’m not vain enough to believe my thinking is the ONLY way to view it, I am, however, vain enough to think it’s worth consideration. :)

For me, vanity is an obsessive or excessive focus on one’s self, be it appearance, accomplishments, or something else. This absorption could take one of two forms: either a belief that the person is “more than” or “less than” other people. “You/they aren’t good enough” vs. “I’m not good enough.”

By that definition, you’ve probably figured out already that vanity isn’t a huge factor for me in weight maintenance. Sorry, probably should’ve given a spoiler alert. :)

There’s nothing at all wrong with wanting to look our best or do our best, but thanks to many years of cultural indoctrination that had thin as the ideal, I’ve spent far too much of my life feeling “less than” because of my weight. While on the path to losing that weight, I was fortunate to learn this lesson, which I shared in an earlier AIM post:

I am a good and worthy person no matter what I weigh, what size I wear, or how many “packs” are in my abs (currently none). My value to society is in my heart and mind and demonstrated by my actions.

I’m proud of the physical changes I’ve made and the successes I’ve had, and I certainly want to maintain them, but the greatest reward was in taking charge of my life and living mindfully, passionately, and intentionally. The desire to maintain that energy for living is a far greater factor than vanity.

But all that said, I’d hate to have to buy new clothes. :)

If you haven’t done so already, be sure to check out the other AIM bloggers to read their stories:
aim logoLynn @ Lynn’s Weigh
Lori @ Finding Radiance
Debby @ Debby Weighs In
Shelley @ My Journey to Fit

AIM: Adventures in Maintenance is Lynn, Lori, Debby, Shelley, and Cammy, former weight-loss bloggers who now write about life in maintenance. We formed AIM to work together to turn up the volume on the issues facing people in weight maintenance. We publish a post on the same topic on the first Monday of each month. Let us know if there is a topic you’d like us to address!

17 thoughts on “AIM: Is Vanity Fair?

  1. This may seem small, but I’m getting better at being OK with going out in public without makeup on. It demonstrates to me that it doesn’t matter what I look like, but how I behave that is most important.

    • I usually wear makeup and do something with my hair, but the surest way to run into someone I know is to go anywhere without it. :)

      • Pardon me, but I’m lol’ing at this comment. I too had to get comfortable with going out in public without makeup, because I got tired of redoing it after a sweaty workout. Funny thing is I forget I don’t have any on when I’m chatting with someone in the gym and then I see a mirror and I’m like.oh geez. 😀 I’m a white-lashed pale face who always puts a little something on daily. But now I’ve realized it’s okay if that cleaner version of myself doesn’t happen until after my morning exercise. Love you ladies!

  2. People should be required to read your statement before they start any weight loss program. If they can’t believe that about themselves, they might as well not start dieting!

    I don’t mind buying new clothes, as long as they’re at the thrift store : )

  3. I’m just following Debby around today, echoing what she writes with an agreeing “heck yes!” – your statement was spot on. :)

    I put on a smidge of make up when I go out because otherwise I’m so pale that salesclerks don’t see me.

  4. I don’t wear much makeup anymore. I used to wear a lot more, ironically when I was a lot heavier (covering up, maybe??). I always find that when my ego about something starts to get too big, the universe finds a way to knock it back down again 😀

  5. Oooh, I didn’t think about the flip side – being excessively LESS than – as being vain. Very insightful.

    And I seem to be following Shelley around today laughing at her comments.

    • I held myself back from doing some things I truly wanted to do, because I was so hyper-focused on how I *thought* I would look doing them. I missed a lot of opportunities that way.

  6. Hmmm…. I guess I don’t really think of vanity as necessarily being that negative. Maybe the technical definition is. But, I think of more in this context as caring about how you look.

    Wanting to look good is not the main reason I’ve lost the weight I’ve lost. The main reason is health. But, wanting to look good certainly does play a factor for me.

    I don’t have a feeling of negative self worth because of how I look. But — I still do want to look better and I get pleasure from being able to see the difference now that I’ve lost enough for it to be noticeable.

    The looking good part is not enough by itself to sustain me through weight loss and maintenance (perhaps why I failed maintenance the first time), but it does play a part in motivating me on the day to day stuff.

    • I didn’t do a very good job in my post of distinguishing between my thoughts on vanity (obsessive) and pride (feeling good about oneself). I’m right there with you on feeling good about my physical improvements! But it comes from a place of pride rather than a belief that I’m “less than” based on how I look.

      You’ve definitely got a lot to be proud of, that’s for sure!

  7. As I read everyone’s posts I’m realizing that I think there is a big difference in being truly vain and simply taking pride in our appearance/efforts. I am motivated to lose the 10-11 pounds I’ve gained because clothes don’t fit and I felt I looked better at the thinner size, and yes that may seem vain…but I’m not sure it is. Maybe it’s because I was not tiny, so being up these few pounds is just a warning that if I don’t take care I could keep going up.

    Sorry to ramble…I’ve wondered if I’m being vain for wanting to stay thin partially for looks was a bad thing in recent months. (I’m not obsessed or I think I’d do anything to be there, which I apparently don’t.) But I also know these extra pounds came on over some time when I felt out of control. Being in control and feeling better physically is my main motivation to stay healthy. Hmm… I’ll just stop now. 😀

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