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“Damn, I Look Good”: On Vanity

I never thought I was photogenic.

When I was kid I would see myself in pictures with others and feel like I looked the ugliest. Not that I was the ugliest, but just in pictures, I didn’t look as good as everyone else. I’m a theatre kid; when everyone would get excited about seeing pictures from the shows we were in, I would despair because I didn’t look good.

But then last year, my friend Emma took my senior pictures and for the first time, I looked at pictures of myself and felt beautiful. Granted, my self-confidence went up exponentially between the beginning and the end of my senior year. But I felt beautiful in them, in a way that I never had before.

There is a stigma in our society that women aren’t supposed to say they’re beautiful. When we say we’re hot, people accuse us of being egotistical, way too into ourselves, and implore “Who does she think she is?” In the film Mean Girls, there is a scene where three clearly beautiful girls participate in a ritual where they all complain about something they find unattractive about themselves. Lindsay Lohan’s character––who didn’t grow up in American culture––doesn’t understand the point and is boggled that these three stunning girls want to and, in fact, laud each other for putting themselves down.

Recently, my friends and I walked down to the Kokosing for my friend Becca’s birthday and my friend Annmarie took photos of us. I talked about this a little bit in my article about dyeing my hair purple, but like when Emma took photos of myself at the end of my senior year, the photos Annmarie captured my beauty in a way that made me smile and feel warm. However, when some of my other female friends saw them, they immediately started to criticize themselves. “Oh, why does my body look so weird?” “My face looks fat in that photo.” And I couldn’t empathize; when I saw myself, I saw a goddess amongst the river and the trees, full of an unparalleled feminine grace. All at once, flipping through the photos, I believed I could attend an elegant gala, kick some ass and walk the runways in New York.

I guess through learning to appreciate my appearance in both real life and in photos, I realize vanity is not negative; it’s positive. I enjoy putting on makeup to accent my eyes and my cheekbones; I enjoy picking out stylish and sexy outfits that accentuate my curves; and I enjoy looking at pictures of myself and exclaiming “Wow, I look incredible.” And I’m never going to stop informing people of how much I freakin’ love my butt.

In general, women need to stop putting themselves down. Besides the fact that it often comes across as begging for compliments (not to say wanting to be complimented is negative; I love being complimented––it’s my love language), speaking negatively about yourself engenders more and more self-doubt, illuminates and accentuates your perceived flaws, and inevitably, causes you to have a lower self-esteem.

So find pride in vanity; we are all beautiful, whether we want to admit it or not.


Image credits: Annmarie Morrison, Emma Wang

Mackenna is a senior who loves all things theatrical, a good cup of green tea, good music, good movies, and all the dogs. Oh, and would give up her humanity if given to opportunity to live as a baby bear.
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