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The Truth About Vanity

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UNI chapter.

Ask anyone I talk to, and you’ll find that I’m a pretty laid back, sarcastic little spitfire.  But some subjects really bring out the seriousness in me.  This is one of them.

Ask yourself:
How many minutes do you spend getting ready in the morning before heading off to class?  
How many times do you check your reflection in a day?
How many times do you check your Facebook in a day?
How long does it take you to write a Facebook status so it sounds just good enough so other people will “like” it?   
How long do you have to look at a picture and really scrutinize it before it can be deemed worthy enough to be your new profile picture?

I’m guessing that for the vast majority of us, the answers to these questions would be something outlandish; time-wise, as well as amount-wise.  The brutal truth is that we as a species are very egocentric.  We like looking our best; it makes us feel confident.  We like showing people the best side of us; it makes us feel special.  Feeling confident and special are two important attributes that I think everyone should have.  They allow you to believe in yourself, and really go out and chase after your dreams. 

But why does our confidence and our ability to feel special stem from looking good?
Just recently, I stumbled across the Most Beautiful Teen Contest on Facebook, and I nearly lost it.  Our society is so based on looks that teens will enter these bogus contests, waiting anxiously for the next “like” on their picture from some stranger who is judging them solely on their appearance.  What I fail to understand is why we need objectify ourselves just to have the gratification of knowing someone thinks we’re pretty. 

A few weeks ago, I was chatting on the phone with my boyfriend, and he says, “Women have so much power over men.  They wear a low-cut shirt, and they can get nearly everything they want.”
My intent with this quote is not to make my boyfriend look bad.  In fact, it’s known to most of society that looking good will get you far in life.  But although this fact may be true, I firmly believe it isn’t right.  It’s sad knowing that, as a woman, I’m almost expected to objectify myself and “use what I was blessed with” to get what I want out of life.   

Now, don’t get me wrong—I’m not saying looking good is a bad thing.  In fact, it’s well-known that first impressions leave a long-lasting impact.
But why do we focus so much on looks?

Did you know that you base on who you’re going to be friends with on how they look?  I tried it once in one of my big lecture halls.  I’m telling you, it works.  I was able to pick out who I would most likely talk to versus the ones I would be more apprehensive to talk to.   
But look at it this way: I could be missing out on some really great people, just because I may not like their taste in hair style.  

And this is what I’m trying to get at.

We’re so hung up on appearance that we miss out on life.  We miss sleeping in that extra 15 minutes because we have to curl our hair in the morning.  We sit on our computers making people think we have these extravagant lives, when in reality we just create the illusion that we do.  We watch the younger generations grow up in vanity, and strive to be “beautiful” by society’s standards, not their own.

I’m not saying you need to stop caring about your looks.  I’m not even saying that you shouldn’t judge people on their looks.  All I’m trying to point out is that maybe some things are more important than our vanity in life, and we need to realize how wrapped up we are in it to become disentangled.
Maybe then, we can truly live this little thing called life.

Lottie is a junior at the University of Northern Iowa and she is a communications major with a journalism minor. She has always had a passion for fashion and writing, so she figured, why not combine them? She was a writer for Her Campus only one semester before becoming the Editor-in-chief and campus correspondent for fall of 2011. Lottie is very excited to take on the challenge and to make great things happen with Her Campus magazine.