Monday Motivation: Vanity is Not a Good Look

By Loralyn Mears PhD Loralyn Mears PhD has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team
Published on January 13, 2020

Monday Motivation here we come! We see you – coffee cup in hand, trudging through the dark cursing your commute. Don’t worry, we’ve got your back! If you’re more of a podcast person versus someone who reads, have a listen at our Monday Matters content on Spotify. Check out our Grit Daily podcast channel. If you lament this day of the week, you may need our Monday Motivation quick tips. Studies show that your morning mood affects your productivity all day. Grit Daily is here to get your work week off to a good start. Pump your fists – it’s time for Monday Motivation!

“Mirror, mirror, on the wall

Who’s the fairest of us all?” ~ the Evil Queen

Vanity vs. Self-Love

We live in this era of self-love, self-care and selfishness. “Me First” has been increasingly detected as a behavior broadly observed within society. Loneliness has been on the rise, too. There is no coincidence here – the two are linked behaviors. Loneliness makes us more self-absorbed and reduces our ability to have empathy. Researchers suggest that we put ourselves first and above others as a mechanism for survival.

Here’s the paradox and irony of it all: when we’re lonely, we want to be around others so we seek out social engagements yet our vanity is off-putting to others and alienates us. The result? We’re left alone which is exactly what we we trying to circumvent. However, like nearly everything, a little can be good (self-love) but too much (vanity) is typically bad. And this is the whole focus of our Monday motivation column today.

The critical part of the definition of vanity is ‘excessive self-love and obsession with how one is perceived versus others.’ Vanity can make you seem less trustworthy and lead to negative treatment of others (because those who are vain feel superior to others) which further reinforces the solitude and loneliness of the vain person. That lacking of trust stems from visible vanity shows the world that ‘I care about me more than you.’

Social Comparison Theory

You know that as soon as a theory is given a title, nothing good is going to come from it! Especially if it’s featured here in this section of a Monday motivation column. The rise of mobile smart phones and social media has perpetuated a culture and practice of comparing ourselves to others. Did you know that So-and-So went to [insert dream holiday destination or music festival here]? Perhaps there’s a jealous backlash, ‘she totally photoshopped her waist or used filters.’ Each day, millions of viewers watch as YouTubers take hours to perfect their ‘look’ before they head outside where they might be seen by others: these influencers reinforce that it’s okay to obsess with how you look.

Some of us are taking our vanity too far. Selfie-deaths, despite warnings and an increasing number of selfie- and selfie-stick bans in popular tourist areas, continue to rise. India has the highest selfie-deaths morbidity rate in the word on a per capita basis followed closely by Russia and the US.

Our obsession for the “perfect selfie” has gone far beyond filters and lighting. Enter the new e-Sport of ‘extreme selfies’ and ‘killfies’ where the stunts are deliberately death-defying in an attemt to go viral – or die. ‘Snapchat Dysmorphia’ is now recognized as a mental health condition where people are getting surgery to look more like the filtered character featured in their snaps.

Tips to curb your vanity

You can achieve a healthy balance here. Monday motivation is all about balance, not taking any one thing to an extreme. We live in a digital age where taking a selfie-snap and posting it across social media takes seconds and can be done almost mindlessly.

Don’t become a Vanity Smurf!

The trick is being mindful about it. We can become so obsessed with perfection, indeed, with our own need to achieve flawlessness, that self-love can quickly erode into self-loathing. Science shows that how many selfies we take and view is inversely correlated with our own self-esteem.

#1 – shift your focus, think of how others are feeling

This tip is counterintuitive and unnatural to narcissists. Of course, they don’t think about others, that’s how they’ve been categorized as narcissists! But, for those who consciously want to change and are becoming aware that they’re tilting beyond ‘self-love’ into the realm of vanity, then this is a good behavior to practice.

#2 – stop comparing yourself to others

Putting yourself last may be taking the tip a bit too far, but, you can certainly try to not put yourself first all the time. It’s a big, big world out there and only a handful achieve global notoriety. Be proud of who you are and how you look but don’t compare how you look to others. If you’re attractive, lucky you! That doesn’t make you superior to others, you simply have attractiveness as a strength whereas others may shine even brighter given the combination of their strengths. And that’s the beauty – literally – of Monday motivation where combinations of traits and behaviors can outshine any solitary superpower.

#3 – reduce the number of selfies that you take

In 2014, more than 93 million selfies were taken each day on Android phones: yet we all know that Apple phones are enormously popular in the USA, so how many selfies in total are taken? The number must be staggering! And calculating that number is certainly well beyond my mathematical capabilities as a Monday motivation columnist struggling through a cold meds-induced fog …

In 2016, more than 24 billion selfies were uploaded to social platforms. We’re taking more selfies every day yet 82% of those surveyed said that they’d prefer to see fewer selfies in their social feeds and that may be having an impact as the number of selfie deaths dipped in 2018 and 2019. According to current statistics, Millennials are tracking close to 25,000 selfies in a lifetime.

On a given day, how many selfies do you take? Is it more than one? More than five? Ten? Although there is no number which delineates how many is too many and “vain,” make conscious choices to take fewer selfies and to obsess over how you look in them. That need for popularity fuels narcissism and vanity.

It’s 2020, be happy with you who are, don’t compare yourself to others and try to think more consciously about how others feel and would react to whichever action you’ve taken.

By Loralyn Mears PhD Loralyn Mears PhD has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team

Journalist verified by Muck Rack verified

Dr. Loralyn Mears is a Columnist at Grit Daily and a podcast host (The Grit Files, which aims to shine the spotlight on female founders). She is a content marketer, founder of the WORKtech startup, STEERus, specializing in personal and professional development to address gaps in soft skills - communication in particular. In her consultancy practice, she helps clients with content and strategy. Loralyn spent over a decade playing with mosquito DNA, got her PhD, decided she would rather market science than be at the bench and has never looked back. Along the way, she’s wined and dined her way around the globe. She's authored two books, including the 2018 Gold Medal Indie Book award-winning, One Sip At a Time: a Memoir and the hard science thriller, "The Battle for Humanity: How Science Saved Us." 

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