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Vanity vs Self-Love

Disclaimer: This is a stream of consciousness post. As the thought appeared I wrote about them. It may make no sense.

I’m starting to feel like there are two conflicting ideas in society, “love yourself” and “don’t be vain”. In theory these ideas do not contradict themselves, but sometimes they do overlap. We are taught both these ideas from a very young age. Loving something about yourself doesn’t make you vain, it’s believing you’re better than everyone else that makes you vain. As children we stare at our appearance and marvel at how we look, but as we get older that becomes not okay.

Why? Is it because we think it will make us conceited? Do we believe that loving our appearance will make us vain? And should we feel guilty that we love how we look?

We are constantly shown the “ideal” human in magazines and advertisements. It’s almost like we are told to hate our bodies and to never be happy with them. But still, especially with our appearance, self-love is preached. Loving your body is a brave thing to do, no matter what other people say about you. You should never feel bad because you love yourself.

Vanity and self-love do not just apply to your appearance. Maybe you really value your strength or your intelligence. There’s no thin line between self-love and vanity, there’s a very clear distinction to me. If you lord something over other people or believe you’re better because of some trait you possess, that’s vanity. But somehow self-love is still considered a synonym of vanity. There’s overlap in both meaning having pride in one’s self, but one is too the extreme. This is why it’s easy to get confused between the two. Love yourself. Don’t ever feel bad for loving yourself. But don’t be mean about it.

Another wonderful side point that I brought up, sort of accidentally, is that no one should judge you based on how you feel about yourself. No one can tell you how to feel. Feelings can be up to you or they can be seemingly random. No one should make you feel bad based on how you feel about yourself, things that are going on around you, or even just your taste in music. You’re allowed to be sad or happy when you feel sad or happy.

It’s easier said than done. A couple weeks ago I posted a post called A Little Bit of Self-Love in which I outlined a list of ten things I loved about myself. Most they were personality traits, but my body could have also been on that list. I love my body despite a few things I’d like to change about myself. I also love my intelligence.

I’m not going to be ashamed that I love myself even if other people think I should. I’m not going to feel guilty for saying those things either. I love my body because I’ve taught myself to. I used to be really self-conscious about my figure, and I still am to some degree. But I’ve let a little of that go. I want to be happy and if I’m constantly worried about how I look I can’t be happy.

Finding self-love is hard. It’s something that comes from within. It’s acceptance of yourself. And it’s not the same for everyone. I can’t stand on a mountaintop and tell people how to love themselves. Just as everyone is different in what they love about themselves, everyone has a different way of loving themselves.

What we mean to teach is “love yourself” and “be humble”. We want each other to be happy and to be kind. And we should love ourselves and be humble. Love who you are and what you want to love about yourself. Ignore what other people think. Be the person you want to be.