Wanting to look attractive is a normal, healthy instinct in both women and men of all ages. As a species, we have evolved to be attracted to people who look healthy, with clear skin, shiny hair, and white teeth. As a result, our standards for beauty tend to overlap considerably with the appearance of a healthy individual. Of course, we are not all equally blessed when it comes to good looks, but by taking care of our physical and emotional health, we can all be the most attractive version of ourselves that we can. Aspiring to be found attractive by others is normal and healthy.
An interesting feature of humans as opposed to other mammals is our love of adornments such as jewellery and tattoos. Obviously, most animals don’t have the intellectual or physical ability to make such things, but the fact that adornments like this are found in all human societies—and have even been found by archaeologists in association with pre-human ancestors of ours—suggests that a love of adornment is also a healthy, natural function of our species. Of course, when it comes to jewellery and other trinkets, the capacity to display social status in the form of expensive rings and necklaces is also a feature.
To put it briefly: No, it is not vain to want to look nice, and so long as our endeavours to present ourselves at our best are healthy, and don’t challenge the bank balance too much, we are engaging in normal behaviour that is nothing to worry about!
However, in some cases the desire to look nice can become maladaptive, contributing to mental disorders such as anorexia, whereby the affected person starves themselves because they believe that they are overweight (when the reality is very different), bulimia, and even self-harming.
We can also see excessive plastic surgery as a form of self-harm. Many people turn to plastic surgery to “fix” physical features that they do not like about themselves, or to address unwelcome signs of aging. In some cases, this can help people to accept themselves and feel happier. However, plastic surgery can become very addictive, with patients endlessly booking new procedures in the quest to look as “perfect” as possible. Unscrupulous plastic surgeons can take advantage of people’s insecurities and book them in for multiple unnecessary procedures that can even result in them looking grotesque.
Our natural, healthy desire to look nice needs to be balanced with a dose of realism and acceptance. We all get older, and while we can look our best with a good diet, plenty of exercise, and some attention to our appearance, aging is a natural process that even the best surgeon’s knife can’t prevent.
WHO CAN I SPEAK TO FURTHER ABOUT THE ISSUES IN THIS ARTICLE?
For help with the issues discussed in this article speak to one of our therapists here at Private Therapy Clinic for a free initial chat or to make an appointment.