Male Vanity

Vanity is a word that usually characterizes women who cling to their youth and beauty as her source of value. I do, however, notice that more and more men today are preening themselves just like the females. I have even seen one teenager carrying around a makeup kit in his bag (he was not homosexual). And although not as much as before, I also admit to engaging in vanity as well. So, what is happening to us men?

Did our primal ancestors care as much about their appearance as we do now? I highly doubt it. They didn’t even have mirrors back then to worry about whether they looked good enough or not. Perhaps they had tribal symbols to show off their membership and status, but they were not necessarily there to attract women. Instead, men of the past were pragmatic and focused more on learning and creating a legacy. Being a warrior was more important than being handsome, building a better future was more important than how much attention they were getting, and being virtuous was more important than attracting women. Men focused on being men.

Today, as part of our androgynization process, men are decorating themselves in more ways than they ever had in history. They care about how they dress and with what brand—just like women; they trim their hair with care and style them; they get braces to straighten their teeth; they put on perfumes and deodorants; and many build their muscles for the primary reason of looking good. In our shallow and narcissistic society, looks do matter and men want to signal their value through vanity just as the women do. Because if you don’t dress as well as the others, you might be perceived as being a lesser man. If you don’t look as good as your rival, others will think less of your ability as a leader. Women, too, are increasingly putting higher importance on a man’s appearance rather than his core value as a man when it comes to attraction. Is it any wonder that male vanity is prevalent in today’s world?

I hate to admit it, but I myself worry about my own appearance. I wonder if I’m too short, if my posture is bad, if I have enough muscles, if my hair looks good enough, or if my clothes look attractive. And when I look in the mirror, I also notice that my eyes are uneven, that I am already showing wrinkles and other signs of aging, that the skin on my face is uneven and covered with acne scars, and that the mole on my nose has gone bigger and darker over the years. Am I just being vain and distracted from doing more important things? Or are these legitimate concerns I should try to correct? I can’t help but to feel guilty about being concerned with appearance when other men have gone through life and death struggles. Why am I worrying about my looks like a woman? Why should I care what others think about my looks? But then again, our society has elevated the importance of appearance, so am not just being practical in making myself look presentable?

So what is to be done then?

Depending on your life circumstance and what is important for you at the moment, I think you should take care of your looks without overdoing it.

Be pragmatic without being vain. If women don’t find you attractive because you don’t pretty yourself like a girl, they were not worthwhile to begin with. You should only focus on attracting women who value you for your true worth. Instead of polishing the surface, you should invest more in building your life from the core. You should be strive to be a man for the sake of being a man rather than to gain attention and attraction. It really doesn’t take much to look sharp. So if you actually care about designer clothes, you’re probably doing too much.

I still don’t really know where to draw the line between vanity and pragmatism, but I guess as with most other things I will learn as I go on.

5 thoughts on “Male Vanity

  1. I would say marketers have a hand in this as well. Men being divorced from their masculinity naturally undergo identity crises. So marketers step in and offer them a solution to feel better. Plus they can expand their markets by 50%. These men purchase these clothes and spend hundred on supplements to try to reinvigorate their spirit but it helps little. It’s throwing water into a volcano. Honestly once I understood looks meant less to women then they did to me I was able to stop caring about how I look so much.

    Of course I still train as it’s important to stay in fighting shape but it’s not to “impress” women. Once I found my core masculinity and could walk up to little boys with big muscles and expensive clothing and take their girls I cared less and less about my vanity.

    Now granted there is more to life than getting women but as a young male until he gets that part of his life down it’s going to be hard for him to focus on other things. Or at least it was for me. Learning game allowed me to expand my life and mind. No highschool kid gives two shits about entrepreneurship if he isn’t getting his dick wet. Unless of course he thinks entrepreneurship will lead to him getting his dick wet.

    Great article Corey, this is something all men go through. I spent my entire high school years primping and preening at the gym and with my wardrobe. Looking back it disgusts me but hey we all learn and grow. Thats the point after all lol.

    • Excellent comment; I agree with all you said. Vanity might just be a phase that young men go through due to our shallow culture of narcissism fueled by marketers just like you pointed out.

      By the way, how old are you if you don’t mind me asking? I myself haven’t hit 30 yet.

  2. It’s a cycle really. We’re basically told from a young age that these things are important and so we never question them. And there’s no reason for most people to do so, since it’s working for them. Or at least they think it is.

    In my opinion there’s a very fine line between being vain and just dressing decent/appropriately. The difference in these two is the purpose you have for using the product or applying something to yourself.

    For example, buying a winter jacket because the other one broken beyond repair and you’ll otherwise be cold is definitely not vanity. When you buy that jacket and also pay attention to what it looks like, you’re still not vain but just have a preference. Now if you were to sacrifice needed functionality, say being waterproof, for something vain like a different color. THAT would be vanity.

    My point: Great article, absolutely agree, here’s a little pointer for determining if you’re actually being vain. One last note on that though: Beware not let bad rationalization convince you you’re doing something functional, while it actually is vanity.

  3. Men have always took pride in their appearance. This is not a new thing. A Gentleman is always well groomed, well dressed, and smells nice. There is nothing sissified about it. When did the essence of being manly include being a slob? Unless you’re from a lower socio economic background. In general, being manly is putting your best foot forward.

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