This Month’s Ask Heather Question:
Am I being vain for concerning myself with my skin’s appearance?
I am often faced with this concern from patients who are inquiring about laser procedures for the correction of sun spots, wrinkles and excessive or unwanted hair. Typically the question comes from patients who are incredibly selfless and who’ve dedicated much of their lives to providing for others, be they a parent, spouse, volunteer or a caretaker of another sort, like a nurse or teacher. I’ve often wondered why it is that those who give so much to others sometimes struggle to justify providing for themselves, even outside of the realm of maintaining one’s appearance. This got me to thinking about the actual definition of vanity, so I looked it up. Here’s what I found:
Vanity (van-i-ty): Excessive pride in one’s appearance or accomplishments; conceit
After looking up the definition the word excessive immediately stuck out. It is certainly the best word to describe the difference between the natural concern we all have for our own appearance and the kind of person who is unhealthily fixated by their physical appearance.
There is nothing excessive about caring for your skin. It just so happens that healthy skin is beautiful skin. As we age the desire to retain the look and texture of our skin is completely natural. Our outward appearance is directly linked to self-esteem. Because this link is so strong there should be no doubt or shame in spending a few moments a day caring for your skin’s health. In my professional experience it would not even occur to a truly vain person that caring for their skin would be considered excessive.