Thursday, 3 October 2013

Are we too vain?

Many of my posts are about the importance of looking good no matter how old you are.  I guess that some people may think this is all about vanity, and that there are far more important issues in the world than the way we look. That is of course quite true. Other people may see being over 60 as being "over the hill" and suggest that we over 60 women should all dress in black in order to become invisible. This is definitely not true! However I don't think we should underestimate the positive effects of looking good and especially of feeling good. For many women, including me, the two are closely linked.

When I feel comfortable in the clothes that I am wearing, when I know that the style and the colours flatter me, I definitely feel better about myself. I leave the house feeling happy and confident, so if I see my neighbours I smile at them and wish them a good day. They respond with a smile and a "buenos días" too. I'm not saying that I would ignore my neighbours or glare at them if my shoes were pinching, or if I was wearing an old, faded sweater that didn't suit me (we have lovely, friendly neighbours after all), but I suspect that my smile might not be quite as wide and my voice might sound less cheerful if I didn't look and feel good. Having said that, if I'm not at my best and I see one particular neighbour, who always beams at me and calls out "Buenos días" in a loud, jolly voice, I immediately feel brighter and happier.

Doesn't she make you want to smile too?
Let me put it another way. Whenever I visit London in autumn or winter and travel on the tube, I seem to be surrounded by people wearing dark clothes and with miserable faces. It depresses me and no doubt they feel equally depressed. If on the other hand I see somebody smiling, it immediately makes me feel a little bit better and my reaction is to smile too. When somebody gets on the train wearing a brighter outfit, somehow the atmosphere changes and I feel brighter myself. These might seem superficial however I believe that the overall effect is uplifting, which has to be a good thing.

C'mon, give us a smile!
One of the things that I love about living in Spain is the way that people smile at each other. I also love the way most Spaniards dress, particularly in the long summer months. Even women who wear dark clothes seem to have brightly coloured accessories and/or bright make-up. They look good, which makes them feel good - and because they feel good, they smile a lot. Just take a look at the two photos above and consider how you react to them.

So back to my original question: are we too vain? Maybe, though I for one don't spend too much time in front of the mirror, once I've checked that my hair isn't sticking up and that my clothes don't look too wrinkled (not much that I can do about my face though!) I suppose I take a certain pride in my appearance, but once I'm dressed I'm ready to go. What about you? Do you agree that looking good makes you feel better too?

If you don't believe that a simple act like smiling has an effect on other people, how about making a small helpful gesture such as holding open a door for an elderly person or for a mother with her hands full? Preferably accompanied by a smile! This video is a great example of the knock-on effect of doing so: Help each other and love each other.


  1. Oops--posted in wrong area!

    We could certainly go to extremes and wear feedsacks as a way of expressing our solidarity with people around the world who want to dress nicely but can't afford to. Not sure how that would help them though. So, I'm with you: dress to make ourselves feel wonderful, and then don't fret about it endlessly. As you said, doesn't change the character lines in my face!

    The more I've learned about how to wear colors and shapes, the better I have been feeling about myself too. And as you point out, the most important accessory is a smile (or upbeat attitude).

    I've noticed the same thing about London. My husband is British and tells me my bright colors (back when I wore very bright colors) would make me stand out when we visited. I think I would still stand out. But he said that people don't smile all the time there because it's so crowded and smiling at people is sort of invading their space. Could be, but I can't help smiling.

    1. Hi Robin, yes I noticed but I've politely ignored your other post!

      As a fellow Brit, I would agree with your husband. However what I have noticed is that if something happens on the tube - let's say that a child makes a funny comment - people generally seem to enjoy smiling in reaction and may even (hope that you're sitting down!) talk to each other. It's that well-known British reserve, I guess. I have Northern roots, so even when I lived in London I would smile at people and now that I live in Spain I automatically smile at people.

  2. Can I share this delicious article on the subject?

    1. Of course! I enjoyed reading it too - thanks for sharing.