It used to be that vanity products were actual physical products like eye shadow, blush and lipstick, or skincare products such as cleansers, toners and moisturisers, or side products like health supplements and lifestyle tools.
But the advent of social media networks that allow individuals to create their own beauty channels and content have given birth to a breed of entrepreneurs trading in the sale of VANITY as a product.
WHAT AND WHO
Specifically, the makeup or style mavens who present these channels primarily on Instagram and Youtube are not only endorsing the products they are using, they are also endorsing the culture of vanity as a product.
You will see a large number of women of many ages not only putting on makeup, but adopting affectations such as pouting, posing with coquettish expressions, and stylising their presentation to build themselves as a real life beauty model. The same goes for the expanding number of children, men and women from the transgender community, cosplayers and people considered different from the beauty norm (from people of colour, different races and facial features, to people who are physically or mentally challenged, scarred or have conditions that affect their physical features, such as vitiligo) – who are all not only endorsing the beauty products or the use of them, but the value, as they see it, of presenting oneself in the act of self-love that is specific to appreciating one’s own beauty: vanity.
Selling vanity as opposed to vanity products means that it doesn’t matter who peddles it – what matters is the confidence the person has. It means anyone can identify with the presenter, and the presenter can create a whole new standard of beauty that could in turn create changes in trends and outlooks.
One could even say that social network behaviour is tending towards “curating” your own profile, rather than randomly presenting snippets of your life to the world. Particularly in platforms such as Instagram, millennials are tending to edit out lower-performing posts (either visually discordant to the overall feel of the profile, or garnering a poor number of likes), suggesting that self-awareness and self-presentation is very high.
Is this a bad thing?
Well, that depends on how you define vanity. In the traditional sense, it is tantamount to a sin. But seeing as we are talking about social media and new forms of entrepreneurship, we can safely say that traditional sense does not necessarily count here.
Before we get into that, there is a caveat to treating sellable vanity as a positive thing: and that is that the consumer needs to be able to recognise that their self-worth is not dependent on the the investment they make into their beauty regime, nor on their perceived beauty.
However that is a whole other issue involving the education of the consumer by their family and community, and by these purveyors of beauty mentioned earlier.
What does vanity mean to the consumer (i.e. the followers of these profiles)? Nowadays, whilst the word itself still connotes self-absorption, there are many more layers to its meaning. Flaunting vanity has become a byproduct of beauty channels, and implies that the presenter or account holder both has confidence in themselves, and, does not need to be beautiful in the traditional sense, in order to be sellers of “beauty”.
What this means is, they become purveyors of of ideals of independence, individuality, self-acceptance and diversity. People of all colours, ages, and ideals of beauty or even ideals of difference can present themselves as beautiful in a manner legitimised by their non-traditional peddling of vanity as a lifestyle – a choice.
You can choose to be self-loving and appreciating. You can choose to be beautiful.
Nobody loves you? Love yourself.
People think you’re not beautiful? Create your own beauty standard.
This is very empowering but is also a double-edged sword. The empowerment lies in making the choice to believe in yourself.
The double edged sword? Makeup is both an enhancer of one’s beauty, and a cover-up. Makeup masks the self with layers of product, contouring, fakery – or, of exposing one’s natural beauty and celebrating it.
Also See: KEJARA-The Merits of Demerits