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Vanity- The Only One Should Be by Your Bathroom Mirror

Vanity- The Only One Should Be by Your Bathroom Mirror

Vanity.  We should only be using this word when talking about the place in the bathroom where women keep their makeup.  But I hear the word vanity, or vain, much too frequently in my office.  It is said apologetically when a new patient comes for a consultation, “I don’t mean to be vain, but…” “Don’t think of me as vain, but…”  “Maybe I’m being vain, but…”

I’d like to abolish this word.  I started paying more attention when I met a woman diagnosed with breast cancer, and she was offered reconstruction.  She said, “I don’t want to seem vain.”  Vain?  Why is it vain to want to restore a part of your body that is being threatened by cancer?  Why do you have to qualify that, frankly, you’d like to still look like yourself after a surgery that is going to remove part or all of an organ that is associated with beauty, femininity, nurturing, and nourishing?

This interaction made me think a lot about the patients who I meet every day.  A mother who works hard to diet and exercise and is back down to her pre-baby weight, but still gets asked when the baby is due.  A student who wants to be more active but cannot contain her generous breasts to exercise, even while wearing multiple bras.  A bride-to-be who wants to fill out the bodice of her wedding dress.  A woman tired of hearing she looks tired.  All these different women are seeking my help to address an issue that there is a solution for.  None of them, in my opinion, are vain.

So let’s stop apologizing for wanting what we want.  If I can help, I will.  No justification is required.

 

 

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