Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Vain People Fascinate Me

Or perhaps it’d be more accurate to say that narcissistic people fascinate me. Have you ever met someone that was truly, completely and irrevocably in love with themselves? Because if you have, you’d know exactly what I’m talking about.

I once had class with this girl – she was very nice, and for the first semester that I knew her, she seemed pretty normal. But then when I took a multimedia class with her, I noticed that she spent at least 50% of class time admiring pictures of herself on the computer and inviting others (often me, because I sat beside her) to do the same.

Can you imagine what it must feel like to be so besotted with your own loveliness that you are compelled to stare at pictures of yourself every chance you get? Okay, maybe I’m being unfair with my remarks about the frequency of her conducting this activity, since I wasn’t with her 24/7, but I know for sure that she at least did this for three hours straight EVERY SINGLE WEEK.

Then I met this woman at work last summer at an international conference. She was about 30 at the time, although, like most Asian women, she looked easily five years younger. She really was quite lovely, and she must think so too, because 75% of the pictures she has on Facebook is of herself, usually self-taken in front of a mirror, with a very smitten, aren't-I-so-beautiful-but-I-don't-really-care expression on her face. She also has an entire Facebook photo album dedicated to all the flowers she's ever received; she's had many admirers, and she's probably received more flowers than I ever will. Heck, if I were that lovely, I'd be totally in love with myself, too.

There are many other examples, and if you take the time to look, you might see that they are easily identifiable. They usually have tons of photos of themselves online, often taken by themselves, and often all of them look exactly the same, with the same smile, the same poses, the same expression - that they are utterly enamored with their gorgeousness, and so they have to capture as much of it in photos as they possibly can to share with the world.

The male equivalent is even worse because it often includes a lot of nudity in photos - super low-slung pants, casually undone buttons, blown-open shirts, casual poses with muscles all flexed, and tight shirts if they are gay or European, with the notable exception of tank tops. The interesting thing is that guys tend to have their faces covered at least partly by hats, aviator shades or by looking in a certain direction, but their female counterparts inevitably beam sweetly at the camera, with fewer body shots.

I am utterly, utterly fascinated by people like this because I know that I can never, ever be like them. I will always be aware of my flaws. My self-consciousness isn’t debilitating or destructive (hello, Marjorie from ANTM!), but it's like my love for chocolate – constant and always present. The focal points of it might change from time to time, but I don't think I've ever been completely at peace with every part of me, not wanting to change anything, completely besotted with my own fabulousness.

At the back of my mind, I always have the idea of, "I should try to lose a few pounds or avoid certain foods that might aggravate my skin or be more hard-working/whatever," encouraged by certain people in my life who always impressed upon me that I'll be more loved, more beautiful, more popular, more successful, or any other number of qualities, if only I didn't have the imperfections that I was born with. I'd frequently deliberately do nothing about my flaws to spite the people who made me feel like I'm not good enough as I am, but at the back of my mind, I always felt like I should take actions to improve myself...

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