You're so vain
During a recent match, Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro—widely regarded as one of the greatest footballers of all time—got kicked in the face. The five-time Ballon d'Or winner and model checked the condition of his bloodied face on his physician's phone. Images of this rather unusual gesture made their way to the internet and the internet went wild—mostly folks roasting Ronaldo for his preoccupation with his looks. Someone called it, “the most Cristiano Ronaldo moment ever.”
I won't lie; I may have laughed at this for a good minute. Then I got to thinking: why is vanity considered an emasculating trait? In 2018. After the world has [somewhat] agreed that gender stereotyping has to go.
Vanity [being preoccupied with one's physical attractiveness] and femininity are somehow intrinsically linked. In the popular psyche, a woman who is not vain is not fully “feminine”, while a man who is vain is not “masculine” enough. When referring to male beauty, “handsome” is often preceded by “ruggedly”—emphasising the lack of attention to appearance [universally preferable behaviour].
Women, on the other hand, can be as vain as they choose; in fact, it's preferred that they are. Women being vain is considered the natural state of affairs. A girl taking out a small mirror out of her purse and making sure she looks presentable—in a public space—is perfectly normal. Women taking forever to get ready is also overly familiar. Women asking their husbands/boyfriends “do I look fat in this?” is a tired question which still finds its way into popular media.
Why is insecurity always paired with femininity? A woman who takes great care of her appearance somehow becomes more of a woman while a man who is pre-occupied with his looks becomes less of a man. The implied femininity of vanity is a serious insult to a man. Overtly vain men are subjects of ridicule and disdain.
But then again, men do put effort into looking presentable—we shave, groom our beard, put gel in our hair, wear cologne etc. We, too, feel great about ourselves when complimented on our appearance. That means men ARE vain. Why then did CR7 get ridiculed for checking to make sure his other money-maker [feet first] is alright?
I think I've figured this one out. Men are allowed to be vain [read: insecure/weak/vulnerable], as long as we do it in private, and not check ourselves out in public, like Ronaldo did on the pitch, even if we're bleeding.
Karim Waheed is the Editor of Shout and can be reached at [email protected]