Are We Style Bloggers Terminally Vain?

Terminally vain. That’s inspired by a phrase from the classic Eagles song Life in The Fast Lane:  “He was brutally handsome, and she was terminally pretty.” I wrote a post years ago about my concerns surrounding blogging and vanity. And I’m still wondering, is being vain part of the essence of blogging? How self-absorbed do I have to be posting pictures of myself all over the internets?

I think the niggling am-I-vain question with regard to style blogging is about the posing, and the hair/makeup prep, and the wondering “how I’ll look” in the photos. I make internal jokes about it, and pretend I’m Maye Musk. Is she vain or leading the charge against ageism in advertising?

The beautiful model and dietician Maye Musk, age 70. Photo source.

If I don’t like how I look in a picture, of course I don’t post it. I’m not that artistically committed as to expose my quirky physical attributes. But what are my standards, and are they reasonable or terminally vain? After all, quoting my old post:

I’m a middle aged woman, not a Harper’s Bazaar model. I am mostly happy with the way I look. Blogging has caused me to pay a lot of attention to my aging appearance, and I’m not sure how I feel about that.

To deal with the doubts, I remind myself that there is more to style blogging than pretty pictures, at least in my world view. And recently I’ve been shifting my writing topics to the ways style interacts with aging and life philosophy. I still love sharing outfits, styling ideas, wardrobe, and shopping strategies. And I am still concerned about that extra bit of stress I give myself (do you feel it too?) at photo-shoot time.

I tell myself I am not so much vain as aware that appearance does matter, at some level, to all of us. In the perfect world it would not be so, but it is and we deal with it as we see fit. Humor, acceptance, a dash of courage is what we need as we show our faces to the world.


A filter-free selfie from a few weeks ago. We’re not dead yet.

Does the thought of “vain” occur to you when you blog? If so, please know we are all in it together. Enjoy every day, and stay fabulous, xox,

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  1. There’s definitely an amount of vanity involved! But I find that taking care with choosing my outfit, putting on makeup, etc. really serves to get me going and makes me more productive and just happier on a daily basis. Posting on my blog and Instagram keeps me doing it when I otherwise might skip a day … or week. For me, it serves another purpose in that I had a big weight loss and struggle to maintain it. Seeing myself in photos is always niggling in the back of my mind when I’m tempted to reach for potato chips instead of grapes!

  2. I have no problems in admitting there’s some vanity in me as a blogger, but I think that sharing a slice of my real life could encourage other women to feel more confident and express themselves too, so it’s not that bad!

  3. I was looking something new and unique to read at my office today and one of my very close friends shares your post link with me. I must say her thanks for sharing this beautiful post with me. Thank you so much for this lovely post. I’m literally impressed with whatever you have written in this post 🙂

  4. I don’t blog about fashion myself, but I follow many, many over 50 blogs and instagrams. I appreciate seeing real people wearing real clothes. I appreciate all the different points of view, different body sizes and shapes and most of all the different style choices. As LinB wrote, I admire their bravery (actually I agree wholeheartedly with everything she wrote).
    I look at you as the opposite of vain, in the way that I have used that word. Rather than using a wrinkle or extra pound or hair color change as a way to limit yourself ( I won’t wear that , I won’t let anyone see me with my hair-skin-figure looking that way) you promote being visible, and not letting our aging bodies define the way we think about ourselves in a negative way.
    Not paying attention to your appearance is appropriate in certain circumstances (I wouldn’t stop to do my makeup if the house was on fire) but is — whether we like it or not — vital in most of our social interactions. If you have ten seconds to make an impression, it won’t be with your words. As the inimitable Georgette Heyer says in “The Grand Sophy”:
    “Eugenia never wears modish gowns. She says there are more important things to think of than one’s dresses.’
    ‘What a stupid thing to say!’ remarked Sophy. ‘Naturally there are, but not, I hold, when one is dressing for dinner.”

  5. I am quite sure most of us have asked ourselves the same question at some point, I know I certainly have. I enjoy the creative side of the photography and putting my outfits together as well as sharing a part of my world. I also feel it does help with the invisibility that can come as we age and I do love the sense of community among bloggers. Also being proud of our age and making the best of ourselves with style, hair and make up can only be a good thing for our self esteem and if it inspires others all the better.

    • So well said, Jill. We can’t easily show the world our inner selves via blogging, but we can be good examples! xo

  6. I have had discussions with friends and other bloggers about the seemingly vain and narcissistic aspect of posting photos of ourselves. I agree with the other commenter who said that a little bit of vanity can be a good thing – it means we want the world to see our best possible self. I always hated being photographed for a number of reasons, so it still seems pretty weird to me that now all these photos of me are out there on the internet. I like to think that all of us older bloggers are putting these images of ourselves out there to balance out the number of photos of the filter-laden, air-brushed, overly made-up 20-somethings. We are interesting, attractive, creative, and engaging, and if it’s necessary to engage in the “Social Media Game” to remind the world of that, then I’m for it!

  7. Patti,
    A thoughtful question to ponder. I do wonder about this as well–the posing for photos. When I decided to do a fashion and travel blog for women over 50, I never considered that I would be posing for photos. I just knew I enjoyed sharing fashion ideas and love to travel and wanted to explore my creative side after “retiring” from a high-stress
    job. At first, I didn’t even want any of my friends or family to know!! It’s an interesting journey, one where I am learning a great deal about myself. Not to mention tech, SEO, links, affiliates, and the like. I do learn something new every damn day so I feel like this is healthy in that respect. Thanks for posing the question.

    • Same here – I had no plan to have pictures of myself popping up a couple of times a week on the internet! I guess we owe ourselves a small pat on the back for having some guts. : > xo

      • Very true. I love what the other ladies are saying: that we want the world to see our best possible self. And you are right–it does take guts!
        Thanks again for the engaging post.

  8. Reading through your post and some of the comments, I think I finally have a response in my own heart and mind to your question about blogging and vanity. Like with anything else, moderation is key. If I’m overly vain, I’m not able to participate in social life–I’m too busy focused on my own beauty, my selfies, my outfits, my photos to care about others. Too little vanity and I shrink into invisibility, which isn’t good either. Get it just right and I feel good/confident about how I look and I can actually see the beauty of others around me. Blogging, in and of itself doesn’t make me overly vain, especially if I can look beyond my own blog and be supportive of/learn from others doing the same thing.

    Thanks, once again, for the thoughtful dialogue, Patti!


    • Agreed, moderation is the best way in most life decisions. An occasional bit of craziness is also welcome! I have never picked up any “vain” about you; you’re bold without being self-absorbed. A lovely balance, xox

  9. An interesting subject Patti. I have been blogging for about 10 years now and at first hated taking photos of myself. Now with the help of a young student photogrqpher I find it the most fun part of blogging and very creative. i originally set up my blog to inspire older women to continue to have fun with fashion. I am not so sure about social media as I find there is a very human tendency to compare and that can become quite destructive if you let it,

    • So true about comparing – it doesn’t bring joy. You have a marvelous, positive blog and thanks for coming by to comment, xo

  10. That line from the Eagles is one of my favourites. I think it speaks volumes, especially in today’s IG/selfie obsessed life.

    I think 99.99% of all bloggers are hopelessly vain and I don’t see that as a good thing. We put so much emphasis on external looks. Our society is obsessed with it. It is too much pressure to maintain, especially as we age.

    Style bloggers create unsustainable fantasies. Ideals about how one should look, what they should wear and buy.

    Posting photos of myself, especially close-ups of my face seem abnormally vain to me. I have to force myself to do it because that is what people prefer. I feed the social media machine and then feel like crap because I’m playing the game.

    Prior to blogging I’d run the other direction when a camera was brought out. I’ve finally managed to rid myself of that dreaded, “scowling-deer-in-the-headlights” look but to what end? I have very few photos of myself when I was younger discovering the world, living life, travelling and taking chances and too many photos of myself after 45 trying my utmost to look excited while taking photos of myself in my house.

    I would also like to write more intellectually stimulating topics on my blog but I’m constantly reminded that our world today is a visual one. Pretty photos seem to have more impact. It frustrates me. I still believe that out of the many people that visit blogs only a few actually take the time to read them now, unlike a few years back when we had a real sense of a blogging community.

    Bravo to you for managing to elequently address this subject.


    • I thought you might like the Eagles quote, it does resonate in our look-at-me culture. Thanks for writing honestly and directly about this issue, and with your trademark humor (“trying my utmost to look excited while taking photos of myself in my house.”). Let’s make sure to keep having discoveries and taking chances. xox

  11. Isn’t everybody vain? Honestly, is there a single person alive who isn’t at least a little bit vain? And nothing wrong with that. We all want to be seen and appreciated, it’s just human. I certainly want to feel and look pretty, and that’s one of the reasons why I started blogging: to finally learn to look at photos of myself without cringeing, and maybe even find a way to look somewhat OK in photos. Well, I’m not always happy with my looks, but at least I don’t run away when somebody wants to take my picture (that used to be the case for so many years). And I don’t feel the need to apologise for being just a teeny bit self-abdorbed by posting my photos. I’m still a million miles from the millennial-type constant self promotion (being a cynicsl GenXer…), and I, like other bloggers, still discuss a variety of other topics, too. But what I really want to say is, all of us, bloggers and blog-readers, let’s be vain and proud. We are here, and we matter, and we want to be seen and heard, too. Yes, Patti, you are the leader of us, the Visible Women, so be vain, and ne proud!

    • Yes, let’s be vain and proud. We’ve been invisible for too long. Thanks for your wise words, Tiina, xox

  12. I look to you and other over 50 fashion bloggers for style advice and creativity because I have little creativity when it comes to dressing. I tend toward the preppy, conservative look because it is what I know and what is easy. I chose to follow a few bloggers to get me out of that rut every now and then. I like that you show thrifted pieces. It sends me back to my closet to see what I already own and what I can put together without always buying new. I haven’t found good thrift stores in my area, but I haven’t looked very hard either. Goodwill doesn’t cut it for me!
    Think of your blog as talking to girlfriends. It’s not vanity.

    • That’s a great perspective, we’re talking to our girlfriends. I’m so glad you read my blog, and thanks for your encouraging words, xox

  13. Thank you for this one, Patti. I used to blog when I changed careers at 50 to become a nurse. It was a great way to learn from others who had done the same and no, I don’t think all bloggers are self centered. They may be, like me, journalists at heart. I’m glad you have this blog bc I care about beauty, health and style. We are pioneering this attitude for the next generation too. Its important. We matter. Beauty is still beauty, no matter what age.

    • I love that phrase – “journalists at heart.” I’m going to borrow it! Thanks for your wise comment, xox

  14. You got me thinking, Patti! Not checking whether you’re being vain sends up warning flags for our generation, but may not be same for younger women with their increased confidence and routine posting of selfies on social media, what do you think?

    I find blatant vanity in the text of blogs very off-putting. Either I give them a miss, or if I’m interested in the subject I may still look at (some of) the pictures. Obviously I still read yours 😉

    • I think there’s definitely a generational gap in how we treat social media, Su. Younger women dominate the selfie world and it is always refreshing to me to see older women posting pics. Thanks for your comment. xox

  15. It’s funny that you’ve brought this up, Patti because it’s something that’s been brought up in my life, though in a slightly different way that I won’t go on about right now. I do try to be conscious of NOT becoming vain. I am a Christian and I do pray that God would keep from being vain about the things that I do. But, on the flip side of that, I do believe that God created beauty and that God created beauty in all of his creatures. I don’t do my blog, nor did I become a stylist, to flaunt my own appearance, which frankly I struggle with seeing and always have, I do it and use the skills I acquired to hopefully help other with, women who have struggled the way I have, see the beauty in themselves that God has given. To see that God has made all his children beautiful from the inside out and to help them let that shine. I don’t think that’s vain. I don’t see what you do as vain. In fact, I can’t think of a single style blogger that I follow who has crossed that line. Rather they a sweet, over 40 ladies who want to share that same message that we are still here, still beautiful, still relevant. I think that’s a wonderful message to share with the world!

  16. I’ve come to think that a little vanity can be a healthy thing, if it prompts us to take better care of ourselves and boosts confidence. Women are so often caught in a double bind: we’re supposed to look a certain way while not appearing to care or exert any effort in that direction.

  17. I NEVER think about the bloggers I follow, “Oh, she’s/he’s so vain and self-absorbed.” Instead, I admire their bravery to be so open and honest about themselves. Bloggers tend to be folk who want to be helpers, to be teachers, to be comforters — to spread the message that it’s okay to be human, it’s okay to have strong opinions about the basic tasks that all humans, everywhere and throughout all of time, have to accomplish. The task that interests me most is “How will I cover my body in a way that will protect it, and that is modest, and that makes me as socially acceptable as possible, and that projects the image of myself that I want others to see?” I love to see how others solve this problem.

    • Me too, genuinely and compassionately interested in how women of our age approach style/appearance. Thanks for your thoughtful comments. xo

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