Style is a state of mind.
We tolerate arrogance. Especially the arrogance of designers and creatives. But what about vanity?
So many people conflate the meaning of these two words and yet they are quite distinct – in terms of behaviour and also in terms of how this behaviour is judged.
Arrogance is thinking you are better than other people and unflinchingly declaring it at every given opportunity. Vanity is taking pride in your outward appearance and wanting recognition and validation from others for this.
I have nothing against arrogance, provided the person in question has a sense of humour that offers you the choice to wonder, “does he really think that, or is this a sort of counter-intuitive version of self-deprecating piss-take?” The seed of doubt and the sprout of humour make it…charming. Stylish, even.
Vanity on the other hand smells of insecurity and makes for a much more unstable character. This is someone who parades and displays themselves. That swans around a room looking coy but seeking to be noticed. This character worries me, because they are vulnerable to the flattery and slyness of others. They will love whoever loves them. They will admire whoever admires them. They will forgive themselves for being unfaithful because being a good friend, acquaintance or lover amounts to nothing more than adoration.
Again, this is not to say that there is anything wrong with you if you are flattered by someone’s compliments. We are human, and getting validation and giving it is the way that we navigate society. My issue is that adoration should not be the ultimate goal… and when it starts to look that way, we should try to correct it.
Arrogance is performing at loving yourself. Both OW’s would approve of it (Oprah Winfrey and Oscar Wilde – our external measures of moral and creative ambition). And it happens to be something that looks very much like humility if you can inflect it with a bit of humour. It’s genius really.
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