Vanity is "the excessive belief in one's own abilities or attractiveness to others", characterized by excessive pride. Vanity often concerns physical appearance, which is why a small case or types of cabinetry are called "vanity cases" or a "vanity".
Jane Austen differentiated between vanity and pride: "Vanity and pride are different things, though the words are often used synonymously. A person may be proud without being vain. Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves; vanity, to what we would have others think of us."
We are all vain about something, even though we might not express it, or feign modesty (as women were taught to do) when complimented: "You have a beautiful singing voice." "Oh! Not really."
Vanity is the distortion of a virtue, love, which includes love for one's self, just as gluttony is the exaggeration of healthy appetite.
I'm vain about my ability to make confident aesthetic choices. I'm vain about my curly hair, and I even feel vain about being vain about it sometimes, because so many women conform to the sleek, straight look even if they have to go through all sorts of work to get it.
There are times though, when I am fed up with my vanity; I fire myself from claiming any specialness. I will see a decor article with its sumptuous pictures and think, "I could never assemble that audacious blend of colour, texture and objects!" I notice my hair is thinning as I age, so my vanity in being curly is not so certain. I am vain about my hands, especially my fingers, which are long, with strong nails. They are now crossed with prominent veins and plenty of wrinkles- I have to downgrade my vanity there, too.
If vanity is one's Deadly Sin of choice (mine is Sloth thank you very much, and I'll get back to you much later), aging is terrifying. The antidote for vanity is a practice of releasing some of the props and accepting what is.
Sometimes life does this for us as the years roll by, diminishing athletic skill or scratching up the lustre of youthful beauty. "What we would have others think of us", in Austen's words, is less relevant as we are released from the scrutiny of the world's judging eye.
As I age, I hope to retain a modest amount of pride, for it keeps me in the game, engaged with the world. My mother, at 98, wanted to be sure her lipstick matched her dress. But I will be relieved if I can shrug off the futile and false desire to receive continual confirmation from others.