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Monday Mom challenge: Don't be vain!

Jen Klein is a New England-based technical writer and mother of three. When she isn't asking her kids to stop bickering, "caramelizing" the dinner or actively ignoring the dust bunnies under the couch, she enjoys knitting, gardening, pho...

Pride or vantiy?

Many a mom tells her kids that true beauty is on the inside. Adages like “Don’t judge a book by its cover” seek to reinforce that message. Are we unwittingly sabotaging the message? Just about everyone wants to look good, but in the effort to maintain some pride in your appearance are you crossing the line into such a heavy focus on appearance that you are showing your kids that looks are more important than inner qualities? In short, are you vain?

Pride or vantiy?

In the quest to look good, whether for yourself, your sweetie, for the job market or even for the moms around town, you may occasionally stray out of simple pride and into vanity. Your appearance becomes the focus, not a reflection of the inner you. But the inner you is pretty awesome, so take a U-turn from vanity.

Self-esteem boost?

Taking the time to take care of oneself through healthy behaviors and grooming certainly does boost one's self-esteem. It's an outward expression of inner confidence and respect -- and on days our inner selves are feeling bruised and low, taking the time to look nice can just plain help one get through the day.

Many moms have one or two appearance indulgences -- regular pedicures, perhaps, or a good colorist to take care of those roots -- and that's okay. In our busy lives as moms, we need to take appropriate me-time when we can, and if funky painted toenails are your thing and bring a lift to your days, awesome.

A fine line

However, when your self-esteem depends on your appearance, that's something else entirely. When the effort to "look good" is all-consuming and not being perfectly coifed or made up or in shape or dressed turns your world upside down, you've crossed a line into vanity -- and your appearance is really not the issue at all.

Admittedly, there is a very fine line between pride and vanity. What would be pride to some would be vanity to others and vice versa. But if taking care of outer appearance is interfering with your other interactions, you might want to step back and, ironically, look in the mirror.

Take care of the inside

If you think -- or, it's been suggested to you -- that your quest to "look good" is going too far, it's time to examine the inside of the book. Why, exactly, are you so focused on your outward appearance? What is going on inside that may be triggering this? What can you do to make yourself feel more comfortable with yourself, inside and out? What areas of your life can you address to make this balance a little more even -- and set the best example kids along the way?

The world will not end if you leave the house without mascara. You can miss a day of your rigid exercise plan without losing all muscle tone. And if it's really important to your daughter that you volunteer at the class field trip, you appointment with your colorist can be delayed. Take pride in your appearance -- of course -- but don't let it cross into vanity.

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