Is vanity really a bad thing?

Have you ever played the board game Apples to Apples? It's one million times easier to play than to explain, so bear with me. Basically, a card with an adjective(or noun) on it is thrown down, each player has to come up with a topic that epitomize this adjective(or noun) and the person whose turn it is gets to pick his or her own example from the 'matches'. When it was my turn, the adjective was "depressing." My choices were:

Germany in 1945
A bad haircut

Now, obviously AIDS and Germany in 1945 are some of the most depressing, downright awful things the world has ever known, but I haven't lived through either. What I have lived through is a really terrible haircut. And, man, that is very depressing.

Depending on the severity, a crummy haircut can affect everything in my life--from the way I talk to other people to how often I want to leave the house. (Anyone who argues this has never seen a makeover episode of What Not To Wear, like when Nick tells the ladies that he is going to cut their long hair off so that it can frame their face better and make it healthier) Bad haircuts suck, they take longer to grow out than everyone says they will, and there's only so much you can do with headbands, bobby pins, rubber bands and clips. I think I use my hair as a part of my identity... good or bad.

So, I chose "A bad haircut" as most depressing. And I immediately was the joke for the evening and felt stupid and shallow. Throughout the game, there were other things, mentions of lipstick and pedicures and the like, that made me realize somehow along the way, I've become that girl. That girl who cares about the way she looks possibly more than she should.

I've become vain.

These days, grooming is sort of a shield to me . . . it makes me more comfortable facing the world. And it's not like I'm living in a vacuum, just sequestered at home with three small children day in and day out. Society dictates a certain visual expectation for women, one far more complicated and time consuming than the one that exists for men. It's crap, but it's reality. So, I think about things like haircuts and shoes and eyeshadow and whether my arse looks big in a pair of pants. Girlie and shallow or not, they're an important part of my life.

Does that make me vain and/or excessively prideful about my appearance? Perhaps. I think that taking care of myself so that I am healthy and look healthy isn't exactly vain... I want to look my best so I feel my best and have the self-confidence to get done what I need to get done.