Do You Really Think You Look That Great?

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While some people get an adrenaline high from exercise — and love every sweaty minute — I’m a clock-watcher. In order to pass time, and as a mini-sociological experiment, I play a game.

While on a spinning bike or elliptical, I randomly pick a women in “uniform” and count how many times she looks at herself in one of the dozen mirrors scattered around the gym.

(For edification: the gym “uniform” is a tight-fitting black spandex pant paired with any brightly colored Lululemon top; it is to the workout maven as a white button down and plaid skirt is to the Catholic school girl.)

During my hour of cardio, “yellow yoga top girl” looked in the mirror 46 times.  “Purple yoga top girl” wasn’t so blatant; she caught quick glances at the drinking fountain and while putting on her boots at the lockers, wracking up a modest 16 glances.

I am equal opportunity, too: The guy in the loose sweatpants and bandana looked at his flexed biceps 52 times.

My game is not a judgment thing. I’m surely as vain as the rest of them. And, those who claim to exercise exclusively “for health” are full of bullshit, right? Seriously!

But it does make me wonder what people actually see when they look in the mirror. I know that I’m not unlike most women, in that I see the flaws; Jewish women, in particular, have enormous body image issues. (Am I even allowed to make blatant generalizations in this blog?)

I’m jealous of those women we’ve all seen at water parks strutting around in string bikinis with absolutely no concern about cellulite or flab hanging from their abdomens.

It’s like they either think they look awesome or don’t give a crap. Either way, how freeing must that be.

Imagine actually being a size 14 but feeling like a size 4; looking in the mirror and saying “Wow, you’re hot!” or “No, my butt does not look fat in those jeans.”

As parents, shouldn’t that be the goal for our girls? We want them to have a healthy self-concept. We want them to love themselves as they are, etc. But, when their bodies start changing, and puberty brings small rolls and pimples, our own “stuff” comes into play.

At age 10, my daughter Zoe is just beginning to feel self-conscious about her appearance. This time in her life presents a critical parenting challenge for me as a mom ¾ and as a woman who’s been there, done that.

My gut reaction to her choice of a plaid skirt with striped tights and neon hair bow will either reinforce the Free to be You and Me, love yourself no matter what credo, or it will be the impetus for a lifelong search for validation and years of expensive therapy.

OMG — this parenting gig is very involved!

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