THE OTHER day, I overheard two women in the locker room discussing all of their perceived figure flaws, comparing themselves to celebrities and dreading the holiday social obligations they had to attend.
I don't give unsolicited advice. But if I were the type to butt in, here is what I would have said: Ladies, how about showing yourselves a little more kindness and compassion?
More than 80 percent of American women are dissatisfied with their appearance and it's estimated that a whopping 10 million suffer from eating disorders, according to the National Eating Disorders Association.
Here's what we need to remember: The fantasies marketed to all of us by Hollywood and the fashion industry are just that - fantasies. So please don't tear yourself apart trying to look like the women you see in magazines.
As a matter of fact, your favorite model or celebrity does not look in real life as she does on the cover of a magazine. It's impossible!
When you see a model or starlet in full makeup, please realize there is nothing natural about that beauty. It's the work of the makeup artist, a master illusionist who carefully applies a generous helping of concealer, foundation and powder to produce that flawless look.
Don't be fooled. Models and starlets have zits and wrinkles - just like the rest of us.
Realize, too, that the body your favorite celebrity cannot achieve in the gym is often corrected on the computer. Busts are lifted and enlarged, cellulite deleted.
The average American woman is 5-foot-4 and 165 pounds. The average American model is 5-foot-11 and 117 pounds - willowy dimensions that apply to only about 2 percent of American women.
Can you see the futility of trying to live up to this ideal?
Please stop trying!
Instead of obsessing over how to look thinner and younger, let's change our perspective. Let's focus on what our bodies can do - and not so much on what they look like.
Can you run up a flight of stairs without getting winded? Can you do 10 push-ups? Five? Good for you!
Think of Serena Williams, the reigning queen of tennis. Surely, she doesn't go into a grand-slam tournament feeling inadequate because she's not a Size 2, or worrying that her outfit makes her thighs look fat.
Try to ignore your inner critic. Then get out there and crush every opportunity that life offers you!
Your clothing size does not determine your worth - or even your level of fitness - and hitting that "perfect" size will not bring you love or lasting happiness.
Starting today, set your own standards for what's beautiful, celebrate what's beautiful about you and practice feeling at home in your body!