MARCH IS Women's History Month, and, while we have certainly come a long way, baby, we still have a long way to go, especially when it comes to body image.

Years of listening to women in locker rooms complain either about themselves or other women has made me realize that many women aren't comfortable in their own bodies.

And apparently misery loves company, because many women also shame and complain about other women's bodies being too skinny, too muscular or, god forbid, too fat.

With all due respect, I can't help but think that many women are complicit in the very sexism and misogyny they say they abhor.

To be fair, I realize that most of the dissatisfaction with our bodies is manufactured by the media, Hollywood and fashion industries, but ultimately none of those institutions can profitably exist without women's support and buy-in. Much like our eating habits, we need to be very careful about what we are feeding our minds. Once planted, those unconscious thoughts can really wreck havoc on our lives.

So, let's be honest: Models and celebrities don't look in real life as they do when photgraphed for magazines, movies or television. It's all an illusion designed to do two things: 1) Make you feel inadequate and 2) sell you a promise that if you purchase this or that product you, too, will find beauty, love, happiness and success.

Of course, it's all a big fat lie.

Whatever your favorite model or actress can't achieve through cosmetic surgery or the gym is often corrected on the computer.

Here are a few of the dirty little Photoshop secrets of fashion and Hollywood industries:

* Cheeks are thinned.

* Bust are enlarged and lifted.

* Cellulite is deleted.

* Lines, wrinkles and blemishes are clicked out.

* Eyes and teeth are made brilliantly white.

* Spider veins, varicose veins and bruises are zapped out.

The bottom line is that for far too long American women have been bamboozled into believing that longer lashes, bigger boobs and, most recently, a bigger butt will somehow bring a prince, and everlasting love and riches.

Aside from being absurd and ridiculously expensive, this useless pursuit of everlasting beauty and the perfect body is dangerous and makes it increasingly difficult, if not impossible, for women to embrace their own natural beauty.

To make matters worse, when a mother goes into battle against her own self image, though unintentionally, she passes that negativity on to her daughter(s). Sadly, numerous studies have shown that girls as young as kindergarten and first grade are talking negatively about their bodies and saying things like, "I need to go on a diet."

It goes without saying, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, and if we want to produce healthy and confident girls, Mom is the primary role model.

Let's stop the madness - stop beating up on ourselves and, instead, grow confident and comfortable in our own skin.

Remember, there is great diversity throughout nature, and the same is true for us humans. Your clothing size does not determine your worth, and most definitely does not determine your level of health or fitness.

Don't be misled by the so-called beauty industry that beguiles, lies and robs women.

Stop giving them your power.

Believe it or not, you have the power to stop the industry from making a killing and raking in billions by preying on women's insecurities.

Today, start a personal positive body pledge; take that first revolutionary step and embrace yourself.

Stop fretting about your thighs and celebrate their strength and what your body can do, as opposed to what it looks like.

Remember that, like your fingerprints, you are uniquely you.

Ultimately, if we want the next generation of girls to grow up healthy and confident, as well as to become the great global aspirational feminists we believe ourselves to be, then women are well overdue to step up to the plate of self-acceptance.

Along with that will come unconditional love for our sisters, too, no matter their size, shape, skin color, hair texture and hairstyle.

Kimberly Garrison is a wellness coach and owner of One on One Ultimate Fitness in Philadelphia. Her column appears Wednesdays.