Beauty is not in the face;
beauty is a light in the heart ~ Khalil Gibran
Beauty is how you feel inside, and it reflects in your eyes. It is not something physical ~ Sophia Loren
How many of us have asked someone (usually our "significant other") something along the lines of "Do these pants make my butt look big?" or "Do I look fat in this dress?".
Sometimes we ask a sister or a close gal pal, but usually we ask the men in our lives this kind of stuff. And I really feel badly for the guys on this one, Ladies, because I don't think there is any good answer to that.
If they say, "Well, they are not the most flattering pants you've ever worn", they are dead meat (even if its true -- and even if we KNOW its true). Because true or not, there isn't a woman on the planet that wants to hear it.
Really smart men side-step that one with a "No, Honey, you know I always think you look beautiful...no matter what." And even that's not a safe answer, because often they're accused of not being honest -- or being dismissive. Maybe the safest answer is, "Well, Sweetie, what do YOU think?".
To my mind that really is the most important one, any way. Why are we asking these kinds of questions in the first place? And what in the name of heaven is the most politically-correct response?
In fact, I would be curious to do a study on exactly what time of the month (and after what behaviors) this question usually asked.
My hallucination is that it is: 1) while we are going through a raging bout of PMS and 2) immediately following a pig-out with a pint of Ben & Jerry's Chunky Monkey. In fact, that also seems to be the time that most of us decide to try on a bikini (you know the one that we bought on sale a few years ago and that never fit quite right from the get-go).
The better question is -- why are we asking other people (even those we care about most) for their opinion of our bodies?
Because the truth is even if they thought we should be gracing the pages of Victoria's Secret (move over, Ms. Lima, coming through), if we don't believe it -- it doesn't matter what other folks say or how many times they say it.
I have a girlfriend who was a model for about fifteen years. Drop dead gorgeous. She told me an interesting story. She said that she used to have a few steady clients that would "book" her but whose clothes she really did not enjoy modeling, because she felt that she didn't look good in that particular line.
On occasion, during a modeling job she would say something in passing about how she didn't think that she looked very good in these particular outfits -- in front of the client. And she told me that every time she did this, she would never get booked by that particular client again. No matter how many times they had used her in the past.
She said that taught her a valuable lesson. After it happened a few times she resolved to keep her mouth shut regardless of how she felt in the clothes.
Clearly, the client thought she looked great! That's why they had booked her in the past -- and that's why they continued to book her...until she put the notion in their heads to the contrary.
The point is your reality and other people's reality (particularly when it comes to an analysis of your physical appearance) may have absolutely nothing to do with one another.
I'll tell you another story along the same lines that really struck me as a teenager. Back in high school, I had these jeans that I really thought of as, well not the most flattering. I wore them, but I didn't think they looked that great. In fact, I thought they made me look a kinda fat and dumpy -- and I always felt a little self-conscious when I wore them.
Long story short, a good guy friend of mine told me on day that he had overheard some of the other guys in the gym lockeroom discussing me -- and these particular pants. My stomach dropped...OMG...I was right!!! He was about to tell me something I didn't want to hear...they were making fun of me?? I just knew it!!
But NO...he told me that the conversation was how HOT the guys thought I looked in those jeans. I damn near hit the floor! How could that be???
Well, naturally I wore those jeans till they went threadbare after that ;-) -- and with a completely different attitude.
But the point is NOTHING in that situation had changed except my attitude. And unfortunately, my attitude changed based on someone else's opinion and validation. I could have just skipped a step (and saved myself a few months of unnecessary discomfort) by telling myself that I looked great.
I personally haven't asked my husband (or anyone else) those kinds of questions in years.
One, because I think its a set-up so you can get pissed off at somebody else due to your own insecurities about your body (which ultimately only you can deal with). And two, because until you believe that you are attractive nobody in the world can convince you otherwise.
Again, as with other insecurity issues I think a good way to go with this is to act "as if". In other words, "fake it 'til you make it". Pretend you believe it, try to push out any other thoughts, act as if you believe it -- and bit by bit you will come closer and close to actually believing it.
Also, I would follow my model friend's advice and stop asking ridiculous questions. Bottom line, there is only one answer to that question that matters anyway -- and that is the one that you give silently to yourself.
Now repeat after me, Girlfriend, "Damn, I'm fine...damn, I'm fine...damn, I'm fine" ;-).
Geralyn Coopersmith, MA, CSCS is an exercise physiologist, certified personal trainer and the creator of The Best Me Ever, a comprehensive weight loss and wellness system just for women