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Wednesday February 11, 2009 7:04 pm

What’s Your Locker-Room Body Image?

But anyway! I want to talk about body image. See, all this working out and I’m still appalled at the idea of showering in a locker room where other women can judge—I mean, see—my naked body. I won’t do it, and I’m shocked every single time I see ladies baring all. Am I just shy, or do I have some warped conception of what my body must look like in order for me to struggle with my sports bra outside a bathroom stall? (I think it’s the former.) And are those women who do strip ‘n stretch doing so out of necessity, or are they just supremely confident? (Again, judging by the grim determination with which every woman avoids every other woman’s eyes in the locker room, I vote the former.) But the truth is—and this should come as no shock to any living, breathing woman in America—we do have highly unrealistic ideals of beauty.

When I worked at a major national magazine, my co-workers and I talked about celebrities’ fluctuating weights the way bankers talk about money. Some days we defended those stars who’d gained a few pounds and were now being eviscerated all over print and online. And on other, cattier days, we participated in the evisceration. Those conversations lingered with me long after I’d get home at night, and I’d examine myself in the mirror from every angle, calculate my BMI online, and be generally unkind to the body I’d mostly always appreciated.

The point of this admitted ramble is this: Exercise several times a week and eat healthfully to reach your fitness goals—but don’t disparage your body in the meantime. I believe that all women should have three things (but at least one) that they love about their bodies. I particularly like my clavicle (weird, but true), my legs (which I hated when I was younger for being so skinny), and my strong shoulders.

What do you love about your body? And what’s your take on the pressure on women to be not just healthy—like the women in Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty photo—but celeb thin? What (or who) is your beauty ideal?

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