Mirror, Mirror, Off The Wall

When you consider women's poor self esteem, the most dangerous assassin is our own mind.

by Maddie Carmichael-Bell • More.com Member { View Profile }
Photograph: iStock

Honestly, what is it with we women and our self-image? I don't just mean who we think we are or why we think we exist. Plainly put, I'm speaking directly about our physical self-image. From the time our first Barbie is ripped from its box, so is our self-confidence. She's tiny, perfect, impossibly trim and smooth, with her glazed-over smile and long, bouncy locks. Of course she's keeping that smile plastered on; she's totally disproportionate, her synthetic extensions are coming out, she has webbed feet, and her blow-dried eunuch of a boyfriend is checking out the brunette doll. Perhaps there's a stash of Barbie-sized Valiums in her pink corvette, but either way, that fake, self-assured smile is something even us life-sized broads can identify with. In a world full of plastic, how can we compete?

Tonight when I got out of the bath tub, I placed my right leg up on the tub as I was toweling off, only to see an image I may never fully recover from: my own naked inner thigh, right there reflected back to me in the huge mirror leaning against the wall of our closet, a mirror I had been requesting be hung at a reasonable and far less shameful height for several months now,  though I seem unable to nudge my husband into performing what I consider to be a task necessary for my own mental health. Seriously...how could that be my thigh? It didn't even look like a thigh. The pasty white color, the texture, the snowy ripples; it was like what an avalanche victim must see just as he draws his last breath on Everest. Yet here it was, attached to my body. No sherpas in sight. Just cellulite.

The next thought that flew to mind as I quickly wrapped the towel back around me and turned to see a photo of my husband on the nightstand was: “He knew this and married me anyway?” As I stared at my beautiful husband, with all of the perfect tone and chiseled features that nature has given him in his mere 26 years, my mouth still stayed wide open in disbelief. How in the world, this or any other, could a guy that darn hot have looked over all the available goods and said, “Yeah, I'll take that one, the older broad in the back with the beach ball butt and the avalanche thighs. Meowww.” Seriously? As he stared up at me from the photo, with those big brown eyes and dimpled grin, the only explanation I could muster was that he must have had a slight aneurism just prior to our wedding that caused cellulite to make me look like a supermodel. Of course. That had to be it. Otherwise, why?

Actually, in my matter-of-fact manner that he both loves and hates, I marched right to the phone to call and ask him that very question. He chuckled at me like I was totally gone. When my question of self-loathing turned to whined pleas for an actual reason, he told me he didn't know what I was talking about. In fact, as I related to him my thoughts on Everest, he laughed and said if that was an avalanche, then that was how he wanted to go. Then it hit me. My gorgeous husband nearly a decade my junior doesn't need a neurological reason to be attracted to me. He just actually, flat-out finds me attractive. Where I see imperfection, he sees sexy. The curves I long to smooth out, he can't wait to touch. Clearly, the issue here isn't him. It's me.

As I sit here staring at the words “it's me” blinking on the screen of my laptop, I see the truth rather plainly. It really is me. And every other woman for that matter. In a world full of sights, sounds, attitudes and advertisements all aligned perfectly with our self-esteem in their cross-hairs, the most dangerous assassin that we women need to worry about is our own mind.

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