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There’s a stack of fashion magazines at my sister’s house, Glamour and Vogue. And, man, the headlines are all the same, blurring together from issue to issue: 3 flat belly secrets, 100 sexy looks you can afford, 50 things your man wishes you knew, 25 ways to wear this season’s clothes.

The best jeans for your body. The best bathing suit for your body — though, strangely, the wetsuit, which alone has that all-over smoothing effect, is missing from these pages.

Ironically, “shape” (fat?) and “age” (wrinkles and saggy flesh?) are “celebrated” on these same covers in the persons of Beyonce and Christy Turlington. The message being, I suppose, that even if you weigh more than 110 pounds and/or have passed the age of 25, you’ve still got a shot at killing yourself over some ridiculous ideal.

Meanwhile, what’s written inside is something along the lines of: “hey, you beautiful, bold woman! Listen to this! No matter how little you look like the people in this magazine, I’m sure there’s some guy out there who’s going to think you’re The One, if you can just convince yourself, by dint of effort, self-empowerment, and the right wardrobe, that you’re worth something. Because the hottest thing ever is confidence!”

And I sit there thinking: are you serious? Are women really this insecure and deluded?

Confidence I can definitely appreciate. But it has to be the right kind of confidence. It has to be the kind of confidence that says: when I’m in my grubby clothes working outside, and when I’m scrubbing the floor, and when I’m trying, but failing, at beating you at the 100-meter dash, and when I’m trying, but failing, at mountain biking up this hill, and when I’m trying, but failing, at making you see my point, you’d still be crazy not to see through the grime and recognize the soul behind it. I do not need $2,000 worth of designer gear to give me courage. I do not need plastic surgery to give me courage. This is not even a thought in my mind, because I, among all the women of the world, can alone offer you myself, and the self you would become with me, too. And if you choose another self, I will not die. Perhaps that is even wise of you, and I will see it in time, also.

It is less the confidence of an easy conquest (for this, too, shall pass) and more the confidence that all can be right with the world.

Even if my hair is flat. And even if the man I want right this second doesn’t want me.

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