Two days ago, I was doing some research on body-positive blogs and stumbled across Formerly Hot. Created by writer Stephanie Dolgoff (who has contributed to magazines such as Glamour, Self, and O Magazine), to provide a humorous look into the aging experience that women go through. On Formerly Hot, you’ll read great, comical stories about getting older, gaining wisdom with age, and still being super-attractive. It’s a great site that I believe all women could enjoy regardless of age. I wanted to share one article that Stephanie had written called “The end of the Comparathon,” which she had written for Best Life. We all compare ourselves to others and Stephanie’s words really put it into perspective. I hope you like it and if you’re interested in more from Stephanie, you can check out her book, “My Formerly Hot Life.” Reason number 963 I’m officially glad I’m not young anymore: The comparathon is officially over. Here’s what I mean. I had a major girl crush on a woman in college I barely knew. She seemed so at ease at the keg parties and protest meetings, emanating a cool aloofness that gave her a command of the room. When I saw her, I instantly felt like a big, cloying clown trying to make people like me through laughter. Her way seemed so much, well, better. This obsession was but one example of the terrible habit I had when I was in my 20s—I constantly compared myself to other women, reflexively, like breathing. The willowy woman at the next table, snarfing down a burger and fries? The mere fact of her whippet-thin body and lightening quick metabolism made me a big fat slug. That happy couple sitting across from me on the subway, gazing lovingly at each other—clearly they had a wonderful, enviable, perfect relationship, which only highlighted how mine were often hopelessly complicated. In fact, no matter whom I cast my comparative glance at, the conclusion was always the same: Sucks to be me, great to be them. I thought this way until I was around 30, when my best friend finally grabbed me figuratively by the shoulders and said something I’ll never forget. “You can’t compare your insides to someone else’s outsides!” (She also figuratively slapped me in the face like a hysteric.) She was right: I was comparing my true self, the messy, complex one that only I truly knew, with the glossy, pretty external selves we all try to present to the world. Her words more or less halted the comparathon in its tracks. Think about it for a minute: You and only you are privy to your festering, silly insecurities, but no one looking at you would ever guess that you don’t have it together. When you compare yourself to other people, you only see the often highly blow-dried exterior that they are invested in maintaining and displaying for the world. Even if they’re not consciously trying to give off a certain thin, happy, fabulous impression, at the very least you don’t have enough information to know what’s going on with them. And while it’s easy to imagine that the perfect-looking woman with the perfect-seeming life must be perfectly devoid of problems, of course that’s perfectly impossible. What my friend said made me feel so much better. I do not delight in the pain or difficulties others face, of course. But imagining that they don’t have any difficulties served no one, and made me less compassionate toward people who—even though they seemed need-free and self-contained—could have maybe used a friend. Recently, that girl crush from college friended me on Facebook. We caught up and shared our life’s ups and downs. I learned that she’d been divorced and remarried, had a hell of a time getting pregnant, and was finally, after much sacrifice, hitting her stride as an artist. In other words, she’d had a regular, un-charmed life, with joys and disappointments, not terribly unlike mine. As we signed off, she said, “I have to tell you, I always admired you in college—you were so funny and outgoing.” It made me smile. And I had to wonder how many people had turned the tables on me—how many women had compared their insides to my outsides.