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New-Mom Envy

Object of envy #3: The bombshell mom

Perhaps nothing trips the envy wire as surely as seeing another mom who's managed to lose all her baby weight. Of course, comparing your body to someone else's is as idiotic now as it was in seventh grade. It's also just as natural. Like puberty, motherhood transforms a woman's body, which can make her acutely aware of it, says Steiner. Add to that the fact that our culture continually heralds celebrity moms who can fit back into their skinny jeans a few weeks after delivery, and it's easy to understand why many moms feel like they don't measure up.

"I can't wait for the day that I don't examine every woman's belly and compare it with mine," says Carrie Dubiner of San Francisco.

Lindsey Marx in Santa Fe, New Mexico, had the misfortune of having a seriously svelte best friend deliver two months after she did: "My friend had the metabolism of ten male athletes. In two weeks she was back in her size-4 pants; meanwhile, I was still in my stretch pants at almost three months postpartum."

Size-4 envy is part of a larger desire to regain control over your appearance, says Smith. Indeed, seeing another mom out and about in clean clothes and makeup leaves others scratching their heads in disbelief (and because they haven't had time for a shower in two days). "I have a friend who has two children under age 2 and who always manages to have her hair done, be neatly dressed, and most noticeably, never has bags under her eyes," says Michelle White of York, Pennsylvania. "I am the mother of one child under age 2 and I don't manage to brush my hair, or teeth for that matter, before bedtime. I don't get it!"

"My beauty ritual is to wash my face and brush my teeth and hopefully get a brush run through my hair," echoes Fairdale, Kentucky, mom Angela Ferguson. "Even when I get up super early I always manage to find something needing my attention and end up running out the door, late as usual, and still looking a mess."

The truth is, no matter what you think you can surmise from a mom's outward appearance, you still have no way of knowing what's really lurking under her skinny duds, including envy-destroying stretch marks and cellulite. Even size-6 jeans can hide those postpartum tummy rolls that we all know nothing short of liposuction can cure. As for insta-thin celebrity moms, Diane Burdick, a mother of three from Pensacola, Florida, offers this reminder: "They have access to personal trainers and nannies to watch the baby." And if you really want to stop the envy, says Steiner, think about the fact that they have to look good, or risk having their rippled behinds splashed across the tabloids (hardly something to be jealous of).