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Beauty really is in the eye of the beholder.

Last week, Ali MacGraw told me I was beautiful.

I went with my friend Joan to New Mexico for a writing conference. Before it started, we killed a few days in Santa Fe, where the star of such classic films as Love Story and The Getawaylives.

After a Swedish massage and a breakfast of egg whites and blue tortillas, Joan and I stepped purposefully into an exclusive little clothing shop. I immediately plucked a silk sheath dress (size medium, thank you!) from the 75percent-off rack and headed for the dressing room.

There, I found three small stalls, a salesperson, shop owner, Joan (pulling on a silk top, oblivious) and you-know-who. I tried hard not to squeal, "OH MY GOD, YOU'RE ALI MACGRAW!" and instead went, quivering, into an empty changing room.

When I came out (wearing a delicate earth-toned frock, black sneakers and white sweat socks), MacGraw addressed me: "Those colors look magnificent on you! Wait, let me get you a scarf!" The salesperson moved on cue.

As I scowled at my own reflection, MacGraw continued, "Look at you. You're beautiful." And, for once in my life, I let myself believe those words.

For Jill's Month 9 stats and ninth complete Weight Loss Diary entry, pick up the September 2002 issue of SHAPE.

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