A recent class discussion on body image really got me thinking. The professor shared a very apt analogy about pants and how they can make or break someone’s whole day. She asked us to think about our skinny pants; the pair that most people have, the pair of pants that make you elated when you can fit into them and miserable when you can’t… for some people those pants spell out the climate of their whole day. She likened life to those pants; some days, they fit, everything goes right and you love yourself; other days, you can hardly you’ll them over your hips, you feel defeated and huge… you wonder why anyone would even want to look at you. Its scary how easily I could relate to this metaphor.
This is when I began to wonder why it had to be this way. In the last few months I have made great strides in feeling better about my body, loving every inch of it… but even I still had that size-too-small pair of skinny jeans just sitting and taunting me in the drawer.
I decided to throw out the jeans, and with them throw out my negative attitudes about shopping for my body as well.
I have compiled here a list of common thought-traps that drag us down to that place where we feel as if we cannot fit into anything, not the pants, the fashion, or society in general… I compiled that list and then replaced those sentiments with positive ones; an army of affirmations to pack along with your credit card next time you head into the mall.
Instead of thinking: I look awful, look how fat I look in this top.
Try thinking: This top/skirt/dress is not flattering for my figure, I’ll go find something that suits me better.
Women, especially, seem to give so much power to clothes that they run the risk of losing their own voice when it comes to body acceptance. Its so important to keep the mentality that, no matter what, there is nothing wrong with you. A certain article of clothing may be the wrong choice for you but that is a fault in the garment, rather than your body. The bottom line is, not every trend, or outfit is going to make you feel like you look fabulous… but that doesn’t mean that you aren’t fabulous anyways.
Instead of thinking: I can’t believe I’m such a huge size, how could I be a 6/8/10/12/14/16/18… etc.
Try thinking: These pants are cut differently than other pairs I have, maybe a size larger would be better.
It’s so important to seperate ourselves from our dress/pants size. The fact of the matter is that all clothes vary in cut and elasticity so while you may be a medium in one shirt and an extra large in another, or an eight in one brand of jeans and a ten in another, those numbers truly say nothing about you. Neither does your weight; people can be healthy and happy at a variety of weights and, depending on where they carry their weight, people of the exact same weight can appear totally different. What matters is how you feel in your body, how happy you are with yourself… not what number is arbitrarily assigned to your favorite pair of jeans.
Instead of thinking: I can’t wear that (skinny jeans, shorter skirts, jersey dresses, whatever…) it might make me look fat.
Try thinking: I’ll try that on, maybe I’ll like the way it accentuates my figure or maybe I won’t but I’ll make up my own mind.
I hate, hate, hate how looking “slimmer” or looking “thin” is automatically considered a compliment/what ALL people desire. Personally I am a weight that “shouldn’t” wear skinny jeans because they highlight the size of my thighs or something… but you know what? I wear them anyway. I like the way they fit, the way they look with my blousy tops and flats, and I like they way they show off my curvy legs instead of hiding them and creating an optical illusion of height and slimness. Same with longer dresses and skirts; if I like it, I’ll wear it. Who cares if it makes me look short? I am short.
The point I’m trying to make here is that skinny does not always equal pretty. People can look and feel fantastic about themselves at any size. The linking of “flattering” clothing with slimming clothing is bad because it causes women and men who may not be as thin as society’s ideal to feel bad about themselves, to feel like they must camofladge their weight and not have as much fun with fashion as they could be. Bottom line: if you like something, wear it period. And stop complimenting people in weight terms: instead of saying “you look so good, have you lost weight?” why not say, “wow that shirt looks great on you?” or “You look beautiful”? Just as complimentary, just without the implication that thinness equals attractiveness.
So, go out and enjoy the fashion world because dressing yourself is fun and it can be a great way to send a message about yourself to the world… just rememeber that confidence is the most important part of any outfit!