A few days ago I went though my wardrobe to sort through clothes that no longer fits the body I have now, and to make sure that what I do have is clothing that works for me right now.
One of the things that are often helpful when we are doing body image work is to do something tangible like going through our wardrobes. Of course there is lots to unpack when it comes to body image, and often a lot of that work is around Diet Culture, The Westernised Beauty Standards and concepts such as self objectification which is all tied into the fear of weight gain.
In Diet Culture it is so common to use smaller clothing as “motivation”. Whether it is keeping a pair of old jeans that we have outgrown as the motivation stick, or it is wearing clothes that now feels too tight as an incentive to try and “eat less”.
My question to you is, how well is this type of “motivation” working for you? I can see where the intentions are coming from but why do we subject ourselves to it?
Why do we think we don’t deserve to be comfortable in the body we have right now?
When I have clothes that are too tight, that sensation of being uncomfortable takes up a tremendous amount of brain space. Because my pants are cutting into my waist this is all I can think of. It contributes to increased negative self-talk and self-loathing. It doesn’t make me feel better about myself, it just makes me feel miserable.
There is this pervasive myth that if we are being hard on ourselves, not letting ourselves “off the hook” we will somehow stop caring for ourselves. But the opposite is the truth. And before you say it… remember restriction drives binge eating…
Bodies are living, breathing beings. They are forever changing. They are not meant to stay the same. Diet Culture says life will be better and we are more worthy when we’re thin (and yes due to weight stigma there is truth some truth to this). Beauty Culture says youth is the most important thing and that we should do everything to defy the laws of nature and ageing.
What we have to remember is that both Diet Culture and Beauty Culture is rooted in not only societal ideals and norms but both are also vast multibillion industries. Profiting of our personal insecurities are BIG business.
We might not always like the body we have, or what it looks like, and it is important to question where this belief comes from that, bearing in mind the number of companies that directly profits from it.
So, what would it be like to dress for the body you have right now?
If you could open your wardrobe and know that all the clothes there fitted you well, felt comfortable on your body and made you feel good, what would that be like?
Perhaps it would be possible to invest in some well-fitting underwear so it is not something that would rub or squeeze all day. I’m not suggesting that you need to dump all of your clothes that don’t fit right now, but perhaps you might want to store those ones out of sight for a while.
You don’t necessarily need to go out and shop for a whole new wardrobe, but would it be possible to have 2-3 work outfits that are comfortable and make you feel good right now?
My body has changed in different ways throughout my 20s and 30s. It has been bigger, and it has been smaller, and it has also stayed the same for a relatively long time. What I found this time, when outgrowing some clothes is that it felt some much less shameful and triggering than it would have done in the past. Instead of picking myself and my body apart and feeling pulled towards restrictive behaviours it felt so much more accepting and caring.
Yes my body has changed over the past few years, but so what?! Life is short, I want to care for it the best way I can, and right now that involves dressing it in a way that is comfortable and makes me feel good. Not trying to squeeze into the past and hating myself whilst doing so.
There are many factors that play into body image dissatisfaction. The solution that we are being sold is that we will feel better when we “fix” our bodies, however since our bodies are ever changing this will always be a precarious option.
We don’t need to fix our bodies, what we need to do is to “fix” how we think about them.
Your body is always inherently worthy. And it is deserving of your kindness and care, which may also include dressing in ways that is comfortable for the body you have right now.