Body Image - That's a tough one for a lot of us. It's not something talked about openly, very often, but a lot of the people I work with seem to be challenged by it, and daily. I've struggled with my own body image over the years as have most of my friends. As a teenager, looking through fashion magazines constantly (wanting to be cool, fashionable and popular), I compared myself to the models on those pages, dressed beautifully & styled to the nines. The comparisons killed me. You see, I've always been my own worst critic. Self criticism and loathing get to the heart of the matter. That internal critic (along with a little external reinforcement - peer pressure, magazines etc.) led me to an eating disorder, hospitalization and a life unmanageable, all by the tender age of 15.
I'm 46 now, and have spent the last 30+ years trying to reverse those harsh things I used to tell myself (my inner critic). It took a while for me to realize I was the one causing myself so much pain - giving myself such an awful message( "you're too fat, you're not pretty enough, you're not good enough). Once I took responsibility for that "Voice", some other "Voice" inside me, much quieter to begin with, rejected the negative thoughts and made space for a different kind of message. She started to say things like "You are pretty great. People like you, You have a great smile. You are a good person...." Thankfully, I started to listen to THAT voice, instead and now it's louder than ever. That voice, we can call her My Inner Coach, has helped me to LOVE myself.
That is the first key to a Better Body Image and the place I come from in helping you get there too. So here is my little list of ways to improve your body image. There might be some sewing involved, just sayin'; but you probably wouldn't even be reading this if you didn't want to do a little of that in first place. Here goes:
1. Acceptance - This is first on my list because if we don't accept where we are in this very moment, it will be hard to make any change at all. Love what you've got and what you've been given. No use in putting off till tomorrow what you can do today. Who knows if there will be a tomorrow so love yourself today, in it's entirety. AND Take your measurements! These are the facts. They don't mean anything more than that. They are the key to better fitting clothing.
2. Try to understand FIT - and Get your Clothes Tailored - Well fitted clothing (no matter what your size or shape) will make you feel better about your body. We don't want clothes that are too tight or too loose. Either can make a person feel uncomfortable (pants dragging on the floor can be dangerous and a too tight blouse can have the buttons burst). Also, understand that most ready to wear clothing is made to fit a model. And by that I mean a specific person with specific measurements that, a company has decided is their standard. The clothing is then graded down and up from the "medium" size. This is a nice little formula but it doesn't take into account the different nuances of each persons individual body. So that being said, if you have different measurements, shapes etc, from the original model, then it's fairly likely that the garment will need to be altered in some way.
3. SEW your own clothes - Make clothing that fits YOU - Clothes should fit YOU. You SHOULD NOT have to fit into clothes. - I've put on a few (ahem, more like 20) lbs over the last couple of years. I was finding that my jeans, skirts, blouses, etc. were getting snug. So, I decided to accept my body as it is and make pretty clothes that fit me. I must admit, I do have a large fabric stash (a whole store actually) but you probably do too. I've even given myself a challenge to build a wardrobe like Miss Fisher (If you haven't watched Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries, I highly recommend it!). It's been completely fun and exciting to make things for myself. I found patterns, made prototypes, fixed them if they didn't fit and then made another until I get it right. Don't save that gorgeous silk for skinnier days, turn it into something you love, right now!
4. Buy the RIGHT BRA - A good bra will fit your body and give you support, helping you to stand up straighter and feel better. The frame and wires should sit firmly at your rib cage without pulling up at the back. The straps & cups will provide support and coverage without any cleavage on the sides or spillage in the front. We want our bras to LIFT AND SEPARATE(no uni-boobs!) and give us a nice shape with the bust facing forward not down or up or out to the side. Finding the right bra can be difficult but many specialty stores, like Nordstrom will give free bra fittings. Another option is to use a bra calculator like the one I found here at Bare Necessities.
5. Employ the use of COLOR - I find people are a little afraid of color, but it's actually a fantastic way to change your mood and the way you feel about yourself. I have a vintage pink fur collar that I bought at a thrift store in San Diego about 15 years ago. I wear it whenever I need a little extra something in my outfit (or when it's a little bit cold outside). It never ceases to amaze me how happy it makes me feel to wear it and how happy it makes others as well. How does this affect my body image? Well, I'm feeling better about myself in general, when I'm wearing things I love.
And on a final note, a quote from Miss Fryne Fisher herself - " A woman should dress first and foremost for her own pleasure...If these things happen to appeal to men (or anyone else for that matter), well, that really is a side issue".