Today let’s talk about the importance of dressing the body you have, or as I like to say, “Rockin’ what ‘cha got. When is the last time you bought or wore something you loved that looked great on you? You can’t remember?
Oh girl, I get it. If you’re like so many plus size women you may have slipped and fallen into a rut, thinking that as long as you’re overweight, it doesn’t make sense to spend money on clothing. Just wear what you have, scrape the bottom of the barrel and grin and bear it until you lose more weight. Right? That’s a big mistake that a lot of gals make waiting for perfect.
But I’ve got to tell you, if you’re waiting to become thin for your life to begin, you’re making a big mistake. Because our minds and bodies are connected, you’re sending a whole bunch of nasty messages to your body that will keep you feeling awful. And let’s be real, when you’re feeling sorry for yourself, your eating will spin right out of control.
Change Your Attitude to “I’m Okay Right Now”
I’ll bet like me as a dieter, you got the message that you’d become more confident when you lost weight. I used to believe that too, but now I know that’s a lot of hooey. The truth is you can’t beg, borrow, or steal confidence. It’s something that you create every day no matter what size, shape or age you are. And if you don’t have it, or your supply is dwindling, it’s no sweat, you can always start right where you are.
The first rule in creating confidence is to believe that you’re okay just as you are. You’re not broken, and you don’t have to do anything crazy to change any part of your body. The thing that you have to work on changing is your attitude.
You may not buy that right now because you’re probably hearing a whole symphony of voices in your head, coming from memories telling you why it’s not okay to be the size you are. But stick with me, because those are the very same limiting beliefs that I’m going to teach you how to challenge and overcome. As a coach, my deepest passion is to reach out and touch women who struggle with negative body images, offering them the practical tools they need to change their lives in very real concrete ways.
Reflections on The Avenue®: My Peaceful Warrior Path to Helping Women Love Their Bodies
Yet during the course of editing my book, “Lovin’ the Skin You’re In,” I went through a series of personal challenges and losses that caused me to do a lot of growing up, and soul searching.
Out of my tragedies, came my triumph, bringing me enormous amounts of self acceptance and compassion for my body. But somewhere along the way I forgot what it was like to hate my body and to refuse to accept my imperfections. My search to connect with my clients at the deepest level led me to take a part time job working at The Avenue®, the national plus size women’s retail clothing store. For nearly a year I worked there and loved every minute of it. The experience of talking to women every day and listening to them share how they felt about their bodies has given me an endless fountain of knowledge from which to draw upon in my coaching. It feels so good to know that I’m in tune with what women need and know exactly what makes a real difference. Perhaps the saddest part of my work was recognizing just how many women really do hate their bodies. I watched and I listened to so many of their personal struggles as they engaged in a war with themselves, trying desperately to squeeze into smaller sizes, refusing to consider that it was the clothing that was the problem, not their bodies.
It was such a common occurrence for me to console a woman standing in the fitting room in her underwear, telling me all the reasons why she hated her body and just had to recommit back to her diet. Sometimes they cried, sometimes they were just angry, not with the clothes, but with themselves. How ’bout you? Can you relate to this fitting room frustration? I’m here to help you if you’re ready. I’ve got to tell you, I saw a lot of things that my customers did that often created tremendous fitting room frustrations (FRF) for themselves and others. Check and see if you’re making these same mistakes and learn what you can do to make your next shopping trip fun.
FRF #1 – Expecting the worst. Lots of larger women dread the prospect of clothes shopping because they’ve had many negative experiences in the past. It doesn’t have to be that way.
What to do instead: As world famous success coach, Tony Robbins says, “your past does not necessarily determine your present.” You can change the way you feel by making the choice to do things differently. Plan to have fun. – Rather than going with the worst case scenario movie rolling ’round in your head, set an intention to have a great time and plan on enjoying a fabulous shopping experience. This is your time to explore your beauty and get the most bang for your buck.
FRF #2 – Body Dysmorphia – “The I’m fat and ugly syndrome” – According to statistics, in the U.S, 4 out of 5 women strongly dislike or even hate their bodies. If you feel that way, you’ve probably got a lot of negative feelings toward your body. Harboring these emotions, prevents you from being able to see yourself as you really are.
What to do instead: Do your homework. Realize that as a plus size woman, you’re not alone. In the U.S., 62% of women are plus sized. According to the modelling/fashion world, plus size is now considered any size larger than a straight size 6. No matter what size you are, stand proud. Spend some time on the internet or watching TV to look for plus size women role models who embrace their bodies. Keep your eyes peeled each day for gals with similiar body types to yours. Their style of dress can inspire and inform you.
Watch empowering body lovin’ TV: The cable TV show, “How to Look Good Naked” hosted by Carson Kressley is a fabulous tool that you can use to change the way that you think and feel about your body. I like to call it a 60 minute self image makeover.
Using a combination of tools that help the women to see themselves in a more realistic light, the show is a powerful inspiration that can empower any woman to be more accepting and loving of her body. Whenever I can, I watch the show or I visit the site because it has so much to offer. It is an incredibly healing experience to see women just like you, who move from hating their bodies to loving them, exactly as they are. No surgery or dieting necessary. You can view previous episodes of HTLGN online through http://www.hulu.com and you can also peruse the My Lifetime site and pick up a ton of useful information on what types of clothing silhouettes will flatter your particular figure at http://www.mylifetime.com/shows/how-to-look-good-naked . Another of my favorite sources for plus size fashion and information is Plus Model Magazine. PMM is an online fashion magazine for the plus size community. You can visit the site at http://plus-model-mag.com/
FRF #2 – Spreading yourself too thin. Many women come into the store, either with kids or griping husband in tow, feeling the pressure to multi-task, and the need to please. By demonstrating to your family or significant other that you’re okay with squeezing your needs in to fit their schedule, you are making the statement that you’re not really worth the time or trouble to take care of yourself. This almost always guarantees a miserable shopping experience for you, creates feelings of resentment towards hubby and/or the kids and gets you a one way pass for an “I’ll show them. This’ll Make Me Feel Better binge” that’s waiting for you just ’round the corner.
What to do instead: Take the time to plan out and schedule a trip for yourself or you and a friend on a day when you have some time. If you do bring someone along for the ride, make sure they are supportive and helpful. No whiners or meanies allowed.
Consider this some special high quality “me time” and if need be, hire a babysitter or arrange to do a kid watching exchange with someone you trust. Unless you know exactly what you want to purchase and don’t need to use the fitting room, leave the little ones and other poor shoppers at home. It’s too crazy for you to try on clothes while also attempting to keep the peace.
As a professional coach, I’ve learned that people treat us the way we treat ourselves. If you’re used to putting yourself down and trash talking your body in front of others, they will inadvertently pick up the habit and eventually get used to talking to you in a similar way. The good news is it’s never too late to change directions and do an about-face. The best way to correct them without putting undue stress on your relationship is to let everyone in your family know that any criticism or comments about your body is strictly off limits and will no longer ever again be tolerated. By making it clear to the people around you, that you respect yourself, they will be more appreciative and respectful of you.
FRF#3 – Being stuck in a box – One day a woman came into the store and she asked me to help her find a nice sweater or jacket. She told me that she wanted to hide her hips and get something that gave her a lot of coverage. I looked at her and laughed gently as I teasingly asked her, “What are you hiding from? She told me that she couldn’t possibly bear to show her behind and feel comfortable without having her thighs fully covered by plenty of fabric. I explained to her that it’s a common misconception to believe that wearing baggy clothes hides our figure flaws. If anything, it emphasizes them.
Noticing that she had a pretty curvy pear-shaped figure, with full hips and larger thighs, I suggested that she try on a soft boucle tweed knit sweater cinched with a leather tie belt. I explained to her that in order to show off her curves, she would want to choose items that had a belt because that would work to visually draw the eye down, emphasizing her smaller waist. I also told her that with her lovely auburn hair, I recommended that she choose the blue and green sweater, rather than the black and white. When she tried it on, she looked fabulous, so fabulous, filled with life and so pretty. But she was so upset seeing more of her curvy body than she was used to, that in the end she decided not to buy the sweater. Sadly she refused to step out of her comfort zone of hiding behind black and dull shapeless clothing. How ’bout you? Can you relate to her dilemma?
What to do instead: Pearls of wisdom – In many plus size stores, the sales associates are often plus size women themselves. They understand what it’s like to struggle with excess weight and because they ‘get it’, they’re eager to give you the benefit of their personal experience combined with their fashion expertise. Once you find a sales associate you like enough to trust, be willing to listen to their suggestions and be open to seeing yourself from their eyes. Ask for help. Rather than hunting around in a big store, feeling frustrated, alone and uncertain, get some help. By doing this, you’ll see more possibilities and feel less pinched. If you need something in another size, color or style, ask for help. If you want assistance to put an outfit together, tell someone what you’re after. The sales associates in the store are there to make your shopping trip a wonderful experience.
With a little planning, and some time on your hands, you can enjoy a great shopping trip. Remember this is fun time for you. Put on some makeup. Slip into some comfy shoes. Scope out some local plus size stores, get ready to try on lots of different clothes, be fearless with color, play with accessories and have some fun.
Andrea Amador, CEC. M.NLP is The Juicy Woman. She is a Body Image/Self Esteem Expert and a Professional Certified Empowerment Coach