With the arrival of June and the heat of the summer settling in, many of us are digging out our summer clothes and turning over the seasonal wardrobe. And for some this is met with a sense of dread and unease. If you’re struggling with your body image, the idea of “showing more skin” in the summer months can be extremely uncomfortable and distressing. I see you, and your feelings are completely valid. And I want to emphasize that there is no need to change your daily habits or body to fit this season (yes, I’m giving the stink eye to all those “bikini body” based diet culture scams)!
Buying new clothes for the season is undoubtedly a financial privilege and very dependent on resources and access. Whether trying on old summer clothing from the recesses of your closet or out shopping in the dressing room, it can be so very difficult to not be harsh on yourself or feel bad when a button doesn’t fit or a zipper won’t go up fully. Overall, it’s hard not to stare in a mirror and see every perceived flaw. You’re human, so this happens. But also, you’re human so you’re resilient – and so much more than that clasp that won’t fit.
As you try on summer clothes at the start of this season, I encourage you to follow the below 3 step approach to help navigate your body image and finding the clothing that’s best for you:
- When you first try on clothes, do so facing away from the mirror so you’re not immediately picking apart your appearance. If they don’t fit, take them off – that’s all the information you needed to make a decision on them! If they do fit then on to step 2.
- After putting on the clothes, stay facing away from the mirror and focus on how they feel on your body. Do they cling in a weird way? Are they soft or scratchy? Can you sit or walk comfortably? If the clothes feel uncomfortable, take them off – that’s the information you needed to make a decision on them! If they fit and feel comfortable then on to step 3.
- Now, turn and face the mirror – how do you feel in the clothes? Do you feel confident or do they make you smile? Is there a color that you particularly enjoy on them? If they fit, are comfortable and make you happy then voila, sounds like a good match! But if they don’t fit or are not comfortable or just not your style then it’s time to cast them aside – remember clothes should fit YOU, you don’t need to change yourself to fit into clothes.
It can be emotionally exhausting trying on clothes and going through this process, so please be kind and gentle with yourself as much as you can. Repeating the following affirmations are also a good way to ground yourself in compassion throughout:
- The size of my clothing and number on the tag are the least interesting things about me
- Being a certain size doesn’t make me a good or bad person – I simply am
- I’m allowed to grieve a former or desired body size AND honor that who I am in this current moment is worthy and enough.
Your summer wardrobe consists of clothes for a season – but don’t forget that the season is more than your clothes. It’s a car ride with all the windows down and breeze through your hair. Large ice cream cones in the sunshine with your friends. The soft sound of the ocean waves reaching the shore. Both you, and the season, are so much more than a sundress.
Go slow, give yourself grace. I’m so proud of you for doing hard things.
- What clothing item tends to provoke my negative body image the most?
- Why might this be?
- What steps can I take to address this in the future? (ie stop wearing this item, buy a different size, find a different style of same item, work on my self-talk etc)
- How can I pursue “dopamine dressing” (ie dressing for joy) in the future?
By: Maddy Weingast, Assistant for Wildflower Therapy LLC