How to Feel Flawsome
Flawsome: an individual who embraces their perceived flaws and knows they are awesome
What you see above is a real customer in a real store in front of a real mirror - with the writing and all. I know its real because the grafitti artist, an employee in the store, is my sister. Working in a clothing store means you're witness to a whole lot of self-criticism, body shame, and vulnerability. My fabulous sister decided enough was enough and set out to make shopping a more positive experience. Don't you wish there were someone like her in every store?!
Body shame comes in all sizes, and so whatever clothing size you wear, you may find yourself dreading shopping. Even if you keep your wardrobe simple and don't shop much, it's something you'll have to do every so often. Old favorites get worn out, special occasions come up... or your size changes. If you struggle with your body image, these situations can trigger some very real anxiety, and you're far from alone. My sister and I might have different jobs, but we both hear the angst of women who aren't confident in their bodies. It's so common for people to dislike their bodies that there's even a term for it: normative discontent!
You might not be lucky enough to shop in stores where the mirrors have confidence-boosting quotes for you, but that doesn't mean you can't go shopping armed and ready. I asked some savvy gals for their shopping tips to share with you. Here they are:
Tips for a More Positive Shopping Experience
by Bracha Halberstadt, MSW
-Give yourself a pep talk before leaving your house about how your worth and size aren't related. Remind yourself of positive qualities you have
-Have body-positive mantras prepared. You can list them on your phone (or be creative and write them on masking tape and stick on skin so you see when changing)
-Shop in stores that carry your size
-Bring with a supportive friend
-Know that it's ok for painful emotions to be triggered. It doesn't have to derail your recovery
-Plan for self-care for after your shopping trip
by Sara Zoldan, aka The FitJewess
-If you wear plus-sized clothing, call ahead to make sure that the store carries your size and/or that the plus-size section at their location has a decent selection. (If it doesn’t, follow up by asking which location does. This is particularly helpful for department stores like Macy’s, Lord & Taylor, Nordstrom, etc.)
-Don’t go tandem-shopping with a friend who’s significantly smaller than/fits into standard-sized clothing. if she’s along just for the support, that’s fine, but if she’s there for shopping too, it can be really demoralizing watching her find one cute dress after the next while none of that stuff comes in your size
-Bring a snack and a drink. Shopping always takes longer than you think and shopping when you’re hungry is not a positive experience.
-Start paying attention to which brands suit your body type and shape. This way, when you go into a (department) store, you can ask to be directed to that department instead of feeling overwhelmed by options... and then finding so few that actually work for you
-If you think you might try on outfits that need a belt, bring a belt that you like and fits you well along for the trip. same with heels if you’re shopping for a specific event/occasion
-Wear undergarments that are supportive, clothes that are easy to change in and out of, and a shell if you think you’re going to be trying on clothes that require one.
by Noa Miller, RDN
-I try to choose a dressing room with a chair if there’s that option because I get tired :) and to make it less strenuous
-I try to overcome my independent nature and take advantage of the sales people offering help, particularly when it comes to getting a larger/smaller size
I'm a big believer in the power of the language we use, even (or perhaps especially) when it's in our own heads. Telling yourself, "Ugh, I don't fit into this dress" won't make you feel great. Even, "I'm too tall for this skirt" isn't a very nice way to talk to yourself. Consider how clothes used to be custom-made for someone's body. It's so much more respectful. You can adopt some of that respect by telling yourself, "This dress isn't a good fit for my body." Your body isn't the problem. It's the dress that doesn't work for you. It's not just a way of making yourself feel better (although that isn't a bad thing), it's a statement of fact. Whoever made the dress wasn't thinking of you. They were hoping the dress would fit someone and that someone happens to not be you. It's not a criticism of your body.
Some people are narrow on top and wide on bottom, some people are small all over, and some people are large all over. Humans come in varied shapes and sizes. Having a certain body shape might make clothing shopping more challenging, but it's not a reflection of your worth. It just means the search might take longer. Think of shoe shopping. If you wear a size 5 or size 11 shoe, you might have a more challenging time finding a pair of shoes that appeal to you. But your feet aren't problematic. They just are.
You can also consider hiring a personal shopper, if you have the means to do so. A personal shopper can come along with you to stores and help select clothing or do the shopping for you and bring the clothing to your home. There are also online services that send a box of clothing to your home each month for you to choose from. So if you're having a rough time with your body right now and shopping seems overwhelming, know that there are creative options out there for you.
We hope this was helpful to you. If you have a shopping tip to share, please comment below or send us an email!