Having clothes that don't fit (however that is), clothes shopping, clothes from our past with memories; there's a lot to unpack here!
Firstly, let's just be clear that today I am going to approach this topic from a body image and LOVE YOUR BODY viewpoint. There is some merit in using a piece of clothing to gauge progress if you are looking to change your body weight, especially if it gives you more perspective than the scales. But that's a discussion for a different day.
Whether you're male or female, young or old, I dare say you've struggled with body image at some point in your life. I know I have. It's stopped you from doing something you really want to do, you've run through and made a checklist of all the body parts you hate, compared yourself with someone with a 'better' body than you, you've tried on that pair of trousers again and they've made you feel rubbish, or it's those changing room mirrors.... again!
If the clothes make you feel uncomfortable - physically or mentally - then my biggest and best advice is to ditch them.
Yes, that's right. It doesn't matter how much they cost, how long you've been wearing them, whether they're the goal size or anything. If they make you feel uncomfortable and anything less than a bad-ass, goddess warrior (or whatever floats your boat) then...
(But let's not be wasteful - donate them!)
Keeping clothes in sizes that don't fit you is not a form of motivation. From my experience with clients, they do nothing to help you love the body you are in (which is the way it is from a myriad of the most incredible reasons), increases negative self-talk and stress. Your clothes are made to fit you, and not the other way round.
Your clothes are supposed to fit you - you are not supposed to conform to your clothes.
My top tips for ditching the clothes:
Set a time limit - to the activity itself and for each decision. You are not going to spend five hours twisting and turning in those uncomfortable shorts trying to figure out if they're 'acceptable'. Go with your gut. Do they make you feel good? No. Ditch them. Ten seconds max, move on.
You get to CHOOSE your narrative. We're bombarded by ten tonnes of sh*t about how we are supposed to look, and also how very specifically we're supposed to look as a 'woman' or 'man'. Be aware of those external influences. The inner critic in your head is NOT TELLING YOU THE TRUTH. It is not an absolute. It's not even coming from you. It's all the societal and cultural pressures, diet culture, past experience and external judgments that you've internalised and turned into the nasty person inside your head.
External influences do NOT change your internal worth.
You are worthy of happiness, love and joy JUST AS YOU ARE and in your body RIGHT NOW.
Be aware of the box that has created in your head and bust out of it. I'm not saying this glibly, or saying that it is easy; often our thoughts and behaviours are influenced by decades of diet culture, judgmental parents and friends, etc. First, cultivate awareness of your inner critic (giving the inner critic a name to create some distance from yourself can be helpful), and every time you recognise it crops up, consciously choose a different story for yourself. Literally, repeat different words in your head. This will become stronger and stronger over time. The triggers will perhaps never go away, after all it's not just past experiences we're working with, but constant messages about what it means to be 'sexy' and 'attractive'. But you get to choose how to respond.
This one will be helpful for some but not for others: do it with someone else to make it a fun, social activity rather than a doom hole of despair. Let them know the perspective you're looking for, and choose someone who will be useful in the role. But they don't get to make the decision about what clothes go and what stays; that's yours - and go with your gut. They don't get to comment on your body or say but 'what if'. Moral support, tell you when it's time to quit etc, that's it.
Define your version of 'sexy' and 'attractive'. Do this before you approach the clothes. When you are clear on who you want to be, it's much easier to make decisions from that and have a clearer sense of self-worth.
Personally, identifying with the label 'woman', I have spent some time deciding what sort of woman I aspire to be, what qualities I admire and being aware of what is influencing those decisions. Not feeling like I fitted into society's definition of 'sexy' (too small & no curves here!), I think I embraced more masculine energy (science! productivity! logic! no emotion!) to try and cope in a world where I felt like I didn't 'fit in' as a woman. Now I have a clearer definition of the woman I want to be (the qualities I've identified are a lovely blurry mush of strong, soft, perseverance, surrender, loud, quiet, and also not holding on too tightly to any of these - open to evolving and growing).
And finally, bad body image days. Yep, more likely than not, they are still going to happen.
No matter how much work you put into this, it's likely you're still have your ups and downs with this.
And on those days, believe and tell yourself:
- this too shall pass
- the way I am thinking and feeling now doesn't represent the truth of who I am
- I will treat myself with kindness and grace
Honour the struggle.
You are doing a brave and fabulous job.
The world doesn't need you to be small.
It needs you to be the biggest and fullest expression of yourself.
P.S. Need help? Reach out to me! You might be a fabulous fit for my coaching :)