I have always enjoyed clothes and shopping, but over the years I’ve also come to learn the power of what we wear to help improve our body image.
I’m not necessarily referring to being a “fashionista” or a slave to trends, but rather the way that clothing can help to enhance our positive points and encourage body acceptance.
“What Not to Wear”
I’m sure many of you have seen the television show, “What Not to Wear.” In case you aren’t familiar with this program, the premise is that a woman gets nominated for a makeover by a friend or family member because she dresses in a way that’s either frumpy, age inappropriate, or just plain over the top. That person then gets “ambushed” by the show’s hosts, Stacy London and Clinton Kelly, and is shown secret footage of her “crimes against fashion.”
The hosts then throw away virtually all of her clothes (actually, the clothes are donated to charity) and give her “rules” to shop for new clothes that will best suit her body and lifestyle. She is given $5,000 to shop for a new wardrobe and is also treated to a make-up consultation and a new hairstyle. In the end, all of the women look infinitely better, and many of them also appear ten years younger and ten pounds thinner, all through the magic of clothing.
An Added Benefit…
The fact that the women look better is no big surprise. It stands to reason that a new wardrobe, a flattering hairstyle, and professional make-up would make anyone shine. What’s not so obvious is the transformation which takes place in the women’s confidence and body image. They all stand up straighter, smile more, and reflect a genuine glow and sense of pride in themselves.
Many of them actually seem like different people in terms of their attitude and demeanor, in addition to their appearance. It is a joy to watch the metamorphosis that takes place in the makeover contestants, and I don’t doubt that they end up experiencing a higher degree of self-esteem and happiness once they return to their everyday lives.
My Personal Experience
During my many years of struggling with eating disorders and negative body image, I adopted a kind of “quirky and bohemian” style of dress that primarily consisted of loose-fitting garments in which I could hide my body. I always did my best to look nice and paid special attention to my grooming and accessorizing, yet my clothes didn’t flatter me nearly as well as they could.
As I entered my late 30s and was inching ever closer to the big 4-0, I decided it was time for a change. Over the next few years, I gradually transformed the way I dressed. I began to wear more form-fitting clothing that showcased the positive aspects of my figure. Along the way, I started to feel better about my body. I found myself feeling slimmer and more proportionate, as well as more vibrant, attractive, and confident.
I sometimes still struggle with body image issues and have days when I feel fat and down on myself. But if I take the time to dress in attractive and flattering clothing, I get a boost of energy and a shot of extra self-esteem. What I wear really does make a difference! Clothing helps me to take more pride in my appearance and my body.
At age 45, I feel like I look better than I’ve ever looked! Even though my weight may be a bit higher than my personal ideal, I can see that I look good in what I wear. I am gradually learning to accept my body as it is and stop striving to reach unrealistic ideals. If I wear clothing that fits, but doesn’t pinch or bind anywhere, I feel slimmer and more readily accept my present weight and size.
When I shop, I buy items that fit me now, not 5 or 10 pounds from now. The size number is becoming less important to me as I focus more on fit and style. After all, who else sees your size tag besides you? If it bothers you too much, you can always cut it off! I used to do that, but now I am more able to let it go and enjoy having clothes that fit, regardless of the number.
The Power of Clothing
Some will still say that fashion is frivolous, but I have a very different view. I believe that clothing has the power to help us look and feel better, and it doesn’t have to be expensive or especially time-consuming. Once you determine what looks good on you, you can apply the same basic formula to a variety of outfits and occasions, and you can find beautiful pieces at all price points. While I love to shop at Nordstrom and Bloomingdale’s, I have found some fabulous pieces at Target and JC Penney as well. No one need know where you bought what you’re wearing; they will just notice how fabulous you look!