Monthly Archives: October 2012

Body Image Role Models

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Body Image Role ModelsA lot of attention is given to celebrities who have enviable figures.  We’ve all seen magazine articles with such titles as “The Hottest Hollywood Bodies,” “Body after Baby,” and a multitude of other stories chronicling celebrity weight loss and body ideals showcased by the stars.  Similarly, many of us know “real people” with amazing physiques and we may compare our own bodies to theirs and find ourselves coming up short.  Seeing beautiful bodies can either motivate us or deflate our spirits, depending upon our mindsets and how we feel about our chances for achieving our body goals.

While it can be helpful to have body role models, it is even better to have body image role models, especially for those of us who are working to rehabilitate a negative body concept.  This post will highlight a few of my personal body image role models and show what I’ve learned from the women in my life who embody healthy attitudes toward their bodies.

Role Model #1 – Refreshing Friend

For much of my twenties and thirties, I found it exceedingly rare to meet a woman who didn’t continuously expound upon her diet and weight loss pursuits.  As someone who was desperately trying to overcome a deadly eating disorder, it was not healthy for me to engage in such discourse.

This is why I found it so refreshing to find one friend who didn’t waste a single moment disparaging her body or discussing her battles with weight and food.  She didn’t have to make an effort to avoid such talk; it simply didn’t occur to her to worry about these things.  She embraced her body for what it was, ate what she wanted when she was hungry, and went about her life.  Yes, it helped that she was naturally slim, enjoyed exercise and outdoor activities, and had grown up eating natural, healthy food.  However, as she gained weight in her late thirties and early forties (as can often be the case), she continued to love and accept her body and treat it with honor and respect.

Wrong Clothes, Not Wrong Body

I am grateful to this friend for being a body image role model to me for close to twenty years.  She showed me an alternate way of thinking and behaving in regards to body image, and it was healthy for me to spend time with someone who refrained from negative body talk and obsessive diet and exercise activities.

I remember shopping for clothes with my friend on a number of occasions. When she would try on garments that didn’t fit, she didn’t blame her body, as is common for women to do.  She either grabbed the next size up or decided the particular clothing style didn’t suit her and moved on to something else.  She knew she was just fine the way she was, that garment manufacturers tailored their clothing to particular body types, and it was just a matter of finding the right brand and style for her body.  In short, the clothes were wrong (for her), not her body.  A powerful distinction that is important to remember!

Role Model #2 – Confident Family Member

Another body image role model is a relative who has fluctuated in weight quite a bit over the years.  She has vacillated between having a tight, taut and fit figure and being dramatically overweight, and I never know how she will look when I see her.  However, no matter what she weighs, she has never expressed any feelings of shame toward her body.

This woman has no problem getting changed in front of others and will proudly strut around in the buff regardless of whether she’s thin or heavy.  She has a freedom around her body that I truly envy and greatly admire.   She also doesn’t make her weight mean anything about herself as a person.  She knows she is intelligent, capable, lovable, and fabulous no matter where the needle on the scale may fall.  She doesn’t let her body image dictate her self-image.  Who she is consists of infinitely more than what she weighs.  I aspire to be more like her in this regard and I honor her for what she’s taught me about body pride over the years.

Role Model #3 – She Loves Her Curves!

I have a new friend who is also a body role model for me.  This woman is beautifully curvy with a figure similar to the wonderful Christina Hendricks.  She proudly showcases her curves in body conscious clothing that makes the statement, “I love my body and enjoy showing it off.”  Her outfits are always beautifully put together and give off a powerfully confident “bombshell” vibe.

I already admired this woman, but then I learned she used to be sixty pounds heavier.  Amazingly, when she started to accept her body, take more pride in her appearance, and dress the body she had, she was able to drop the excess weight.

I could tell her story, but she chronicles it so beautifully herself in her own words that I will let you read it for yourselves.  Of note is that she reveals both her highest weight and her current weight in her article.  There is absolutely no shame attached to either number for her.  I aspire to be more like this amazing (and young!) woman.  That she was able to overcome her body image issues at such a young age is a tribute to both her strength and fortitude.

Lessons from My Role Models

In closing, I would like to recap the lessons I have learned from the three body image role models I briefly introduced above.  These three magnificent women have taught me the following:

  • There is so much more to life than dieting and weight loss.
  • All bodies are worthy of love and acceptance.
  • Take pride in your body regardless of its shape and size.
  • It is normal and natural for our bodies to change as we age.
  • Dress for the body you have, not the body you wish you had.
  • If clothes don’t fit you, your body isn’t bad or wrong!
  • Your body image should not dictate your self-image. You are not your weight or shape!
  • We all have positive body attributes that are worthy of showing off.

The list could go on and on, but the items above capture the most powerful lessons I’ve learned from my personal body image role models.

Body Love and Acceptance

When you look around for role models related to your body, I encourage you to search for those who will help you feel better about your body instead of worse.  I urge you to find those women in your life who embody body love and acceptance and who can help you develop those same desirable qualities.   We can all find bodies to admire and envy, but real growth and empowerment come from emulating those who can push you toward the ultimate prize, true body acceptance!

How to Incorporate New Fashion Trends

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Incorporating New Fashion TrendsEach Spring and Fall, new fashion trends burst onto the scene, and with them come the ever-present “must have” lists in fashion magazines and blogs.  Since I am an advocate of expressing our own unique personal style rather than being a slave to fashion trends, you won’t find me endorsing any sartorial absolutes here.

That said, for those of us who love clothes, it can be fun to add new pieces and participate in the fresh fashion offerings that strike our individual fancy.  Since the onslaught of trends each season can be overwhelming for many, I will provide some tips for incorporating select new styles into your wardrobe.

Select Just a Few…

The most important key lies in one word in my previous sentence, select.  There are far too many trends each season to follow them all.  Case in point… I just perused at least ten lists in preparation for this article and found quite a bit of variance regarding the key trends for Fall 2012.  I probably read about at least fifty trends just now, and I’m sure I’d find more if I continued my research.

The best way to have fun with the evolution of fashion without over-shopping or overwhelm is to choose wisely in terms of the trends you wish to follow.  Consult a trend list or two (a few of the best I found are here, here, and here) and choose 3-5 trends you find appealing.  These trends can be colors, styles, silhouettes, or accessories.  Just use your intuition and select the ones that resonate the most with your style aesthetic.

Shop Your Closet First

With your list of key trends in hand, it’s time to go shopping.   But don’t get in your car or on your computer just yet.  Start your shopping in your very own closet!  We often forget to consider what we have before running out to buy something new.

It’s highly likely that you can incorporate new trends by using pieces you already own.  This is especially true in terms of hot colors and trendy color combinations.  As an example, one of the “it” colors for Fall 2012 is burgundy or wine (I often see it referred to as “oxblood,” but I don’t much like that term…).  When I went to my closet, I found I had several tops which fit nicely into that color classification.  No shopping needed!  The same is true for the blue and black color pairing that is big this season.  I have plenty of pieces of both, so I just need to put them together.  Simple enough to do!

Use Accessories

Some trends can easily be incorporated through the use of accessories.  Although you might need to buy a few new pieces to participate in a desired “of the moment” trend, you can do this inexpensively through the use of accessories.  How about a burgundy scarf or belt to wear with your classic pieces?  Or a metallic necklace or bracelet to bring a little of the “sci-fi trend” into your wardrobe?

Shop “Young,” Discount, or Consignment

If you’re looking to add a few trendy items to your closet, you may not want to spend much money on this pursuit.  If that’s the case, I encourage you to venture off your beaten path when shopping.

Even if you’re over 40, you can find age appropriate accessories or simple clothing pieces (e.g. t-shirts) in stores like Forever 21, H&M, and Express.  Or you might want to try the Brass Plum department at Nordstrom or a similar junior’s section at your favorite department store.  While I don’t encourage you to buy all – or even many – of your clothes there, you can find a few fun and trendy accessories in such places for low prices. Similarly, Target is a great place to shop for trendy clothing and accessories, and if you don’t have fussy feet, you can find fun and fashionable shoes at Payless and Famous Footwear.

And don’t forget to scout your local consignment and thrift stores.  Many trends cycle in and out every few years, so you can find quality gently used pieces at very reasonable prices if you are willing to hunt around a bit.  One recommendation in this regard is to scout out resale shops in upscale neighborhoods, as you will be more likely to find hidden treasures there. eBay is another excellent resource for those who have the patience to navigate through a multitude of options.

Use Restraint

When buying trendy pieces, it’s best to keep your purchases to a minimum.  Buy a few items and wear them to death while the trend is hot.  A little goes a long way!  You’ll look current and stylish without breaking the bank or over-stuffing your closet.  Then when the next trends roll around, you’ll have money and closet space to sample those offerings and incorporate your favorites once again.

I hope these tips have been helpful to those of you who like to participate in fashion trends but don’t want to go broke or look like a fashion victim.  If you have questions about my tips or on particular trends, I’d love to hear (read…) them.  Ask away and I’ll do my best to help!