Shopping for new clothes and bathing suits can be a doozy for body image woes. In fact, I think most dressing room mirrors and lighting are a setup for good mugshots not glamor shots. If you find yourself hating on your body in the dressing room, remind yourself that there’s a whole industry making bank off body image insecurity.
Here are some body positive reminders next time you find your Inner Critic going nuts:
First off, everyone’s bodies are different. Each person is going to have a different body shape and size and ability to do different things. Being different doesn’t make you bad; it makes you normal.
Second, the number on a tag is not going to be a solid foundation for long-term positive body image. If it feels too tight, then try on a different size. All clothes and swimsuits are sized differently. The number on the tag doesn’t mean anything about your health or worth.
In addition, find ways to respond to negative self-talk in the dressing room (e.g. “I look fat” “like a whale” or “I hate myself”):
- All people have fat. Being fat doesn’t mean anything about you other than your body was made that way. Fat is actually an organ that keeps your body safe.
- Weight does not equal health!
- You have a healthy body that helps you keep swimming. If you didn’t have fat on your body, you wouldn’t have any energy to swim.
- Whales are amazing creatures that can hold their breath for incredibly long periods of time, have their own family systems, and even their own language like humans!
- What are you hating on about yourself? Do you hate that you feel left out or not good enough with your friends? Do you hate that people make fun of you? Do you hate that life is unfair and people are the fucking worst sometimes? (Leave that last one out…or paraphrase…or not).
Furthermore, find something that helps you feel good. (FYI: When it comes to swimsuits, there are many different options: one-pieces, tankinis, two-pieces/bikinis, monokinis, fatkinis!, bathing suits with skirts, bandeau tops that you can pair with shorts, even competition one pieces that have shorts or leggings. Repeat to yourself: I deserve to feel good and my body matters!
Lastly, some of the best ways to over disordered eating and diet culture’s influence are:
- Change what you see on social media. Follow folks who have fat positive Instagram or Facebook accounts. Ditch the fucking fitspo.
- Dig deeper into the cultural norms around beauty to understand how they’re shaped by the patriarchy and DO NOT help women or men develop balanced, body positive self-image. (Cultural norms also marginalize large swaths of the population and erase non-white, able-bodied, neurodivergent, low-income, non-heterosexual, non-gender conforming folks.)
- Use “recovery mantras” such as the statements above. Changing the way we talk to ourselves is a process, but a very important step in reprogramming the way we think about, talk to, and care about our bodies.
- Learn more about Health at Every Size. You can find out more about this evidenced-based, well-researched approach to having a healthy body (at whatever your natural body size is).
Check out more info about Health at Every Size, debunking diet culture, positive self-talk, and dealing with fatphobia and eating disorders on my Resource page. It has links to things I update frequently based on current research.
You deserve to feel at peace with your body image. You don’t have to freak out about your “summer body” or what it means to wear something that makes YOU comfortable front of other people. Remember, diet culture profits off of your (and all of our) self-doubt. It might seem hard to accept your here-and-now body, but try some of these and let me know how it goes!