First off, I fear a monster has been created... or at least the beginnings of one.
When I sent out the call for help with my shopping aversion, I had no idea what would transpire after that! Not only did I receive a huge out outpouring of love, sympathy and good sense advice, it also inspired me to delve into the scary world that is "fashion"... ok, maybe not fashion, but fabric constructed in ways to decorate my body.
I was happy that I was feeling a little excited about a future shopping trip to make my outsides look good.
What I wasn't prepared for was where it was going to take me mentally and emotionally: I'm learning that my distain for shopping for clothes is a much deeper issue. Much like achieving a healthy weight is about more than exercise and nutrition; clothing, for me, is about much more than fabric, color and fit.
Before I delve into that, there's always a back story... which I'll attempt to keep short. Ish. :)
For the past year+ I've increased my exposure to the world that is body acceptance/fat acceptance/size acceptance/body image improvement/health at any size/yadda yadda yadda.
There's a whole lot to the movement – some of it fantabulous, some of it down right scary – but at the heart of the matter is what I perceive as one basic principle: Love thyself, inside _and_ out.
It's something that's heard a lot about any process of change - if you don't like _yourself_ now when you're at an undesirable weight, in debt, in a cluttered house, single, etc., you won't like yourself when you're at a desirable weight, a clean home, out of debt, married, etc.
I have to admit, there have been times I haven't liked myself very much. Now, I'm pretty happy with myself and can enjoy the company of just me, myself and I.
But this darn clothing thing: It's a thorn in my side.
It wasn't until I admitted that I think that spending money on clothes for myself to look good is frivolous, that I found the root of the problem.
I love my innards... my mind, my heart, my spirit! It's the physical package I was still having trouble with.
This weekend shed a lot of light on how to correct it.
First came from my hubby on Sunday. He prefers I don't wear make up. I prefer /to/ wear make up. We had a discussion of why I felt that I needed it, if I was made perfect than why would I feel like I needed to improve on it, etc. I didn't have an answer other than it makes me feel good when I see myself in the mirror.
Then I had a mini-What Not To Wear marathon that I got more hints, a little more understanding [and a whole lot of 'what were they thinking?!' LOL!] It planted other seeds of ideas and thoughts that were niggling at my brain but I just couldn't quite grasp... They go into a lot of ‘dress the body you have now’, and ‘play up your strengths’, but I kept feeling like they were sidestepping something… or [more likely the case] I was missing something.
Then I listened to a Missus Smarty Pants podcast, hosted by Leslie, sister to the Dinner Diva Leanne Ely, and part of the ever growing resources that’s part of the FlyLady family - that was the water I needed to help those seeds bloom in my brain.
I had downloaded it because it featured Caitlin of Operation Beauitiful fame as a guest and finally *got* it.
Leslie summed up what I've been told over and over again... but was finally ready to hear: (total paraphrasing) Every woman is beautiful! Every woman has features that are stunning and every woman has features _she_ is not so thrilled about. The key is to find the features you love about yourself and play those up, and learn to come to terms with the rest of it.
Caitlin, who is wise beyond her 25 years, added on to that: You gotta rock what ya got from your mamma!
Clothes shopping is so much more than the clothes themselves. It's about learning to really LOOK at my body, learn to love it and all it's perfect imperfections and find what I do have to rock, while covering the rest. My whole body is a reflection of the goodness in the world and my heart. Time to remember and remind myself of it regularly.
Just like I’ve learned and accepted that I can’t eat whatever I want, and that there’s certain foods that just don’t work for my body, I need to learn and accept what I can and can’t wear. It’s a process that I have to go through. It may be a long process or I may get lucky.
Two things I’m looking forward to with this process:
1) Getting an idea of what size my body _really_ is. I’m not talking the arbitrary number on the label, I’m talking the actual physical space my body occupies (or doesn’t occupy as the case may be)… I have a certain concept of my shape and size that’s stuck about 20-30# back, and it’s time to have my mental image catch up with my actual body.
2) Learning to accept that it's ok to rock what I've got, that I deserve to rock what I've got, and that it's ok to do something "selfish" and "frivolous" for _me_.
To answer the make up question – It’s my one way that I have actually embraced the ‘rockin’ what I’ve got’ concept. My eyes have always been what I feel is my strongest feature and while I don’t do the super duper drama eye makeup, I do like to have them featured as part of a polished looking face. That’s one thing that I can feel confident with my abilities, and I prefer to see my face with even skin tone and a little make up to highlight those features. Time to move that to the rest of my body, eh? :)
What about the rest of you – what are your strong features? What do you find really beautiful about your physical self? Where are you in your body acceptance journey?