By Katie Sotack
It’s a funny trick of time that we always look better in the memories. That photo we hated at age 22, we look back on fondly with the beauty of our younger selves. With time we begin to look at past us as a whole, instead of a fragmented mosaic. A pretty picture that we could hang in our rooms. Instead of narrowing in on our crooked nose and yellowing teeth, we look at our younger selves with a kindness we wish we could feel in the moment.
What a revolution it would be to love our bodies while we’re in them. Not because we look slim today or because our busts are looking especially bodacious. Rather we should learn to love our bodies in a way that celebrates all they do for us. That our bodies are more than our appearance. Here are four ways we can learn to love the skin we’re in:
There is a phrase that sparked a self love revolution in the minds of many, myself included. The jist of it is you can’t hate your body into a version of it you love. If you’ve grown past your teenage years, you will likely look back in remembrance of how unkind we were to ourselves. When self-consciousness and criticism set in like a well-timed traffic jam on the quickest route to work when you’re already running late. Frustrating and seemingly pointless, though there doesn’t feel like there’s anything you can do about it. Maybe you’ve wised up and taken an alternative route, but to those of you still stuck behind a ten car pile up, I implore you to be kind to yourself.
It takes work and time, but you’ll find confidence rooting within you and growing out. Start by creating a Pinterest board with positive quotes that resonate. Or distance yourself from the friends that root for the negativity committee in your mind. It’s important to prioritize yourself in a way that promotes your well-being. It’s routinely said that we’re on our harshest criticizes. On the flip side, we have the ability to encourage ourselves in a way that no one else can. Be your own cheerleading squad whether you’re throwing touch downs or getting a participation trophy today.
Clothing That’s Made For You
What’s your typical dressing room experience? For a lot of people, it can feel daunting to stand in a stuffy 2×2 badly lit room and try on ill-fitting clothes. If your size is above 3X, it’s likely you didn’t find any to bring into the dressing room, to begin with. It produces a churning in your gut and tears in your eyes before you finally ask yourself, “Is it me?” Newsflash– it’s not you, babe. It’s the clothes.
Mass-manufactured clothing is tailored to each store’s specific size chart and range. A 1X t-shirt in one store can fit like a too-tight second skin, squeezing and suffocating you, while a medium wears like a flowy dress in another. This is because store’s choose sizing based on specific customers, production practices, and price points. If you’re not in similar shape to the exact fit model they’ve chosen, regardless of size, their items will not fit you like they were made for you, because frankly – they’re not. This lack of consistency between brands is unfortunately unavoidable and stems from many different reasons. Watch this video to learn more.
Unlearning that ill-fitting clothes are not the fault of your body is a step in the body-love process. Take it from SmartGlamour owner and designer herself, Mallorie Dunn, who wrote “Human bodies don’t come off of conveyor belts, so they aren’t going to always fit squarely in a size chart. That’s where customizations come in – and we want to help!” Getting clothes that fit your shape is an instant confidence booster. If you’re hesitant to customize, consider shopping through our Model Directory. Here you can find models that represent all body types with their measurements and sizes listed. That way you’re not walking your shopping experience straight into the “NOTHING FITS!” danger zone.
There’s a lot of eye-rolling to be done, particularly in the plus size community, when you’re told to ‘just workout’. Rightfully so, exercise is often painted as a way to control our bodies and contort them into something the western world finds attractive. For a lot of us, it can feel like a punishment. We exercise because our bodies are not good enough– I invite you to rethink this.
It’s a unique feeling within when we invent space for our bodies. Take Instagram’s Laura Burns for example. She’s a self-proclaimed Body Liberation Activist + Yoga Teacher. She regularly holds a space to discuss self-care specifically for the plus size community. Her desire is to “…spend some quality time with you. I want to come together, hold space for each other, and be sacred bodies deserving of gentleness, compassion, and love together.” Holding this space creates a safe area for our mentality and physicality.
Her book, Big & Bold: Yoga For The Plus Size Woman, also stresses the importance of modifying our movement for our bodies’ comfort. In the same way that cookie-cutter clothing doesn’t suit us, ‘the usual’ exercises like weight lifting, running, and squats aren’t beneficial or even possible for everyone. Whether you’re plus-sized, disabled, or just a person who cannot stand the funk of a public gym, it is time to find movement suited to your body.
If you don’t enjoy it, it hurts, or it’s boring, throw it out the window. This is not motivation to do a hundred grueling abdominal crunches a day (unless you’re into that kind of thing). This is a challenge to appreciate all your body does for you. Rather than working out to see results on your waistline, enjoy the simple movements in the same way a child enjoys running by playing tag. Make it fun!
Prioritize Your Inner Relationship
Ever have a bad partner? The kind that doesn’t check in with you, only tells stories about themself, and forgets your birthday? Well when you refuse to strike a balance between your mental and physical well-being, you become your own bad partner. Toxic, unhelpful, and uninspired. But there’s a chance for reform here. You want to hold your own hand while walking. You want to treat yourself to a nice dinner every once in a while. You want to love yourself. This is a new beginning between your body and your mind. Just like the start of a new partnership, it is time to court yourself. Be considerate, kind, caring, and treat yourself to the little things. Because your internal relationship is a marriage and there is no chance for divorce.
At the end of the day loving yourself is a project, but it’s one worth tackling. You may not start out as a natural, but you don’t get a PhD just for stepping on campus. It requires time, patience, and hard work. Like any art form, loving your body is a skill you have to practice.
The upside of this is the more you practice, the easier it gets. Until one day you really believe all the compliments you tell yourself, you’re feeling stronger, and you’re the best partner you’ve ever had. It’s a journey where you uncover your authentic self, that’s been stuffed away by years of shame and other people telling you what is right. It is reaching into an old winter coat’s pocket and realizing you’ve discarded self-care like the ninety-cent chapstick with fluffies stuck to it. It’s finding your own route back to your childhood. When you were carefree, uninhabited, and only concerned about making it across the monkey bars.