A question I get a lot is, “How can I feel good about my appearance when I feel so bad about my weight?”
Can you relate? Maybe you tell yourself that you need to lose weight before can wear clothes that you like, and feel attractive.
Nothing could be further from the truth!
In fact, staying in the “I can’t feel good about myself until I’m skinny” mentality is exactly what keeps us in a yo-yo cycle of dieting and deprivation, followed by bingeing. When we give up dieting, we also give up the belief that we deserve to be treated well only after we lose weight.
As a psychoanalyst I know that identifying and working through what’s eating “at” you is the primary key to change your relationship to food. Self-esteem is also crucial when it comes to our relationship to food and others, and one measure of self-esteem is the way we think about our appearance. This has called “beauty esteem” (read more about that HERE).
I want you to feel good TODAY, and so I’ve put together a list of things you can do to revamp your perspective, your wardrobe and your life… without spending a million dollars! I also want to clarify something: I’m not proposing that you have to look any certain way to be attractive or feel good. I don’t care what you wear, how much makeup you put on, or what color your hair is.
I absolutely DO care how you feel about yourself, including the person you see in the mirror. I want you to feel comfortable in your skin, and your clothes! When you feel good about the way you look, you’re less likely to distract yourself with food.
If you want some help feeling good about your reflection. Changing the way you dress really can change the way you feel about yourself (anyone who ever watched What NOT To Wear knows what I mean). I put together five tips to help you do exactly that, so let’s get started!
Look Good, Feel Good Tip #1: Change the belief that only skinny can be beautiful.
How many times have you stopped yourself from getting ready or looking good because you didn’t feel good?
Our minds often tell us “I can’t believe you at that! You’re a failure, and if you’re a failure, I’m not going to let you leave the house feeling good about yourself. If you don’t feel good, you don’t look good!”
Well, I’m not sure who gave that voice permission to say what is or what is not pretty, but that voice sure sounds nasty and awful.
A quick Google search of “Curvy models” will pull up thousands of images of women feeling good in their skin at the size that they are at. One of my favorites, Iskra Lawrence, posted on Instagram with a picture of her relaxed (with some cute rolls showing!). The caption reads,
“Your fat rolls are beautiful. And the reason we have been lead to believe they aren’t is because we don’t see them in the media unless someone’s being shamed for weight gain or ridiculed for their body. This is NOT the truth and not OK. Having rolls of skin / fat that are soft / squidgy or big / small does not define your beauty. I wanted to show you how my body looks when I’m relaxed and when I’m posing right next to each other so you can see how easy it is to manipulate how a body looks. (I filmed myself doing this for you on my YouTube)
As a model in the industry 13 years I’ve seen nearly all the pics chosen of me for lingerie & swimwear shoots are the ones where my stomach looks flattest.
Which for a long time lead me to believe that’s how I should look. Because even if I did happen to have a few shots where I’m in a position you can see back fat or rolls someone had decided it’s more “beautiful” “aspirational” or will inspire more customers to buy the product if those so called “flaws” don’t exist.
But things are changing I remember the first time I saw curvier models in editorials with their rolls and back fat and I remember the first time I shot with @aerie and they wanted me to not pose but be real and just myself. Then when I saw my first campaign with them and I could see my unretouched body – pics with rolls / back fat I’m not gonna lie I was shocked. That quickly turned into joy because they made me feel good enough and knew that those “flaws” didn’t mean I wasn’t beautiful in fact showing that their models didn’t have to be “flawless” was incredibly empowering. So thank you #AerieReal and everyone who created the movement it’s not just game changing but life changing ILY
And that’s why when I started my insta about 3years ago I created the #everyBODYisbeautiful bc we are more than the sum of our perfections we are all beautiful equal souls living in imperfectly perfect bodies.”
Iskra now works as a model for Aerie, American Eagle’s underwear and lingerie line. Aerie has stopped retouching their models and asks the women to look comfortable and happy. This tells women (and especially young women, most of Aerie’s customers) that the “flaws” in these models don’t mean that they aren’t beautiful. And that means our “flaws” don’t stop us from being beautiful.
(If you want to see Iskra’s post, check it out HERE.)
Challenge the belief that you can’t be beautiful today, right now, as you are. Skinny does not equal beautiful. In fact, I know many thin women who feel insecure and unsatisfied with the way that they look (that goes for all the guys out there, too).
Part of the problem with believing that skinny = beautiful is the belief gives us a tangible way to compare bodies, and by extension, success. I hear this all the time. People think skinny women must have more successful careers and relationships. They must be happier. They must be more successful!
The skinny = success formula is not true. It is because we equate thinness with other positive qualities that we think we must be thin to be happy.
When we erase the idea that skinny = beauty = success = happiness, we must find other ways to measure ourselves. Clearly nobody told Oprah Winfrey that the only path to success was by being skinny. Oprah was successful because she was engaging, interested, and authentic!
The only thing that stopping you from feeling good about the way you look is your belief that there’s something wrong with you. Let’s challenge that idea. Check out Iskra Lawrence and others who are out there proving that looking good is not equivalent to a number on the scale. And consider your own biases and assumptions about what being thinner actually means.
The point is not necessarily to accept your weight as it is (although that is a perfectly fine choice). It’s to feel good about yourself while you’re in the process of losing weight.
We haven’t always had the idea that thin is better. Check out this advertisement from a different era:
Finally, I love this quote from British journalist Hannah Betts, questioning why thinness is the ultimate ambition.
“It is time we stopped reducing ourselves. Time we remembered that a body is more than stomach, hips and thighs. It is heart, lungs, and brain. Personally, I will continue embodying rebellion. I shall put on weight when I overdo the food and drink, and I shall lose it again when life calms down. This is the normal, human way of things. And if this makes me less of a woman, then I’ll settle for “human being”.
You can read the rest of Hannah’s article HERE. I’ll be back next week with more tips on how to feel good about your body while you’re losing weight.
Until then, be kind to yourself. You deserve it!