I’ve often had to explain to my kids the difference between a bad word, a curse word, and a not-nice-in-our-house word. I try really hard to explain to my kids that these “curse” words are just words, they are not a big deal. I’ve let them know that should they choose to use them casually, in everyday public conversation, they are making themselves look uneducated and obnoxious, as well as making others uncomfortable. “Bad words” aren’t formal curse words, but words that are considered offensive or not politically correct. If you have ever seen a teenager scream the words “This sucks!” in the presence of grandparent then you will know why this is just a bad word to use in public. The last category, “not-a-nice-word-in-our-house” is personal. It’s these words that upset me the most. On the banned list in our family are the words hate, stupid and fat. The first two should be obvious as why I prefer we avoid these words, especially in reference to other human beings. Then there’s the F word. Sadly this word is used more by adults than children, and I think it is horrible.
People come in all shapes and sizes. We learn this as children and we are supposed to teach this to our children. Even Dr. Suess thinks so. We accept our differences when we are young but grow to ridicule and shame others as adults. So many of my clients have pointed to a group of clothing and referred to it as their “FAT” clothing. I always immediately stop our consult and let them know that word is unacceptable when referring to our bodies and our clothes. There is so much negative energy on the thoughts surrounding that word that I refuse to let it in. Nobody says it in a good way, everyone says that word as if they are expelling something distasteful out of their mouths. Sadly, usually the clothes they point at are the clothes they dislike the most. Why? Because they are not an accurate representation of what they want to be wearing, neither in size or in style. These are the clothes they feel they acquiesced into buying . They resent these clothes and everything they represent.
So why do we buy “FAT” clothes, and more importantly how can we stop using that word? I am going to stop using that word immediately and change it to “clothes in a different size.” Why do we buy clothes in a different size? Obviously because our current ones don’t fit. And why don’t they fit? The answer is not always so obvious, not even to ourselves. Our weight can change because of our health, our age, our emotions, our relationships, our eating habits, our physical limits and our hormones. I could go on and on. Sometimes this change is gradual and sometimes it can happen rather quickly. (Hello baby weight!) Sometimes we have control over it (hello nighttime glass of wine…and cheese…and crackers!), other times we don’t (hello medicine that is helping someone fight cancer.) Maybe it is temporary and maybe it is permanent. Either way it certainly isn’t a crime so why do we keep punishing ourselves?
One of the ways we punish ourselves is to buy cheap or unattractive clothing. The thinking is “Well I feel like a sloth so I might as well dress like one – sweatpants here I come!” Or “I’m going to lose this weight so why would I spend money on clothes in this size?” “I’ll just buy something inexpensive to hold me over until I lose the weight.” But what happens every time we reach for these items of clothing? We get sad. We get mad. We get frustrated. We shame ourselves in clothes we don’t even like because we deem our different size selves not worthy of a nice outfit. We use the 3 letter F word to describe that article of clothing. It’s not “Where are my dark rinse bootcut jeans?” It becomes “Where are my F word jeans?”
Look around when you say that? Who is listening? Is it your daughter? Whether she is 5 or 15 she is listening, absorbing everything we say and do, good and bad. And don’t forget who else is always there…YOU. Your brain is actively taking in the things you say and do, and it believes them, good and bad. Think of Stuart Smalley, the “Gosh darn it I’m special and people like me” character from Saturday Night Live. It’s funny but it’s also true. Self defamation is just as real as self-affirmation. The control is in our own words and we have the power to change them for the better.
How we dress ourselves is how we present ourselves to the world, it’s a costume of sorts for the role we want to play. Doctors wear scrubs for sanitary purposes, but they are usually dressed business casual underneath. It helps convey the image they are intelligent and competent. The most amazing surgeon in the world could show up for your operation, but if he had sweatpants and a ripped t-shirt on underneath we wouldn’t be so trusting, even if he explained they were his F-word clothes because he has been too busy working at the hospital to exercise.
Size is relative. Your larger size may be someone else’s dream goal weight. And that size 0 woman you see running her ass off on the treadmill everyday? Stop judging her too. You have no idea what kind of demons she may be running from. No matter how good you think she looks I promise you there is some part of her self-esteem that is in the toilet. She is going to stand in front of the mirror and pick on the things that bother her the most. I have worked with over a hundred clients and not one has yet said they are perfectly happy in their own body. Trust me I’m not either, and I’m working everyday on accepting that I am not the size I used to be, and that chocolate isn’t a vegetable. I need to go to the gym but I am terribly self-conscious about doing anything remotely athletic for fear of looking like an idiot. Oh and there is the whole lazy part. Did I mention that? But I want to be strong, and that is my motivation.
It’s okay to be unhappy with our size. It’s another thing to punish ourselves by dressing down in things we don’t even like. That’s not fair. I am not saying to reward yourself with a shopping spree every time your waistline shifts. Most times when we are not the size we want to be, we are in the midst of feeling like things are out of our control in some way. Buying a new wardrobe won’t solve any of those issues. However buying a few things to get us by and make us feel good, as we transition through whatever it is we may be going through, IS a good thing! Sometimes we have to change our outsides to kickstart a change on the inside. It’s the whole Fake it till you make it concept, and it’s pretty effective. If you want others to respect you then YOU need to respect YOURSELF first.
Often times I’ve seen women torture themselves, keeping photos of their previous sizes around as a form of inspiration. Or they keep their “skinny” clothes in their closet as motivation. That’s mean, to ourselves and our current bodies. It’s like sitting near the “cool” kids at school while they glare at you and say “You can’t sit with us.”
My advice? Switch places with your best friend, your sister or even your daughter. Would you let her say those things to herself? Would you let anyone else talk to her that way? Probably not, so stop beating yourself up and start giving yourself a break. Life is passing you by why you sit home shaming yourself with your “not my usual size” clothes. Your friends and loved ones will always love you. They want you to show up and have a good time. No one else is really judging you on your size besides yourself. So start thinking positive thoughts, start speaking positive words, be kind to yourself.
Treat yourself to a couple of nice things that fit your current body and your current size. Even if your weight is going to change it’s not going to happen overnight. You have places to go and people to see and you deserve to look your best. If you respect yourself by presenting the best version of YOU, others will do the same. If you present yourself as somebody who is unhappy wearing clothes that make you feel even worse, you will convey that to everyone you meet, from the bank teller to your boss. Take the clothes that don’t fit you and bag or box them up for future use. Take them out of your everyday vision until your everyday wardrobe starts to feel loose. Eventually you can revisit them and it will feel like a shopping spree. Do your hair and makeup with a little extra effort, put on the nicer shoes and make sure to finish with jewelry. Walk out the door with your head held high, knowing you are presenting the best you. Sometimes when we are feeling down about ourselves on the inside we need to push for that extra effort on the outside. Trust me, somewhere a little girl is watching and listening, especially the one inside your own heart, so make sure you set a good example.
*Insider Tip – Buy for fit, not for the number.
There is nothing worse than when you are trying to get healthier and exercise more and you can’t even comfortably get dressed to do so. Workout gear has now gone high fashion with seams and cuts more suitably for a nightclub then the gym. Rachel Blumenfeld decided to change that when she created Manifesta. I discovered her line after reading a this Main Line Today article. I don’t know Rachel personally but after reading the article I want to. She is resourceful, intelligent, determined and inspiring. When Rachel found that many fitness lines just weren’t made for her athletic and curvier shape, so she set out to research fabric, movement and fit. Manifesta was created for women of all shapes and sizes, ranging from sizes 0-28, because she thinks everyone deserves to feel “comfortable and confident.” She even replaced conventional number sizing with names, so each size range has a different name, eliminating any stigma we have in our heads about the number on the tag. Very cool! Check out the line on their website here at www.mymanifesta.com and on Facebook here.