Body Image, Fashion, Mental Health, Physical Health, Social Media

Thoughts on Spring Fashion and Body Image

It seems that spring might finally be here to stay in the Carolinas, despite a few little cold snaps. My yard has been in bloom for a few weeks now, the trees are finally starting to leaf out, and when I had my windows open the other day there was actually a warm breeze blowing through.

I realize that, living in the south, I don’t have a lot of room to complain about the winter. However, it certainly feels good to live in a world that is greening up again.

For me, part of the fun of changing seasons is a change of wardrobe as well. I spend most of January and February dreaming of sundresses and sandals and shorts. I start to resent the amount of room that my sweaters take up in my closet and dresser. I endlessly scroll through Pinterest fashion boards.

But then the time comes to actually put spring clothes on my body and stand in front of a mirror, where reality forces me to adjust the mental picture I have of how I will look in these things. It’s a bit like stretching after you have been sitting in one position for too long: it’s not always pleasant or comfortable, but it’s still important if you don’t want to get stuck for the rest of your life. After months of dressing in layers of leggings and boots and sweaters and scarves, it can be easy to forget what my body looks like without all of those layers and textures. And if the media you consume never actually shows bodies or styles that look like yours, it’s easy to feel like you want to hide, like there is something wrong with your body and your style. Spoiler: it’s not true.

Maybe your wardrobe needs a bit refreshing. Maybe you need to do an honest assessment of whether your current clothes actually fit you properly, and if not then maybe some of them need to be replaced. But none of us should ever feel guilty or ashamed due to our wardrobe (unless you have just made some very questionable fashion choices in the past, but, let’s be honest, we’ve all done that).

I’ll admit, I hit a little bit of a shame spiral the other day. None of my clothes looked the way that I wanted them to look on me; the image in my mirror wasn’t matching the image in my head. But I’ve also come far enough to recognize that there was no reason to be unhappy with that image in the mirror. I’ve been eating healthier, feeling more energetic, and my clothes do actually fit me properly. So it’s not the reality that I was unhappy with, it was the expectation. Luckily, expectations can be much easier to adjust than reality is.

Most of our expectations are set by the media that we consume, whether it’s social media, the news, magazines, movies or tv shows, or what have you. With my recent break from Facebook and my complete lack of interest in the news or magazines, it’s actually pretty easy for me to curate the things that I see on a regular basis. I found some fashion bloggers on Instagram who are closer to my size and shape and whose styles are similar to my own. On Pinterest, I made sure that I was following fashion boards that were specifically plus size. Now when I’m idly killing time on my phone, I am more frequently (though still not always) seeing images that reinforce more realistic expectations of myself and of the world in general.

One of the other key things I’ve done in the past year is to create a photo album on my phone of my own outfits that I’ve worn and felt good in. This not only helps to remind me of the clothes that I actually own and enjoy wearing, but it also reminds me on the hard days that there are also days when I feel genuinely good about myself and like a put-together grown-up with actual fashion sense. Those reminders can be very important.

How are you feeling as we go into spring and summer weather? What steps do you take to combat negative self-image and insecurity?

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