Shopping for clothes - you either love it or you hate it, am I right?
If you struggle with body acceptance, your appearance, confidence, body image or all of the above, there’s a pretty high chance that this impacts your enjoyment of clothes shopping.
A couple of years ago, in the midst of binge eating disorder as well as anxiety and depression, the thought of shopping for clothes made me feel incredibly anxious. I had gained some weight and struggled to come to terms with buying next size up, especially when, as a size 12-14 previously, it was already difficult to find clothes that fit me. Yes, as a size 14, which is apparently the average size of an Australian woman, I struggled to fit into clothes that were labelled in my size!
Convinced my body was the problem...
and NOT the clothing designers, manufacturers or anyone in the fashion industry, I believed that the only options were to a) squeeze myself into ill-fitting clothes that made me feel disgustingly uncomfortable or b) lose weight.
And because they were my only options, I chose them. Chronic dieting contributed to several years of disordered eating and squeezing myself into clothes that didn’t fit me properly did absolutely nothing for my confidence levels and the way I felt about my body.
Rather than acknowledge that maybe it was the inconsistent sizing of clothing that was the problem and try the size up, I would prefer to starve myself and/or wear clothes that didn’t fit right. In my mind, I truly believed that my body was the problem and that if I ‘sized up’, I would be failing – how freakin’ sad.
Fashion has always been a huge part of my identity.
I’ve never been one to follow trends (give or take a few years in high school – haha!) – I loved leopard print before it became cool & trendy again. I’ve used it as a way to express myself and as an introvert, this was a way I felt comfortable to do so.
Navigating the world of fashion as a plus size woman has been difficult but I am pleased to see that there has been some progress. Some believe that fashion is just another part of consumerism and is incredibly materialistic so we should just make do with what we are given, but for me and many others, it is part of our identity. We want to wear bright, colourful, nicely-fitted clothing (cough – a trendy brightly coloured brand that starts with G) like our straight-sized friends and it is perfectly acceptable to want that!
Wearing clothing that is comfortable without the need of altering your body is a form of self-care.
By purchasing clothes that fit you, regardless of what the size on the tag says, is a way to not only respect and care for your body but also help you to feel more positive about yourself.
Clothes shopping when you feel negatively about your body can be a truly unpleasant experience so I thought I would share some tips with you that have helped me on my own journey!
Disregard what the size on the tag says.
Use it as a ‘rough’ guide. Take a few different sizes into the change rooms with you and if you do need to go up a size, be gentle with yourself. You are not a failure and you don’t need to lose weight, I promise you! The clothing sizes here in Australia are ridiculously inconsistent – but also, it’s totally okay if you have gone up a size, it’s quite normal for our bodies to change over time. An additional tip is that if you find the sizing tag on your new clothes triggering, cut it off!
Do your research.
To make my shopping experience less stressful, I will check out brands online first to see what they are stocking. I’ll make note of the items I want to try on when I get there to reduce my anxiety and frustration around shopping!
Don't bother with the stores you know probably won't work for you.
If I know that I will struggle to squeeze myself into a certain brand’s clothing, I won’t even bother step foot in there. I know I’m just setting myself up for heartbreak (and my money is better spent elsewhere!)
Be aware of your thoughts & feelings.
Being aware of how I am feeling and the thoughts I am having about myself and my body is super helpful. I try to catch my negative and unhelpful thoughts and reframe them into positive (or even neutral statements)
Try online shopping!
Finally, utilising the incredible world of online shopping. As a plus size gal, it’s been difficult to find clothing in stores that are both my size and my style so I tend to gravitate towards the online world. If you’re a little nervous about online shopping, start with stores that have an awesome returns process (aka FREE) and are also relatively size-inclusive such as Asos and The Iconic.
Most importantly, remember that you deserve to feel amazing and confident and worthy regardless of what your body looks like, what size it is and what the number on the tag says. You deserve to wear clothes that make you look and feel incredible now, you don’t have to lose weight or be a certain size to be worthy of being a fashionable babe!
If you are ready to feel confident in your body & wear whatever the hell you want, check out my 3-month body image coaching series here!
PS: Leave a comment below with your favourite brands that help you feel confident, amazing and worthy in their clothes!