After writing yesterday's post, I was thinking some more about body image and particularly weight issues. Though I am by absolutely no means an expert on this, I think I've actually done fairly well, particularly recently, at coming to terms with the body I have and accepting and loving it as it is. Given that I don't tend to be the mentally healthiest person in the world in general, I was wondering why that is, and here is what I came up with:
Grace's Simple One-Step Plan to Loving Your Body, No Matter the Size
1. Get some clothes that fit.
Like I said before, nothing destroys my body image for the day, or week, or month like spending precious morning minutes fighting with a closet full of ill-fitting clothes. It's just the most defeating thing in the world. So I think the #1 way, for me, at least, to accept my body is to get the clothes that don't fit the hell out of my closet. This means doing a thorough purge and not being sentimental. Just because you love and adore a given item of clothing doesn't mean it still fits you, and having to see it not fit you every day is going to be a lot worse than getting rid of it. So the first thing to do is get rid of every single piece of clothing in your closet that doesn't fit. And if something doesn't feel right to you, it doesn't fit, regardless of what anybody says about how it looks.
Whether or not to actually remove these clothes from your possession completely really depends. I don't, usually, because my size does fluctuate too much. I put them in Rubbermaid bins, labeled with what they are, and slide them under the bed. But I think that will only work if you can really forget they are there. The whole point here is to remove these non-fitting clothes from your mind completely and start thinking of your body as something new, rather than something that is somehow failing to fit into stuff you already have.
Oh, and this goes for clothes that are too small AND those that are too big. While too small things may make me feel fat, too large things make me feel sloppy and frumpy, and honestly it's not much better.
Of course, after you get rid of everything that doesn't fit, you are probably going to need some new things. This part is tricky, because (especially if you are like me) buying a whole new wardrobe every time you change sizes is very expensive. One recommendation I have, of course, is thrift, thrift, thrift. If you are of anything approaching an average build (i.e. somewhere between a size 2 and a size 16, probably, and not extremely short or tall) and you live in a somewhat large city, this should be possible (though it may not, I hear some cities really do have terrible thrift stores). Thrifting has always been my solution to restocking my closet. At my present size, and at my height in general, some things are hard for me to thrift for (pants in particular), but I do still try.
If thrifting hasn't worked out, or if you just need to fill in some holes for things you couldn't find while thrifting, then my next step is discount stores. I like Ross in particular, but Marshall's or T.J. Maxx might be better where you live. Anywhere you can get slightly higher quality things for reduced prices. Personally, I generally stay away from clothes from really low-end stores (Wal-Mart, clearly, but also K-Mart, Rave, etc.) because they fall apart and shrink/warp, and then I'm faced with having to do the exact same thing over again.
Finally, take a look at sales. N.Y. and Company has AMAZING sales (I just got two pairs of jeans and two silk short-sleeved wrap sweaters there for about $50). Their clothes are not exactly high-end, but will always get me through at least one season, and given my constantly changing sizes, that's usually all I need. They also tend to carry pants that fit me well, which is a real blessing at my height and with my waist-to-hip ratio.
The idea here is not to buy a whole passel of new stuff and get yourself into serious debt, especially if you are a size-fluctuator like me. The idea is to buy a few new things that actually fit and make you feel good when you wear them, and to wear them. Then, when/if they stop fitting and making you feel good, repeat the process.
I know this isn't the most conservative thing to recommend, in terms of finances, the use of resources, etc. And I feel bad about that. But in truth, it is worth making compromises in other areas for me to go through my days feeling good about the body I have right now, and this is the best way I've found to do it.