Have you ever found clothes that looked great on the hanger, or on a mannequin, but when you tried them on they seem to take on a different look? One that isn’t as nice? I had that experience just recently.
Since my birthday is this month (hello November!), I decided to buy myself some workout clothes. The anticipation of spending some quality “me time” and shopping was something I was really looking forward to doing.
THE DRESSING ROOM WAS NOT MY FRIEND
I went to one of my favorite stores and picked out a variety of pieces. A lovely tall and athletic young lady guided me to my dressing room. Excited to get started, I undressed as quickly as I could and grabbed the first pair of running pants. They were red and when I saw them in the store, it was love at first sight.
I slid them on. Wait! Let me retract the word “slid.” I had to pull them up with some effort and this included me hopping around a couple of times. This should have been an obvious warning.
Shopping was not going to be fun.
The red running pants were tight. In trying to make sense of it, I thought maybe I grabbed a size smaller? I didn’t want to leave the dressing room to confirm my theory, though, because that would mean I’d have to pull the pants down and that was not going to happen.
I decided not to look in the mirror until I put on a top. I had the same issue with the top as I did with the pants. So now I was wondering, “What is happening?”
I started to ask myself, “Did I overeat this past week? How many times did I go to the gym? What is causing this outfit to feel so small?” So many thoughts were swirling in my head.
I turned around and faced the mirror hoping I would look the same as the mannequin, but it was far from the truth. The pants were so tight my midsection was being pushed up and flapped over the top of the pants. The top made me look like a piece of sausage in a casing.
ME VERSUS THE MANNEQUIN
I began to feel frustrated and angry at my body for not fitting into these clothes, but I decided to move on and try on other pieces anyway. One right after the other, they weren’t fitting me. Every piece of clothing I tried on chipped away at my confidence in myself and my body.
When I double-checked the clothing size, unfortunately, my theory about grabbing the wrong size wasn’t correct, they were all the right size. I became obsessed with finding and buying one piece of clothing just to prove I could fit into these clothes. I got dressed, gave back the unwanted pieces, and went back out on the shop floor.
During my second attempt, I came across a pair of yoga pants that I liked. The young, athletic girl who had originally helped me approached me to see if I needed assistance. Where I initially had no problem standing next to her when I met her, I now felt overweight and uncomfortable.
I didn’t want to ask her if they had my size in these yoga pants since I didn’t see them, but I decided to ask anyway. She was more than happy to find out, and sure enough, they had my size. Still trying to justify why the first round didn’t fit, I had another theory. The clothes probably run small!
So, I asked the girl, “Do the clothes run small?” She responded, “No, in fact, they run a little big.” She even lifted her top slightly and showed me how these same yoga pants were a little big and she was wearing a small.
“Small!” I yelled in my head. I shook off my reaction and continued with my mission. Round two wasn’t as bad, but it still didn’t boost my self-confidence. In the end, I left with a top and a pair of pants, but I wasn’t happy.
THE TRAP OF NEGATIVE SELF-TALK
I was also confused. What just happened? Why did I have such a low body image of myself when the clothes didn’t fit? Why did I start doing a playback of my whole week and what I ate, how much exercise I did? This is not me.
You see, being a wellness advisor, it is my job to help my clients with issues like these. I work with them to remove these unwanted thoughts and to have a new perspective, but I couldn’t do it for me.
Because I allowed my thoughts to cause unwanted feelings (anger, frustration, low self-confidence) and those feelings drove me to find one piece of clothing that would validate I could wear clothes offered by this specific store. Finding that one piece would prove that I wasn’t overweight.
WE ARE ALL PERFECTLY IMPERFECT
This experience reminded me that no matter who we are, we all have negative thoughts in our heads that don’t serve us, but it is up to us to make the choice to listen to them or not.
On this day, I chose to listen. It wasn’t until I returned home later that I reflected on my experience. I thought about how I didn’t want to be that overweight person I used to be, but the truth is I wasn’t.
I went into the store with confidence and at that moment, I loved my body, but while trying on the clothes, I let my perception (old negative thoughts) dictate that the young athletic girl’s body was healthier, stronger, and more beautiful than mine.
I left hating my body.
I knew these thoughts weren’t true, but back in that moment, they felt like it. So once at home, I challenged those thoughts and wrote down what I loved about my body.
Because the truth is that my body does great things.
I love it for getting me up in the morning, running, exercising, and relaxing without any aches or pains. I embrace all its imperfections: cellulite, fat, or the loose skin under my arms.
My body is beautiful as well as yours.
So please don’t fall in the trap of believing there is a specific “perfect body,” because, there no such thing as a perfect body.
There is a perfect you, however, and that is worth a lot.
All that matters is that you love yourself. So the next time you find yourself falling into a pattern of negative self-talk, hug yourself or give a pat on your back and instead say, “Thank you, body, for being here for me.”