By Cheryl Lynn Khyllep
I finally fit into those jeans. You know the ones I’m talking about. The ones that haven’t fit in years, but you just can’t seem to part with. They can be found squished in the back of the closet waiting for their moment to shine again. You had an amazing relationship with those jeans and the memory of how confident they once made you feel keeps you holding on. It was finally the moment of truth! I slowly pulled them on…and hallelujah, they zipped! But then I looked in the mirror and thought to myself, “this isn’t how I remember them fitting.” Where is my butt? Why is my tummy a little more, let us say, “fluffier” than I remember? Suddenly your jeans are not holding up their end of the deal anymore and you are left wondering, what happened?
The frustrating reality is that our bodies change. Over the past 15 years I have lost weight and gained weight, then lost it again. I have aged and had a child. In the midst of all that change, my body has changed as well. Things have rearranged themselves, changed shape and composition. If you are anything like me, in high school you studied those articles that divided bodies up by fruit or inanimate objects such as an apple or an hourglass. After figuring out what category you fall into, you learn all the styles that will fit and flatter your body type. Done and done! Now you can go on your merry way, confident that you now know what works and what doesn’t. But then it happens, your body has to go and change! Combine that with the constant evolution of styles and it can feel like a losing battle.
But now for the encouraging reality, you are still you and you are beautiful! Changes in our bodies come with a whole truckload of shame, and the cruel realization that we are aging. Here is the thing, beauty is subjective—it is based on opinion. Right!? So if beauty is subjective, and you combine that with the theory that you can’t make everyone happy, then trying to will always be an uphill struggle. So instead of exerting so much energy trying to make everyone else happy, why not focus on yourself? In other words, seeing ourselves as beautiful is our subjective choice, so why wouldn’t we choose to look at our bodies as beautiful?
For me, it helps me to think of the things my body has been through and the places it has taken me. The wrinkles around my eyes remind me of the laughter I shared with people I love. My fleshy stomach reminds me of the precious child it once held, and my callous worn feet remind me of the miles I have hiked and run. Think about all the amazing journeys your body has taken you, the places you have been, the accomplishments you have made, and the love and laughter it has felt. Your body will be with you for the amazing journey that is ahead, so you might as well treat it with respect and love.
Isn’t it time you choose to see yourself as beautiful? And shouldn’t your clothes be a tool to help you shine and not to hide from the world? Our clothes should be a reflection of how we feel about ourselves and not a cautelous for making us feel bad. But where to start? Below are the steps I took to help me and my clothes love my ever-evolving, beautiful self.
1. Shop Your Closet
You tell your husband you have nothing to wear but he looks at your closet full of clothes completely confused. That’s when you both realize, half your clothes do not fit. That feeling can be incredibly frustrating. Wouldn’t it be nice to look in your closet and know everything fits! To remedy this situation my suggestion is to take it all out. Yes, all of it! Then try on every single piece. You might be surprised by all the little gems that fit but were lost among everything that doesn’t. Then, if it does not fit or does not make you feel beautiful, I strongly encourage you to donate it. Why donate? Because by the time you fit in it again, the piece may be out of style or your body composition will have changed again. Case in point, my jeans from earlier. However, if you insist on keeping it, put it in a clear container close at hand so it does not go “out of sight, out of mind.”
2. Do Not Focus on Sizes
When going through your closet, whatever you do, do not look at the size on the tag. I say that for two reasons. First, we all know sizes are not necessarily true, what is a size 10 in one brand is a size 14 in another. Secondly, we can get stuck on numbers instead of focusing on the important questions at hand: Do I look good in this? Do I feel confident? Do not let the number on the tag determine what stays and what goes. Keep what makes you feel great and that you love seeing yourself in.
3. Do Not Make Assumptions When You Go Shopping
Most mothers have experienced that heart pumping moment when you are half naked in a dressing room and your toddler is wiggling out below the dressing room door. As moms and just busy women, it is hard to give ourselves the time and space to shop and fully process what we are trying on. While most of us would like to turn to online shopping, let’s be honest, that doesn’t necessarily provide the best fit. Go to the store. Try things on. Do not assume something won’t look great on you. Be open to different styles and again don’t be distracted by the number in the back. What is important is how you feel, confident and beautiful.
Shopping Tip: Who doesn’t love a good sale? But don’t overshadow good judgment and closet space buying something you don’t love just because it’s on sale. If you don’t love it, you will not wear it and no matter how much you saved, in the end, it’s money wasted.
4. Make Sure It Fits
When you are shopping think of Goldie Locks: not too big and not too small, just right. When I was heavier I was attracted to oversize clothing because I wanted to hide the body I was ashamed of. Now, looking back at pictures, that clothing choice did me no favors. Big clothing just made me look big. Clothing should give you shape. However, on the other side of the spectrum, clothing that is stretched to its natural limit or has buttons screaming for their life, do you no favors either. Your clothes should fit just right. Remember, Goldie Locks.
5. Belts are Your Friend
Climbing up on a soapbox I have to say, “Ahem, jeans and trousers should never be made without belt loops, like dresses should not be made without pockets…” Oh wait, no one cares. I will step down from my soapbox now. But really why would they make pants without belt loops? Belts are great. I used to avoid belts because I thought they were confining, but I was wrong. Not only will they hold up pants that might be loose, but they can give your body shape and add a fun detail to your outfit. They are great over long shirts and dresses. When you are tempted to wear the oversize clothing because you are self-conscience, you can still add shape with the addition of a belt.
Bonus: Tie it Up
I know! You are now having flashbacks of the eighties and you want to fight the idea of tying your shirt. Don’t fight it! Like the belt, tying your shirt or dress near your waist gives you shape, and shows off your beautiful body. Embrace the throwback.
Tip: Take a small hair tie or rubber band and gather up a small portion of the underside of your shirt and secure it. This will add a fun little detail to your shirt and also help pull it in to give you shape.
The struggle is real. Girlfriends, I encourage you on your battle to find clothes that make you feel confident. Do not settle! Remember you don’t need a lot, but you do need what fits. And I hope you always know, whatever your size, you are still you and you are beautiful!
Cheryl lives and works in rural South Dakota. She has a two and a half-year-old daughter that keeps her and her husband on the move. Being a busy working mom, Cheryl likes to keep her clothing styles simple and comfortable, but believes every woman needs a little pizzazz to remind them they are beautiful. She enjoys running, a new hobby that has helped her lose 50lbs over the past two years.