Monday, July 15, 2024

How to Prevent a Body Image Spiral When You Put on Summer Clothes

How to Prevent a Body Image Spiral When You Put on Summer Clothes


“Focusing on the feeling of the clothes and reducing the amount of time you spend fixating in the mirror helps you to get a more objective versus subjective experience of your body,” which is a key component of a healthy body image.

Let go of – or hide – anything you don’t feel good in

You’ve probably heard this advice before, but it bears repeating because it’s true: “You are not supposed to fit yourself into clothes; clothes are meant to fit you,” Konsky says. Reminding yourself of this can make it easier to get rid of items that don’t work for you without taking it personally, she adds.

If you feel insecure in that strapless dress you keep holding onto because you like the idea of it, donate it so someone else can enjoy it, Konsky recommends. If you order a new swimsuit that’s a little too big in some spots and a tad too small in others, send it back without overthinking it. The idea is to work toward a more neutral perspective, she says: Something either fits well (love it!) or it doesn’t (not for me!).

That said, while breaking up with old clothes that make you feel bad can be liberating and celebratory, Konsky acknowledges that “there’s often grief that accompanies this process.” You may feel like you’re saying goodbye to your former body, for example, or letting go of an idealised (thinner) future version of you.

If you’re not quite ready to part with certain pieces, that’s okay: Konsky suggests storing them in an opaque bin for now (or a bag under your bed) so they’re less likely to spur a shame cycle. “When the clothes that don’t fit are in sight, it can set you up for a bad body image day,” she says. (And once they’ve been out of your daily life for a while, you’ll probably find it much easier to get rid of them for good whenever you’re ready to.)

Hold your negative thoughts up to your values

Forget about what your clothes look like; what do you want your summer to look like? Konksy says this is an important question to ask yourself because you can rely on the answers to put negative body thoughts in their place. “Set intentions for the summer related to adventures you want to go on, ways you want to feel, and people you want to be around,” Konsky suggests.

For example, maybe you plan to hunt for the best al fresco dining spots in your town or commit to making new friends IRL. Or perhaps you simply want to feel more carefree, like you did when you were younger, or be more present for the people you love most. If you spend a little time writing these goals down in a journal (or your phone’s notes app) you can easily refer to them when you start to get down on yourself.

Sure, you may hate how that crop top looks, but does that really matter to you – and does dwelling on it get you closer or farther away from what does? “When you check in with your values in this way, you can clarify how your body image thoughts may be interfering with the life you really want to be living, which probably doesn’t involve beating yourself up,” Konsky says.

Diet culture makes you believe that looking a certain (unrealistic) way is the key to happiness, but I can tell you from hard-earned personal experience that the opposite is true: When you stop placing so much value on your appearance, life – summer included – gets so, so much better.

If you’re worried about your own or someone else’s health, you can contact Beat, the UK’s eating disorder charity, 365 days a year on 0808 801 0677 or beateatingdisorders.org.uk.

This article was originally published on SELF.



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