It’s summertime and baring skin can be a big concern and a challenge to body confidence. I’m going to the beach next weekend with a guy who has only ever seen me in a polo shirt and grey slacks, and I’m a little nervous. I will even admit I’ve been watching what I eat a little bit in anticipation of this event.
I have one nice and well-thought-out bathing suit purchase, and by nice, I mean expensive. I spent a long time in the dressing room when I bought it, scrutinizing myself from every possible angle and imagining comments other people might make about how I look in it.
Historically, I’ve had a difficult time making clothing purchases.
Sure, most stores have a decent return policy. More so, it’s the fear of trying something on one day and being absolutely disgusted with how I feel in it. It might be the feeling of tightness, of having to pull my jeans up over my hips and thighs. It could be the top of my pants cutting into my stomach when I lean forward.
I know intellectually there’s nothing wrong with my body.
There’s also nothing wrong with me. I keep telling myself “fat is not a feeling.” But sometimes my mantra loses its power. So let’s break it down, shall we?
Fat is a substance that keeps my organs warm and my brain nourished, among many other important functions.
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Fat also makes up delicious foods such as avocado and peanut butter.
Thus, feeling fat doesn’t make any sense. It’s like saying “I feel nice and buttery today!”
So what do I really mean when I say “I feel fat?”
I usually mean I feel lonely or guilty or worried.
If I feel lonely, I can acknowledge the loneliness. I can do something about it, or not. If I feel guilty, I can recognize the guilt and forgive myself. If I feel worried, I can acknowledge the concern and remind myself nothing is wrong. When I catch myself saying “I feel fat” now, I inquire as to what is the emotion behind the words, and deal only with the emotion, not the ridiculous chatter going on in my head. It is a bad neighborhood in there.
In every moment, I have a choice. I can let the voice in my head chatter along in the background, a TV blaring in the background, just loud enough for me to know it’s there but not loud enough to distinguish the words themselves. Or I can listen intently to the TV, catching every word, anticipating and predicting each and every sentence, being swept back and forth by a ferocious wind, or volleyed between two opponents in a spirited ping-pong match.
I choose to let it blare in the background. “Thanks for sharing, goodbye.” It’s really simple. Sometimes a well-placed curse word may be appropriate.
Here are my practical suggestions for body confidence in the summer:
1. Don’t let anybody mess with you.
If someone says something insensitive, tell them to shut it. Just kidding. Acknowledge yourself for the courage it took to put yourself out there, and recognize everybody is going through their own spaces and it probably has nothing to do with you.
2. Wear something that pushes you out of your comfort zone, just a little.
Being uncomfortable is the key to moving into being comfortable. With a little time, you can wear just about anything and feel confident.
3. Do not compare yourself to others.
This is a sure-fire trap to a downward spiral of doom. Remember everybody has something they are self-conscious about and every body is unique.
4. Have fun!
Life is too short to worry about whether your suntan lotion hides your cellulite.
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