When I look in the mirror, usually what draws my attention the most are my flaws. For any compliment you can give me, I can counter it with a gripe about how this hangs or how that sticks out. Many of us have been rejecting our bodies for so long that we don’t even realize how negatively this affects are overall self-image. Case in point, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought “If I was prettier, ‘insert stupid boy name’ wouldn’t have done this” or “If my body did ‘this’ instead of ‘this’, I’d feel more comfortable in my skin.”
Body image is complicated. We have these high (and ever-changing) expectations that we set ourselves up for; always reaching to achieve this ideal of beauty knowing that we’ll never really be satisfied. Plus, how can we talk about loving ourselves on the inside when we haven’t accepted what’s going on on the outside? Just as I strive to grow in wisdom and spirituality, I also strive to develop my own perception of physical beauty. That is to say, I’m focusing on what makes me feel beautiful and learning to mitigate the things that don’t.
Here’s a thought: let’s try to work with what we’ve got right now. Pre-weight loss. Pre-hair growth. Pre-whatever you’re working on. Remember that your magnetism and confidence come from within. Let’s learn to accentuate the positive in small ways that make us feel good in big ways. Here are a few ideas:
Step up your underwear game. It’s amazing how wearing pretty underwear can make you feel like a new woman! Take a look through your underwear drawer and throw away the old, stretched, torn, droopy panties. Invest in good bras that fit you correctly (go get fitted!) and make sure that you have a variety of bras that will work under a variety of tops. Store your pretty underthings neatly and wash them gently and separately.
Invest in professional treatments. I’m not talking about plastic surgery. However, if you have issues with your skin, have you seen a dermatologist? Do you know your options? What about facial hair? Have you explored laser hair removal? Plucking and waxing can cause hyperpigmentation, so they’re not the best option for black women. Instead of hiding problems like acne and unwanted hair, learn what your options are and use your grown woman money to find solutions for your grown woman beauty needs!
Dress to accentuate what you love about your body. Don’t buy clothes that are on trend but unflattering to your body type. Learn what shapes are flattering on you. I never used to try on clothes, but now I try almost everything on to see how it fits ME. Just because it’s cute, doesn’t mean it will be cute and/or comfortable on you. It’s never cute to be tugging and pulling at your clothes all day, and it just makes you feel self-conscious and distracted.
Get your clothes tailored. So many of us overlook this! I’m 5’9″ so I have to wear long or tall pants always. However, if I find a pair of regular length pants that fit great except for the length, I’ll buy them and have my tailor let the inseam down. If there’s just a slight change that would make that item fit you like a glove, then it’s worth paying a few extra dollars to make that happen.
Exercise, Eat healthier, Drink more water. Nothing makes you feel more beautiful than taking care of yourself. Sometimes our dissatisfaction with our bodies comes simply from our awareness that we’re not taking care of it like we should. We feel guilty and we see that guilt and mistreatment when we look in the mirror. Challenge yourself to adopt healthier habits, so you can feel better on the inside and look better on the outside.
“Don’t wait for the world to celebrate you. Carve out your own niche. Focus on what’s great, forget what’s not. Find joy in your own reflection.”
~Sarah Bon Breathnach
Great and practical advice. These kinds of investments can do wonders for a person, inside and out.
love the pic selected and great content in the article. i really look forward to these.
What an inspiring article. And much like the first commenter, I belive in developing a relationship with God. My go to Psalm whenever I need a pep is Psalm 139, although I appreciate all the Psalms. I also meditate from I Samuel that while man looks at the outside, God looks at the inside.
@Rae, how inspiring for you to enjoy "your skin." I bet you look fierce!
Kudos to the author on such a wonderful article as it was rather personal for me. As a young, plus-size woman I have always struggled with insecurities. Often times I would feel like I could never be fashionable due to my size. I wouldn’t even wear a bathing suit because I thought my hips, butt, and thighs were TOO big. I love to shop but whenever I’d try something on, it always seemed to look better on the mannequin than it did on me. Watching “make-over” shows or looking through fashion magazines, I’d never see anyone that looked like me and shopping in plus-size stores always seemed to make me look older than I was. What’s with all the sequins? LOL-plus I always seemed to be too small for their clothes but too big for my favorite stores. It was incredibly discouraging.
Refusing to believe that I’d be limited to a few select stores, I decided to invest in a personal stylist! (think Stacy & Clinton from What Not To Wear). I swear it was the best thing I could have done for myself. I learned all about ruching and other ways to camouflage my problem areas. I also discovered that very rarely would I be able to purchase something and wear it straight from the rack. I found a wonderful seamstress who puts darts in my jeans so they don’t gap in the back and altered my tops & dresses so that they would fall nicely.
In addition, I purchased the proper undergarments that would allow my clothes to look more flattering. Admittedly, I have never owned a strapless bra. I would simply shove the straps of my bras into my shirts or dress *holds head down in shame* however, the employees of Victoria’s Secret spent hours working with me to get me in the right one. They also vowed to beat me if I ever did that again The experience was incredibly beneficial and I am more comfortable being in my own skin than I have ever been.
This post is great. Truly appreciated and needed today.
this article was right on time. it is so important to set realistic expecations for our own ideas of beauty, yet still have a LIFESTYLE goal to achieve and maintain them. i'm working on that. i LOVE my inside, gotta love my outside just as much – so i can present to others what i am feeling on the inside.
Great article. Love all of the points!
Although I do most of these things already I needed to hear this today. Just this morning I was stressed about how my clothes werent fly enough and my body is just terrible. The more I go thru these morning crazes I realize that its not the clothes or my body; its me. Still working to develop better regard for your mind and body. For me the 2 are not mutually exlcusive.
This was an excellent article because I believe everything that was written whole-heartedly. I do all five of the above mentioned and it does make a huge difference in how I feel.
To add, I think it is equally as important to work on your mind and soul as well.
Get in a relationship with God and talk to him. Understand your purpose in this world. Aks for forgiveness, forgive others, and forgive yourself for any wrongdoings. TRY to be a better person. Surround yourself with positive people… GET RID OF ALL FRIENEMIES! All that "Real Housewives" backstabbing and gossip can affect how you feel about yourself, how you allow yourself to be treated and can make you bitter.
Actively renewing your mind, your body, and you soul will build self-confidence. You will begin to see yourself for the "imperfect but perfect" person that you are. Your behaviors will change, you outlook on life will change, your perception of self will change. Slowly but surely you will begin to see yourself for the beautiful person that you are.