These two words can conjure up a whole range of negative emotions for most women, including myself. The lighting is, shall we say, less than flattering, and there are several mirrors to view our body from every angle. Many a woman has optimistically carried a pile of suits into those tiny, stuffy cubicles and trudged out with empty arms, feeling dejected and an urge to go on a diet right. freakin'. now.
I recently went shopping for a swimsuit and pants/capris, as I have put on some weight due to my current health issues and I'm now between sizes. It's not fun when you feel stuffed into your clothes!
I was totally dreading the try-on process and the harsh lights of the dressing room. We women can get super critical of our bodies in that situation. It's hard not to. And I'm not exempt. And now I had an excuse to pick apart my appearance from top to bottom.
But I made the decision beforehand that I was going to be compassionate with myself no matter what I faced in the mirror. No criticizing or negative thoughts. Just observation.
I certainly felt the familiar pull to feel bad about the extra layer of fat around my midsection and upper back, and to think, "ugh." But instead I smiled and focused on the fit of the clothes and the muscles that were still poppin'. I placed no judgement when a pair of pants were too tight or a swimsuit bottom cut into my lower back fat in a most unappealing way.
I didn't blame my body for not being as lean as I usually am. I didn't beat myself up for not tightening up my diet weeks ago and pushing harder in the gym (which would have been counterproductive to my current health status anyway).
I blamed it on the clothes. I mean, come on. That's their job. They don't have feelings anyway. So I kept moving on until I found a really cute tankini/booty short combo and some casual bottoms and a maxi skirt that fit well and didn't make me feel like I needed to lose another 5-8# to make them work (Thank you, Athleta!). And I was able to walk out of that dressing room with a smile on my face, excited about my purchases instead of upset that there was a big pile of clothes didn't fit at all or look flattering.
This mindset takes a lot of practice, as we have been conditioned over years and years to critique our bodies and blame ourselves when the clothes don't work. This kind of negative thinking keeps us in a place of always feeling "not good enough." But this does nothing for us. It doesn't make us feel good or inspired. It doesn't boost motivation or consistency when the going gets tough. It just makes us go, "ah, screw it," and quit. #beenthere #donethat
So my advice as we go into swimsuit season, is to purposely be kind to ourselves. Look in the mirror and judge the swimsuit or dress or shorts, not your body.
Look for the aspects of your body that you like -- your shapely shoulders or your muscular calves or round booty, whatever -- and give yourself a compliment. Think about what would you say to a friend. Would you pick apart her appearance? Would she pick apart yours?
Make the effort to respond to the image in that retched fitting room mirror with kindness and compassion, cellulite and all. Counteract the negativity that swirls around in your head and it will be a more pleasurable experience. It's simple, but not easy.
Be kind to yourself. Always. :-)