Spring Wardrobe and Body Image 9


The snow has melted, the highs are in the 60’s, the sun in shining and signs of Spring are here!

This season gets me all excited about spring cleaning and organizing, maybe some light gardening, and clothes. 

Yup, clothes, fashion, and wardbrobes – isn’t that what all women think about when Spring comes around? All the fashion magazines and mailers sure think so. I’m currently oogling these beauties:

I’m closing in on the end of my 3 months of 33 clothing items for the Project 333 Wardrobe Capsule project and I have mixed feelings about that.

On one hand, I feel like I’ve just now gotten into a comfortable groove with my wardrobe. It’s become so simple that I hardly even think about what I’m wearing or what I’m going to wear. It’s been nice not thinking so much about going shopping for new clothes and in some ways, it’s helped me focus less on what my clothes look like, and more on just being “me”.

Switch over to the other side of my circular-thinking mind, and you’ll hear another story.

Spring is here! That means new clothes! Get out the capris, the short-sleeved shirts, flip-flops and bright colors!

Even though I still have till the end of the month before my 33 days technically runs out, I’m going to go ahead an open up my capsule soon to see what I have in the way of Spring clothes. Then I’ll know what I really need to buy and what not. Plus, if the weather warms up faster than those 33 days, I don’t want to be stuck with only my winter clothes on a hot day.

I know I’ll need a few new shirts and as good as these shoes have been to me all these years, I think maybe it’s time to make room for some cleaner ones.

As exciting as the brighter, breezier Spring fashion is, there’s one part about transitioning to the Spring and Summer wardrobes that makes me recoil in a self-conscious embarrassed way and almost wish winter would last forever.

As I shared in my last wardrobe update, I still struggle with body image, even as a 30-some-old woman. Winter clothes, with all their bulky layers and long scarves, are really great for covering things up and hiding all my extra flab and rolls that I’d rather pretend aren’t there.

Spring and Summer clothes – not so much.

I was looking back at what I wore around this time last year and noticed I haven’t changed a whole lot.

I still feel like I look…fat.

Ug, I hate that word. I always correct my children about what fat really is and how it’s a good thing the body needs to function healthily. And when I’m able to think rationally, I generally try and avoid using that word in a descriptive manner.

I know I’m not really fat. It doesn’t make any grammatical sense to say that I am fat. How can I belarge molecule that is composed of three fatty acid molecules bonded to a glycerol molecule.?

I might have an extra concentrated amount of these large molecules in certain parts of my body, but that doesn’t mean I am fat itself.

Which brings me to a very important point I’ve been mulling over. 

I recently was at a retreat my daughter attended which focused on purity. A good friend of mine, who at one point in her life struggled with an eating disorder but now works as a clinical marriage and family therapist helping others, taught one of the lessons about body image and it was so fantastic. I’m sure she planted many important seeds in those young girls’ minds and I know I gulped up every word she spoke. I was especially impressed with what she said about “feeling fat”. To paraphrase, she said:

When someone says, ‘I am fat’, or ‘I feel fat’, what they are really doing is projecting something else going in on their life, that is stressing them or making them feel uncomfortable, back onto their bodies.

This was very interesting to me and I tucked it into the back of my mind to come back to. Since hearing that, I began to notice something.

Whenever things get to be stressful, overwhelming, or just plain annoying in my life, either with the kids or the house or just life in general, I usually head down a downward mental and emotional spiral starting with why I’m not a good mom or a good wife or why I’m a dumb and stupid failure. Then I move onto blaming someone for my woes – usually my poor innocent husband.

And then, after going through all those stages of the downward spiral, do you know what I usually conclude with? I glance at myself in the mirror or down toward my mid-section and let out my final grumbly conclusion that explains everything bad in my life:

And I’m fat. 

And then I’d binge on chocolate or another sugary treat.

The last time this happened, I realized that I was doing exactly what my friend had said! I was projecting my frustration or annoyance with something happening outside of me and I was reflecting it right back onto me. Specifically to my belly area. No wonder it looked fat to me, I was forcing myself to carry all my burdens and anxieties right there. I’ve noticed I only feel fat when life isn’t going my way.

So, since then, I’m trying to change my thinking and my self-talk. Whenever something overwhelming is going on, I’m trying to avoid projecting it back onto my body and instead voice my feelings for what they really are.

Instead of saying, I feel fat or I am fat, I can just say, I feel frustrated, or This is incredibly annoying to me right now! But that doesn’t mean I am fat.

This has helped, but there’s still only so much words and attitudes can do. The truth is that I still have a a lot of “leftover” from pregnancy. Part of my hanging tummy is caused by my abdominal diastisis, which I’ve been working to heal for a while. The other part might have to do with the fact that I’m still eating like if I were nursing a baby full-time because I still feel hungry like that – or maybe it’s just become a habit. And the last part might have to do with the fact that I really like food, especially ones with lots of yummy sugar.

And those are all things I need to constantly work at practicing self-control with and self-discipline to eat right, in healthy amounts, and to continue exercising as I can.

After the retreat ended, I asked my friend if she still struggles with body image and I shared with her my angst over my pregnant-like belly. She said,

There will always be parts of our bodies we like better than others, that doesn’t mean we have to hate our whole body. Instead, try to focus on the parts of your body you do like.

Like I said in my Wardrobe Update post, If I’m going to find any type of satisfaction with how I perceive my body, I have to change my perspective – not my wardrobe. 

So, as the warm Spring winds blow in and my wardrobe transitions to lighter, less-concealing (but still modest) outfits, I’m going to try and keep all the above perspective-guiders in mind for how my inside looks. And I’ll try to remember my own words to myself, My Postpartum (even 2 years later) body is not ugly. I am beautiful. 

For my outside, I’ll pick clothes that bring out the parts I do like about myself and don’t accentuate the parts I’m still working on, keeping in mind that there will always be parts of me that I’m still working on.

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9 thoughts on “Spring Wardrobe and Body Image

  • Rachel @ Efficient Momma

    I so know what you mean. The other day, I tried to fit back into my pre-pregnancy jeans and I said “nope, still too fat” And my toddle repeated that back to me. And he’s been saying it anytime somehthing doesn’t fit “man, my shoes won’t fit. too fat”. Talk about a little reality check in watching how I talk about myself. I know he doesn’t fully understand that yet, but still…I don’t want him to think he’s “too fat”.

    That’s so true about something outside. I’ll be working on that. And, I’m also trying to find clothing that’s flattering to the body that’s had two kids and doesn’t look quite the same as it did a few years ago. Trying to fit into what looked good on me before kids isn’t helping lol

    • Erika Marie Post author

      Rachel, while it probably isn’t a good habit for him to get into, that is a little cute of him to say that. 😉
      And yes, getting rid of my prepregnancy clothes (like from before the first one) helped me set more realistic expectations and goals.

  • Michelle B

    oh spring wardrobe woes! I went there this weekend too. my problem seems to be finding tank tops that are both long enough to cover my torso (which is where my height comes from) and high enough so that my saggy mom boobs aren’t out there for all the world to see while I kid-wrangle. I do have one or two disguisatory ‘summer scarves’, and will eventually invest in some more fabric to create more, so in the mean time, I guess it’s good that I don’t go out much.
    I made the lemon roast chicken last night! oh my goodness!!!!!!! brining!!! who knew?!?! the jug of lemon juice worked well and I was out of rosemary so used parsley.

    • Erika Marie Post author

      Michelle, oh no joke about the low tanks! Even shorties like me have a hard time with that. Sometimes I have good luck at Old Navy though.
      Yay for brining!! I made another one last night and baked it about 10 minutes longer and it was still incredibly delicious. Good to know about the lemon juice.

  • Petra

    I’ve read a few of your posts today and I think they are lovely, so from the heart and I can really empathise with you. Is there any way to subscribe to your blog so I get notifications when you post?