A few weeks ago, I read a great article by Tim Gunn talking about how the fashion industry is doing a disservice to American women. I totally understand how much of runway fashion is about design and art. To create great art, the designers prefer a non-descript blank canvas to work on, e.g., a five-foot nine-inch tall size 2 (or 0) stick of a woman. What Tim Gunn accurately pointed out, is this is the easy road. How simple, relatively speaking, is it to create great art on these blank canvases. Designers shy away from doing the hard work. They don’t want to actually solve the problem of designing for the true average American woman who is a size 16 – and oh by the way, a size 16 on my five-foot tall frame is very different then the size 16 needed by my almost six-foot tall friend.
Body image has been a constant battle for me. Growing up in the 70’s, skinny was in with Cheryl Tiegs following up what Twiggy started in the 60’s. Super skinny was never in my genes. Of course, thin is not in everywhere, but I have to tell you the first time a random Mexican guy called me “gordita” or “little fatty,” I didn’t accept it with the flattery he intended. So as I was sitting on the boardwalk working on last week’s blog, I had an epiphany. I was wearing a favorite new dress of mine. Although it is a favorite, I was hyper aware of how there is a little too much of Melissa poking out here and there. My first thought was, “What is wrong with me that I have flesh bulges near the straps? What exercises can I do to make this stop?” Then I thought of Tim Gunn’s article and stopped. The problem was not that my body was not fitting the clothes. The problem was that the clothes did not fit my body.
I always preach that one should design their life like shopping for clothes. The life specifically designed for you, is better than the one you try to fit into off the rack. Interesting however, that I have still neglected to fully accept the same concept with my actual clothing. Instead of blaming myself for not fitting in a shirt or dress, I simply need to embrace that this designer did not know how to design for my body. What a radical idea. In this there is no good or bad, right or wrong, it is just a fact. Would we blame our queen mattress for not being able to squeeze into twin sheets? No. So why do we blame ourselves when clothing does not fit? Take the emotion out and just accept that it is not a good match and move on.
Isn’t it crazy how so many of us women still have body issue problems? This part is too small, this part it too big, and on and on. What it really comes down to is comparison. Whether to a supermodel or someone we know, we are comparing our bodies to someone else’s that we deem better or more desirable. Instead of comparing, we need to focus on self-acceptance. Each one of us is unique. We all have a unique gift to share. And we all have a unique body with which to share our gift. There is no good or bad, right or wrong body. My husband’s tall stature works well to get cups out of the top cabinet, but mine is better suited for ducking under low-hanging obstacles. Is one better than another? No, they are just created for different tasks.
As you go through this week, be aware of the judgments you make about your body. Stop imagining you can be something you are not, and embrace and accept yourself exactly as you are. Notice and release the comparisons you make about yourself versus others. Feel comfortable in your own skin and see how it changes the way you approach the world.