I ordered some clothes online a few weeks ago – for me, I was sceptical. The clothes were great but I have always struggled with online purchases; I can’t try them on, I can’t imagine how they would look on my body. Regardless, I bought them anyway with a final, hopeful click that sent the payment through.
When I received the parcel, my hope turned into the regular uncertainty. Some of the clothes fitted well, others didn’t. As I looked at each item, as nice as they were, I couldn’t help but feel a little deflated. I wasn’t concerned with what size they were, just that I now had an array of different sizes – a confusing selection from a size 12 to a size 18. Jeans I had purchased only a few weeks before had fit me perfectly well, yet these larger sized jeans wouldn’t budge past my hips.
Body image is one of the trickiest topics I have dealt with for more or less my whole teenage and adult life. I know that my friends have struggled with it, and their friends have, and then their friends have. Let’s face it, it’s a universal topic – at some point in life, I think most people have felt insecure about something to do with their body.
There are many things that can contribute to how we sees ourselves. According to Young Minds, there are many aspects that can affect body image, so how we see ourselves; from comparing yourself to others to physical things like scars and birthmarks, to having a complicated relationship with your body.
Clothing has a lot to do with how we see our bodies. Here’s a little bit of background on this issue. Clothing sizes have changed greatly over the years – it has been known for shops to change clothes’ sizes in order to make the consumer feel better about themselves. This is known as “vanity sizing”: larger sizes will more or less be ‘downsized’ to make the customer feel better and enhance their self-esteem. Certain brands have also chosen to have their own rules on sizing and can accommodate their sizing to the desired consumer. When I was researching into the topic and came across this idea, it all began to make some sense. One store’s size 12, for example, is probably different to another’s.
For me, one of my biggest issues with my body image has been my weight. I have never really spoken about it vocally in detail because it makes me uncomfortable and when I do, I regret bringing it up. I don’t think there is one cause to blame for the way society views physical representations of ourselves, there are many things that can contribute. I think that the fact there’s some feelings of uncertainty I feel about simply speaking about my appearance indicates a problem in itself – although I’d say that now, in 2021, we have come a long way in terms of body positivity. There are some incredible advocates on social media that promote healthy mindsets towards our bodies, such as Chessie King, but there is still a lot more to do.
Comparing myself to my friends, to the celebrities I see in the media, even to my boyfriend, is a fact I have simply learnt to live with. It’s not ideal and it’s not okay but from years of believing there is an ideal body type, it’s hard suddenly not to. Despite how ingrained it is that there is this ‘perfect’ body type, it’s so important to try and remind ourselves how it is probably unattainable and also unrealistic. I always suggest a break from social media if someone is battling with body image issues – if only for a few days a week, I think limiting our time on apps that show pictures of celebrities and influencers, or even our friends, can have a positive impact on our mental health. The cycle of comparing, for me anyway, stops when the screen is off.
There isn’t one specific thing we can blame for our mindsets on our bodies – in my opinion it’s the differing opinions of our peers, our use of social platforms (and how we show ourselves on them), our idea of what we would like to attain for our own bodies, new fashion trends, and more.
My thoughts about my body image can definitely be improved on – learning to love yourself is a process. Looking in the mirror and disliking what you see is tough, whether you have one insecurity or an abundance. Coming together to appreciate all body types and sizes should be a main priority for everyone. Helping one another to remember that social media isn’t completely real and that body image is not what we should be judged on are two things I try to remind myself. I don’t even know what size I am anymore in my clothes, I just buy what feels comfortable. Sizing doesn’t matter and it never should. Comfortable should be the norm, not an unrealistic size or body type.
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