So today I tried on a coat that I have had since I was about 16. It is a sweet little raincoat and as we are moving house I had to decide whether it would go the journey to the charity shop or come with me to our new destination. Before I even tried it on, I knew it wasn’t going to fit and lo and behold it looked horrendous, all bunched up and tight. Not my best look. As I took it off though I proceeded to get upset that a coat that I have had for 7 years didn’t fit me anymore. I felt like I must have put on an inordinate amount of weight for this to happen. Why had I let myself go quite so much?! I then got annoyed at myself for thinking this way. After all I am on a journey to love myself and my body so why am I berating myself for not fitting into a coat?
This is when I realised that I think there is a subconscious expectation that if our clothing size changes, we have somehow ‘failed’ a contest we didn’t even know we had entered.
Let’s put it this way, if I tried on a piece of clothing from when I was 12, would I a) expect it to fit and b) for me to look good in it? The answer is obviously no. I would quite rightly look ridiculous in it – and that is not just because my style choices aged 12 were questionable. But still the question remains, why would I, aged 24, expect for my 12 year old clothing to fit? Simply put, I wouldn’t. However would I be praised and lauded if these clothes did still fit? Probably. This is because as adults, we are praised if clothes still fit and made to feel ashamed if they don’t and humiliated that our bodies have done the unthinkable and have changed shape/size!
But why are we made to feel ashamed when our ‘adult’ clothes no longer fit? Why are we made to feel ashamed that our bodies change and shift shape?
Personally I think it is because after we reach a certain age we are conditioned into thinking that we have to stay a certain shape and or size. That once we buy that nice skirt from ‘Topshop’ we have to stay within the size boundaries on the label that seek to define your self worth. If any inch of our bodies creep over that boundary into the dreaded ‘size above’ we feel like we have failed, like something terrible has happened because your body has changed shape from a size 8 to 10 or a 12 to 14. We scurry through the shop with our ‘size above’ t-shirt or pair of jeans stuffed out of sight lest the shop assistant tell the world our nasty secret. We then take our new clothes home only to lament that the old ones no longer fit.
I believe that this is due to the fact that mainstream media hasn’t yet accepted that female bodies change shape and size. The fact that we are ashamed of any shift in our bodies is perpetuated by diet culture and social media stars who plug ‘skinny tea’ and perpetuate lifestyles that simply aren’t realistic. We scroll through social media and are inundated with reasons why we shouldn’t ‘let ourselves go’ on holiday and why these ‘quick fix diet tricks’ will make your body the ‘summer body’ you have always wanted and dreamed of, not the one you currently have. We scroll and see a plethora of bodies that are posed, photoshopped and altered beyond recognition and is it any wonder that we then look and analyse our own in a negative light? When magazines discuss someones weight gain over their achievements, focusing and zooming in on cellulite, designed to humiliate, we ourselves become humiliated by our own bodies. When all we see on social media and in the media in general are reasons why our bodies should look a certain way and only that way to be considered attractive, is it any wonder why we feel ashamed when we don’t fit the mould?
Well I say throw away the mould!
It is time that every body is a summer body. It is time that people accept that bodies change shape and size and that this is completely normal. Your body will fluctuate, change shape and size and you will still be beautiful. Cellulite is normal, skin folds are normal and don’t let anyone tell you that ‘back rolls’ are ugly – channel your inner Alyssa Edwards here and tongue pop your way out of that negativity. It is time to follow the body positivity accounts on Instagram that highlight these issues and celebrate uniqueness and individuality. It is time to celebrate your own uniqueness and individuality and the changes your body will throw your way. It is time to stop looking at clothes you used to wear and feeling pressured to force yourself into them.
It is time to buy new clothes and celebrate yourself and how you look in them regardless if they are a new size.
I struggle with this, it is really one heck of a journey but together we can pave the way for a more accepting world where normal bodies are normalised and not demonised.
After all, you won’t fit into the clothes you wore when you were 12 because you’re not the same shape and you won’t feel sad about that.