As a woman, I know all too well the internal dialogue we let rule our lives. That negative Nancy (no offence to the Nancys out there) that tells you you’re not enough.
As a plus size woman, I know the narrative this dialogue spins is that the problem lies in my size and my body. And I’m sure this rings true to anyone reading this who experiences a similar kind of negative self-talk. As a stylist, I know the power that a great outfit can bring to silence that negative Nancy and feel empowered to tackle the day. I know this to be true because I see it occur with my clients. And I’ve felt it down to my core when I myself, don an outfit that brings out my ultimate confident Claire.
Now, the clothes we wear every day is one thing, but in the heat of summer, there is another outfit we wear (or maybe avoid 🤔) that really turns the volume up on the negative Nancy voice… our bathers.
A survey conducted by FitnessMagazine.com in 2017 reported that 48% of women wouldn’t get into a bikini. I can only imagine how much that has increased since COVID and the ‘COVID kilos’ many of us feel we have gained. In fact, 65% of women surveyed declared shopping for bathers was harder than finding a pair of jeans. But with the advancements in garment technology, fabrication, diversity of imagery and extended size ranges, surely we should start to see these numbers decrease?
I remember sitting at a Hens do recently and over some very potent margaritas, a girlfriend expressed her disgust at images of herself in a bikini while paddle boarding with friends. The table then erupted into a frenzy of, “Oh I hate my [insert body part, or entire body, here]!” My contribution to the conversation was sharing that many people have told me over the years, that as a plus size woman I should wear a one-piece bathing suit. But to the contrary, I prefer to wear a bikini. Without malice, another guest asked me why. My answer was simply that I feel more confident in my body shape in a bikini because in my opinion, it highlights my assets better.
Now, I’ll be the first to say that my body image and self esteem has been less than positive for most of my life. BUT – what I do know is that I have control over my thoughts and the narrative they weave – no one else.
I recently shared a selfie in a new bikini with the caption, “Wear the damn bikini.” And I was overwhelmed by the response. In particular, the stories from two women who shared with me the impact the post had on them. One told me that she purchased her first bikini since she was 20 years old (she’s in her early 50’s now). The other said her sister (who also follows my account) called and proclaimed she actually got in the pool while there with her family. A huge leap from sitting on the sidelines.
It reminded me that as women, we often feel like we are alone in our thoughts and those around us are just walking around with nothing but confidence in spades. This just isn’t true. In fact, 9/10 of my clients have a negative perception of their shape and size.
So why do 89% of us feel like the toughest critic on the beach is other women?
The reality is, we are all so busy telling ourselves these negative stories that we can’t possibly be judging someone else.
So why do we continue to believe the narrative?
In my experience, body image and self acceptance is a work in progress. Something we must consciously believe in and work on every day.
For me, 2023 is about flipping the script, and in all honesty – to stop giving a damn.
What does that mean?
It means only investing time, energy and money in things that improve my life, my body and my mind.
We literally waste so much time, energy and in some cases money, giving a damn what other people think. That then impacts what we do, what we say, what we think and what we wear.
Imagine the freedom we could experience if we stopped giving a f*ck? Let me tell you that even after just 31 days of living this mantra, it’s absolutely liberating.
So I ask you to join me in the SGAF (Stop Giving A F*ck) movement this year and just wear the damn bikini/dress/pants/shorts/jacket/top/shoes. In essence, whatever you damn want!
By Claire Jensen
Personal Stylist and ASI National Trainer
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