As the seasons change so do our wardrobes.  Spring and summer months bring warmer weather and more outdoor activities, which means clothing that is lighter, shorter, and maybe more revealing than winter attire.  This can bring up discomfort, anxiety, and fear for many that are struggling with their relationship with food and body.

I recognize that my own body image struggles may be different from others because I have benefited from thin privilege.  And I want to do my part in supporting all bodies.  Below are a few tips if you find yourself struggling with body image as the summer months approach.

It’s okay if you are struggling with your body image.  You are still worthy of care and respect. We live in a culture that tells us our worth is found in our outward appearance, and I whole-heartedly believe this is a lie.  Some of you may be really wrestling with self-worth.  And even if you don’t feel worthy of respect and care right now, I want you to hear me say that you are.

Choose clothes that fit your body rather than changing your body to fit your clothes. If you don’t have many clothing options that fit comfortably on the body you have now, then it’s time to go shopping.  Wearing clothes that feel tight or uncomfortable causes us to think about our body and appearance even more, which can keep us from being present and enjoying the moment.

Shopping for new clothes can be a difficult and uncomfortable experience for many.  So shop with a trusted friend or family member that is willing and able to support you.  First and foremost, choose clothes that feel comfortable on your body.  It’s okay if you enjoy fashion or like to express yourself through your clothes, but don’t let fashion come before comfort and fit. For people in larger bodies shopping can be frustrating due to a lack of size-inclusive clothing in some stores.  Below are some size-inclusive clothing brands to consider:

  • Old Navy (affordable options)
  • Wal-Mart (affordable options)
  • Alpine Butterfly Swim (swimwear)
  • Christian Omeshun (contemporary fashion)
  • Alder Apparell (outdoor wear)
  • Universal Standard (workwear to everyday casual)
  • Henning (luxury staples)
  • Free Label (sustainable and ethically produced)
  • Wray NYC (chic clothing)
  • Loud Bodies (stylish, comfortable, ethically produced)
  • SuperFit Hero (active wear and swimwear)
  • The Standard Stitch (simple but stylish)
  • Jamie + The Jones (Nashville small business with unique textiles)
  • ABLE (made by women around the globe)
  • Madewell (neutrals and minimalist style)
  • Altar (sustainable materials and independent artisans)

Be aware of the body image messages you are exposed to. We are constantly exposed to messages that teach us our value lies in our appearance and, therefore, we need to do whatever it takes to make our appearance “acceptable.”   And the more we are exposed to that messaging, the easier it can be to believe it.  Obviously, we can’t 100% control our exposure to this harmful message, but we can focus on what we do have control over:

  • Unfollow social media accounts that leave you feeling shameful or discontent with your body.
  • Mute commercials on tv about dieting or weight loss.
  • Try taking a social media break.
  • Work with a therapist or registered dietitian that specializes in body image
  • Check out books that provide messages of body acceptance, respect, and kindness:
    • Embody by Connie Sobczak
    • More Than A Body by Lindsay and Lexie Kite, PhD
    • Body Kindness by Rebecca Scritchfield, RDN
    • A Body Image Workbook For Every Body by Rachel Sellers and Mimi Cole
    • The Body Is Not An Apology by Sonya Renee Taylor

Continue to fuel your body adequately. Body image struggles can increase our urges to restrict or over-analyze our food choices.  Fueling our body with food gives us the energy to be present and enjoy the things we love to do in the summertime.  If you are struggling to know how to fuel your body well, then find a registered dietitian that practices from a health at every size approach.  The registered dietitians here at Balance Nutrition Counseling are here to support you wherever you are on your body image journey.

By: Julie Mason, RDN, LDN