Before 2020, as a personal stylist, I constantly heard from new clients, “I had kids, and my body just isn’t what it was.” Now I’m hearing, “I’ve gained some weight during the pandemic, and now my clothes don’t fit.”
According to your body, both situations (having a baby and surviving a global pandemic) are traumatic events.
Change is expected as a result of experiencing trauma. Despite what the media, the voice in your head, or that MLM your friend from high school is selling, you don’t need to pressure yourself to “bounce back.” Losing weight is not a requirement to participate in your life or society, and it’s definitely not needed to wear clothes that you enjoy.
Let’s talk about body neutrality. If you’re familiar with the Susan Padron approach to style, you know that there’s a zero tolerance policy for negative self talk. My goal is for you to love your body, but some of us struggle to get to that point, and that’s ok. “What?! Did Susan just say that it’s ok if I don’t love my body?” Take a breath and let’s continue.
What is body neutrality and how is it different from body positivity? Body positivity includes mantras and fully loving yourself. There’s a lot of self-love talk with body positivity. I love the idea of body positivity. But if we’re being honest, body positivity is a place for us to visit, not to live.
Truthfully, sometimes there are days when I’m just not in the mood to look at myself in the mirror and think about how beautiful I am. That’s not because I don’t like my body, I’m just feeling neutral about it. In my book, “We Don’t Do ‘Just Okay’ Anymore”, I talk about how body acceptance happens after forgiveness. Body neutrality isn’t about ignoring your feelings towards your body. It’s about doing the work, and getting to a point where you can respect your body and all that you’ve been through together. You can appreciate all of what your body has done.
Why do we feel like we have to “bounce back”?
I think it comes from a desire to return to what we know, a return to the familiar rather than continuing in the unknown. At your previous weight/size, you know what to wear, where to shop, what your sizes are. Now that your body has changed, you’re not as confident with that knowledge. You might not know your current sizes or what you like to wear. And that’s ok. Why? Because whether you’ve given birth to a baby or survived a global pandemic, you as a person have also changed. Even if your body didn’t change over a period of time, eventually your clothes would no longer align with the person you’ve become.
You don’t need to “earn” new clothes by bouncing back. You deserve clothes that fit you, that fit your body the way it is right now. Treat yourself to clothes that make you excited about getting dressed. Sizes are irrelevant in terms of their significance. In my post “Best Tips for Clothes Shopping Online” I go into greater detail about just how ridiculous sizes can range depending on where you’re shopping. Take note of how the new clothes feel on your body. Are you comfortable? Do you like how you look and feel in them? If you’re answering yes, then go for it! It doesn’t matter what size it is, it matters that you like it.