One size fits all?


Yesterday I gave myself the day off to find an outfit for my friend’s wedding.

At least, that was the plan! As you may know, me and clothes shopping is not an easy fit; because I’ve had YEARS of being overweight and feeling pretty rubbish about the body I’m in. However, things are different now: I have found Mindful Eating and am losing weight naturally. This is a by-product of the Mindful Eating approach to health and wellbeing, rather than a restrictive “I need to shift this weight” focus, I appreciate my body for what it can do, rather than only for how it looks, and I exercise for fun rather than for punishment.

Or so I thought!

I felt a certain amount of trepidation, heading up to Clifton (posh part of Bristol!) to a shop stuffed with beautiful looking clothes. I had to have a ‘get my head together cappuccino’ first, to talk myself into the right frame of mind. It was going quite well, until I asked if they had any trousers in my size (an 18 if you are interested!) as they only had up to a size 16 on the rail; to which the assistant politely replied they didn't, ‘just tops’- but I could look for them online. Ugh. It’s hard enough for me to look for clothes, without having to first filter through every flipping item, to look for an 18 which probably doesn't even exist anyway.

So that wasn't great, but I duly headed to the local out of town shopping mall, to try my luck again. John Lewis was overwhelming in its array, so I decided to be systematic and focus on particular sections of the shop first. I saw a few things in my size, after a LOT of looking. I couldn’t quite bring myself to pick anything up to try on though!

I was getting braver, so I tried a few other shops and tried a few dresses on! Can’t say I was overjoyed with the result, but there was one dress that was ok, if I held my stomach in! ‘Ok’, is not exactly how I want to feel at the wedding!

Then I went into Hobbs, which also had a few things in my size (surprisingly) and tried on another few dresses. Some of which were ok at best, but not particularly great. And so the day continued. Suffice it to say, I came home with one bag of shopping - full of toiletries! No clothes at all!

What’s bugging me, is how difficult it is to actually find clothes that look half decent if you are a curvy woman. I have done a LOT of work on my self-image, ‘I have embraced’ as they say, and I’m pretty much there, though must admit I wasn’t in a great place yesterday afternoon; having tried on all those clothes and not liked what I saw. At one point, I even did the ‘upper arm pinch’ thing, where you pinch and wish you didn't have that bit of flesh there etc. I even thought about detoxing a week before the wedding so my stomach was flatter and the dress would feel more comfortable (for about a millisecond). Ridiculous! But I’m not going to lie to you.

In all honesty, I don't think my unease yesterday was all about my size, it’s also about the availability (or lack of) clothes to try.

I guess I needed to reframe and remind myself that there were a few things that looked nice (ish) and that some looks definitely suited me better than others. However, that wasn’t really working! That’s just where I was at yesterday. I DO know that resorting to a diet is NOT the answer. There must be some decent clothes out there that will fit me AND look good? It’s just not easy finding them. Maybe I should start a range of clothing for larger ladies? Now, there’s a thought!

Next day....

My initial reservations about sharing this with the wider world have now dissipated, because I know there are LOTS of women out there who will feel my pain (!). They will understand how clothes shopping can be a little ‘ahem’, triggering for me in my Body Lovin’ journey. This is a process for me too, as I hope it will be for you.

My frustration yesterday was real, but there are things you can do to ease it; should you find yourself in a similar situation:

1. Depersonalise your thoughts. It’s not you, it’s the clothes!

2. One size does not fit all! Different shops vary HUGELY in their sizing and even between garments.

3. Different styles suit different people. For example, I look better in a V neck than a high neck.

4. As with weighing yourself on scales (I don't recommend it!!) don't let a number on an item of clothing define you or affect your mood/self-worth. Does the number really matter? Are you a better person if you are a size 10 vs size 20? I hope you know the answer to that!

For more tips and support book onto some workshops or One to One coaching with me.

PS: I was talking about my shopping escapades with my friend Sarah this morning. She shrugged her shoulders and said, “It had never occurred to me what size you were…” and when I told her, she said “You are you, it doesn't matter what size you are, it’s just not important.” And that felt delicious!