Integrating A Healthy Body Image Into Your Closet

Illustration by Chella Man

Illustration by Chella Man

By: Sophie Rollins

Fashion is just another way of expressing who you are. Whether it's putting together an ensemble of beautiful clothing or creating trends, styling is unique in its ability to showcase individuality.

Styling is like stitching a collage, pulling pieces from your closet and matching them like a puzzle. This art form is near and dear to my own heart, as I've always found joy and confidence through my closet.

Although there is an infinite amount of reasons to adore fashion and the beauty within it, I have experienced firsthand the lack of self-acceptance and love within this industry. Trends are so fun to play around with and they're constantly changing, but marketing and sales techniques consistently implement standards destructive to a healthy body image. 

A few years ago I worked in a women's professional attire boutique that aimed to help customers find pieces they felt great in. I wanted to help these women find what they were looking for and more; to inspire them to see the wonder within themselves. Sadly, most were incredibly critical of every little thing: weight, age, skin, legs, boobs, butt, arms. The list goes on. Anything they could find that was "wrong" with them. 

This broke my heart. Not only did I hear these women tear themselves down consistently, but they looked at these garments as if they were confined by them. As if they needed to fit into the clothes, instead of having the clothes fit them. Therefore, naturally every time something didn't fit, they resorted to blaming themselves and their "flaws."

What I aimed to help them realize was that we are too unique for mass-produced bits of fabric to define us. A person's value will never be decided by a corporation. Style is simply an expression from a person’s distinct individuality. It is harmful to believe you need to fit into clothes or pull off a look to be socially appealing and therefore accepted.

Photo by Ana Fanelli

Photo by Ana Fanelli

Through the experiences of witnessing low self-esteem within these women, it mirrored my own discontent with my body image. I would feel so disgusted and awful when I didn't look like models or fit into the clothes as they did. This tore at me every time I tried something on in a fitting room and in front of the mirror at home. I criticized and hated my body because I didn't look like someone else because this was me and I never felt enough as is. I was constantly rejecting myself. 

It is extremely difficult to be free in your fashion expression when you can't sustain a healthy body image. Our bodies are constantly morphing and changing in each stage of life, it's important to listen to and nourish them rather than critique them for not appearing how we think they should. You are made of vibrant life, don't allow marketing techniques distort the clear vision of yourself.

Large corporations capitalize on instilling insecurity; to make you feel that you need what they're selling to be of value. This is a constant cycle of exploitation that leads to consumption. The feeling of "needing" things to be meaningful or have a meaningful life. 

Within the age of social media and access to widespread comparison, it is easy to be distracted from the miracle that is you. People are consistently nurturing a false image of a saturated human experience. Comparing and paying attention to everyone else only disorients you from the truth. You do need to be like anyone else to be valuable. This is where your innate worth lies; in the brilliance of your spirit, the essence within your individuality. 

Illustration by Egon Schiele

Illustration by Egon Schiele

It is time we start loving and taking care of our bodies, respecting our livelihood, and accepting ourselves in every form. Clothes don't wear us, we wear clothes. Makeup doesn't wear us, we wear makeup. Honoring and respecting yourself is essential to having a healthy relationship with your body image. You can utilize tools like clothing, makeup, and accessories as a form of embodying yourself through these arts. 

Size doesn't equal contentment. Loving and accepting yourself for all you are in each moment of life equals contentment. If you only prioritize the negatives, you can never be satisfied. Focus on gratitude. Thank your body for breathing, your heart for beating, your body for hosting you. Apologize to yourself when you stand in your own way of peace. Show up for yourself, speak to yourself with kindness and appreciation. You are unique and that's the magic of it. 

How beautiful is it that humans have this captivating capability to create? To layout textures and colors, designing gorgeous pieces for a human to proudly wear. A true blend of astonishing artistry: a breathing, living, loving human, and an expression of imagination draped across their extraordinary body.

Art by @zoevyart via Instagram

Art by @zoevyart via Instagram

Every time you start feeling like you're not enough, it's a very clear reminder that you need to love yourself. You need to connect with your inner being, your overflowing well of gratitude, and accept yourself for the masterpiece that is you. 

Wear that shirt that you are unsure about. Go to the beach and show your curves like a carefully carved sculpture. You stand amongst the world and have so much to offer. Wear yourself with pride. Celebrate yourself in every piece, in every way you decide to show up.  

Fashion is beautiful and magnetizing because people create it, pouring their inspiration and love in it and through it.

Maintain a healthy relationship with your body. Honor your experience as a human being, and decorate yourself with carefully crafted art woven together just to compliment who you are.