Most women have struggled with their body image at one point or another. We compare our bodies to some sort of ideal that we believe to be the norm and the doubts begin to surface. The further away our body type is from what we perceive to be the ideal, the higher the chances of negative body image setting in. We complain about the shape of our bodies and long for a size that’s either larger, smaller, taller, shorter, straighter, curvier, narrower or broader than our own. 

Creating and maintaining a positive body image is not easy. Society bombards us with images of women who, for the most part, portray one body type: young, tall, slim and proportioned in a particular way. I’m not one to vilify the media and the fashion industry for this bias, because it is a complex issue that a rant won’t solve, but the fact remains that it affects us. If I could magically make the world of fashion and style representative, I would. In fact, I have a dream of starting a modeling agency that books women of all ages, sizes and body types. But until then, we need to find routes to positive body image despite society’s current bias.

As a fashion stylist who dresses woman of all sizes and body types, body image challenges are a huge reality in my line of work. So I’ve spent time helping women — my individual clients and women on our forum — to embrace their body so that they can move on to enjoy all the fun and reward that a style renewal or refresher has to offer. Although I have a degree in psychology, I am not a psychologist. But I have found that it helps to focus on three things when you confront your body image issues.

Style is NOT a Dress Size

Embed these six words onto your brain NOW and don’t forget them. Although people do judge our bodies, I have also found that they judge our style independently of them. I’m sure you have often found yourself looking at a woman who by the ideal standards is too old, too round, too short, or too something, but still thinking “Wow, that’s a stylish lady.” Style is a celebration of individuality. You don’t have to conform to an ideal to be recognized as stylish.

Your Body Deserves Love and Respect

The first step to a confident style is learning to love and respect your body. It is an amazing, miraculous, complex thing, and we are each so fortunate to have one. In the light of this, I find that comparisons of body shape seem petty and futile. Instead, appreciate it for what it is and work within its proportions. Enjoy its true uniqueness. This is empowering.

Becoming Stylish is Learning to Dress Your Body

Style is learned, and practiced, and refined. As your style journey progresses you will figure out how to dress your body in ways that make you feel, and look, fabulous. You will learn that you have differences, not flaws. When clothes don’t fit straight off the rack, it doesn’t mean that there is something wrong with your body; it means that there is something wrong with the clothes. Continue to search for clothing that is worthy of you and that does fit your body. Alter items if necessary and enjoy the euphoric effects of a superbly fitting garment. 

The power of these three points is that they are simple truths. You probably believed all three of them before you even read them in this post. The trick is to return to them when your insecurities surface. Remind yourself that the insecurities are the fiction.

I realize that changing your mindset and maintaing a positive body image is easier said than done. If you are struggling, then reading this post probably isn’t going to immediately shift you back into a positive mindset. But in my experience these three truths cut to the core of the issue and provide a starting point. Focus on them. Acknowledge your perceptions of your body and at the same time question where they came from. Surround yourself with people, activities and clothing that help you view your body in a positive light. Like most things in life, practice makes perfect. And the more you practice positive body image, the easier it will become.