On Body Positivity and Insecurity (part 2)

Two Sundays ago I posted part 1 of On Body Positivity and Insecurity, so feel free to check that out if you missed it. It’s ~juicy~

When I think about confidence, I think it should come from the inside. That is, being content in who we are and what we look like regardless of a ‘bad hair day’ or having ‘nothing to wear’.

However, I do think there’s something to be said for how our external affects our internal.

Last year my confidence grew considerably. I began to feel comfortable in myself on most days and was less worried in general. Circumstances didn’t shake me as much and I felt grounded in myself and in God.

Decluttering most of my wardrobe helped with this.

I’ve always been a neat person and able to throw things away without thought. I’ve never been messy or struggled with having too much stuff. In saying this, I had a lot of clothes. But they were all hanging nicely in my closet, letting me live in beautiful denial.

I wasn’t addicted to shopping or buying new clothes, but I felt happiest when I had something new because I thought that new item made me look better than anything else I owned. I needed to keep buying clothes because all my ‘old’ ones made me feel bad about myself. Before last year, I was at my most confident if I was wearing something new.

But in January last year, I moved back home and even though I had all these clothes, I felt like I had nothing. No friends, no church, no job. I wore the same overalls pretty much every day and I had no money to buy anything new. I had all these dresses and nowhere to wear them.

It was there that I found my confidence. It was there that I learned to trust God in a deeper way than I ever had to before.

In the move I did donate some of my clothes, but most of them stayed, a reminder of who I who was before the move.

It was only last September/November that I did the biggest declutter I’ve ever done. I took everything out of my closet and drawers and tried every item of clothing on.

I don’t think I can fully describe the feeling of donating thirty, expensive dresses. Of throwing away all the old t-shirts that instilled a dislike for my body.

It can be difficult thinking of the cost, and how much money was in all those items. But that was nothing compared to the feeling of giving away everything that made me feel bad about myself. Of opening my closet and seeing space between each hanger.

I had some dresses that only flattered my body if I didn’t eat lunch, some jeans that only fit well if I lost a couple of kilos.

The negativity that surrounded these items was intense. It felt awful to want to look good only to put them on and look like an overstuffed sausage. There were so many times when I went out with friends and was so consumed by being ‘ugly’ that I couldn’t relax and have fun. I hated having my photo taken (though, I still don’t love that) and seeing myself that way.

Upon decluttering last year, my wardrobe represented how I felt inside.

The clothes ‘sparked joy’, and when I got dressed in the morning nothing crushed my confidence because everything fit my current body, not my dream body. Everything I owned looked like me instead of this fake happiness I was chasing by buying something new and trendy.

The dresses I own now aren’t trendy. They’re timeless silhouettes that flatter my body and suit any occasion. I no longer fear dressing up because I know what I put on will be fine; I don’t own any ‘overstuffed sausage’ items.

In saying all of this, I hope to not place too much importance on material items.

I want you to understand that I now have a healthy relationship with clothes and money because of the confidence I found and the reliance I had to have on God when I felt like I had nothing.

A dress, new or old, isn’t going to change your life.

It’s not going to make you love your body.

Yes, it can make you feel beautiful for one evening. But if you aren’t secure in who you are before you put that dress on, that confidence is going to fade the next morning.

When I was younger, I used to wonder how I could look good in an outfit one day and then try it on a week later and think it looked terrible.

The truth: I haven’t changed, the outfit hasn’t changed, my perception has.

If we don’t view ourselves with love and acceptance, getting dressed every morning is going to be a rollercoaster of highs and lows. That’s what I used to be like! Either overly-confident in what I looked like because of what I was wearing or immensely insecure if things ‘didn’t look right’.

I don’t want to use the J word, but it really is a journey. And a tough lesson that I had to learn and continue learning.

Because I still love buying new clothes.

And in itself, this isn’t a bad thing. But when I go shopping I have to check if it’s because I’m in a bad mood and ‘need clothes’ to make me feel better. I have to ask myself if the purchase is a temporary confidence booster or an investment for my wardrobe. Now I try to only go shopping when I actually do need something, which is typically at the start of a new season and I need a coat for winter, or a skirt that’s work-appropriate. (Although, spoiler alert, at the end of this month I’ll officially be unemployed and can wear overalls every single day. Oh the joy.)

On that note, this post is getting longer and more personal than I thought (hmm, just like part 1) so I’ll wrap it up here.

Amazingly, I do have more to say on this topic, so prepare yourselves for part 3 in the coming weeks.

Sarah xx

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