Did you know that confidence, love, and self-worth swirl around us in abundance? These fascinating qualities can be found anywhere, at any time, and are unlimited… You just have to know where to look!
The idea of abundance is one that has circulated around self-help circles for years and it shows up in the most surprising places. As I did some research for this article, I looked through our dear Ann Manning website and noticed the EMPOWER acronym as part of the company motto. Feel free to check out the entire acronym on the “About Us” tab of the website, as it is full of powerful advice. But for this article, I want to focus on the M part of the EMPOWER motto, and more specifically, how it relates to fashion.
M - Mindset of Abundance. We can all succeed together.
The very idea of using fashion as a way to empower women to love themselves is a bit of a contradiction of ideas, isn’t it? Most of us derive our self-loathing from the bowels of the same fashion industry that I refer to now. We learn at an early age that our bodies are not beautiful and that we should hide them and hate them, all the while cultivating a fascination with the “perfect” body.
I remember as a young teenager, leafing through issues of Cosmopolitan and Seventeen, mentally begging my body to shrink so that I too, could look like the girls that graced the glossy pages. I longed to wear itty bitty string bikinis, and shorty shorts, and to emulate Cher Horowitz in Clueless, wearing mini skirts and sporting bare midriffs.
But I also knew, even at that early age, that my body would not do well in the itty bitty string bikini, for I did not have Alicia Silverstone’s “perfect” body. I had the body of a 13-year-old girl who had not yet grown into a woman and still had her youthful plumpness (my little euphemism for baby fat). As young as I was, the fashion industry had poisoned my mind into thinking that there was no place for me in it… unless I could become skinnier. And skinnier was what I would spend the next two decades trying to be.
As time and wisdom have passed through me over the years, I have finally reached a peace with my body. I now realize that fashion does not belong only to the eternally thin. Fashion is out there in abundance, waiting for all of us to find it. Fashion can actually be an ambassador to promote confidence, love, and self-esteem. And when you promote these wonderful attributes within yourself, you are able to spread that love all around you, like perfume samples at a department store. Have a sample of love! I love myself, come try it!
So what have I learned about fashion that has helped me grow an abundant love for my body? Here are a few of my personal tips for getting the most love for your money.
1. Pick clothes that actually fit you.
For so long, I would try to squeeze into a certain size because that was the size I found to be “acceptable”, anything larger falling into the “that is unacceptable and I will never wear clothes that big” category. That’s completely the wrong attitude! Go for the bigger size. If you love the dress/shirt/pants, try it on in the bigger size first. See how it looks and feels. Don’t even mess with the “acceptable” size if you know in your heart that it will only make you feel bad about yourself.
2. Try something that is outside of your comfort zone.
I know, I know. We are all veeeery protective of our bubbles. You know, that bubble that surrounds you when you walk into a store and stops you from getting too close to those rompers, which you love, but believe would make you look like a balloon in shorts. That’s the bubble I’m talking about. It’s not there to protect you, honey. It’s there to limit you and hold you back to your old, boring self. Reach outside of it. Go ahead and try it. I promise it won’t hurt. In fact, after you do it once, it gets easier and easier.
Bright, floral prints make your mind happy and give you a sense of excitement. New shapes accentuate different parts of your body. Afraid that your arms are too fat? Try a cold shoulder top or an off-the-shoulder top as these will accentuate your neck and shoulders. Never wear dresses and afraid that if you do, someone will notice and say something about how odd it is that you are wearing a dress? Who cares! Buy the dress. Wear it proudly.
3. Have an open mind!
This whole “trying new things” idea is no good unless you have an open mind. Fashion is a living and breathing entity. It swells, dissipates, and moves through time, just like the weather. You must be willing to grow with it to enjoy the full benefits of a fashionable life.
When I turned 34, I decided to start doing some things for myself. The first thing I did was to sign up for one of those monthly boxes where the company assesses your style profile, appoints a stylist, and sends you clothes every month. What I loved about it was that there were often items of clothing in those boxes that I would never have picked for myself. But I found that when I kept an open mind, rather than writing certain pieces off immediately, I absolutely loved what they sent me.
4. Ask for help.
Many of us are afraid to ask for… well, anything. When you are cultivating this new sense of fashion love, ask for others to help. See if one of your good friends will pick out some clothes that she thinks will look good on you. Then, when you try them on, have an open mind and see what happens.
My sister-in-law did this for me one year when I went on a vacation to San Francisco with my husband. I told her that I needed some new dresses for a couple of events we were attending but that I was absolutely terrible at picking out dresses. She came back with some of my very favorite articles of clothing, things that I would not have even seen on my own, but that caught her eye immediately. Try something like that and see how it goes. You never know!
Also, if you’re like me, a plus-sized gal, ask for help from the store clerk. I’ll say this, most stores either have larger sizes in stock or are able to order larger sizes. Just because the only things left on the rack out front is sizes 0-4 doesn’t mean that they aren’t able to find something or order something that will fit you. If you are in love with that dress and it’s not in your size, ask them to order it for you in a larger size. They are generally happy to do it and you will be happy with it when it actually fits you!
There you have it, my top four tips for grabbing some of that abundant fashion love. Remember, fashion is not just for the uber-skinny. There is enough beautiful fashion out there for everyone, including you, no matter what your body measurements are. You just have to take the leap, move out of your comfort zone, and reach out there into the universe to find it. Trust me, the confidence that comes from wearing beautiful clothes that fit is out of this world. Love yourself through fashion girl! And spread that love all around you so others can get some self-love too!