February 27 – March 3 is Body Image Warrior Week. Throughout the course of this week, you’ll read posts from an inspiring group of women who fight hard against body image oppression through their own words and work.
This morning, I am honored to introduce you to Sally McGraw of Already Pretty. Sally was introduced to me by one of my former students (Thank you, Laura) who just knew that I would love what Sally was up to in her work as a body image savvy style maven. And, boy, was Laura right. I covet Sally’s attitude, her insights, and her wardrobe (especially her boots). I love how she makes positive body image and style accessible for everyone (my own personal style has undergone a revolution in the last six months that I know is partially inspired by Sally’s ideas and good eye). Body Image Warrior Week was Sally’s brain child (see, she has incredible ideas!), and I am so happy to share her voice with you today:
You know how, when you’re feeling kinda wretched about the current state of your bod, you tend to lose interest in shopping? And eventually, shopping apathy morphs into diminished interest in clothes? And sometimes THAT indifference becomes an inability to engage in basic grooming?It’s a fun little cycle, and we’ve all been there. Usually, a girl’s gotta hit bottom to shake loose body blues this severe: A candid party photo of your unkempt self that gives you shivers, a cutting comment from a coworker, or something equally traumatic usually throws our long-rusted self-care gears in the opposite direction.
Now, consider this: What if you forced it? What if – on those days when you looked in the mirror and saw Grendel – you made yourself don a flirty frock, curl your hair, and slip on a sassy set of boots? Would it help or hurt how you felt about your body and face and overall self?
Swear I’m not going all Fernando Lamas on you. Just hear me out.
We’ve already established that the cycle of self-loathing is inextricably linked to the cycle of self-neglect: Feel bad, look bad, feel worse, look worse, and on and on. But I maintain that a cycle of self-love can be perpetuated by a cycle of self-care. If you feel awful about how you look and allow yourself to LOOK as awful as you feel, you spiral down. But if you feel awful about how you look and work against that negativity – beautifying yourself with the tools you have at hand – you spiral up.
When you put effort into your appearance, you are less likely to hide from mirrors, eat nothing but crap, and withdraw from social situations. When you put effort into your appearance, you are more likely to receive compliments – important sources of external feedback that encourage you to CONTINUE putting effort into your appearance. When you put effort into your appearance, you don’t wallow, you move.
Caring about how you present your physical self to the world makes you more present in your body. Presence in your body feeds itself, creating more care. The cycle of self-care feeding self-love creating more self-care allows you to broadcast a profile of self-respect and power. It reminds you that you can control how you feel about yourself. And that’s powerful good stuff.
Personal style can be used as a tool to cultivate self-care and reflect self-respect. No matter how tall you are or where you carry the most jiggle, you can learn to flatter your figure. You can utilize your natural, perfect beauty to reflect your undeniably amazing self outward to the observing world. And when you do, you kick-start the machinery of self-love.
You can choose your cycle. Choose up.