I recently moved back to my hometown of LA, and one Saturday I decided it would be a good idea to go shopping at the big, swanky department stores in Beverly Hills (and when I say “shopping” I mostly mean “touch the silky fabrics and check out the sale rack and dream”).
But as soon as I stepped inside one of those Swanky Department Stores, some odd things started to happen:
Browsing the very expensive shoes, I suddenly had the crystal-clear knowledge that my outfit — which had seemed so cute at my apartment an hour ago — was completely NOT RIGHT.
And my hair! My hair was in a completely stupid bun on my head. Granted, an hour ago I had thought my hair was “casual and cute in a not-trying-too-hard” way, but, Oh! Past Self! How you lived in woeful ignorance!
Most troublingly of all, I became suddenly convinced that my body was larger than every single other body in this store. And obviously, it was NOT OKAY to have a large body, standing there among the athleisure-clad, toned, blonde LA women who were consulting their also-toned gay male friends about the pros and cons of rhinestone-studded heels.
Reading this, I’m sure it’s clear to you that I was having a mini insecurity meltdown. Maybe if you were standing nearby and I had told you my feelings, you would have reassured me that my appearance was just fine.
And yet, when we are in the throes of those moments, 1) we don’t like to tell other people how we feel, and 2) we think those negative voices are right.
So I wanted to share how I got myself out of it, in the hopes that it might be helpful for you someday, when you need it most:
- I started by acknowledging that there could be some truth in what those insecure voices in my head were saying. I know that the ideal thing would be to discount these ideas as completely false — but I find that can be hard to do in the middle of a mini insecurity meltdown. So instead I said:
Fine, maybe it’s true that my hair or my clothes or my body are not as “good” as those other women. Maybe it’s even true that if I really had my way, I’d like to have hair or clothes or a body that’s just like those other women. I don’t like that I have these negative thoughts, but fine, I do.
- Then I acknowledged what else I know for sure about my body.
BUT I know from past experience that if I try to be as thin as some of the women I’m seeing, I will make myself miserable, and it probably won’t even work in the long term. On the other hand, I really like how I eat now. I really enjoy not being hungry all the time and being able to eat cookies when I feel like it and not having to obsess all the time about what I’m going to eat or not eat.
- I got really honest with myself about the tradeoffs.
Maybe the result of eating in a way that I really, really like is that my body isn’t “perfect.” And you know what, even if my body isn’t “perfect,” it’s at least 80% of what I could ever want. And hey — 80% there is pretty darn good.
And that last move — that “I’m okay with a body that is 80%” — that really turned it around for me.
Because it reminded me that we never get to have 100% of what we want, 100% of the time. Not with happiness, or confidence, or energy.
Not with relationships or careers.
And, of course, not with our bodies.
And — on the flip side — I find that most of us are 80% of the way there, most of the time. There is a lot that I appreciate about my body, for example, even if my brain is able to think of ways that it could be even more “perfect.” Ditto for relationships or career or hair or even the contents of my wardrobe.
I know, in an ideal world, I would’ve been able to say in that moment, “hey, my body is fabulous! It’s totally sexy and amazing and wonderful.” Heck, in an ideal world I wouldn’t have had those insecure body thoughts. I would be so completely indoctrinated with body positivity, it wouldn’t even occur to me.
And sometimes I do think my body is freaking awesome! But sometimes I don’t. I’m okay with living in this imperfect world, with this imperfect mind. I’m okay with the fact that I don’t feel body infatuation every single second of the day.
My personal body neutrality philosophy means that it’s okay if I have negative body thoughts sometimes — I just have to remind myself that I am choosing to not actively try to change my body because I prioritize other things.
And as for the rest of my shopping trip? I enjoyed viewing all of the beautiful, silky dresses, thank-you-very-much.
I’d love to know: What do you say to yourself in the middle of a body insecurity moment? Leave a comment to share the wealth!