Your Clothes Do Not Determine Your Self WorthJul 04, 2023
A couple weeks ago, I wrote a social media post about “side boob.” If you are not familiar with that term, side boob is when some of your breast tissue spills over the top seam of the side of your bra. It’s not a flattering look, however it happens to those of us who are broad in the shoulder area but more narrow in the ribs. The bra strap size is smaller, and if the bra does not rise up on the side to hold it all in…. side boob. If you want to check out my post you can read it here. It was relevant because (which you also may not know) I work with a clothing and lifestyle brand and part of the mission of that company is to help women feel confident in their clothing, no matter her shape or size.
A friend reached out to me because she saw my post and she had to tell me how relatable it was. She had a similar experience with a bra. In fact, she had chalked it up to her size: she would get dressed each morning, notice the extra skin, and think to herself, “I’m just too fat. If only I could lose a few pounds these clothes would fit better.” She began to tie how her clothes fit to her mood. If they did not fit the way she wanted or she felt uncomfortable, she instantly felt terrible about herself. After reading my post, and some of the comments, she came to realize it was not her! In fact, she bought a different bra that eliminated her side boob and figured out there was nothing wrong with her! Except, she was buying the wrong things, blaming it on herself and minimizing her self worth.
What did she learn? Besides the fact that side boob is curable with the right bra, she learned how downhill her mindset could go, and quickly, when she started thinking that her ill-fitting clothes were a reflection of her value. She never stopped to consider that maybe it was the bra all along! She just lived a life of poor self esteem which set up an endless cycle of self-depreciation and loathing. Sadly, this is a common thought process among young girls and women of all ages. I saw a statistic this morning:
“79% of young girls and 85% of adult women opt out of important life events because they don’t believe they look good enough.” (courtesy of Dove Global Beauty and Confidence Report, 2016)
I consulted Google and found that a follow up survey was published in 2017, which looked at the body esteem of girls worldwide and how this related to their confidence, amongst other things. Shockingly, 54% of the over 5000 girls surveyed did not have high body esteem, and 6 in 10 girls aged 14-17 felt pressure to look “acceptable.” The statistics went on and on for 30 pages and you can read the full report here. As I read these reports, and think about what friends are telling me, I am reminded of my own struggles with body image and self esteem. That may be another blog for another day. Even in my mid-40s, it is a struggle. The comparison to others, the comparison to myself 10 and 15 years ago. The negative self-talk. The coming home after a night out with friends because I feel I don’t look the part and can’t live up to their standard of appearance, wealth or success. The loss of confidence that comes with that. Perhaps that’s why I feel so strongly about companies and groups that support women. Those who talk the talk and walk the walk and actually listen and create change. It starts with understanding that how we look does not determine our self worth. And more importantly, not blaming ourselves when a shirt or bra or dress does not fit the way we would like. There are a lot of clothing choices. Find one that makes you feel like the rock star you are.
Bottom line: we need to do better. As a country, as a global community, we all need to do better. But it has to start from the bottom up. Moms, women - it starts with us. Instead of beating yourself up because you can’t fit into that particular brand of jeans, choose another. There are countless styles to choose from. Find the clothes that work for you. That smile on your face is going to say a lot more than the brand tags on your outfit. Show up that way. Always. Teach this to your children, their friends, your friends’ children and everyone you meet. Be the person you know you are because you are worth it. She is worth it. Everyone is worth it.