6 Tips to Create a Better Fitting Room Experience

Drop two dresses sizes today. Get that body of your dreams. New Year, new you!

Bombarded by messages like these make this idea of accepting our bodies one that seems unachievable. Respecting our bodies in a world where we are told that they are not good enough on a daily basis can be super tough. However, tough doesn't mean impossible.

We can choose to show our bodies kindness one little step at a time. One of the ways in which we can treat our bodies with respect is by choosing clothes that fit comfortably… and learning to understand that we don’t need our bodies to fit the clothes, we need to find clothes that fit our bodies.

Now, with that being said, we know that this is much easier said than done. Getting in that fitting room can be very difficult for many of us…BUT it doesn't have to be. With practice, we can turn that fitting room experience into a more pleasant one, or at least a more neutral one. (baby steps)

Tip #1: Figure out what you want rather than what you should want

So many ‘should’s’ pop up when in the fitting room. 

You should be x size.

You should buy clothes that look like this.

You should by this style for your body type.

You should say away from this pattern and this color.

Listening to the ‘should's’ makes it really hard for us to listen to what we want. This not only makes the fitting room a chore but it can also leave us super confused and overwhelmed when trying to make choices, as we are pulled in two different directions. Many times we are not even aware that this is happening. It can leave us feeling like we failed and should just give up. It doesn't have to be this way. What clothes we choose to buy is ultimately up to us. So stop “shoulding” all over yourself. Instead, think about the ‘wants’.

Ask yourself some simple questions when shopping for clothes.

What do I want out of my clothes?

What do I want to make close decisions based off of?

Do I want comfort?

What do I gravitate toward? a certain style? a certain color? a certain fit?

What makes me feel good?

What makes me feel like me?

What is in my budget?

What stores do I like best?

What stores don’t I like and should I avoid?

Do these clothes truly fit me?

Do they fit is an important question I want to highlight because how our clothes fit will affect our body image. Body image is not a stagnant thing. Body image is forever changing according to how we feel in different situations. Think about it. When do you struggle with body image the most? Are there times when your body image is better than other times? Of course. Body image is forever changing according to different stimuli with one of those stimuli being clothes, consistently sparking thoughts that affect us. We want these thoughts to be positive ones…in order to create a better body image. When we wear something that doesn’t fit us comfortably, all day as we feel the item of clothing fit us in a way we don’t want, we are then prone to negative thoughts about our body. That item of clothing is actually creating a negative body image and that experience can be avoided if we chose a more comfortable item of clothing. 

Tip #2: Set yourself up for better situations

1. Shop at the stores you know you like, that have your size, and offers your style. If you know that a certain store doesn't carry your size or has clothes that you don’t feel fit right, don’t go to that store. Setting yourself up to be disappointed will only create more negative thoughts.

2. When you try on clothes, don’t face the mirror right away. First, (with your back to the mirror) try on the clothes and see how they feel and see how they sit on your body. If it doesn't feel comfortable or does not fit to your liking, don't look in the mirror. Just take that clothing item off right away. Then either try on a different size, try on a different clothing item all together, or leave the fitting room and go to another store. When we try something on that doesn't fit us, and then choose to analyze and make negative comments about why that item doesn't fit, we are subconsciously making a choice here that will lead us down the wrong path. We are choosing to take that event- an item not fitting us- and attach meaning to it. This is unhelpful. The clothes not fitting you doesn’t mean anything other than the clothes didn't fit you. End of story. Move on and find some that does because you do not have to fit the clothes. Choose to attach any more meaning.

3. Grab several sizes and work your way to the right size. Start with the larger size if you are fearing being a larger size or start with the smaller size if you are fearing being the smaller size. This way you are not setting yourself up to feel defeated.

4. Before the shopping trip, get yourself in a calmer state of mind. Meditate. Practice self-compassion. Do something nice for yourself. Read your favorite body positive blog post or listen to your favorite anti-diet podcast on the way to the stores.

Here are a few to check out below!

Podcast recommendations centered around tips for buying & wearing clothes that make you feel great and comfortable in your own skin :

Don’t Salt My Game- Episode 81: Summer Shorts Series- Top Tips for Summer Body Confidence with Becky Young of Anti-Diet Riot Club

BodyLove Project- Episode 25: BodyLove Project Closet Clean Out

Libra Connections- Episode 15: Abby Flores & Full Figured Fashion

Nutrition Redefined- Episode 49: How to use your wardrobe to improve your body image

Tip #3: Make the shopping trip a fun/easier event rather than a responsibility

Dreading the fitting room is very common but we can try to make the whole experience of going shopping a less dreadful one.

Let’s think about the following two scenarios:

Scenario A:

I absolutely hate clothes shopping. I have been dreading it all day. I have waited until the last minute so now I am not going to be able to find anything in the small amount of time I have. I am going to run in and get any pair of jeans I can find just to get out of there. 

Scenario B:

I really hate clothes shopping. To make it a bit more fun, I am going to ask a friend or family member to go with me. Maybe they can help distract me from negative thoughts that tend to pop up when I go alone. Maybe at the mall, the two of us can make an event of it and stop at our favorite restaurant or check out that new book store I have been meaning to go to. That would be fun!

In these two scenarios, the same event is still taking place but the situation can play out a lot differently because we set ourselves up for success.

Tip #4 Challenge the narrative you give yourself

We have a narrative for our bodies, a story we tell ourselves over and over again. We have a narrative for all kinds of situations our bodies encounter, fitting room experiences included. This narrative is formed because of our culture, experiences, biology, story, and so much more. One of the biggest influencers creating this narrative are the thoughts we have and how we let them affect us.

These thoughts about our bodies that reoccur without being challenged eventually form neuropathways in our brains making them automatic thoughts. These automatic thoughts can make your thoughts go from bad to worse, quick. Furthermore, these thoughts become beliefs which then influence our behavior. These thoughts are unavoidable and aiming to never experience them set us up for failure. So, if automatic thoughts are something that are unavoidable, what is the alternative? 

The alternative is to recognize, challenge, and replace those automatic thoughts.

Step 1: Recognizing and observe

Becoming aware of those thoughts and/or your self-talk is the first step to changing them. Without becoming aware, we may be acting on thoughts we don't even know we have, feeling lost and powerless to change them.

Step 2: Challenge

After we become aware that unwanted thoughts are there, we must then choose to challenge them. If we let thoughts creep up and take over, they will continue to creep in and take over. Have you ever stopped to think… do I want this thought? Is the thought true? Have you ever stopped to think about whether you have the choice in the matter when it comes to choosing your thoughts? Many get stuck in thought patterns because after we experience the thoughts, we do not go onto this next step to challenge them. We let them stay. We hop on that negative thought train and ride it to a destination that makes us feel miserable.

Instead of hopping on the through train, stop and ask yourself…am I doing one of the following?

  • making assumptions

  • “should’ing” myself

  • creating a fairytale 

  • overgeneralizing

  • catastrophizing

Then ask yourself…

What am I feeling right now? 

Is this fear or truth?

Remember that thoughts are just thoughts. Feelings are just feelings. You don’t need to let them define you. You do not need to live according to them. You get to choose.

Step 3: Replace

Replace the thought with a more helpful one. Each time you replace a thought, you will be helping to create a different neural pathway. This will help you to slowly change your body narrative. When working on replacing the thoughts with more helpful ones, make sure that the replacement thoughts are ones you can relate to. Don't change the thoughts to ones that are unrelateable or unbelievable to you. For example, replacing a negative body thought with the thought ‘I love the way my body looks’ when you don’t is not helpful. Try replacing the thought with one you can believe like ‘I don't want to accept this body but I am choosing to respect this body by dressing it in comfortable clothing.’ Soon, with work and time, this thought can morph and evolve and that thought may then become ‘I accept my body’ or ‘I appreciate my body’ or even ‘I like this part of my body that I once hated.’

Lets’ check out some examples of the recognize, challenge, replace method.

Example 1:

Thought: I should be a size x. I should fit these clothes.

Challenge: Should I thought? Why should I be that size? What does it mean to me to be that size? What if I never got to that size…what’s the worst thing that could happen?

Replace: These clothes should fit me. It would be easier if we lived in a world where all sizes were accepted but we don’t. However, I get to choose how to respond and I want to learn to accept my body so I am choosing to be okay with this.

Example 2:

Thought: I feel like a failure when I buy new clothes because it means that I can no longer fit into old ones.

Challenge: Am I a failure? Who says so? Why do I believe that? 

Replace: My body growing is not a moral issue and does not make me good or bad. There is so much more to me than my body. I have to much to offer the world. My body is just my vehicle to life my life. My life lives outside my body.

Example 3:

Thought: My ____ makes me look _____.

Challenge: Why is ___ a bad thing? What’s wrong with that?

Replace: It doesn't have to be a bad thing. I am choosing what it means to me. That means I can choose an alternative meaning.

Example 4:

Thought: I would be happier if I was a size x.

Challenge: Why do I believe that my happiness will result from a size? It this the truth? Or can I be happy now?

Replace: I am choosing to be happy now in this body I am in. I am choosing inner peace in this hard situation.

Tip #5: Remember that you are not alone with your body image struggles

Don’t isolate yourself in bad body image situations. Feel your feelings and share them. Or at the very least, remember you are NOT alone. We are all in a world where shopping for clothes is hard. We are all in a world where we are told we should be in a constant state of fixing or controlling our bodies. You are not alone in this struggle. So don’t tell yourself you are alone. Remind yourself that what you are feeling is a common feeling.

‘Approximately 91% of women are unhappy with their bodies and resort to dieting to achieve their ideal body shape. Unfortunately, only 5% of women naturally possess the body type often portrayed by Americans in the media.”- dosomething.org

See, you are not alone. However, have you ever reflected and asked yourself if you want to be where you are with your relationship with your body. Do you want to be one of those 91% of people or do you want to choose to work to be in the other 9%? With that being said, DO NOT get down on yourself or beat yourself up if you are one of those 91%. Show yourself self-compassion for being in such a tough spot and decide what you want to do about it. Choose to take the route of empowering yourself. Choose something different for yourself. Ultimately, the choice is up to you. And if you aren’t ready, then that is okay too. The choice will always be there if you so choose to explore it later.

To feel less alone in your struggle with body image, join my Body Image Support Group by clicking here.

Tip #6: Find a Mantra/Affirmation that aligns with your values

Pick a go-to mantra for the tough moments. I know, how cliche right?

Now, before you go and say affirmations are silly, let me tell you something you may not be aware of. You already have affirmations….affirmations of not being good enough.

You are picking those affirmations and repeating them to yourself on a daily basis. So how about picking some that will actually be helpful and make your day better? Take a moment and think about an affirmation that has left an impression on you. Can’t think of one? Take one of these!

  • I am strong now.

  • What I seek is also seeking me.

  • They believed they could so they did.

  • My body will take care of me.

  • This is temporary.

  • I’m doing the best I can.

  • I can sit through discomfort.

  • I can handle difficult and uncomfortable emotions/thoughts/feelings.

  • I am stronger than this experience.

  • If I make room for what’s uncomfortable, I will discover new parts of me.

  • My thoughts and feelings do not define me.

  • This too shall pass.

  • Trust the process.

  • Why be your biggest enemy when you can be your biggest fan?

  • Good for you, not for me. My body is on my side. I am at home in my body. I am not defined by my past.

  • Practice.

  • Patience.

  • Yes I'm afraid, yes I'm going to do it anyway.

  • Be brave enough to break your own heart.

  • Stay (curious, present, here).

  • Breathe in ____(what you want more of), breath out _____(what you want less of).

  • You alone are enough. You have nothing to prove to anybody.

  • Find what gives you joy and go there.

  • Bad situations feel bad. They are not proof that I have done something wrong.

  • I’m doing the best I can.

Now take these tips and start practicing. Practice makes perfect.

Want to learn more tips and tricks about how to feel more comfortable in your body and to ditch the diet completely? Check out my eBook!