I had met a college boy and he was due to arrive from out of state to meet my family and I completely over-stressed about what I would wear when we reunited.
I remember trying on several garments but since I loved wearing dresses the most in these circumstances, a dress it was to be. Even then I believed a well-designed dress would flatter my figure and make me feel more confident.
He was due to arrive at four in the afternoon and my parents were near me as I waited impatiently by the front door.
Unfortunately, I had never been content with how my legs looked and I have no recollection of where I would have invented that thought except through personal insecurity. As I waited anxiously, I surveyed the silhouette of my curvy shadow in the light created by the afternoon sun in my parent’s hallway and I mumbled aloud, "I hate my calves."
"Why?" My dad asked as if surprised by my sudden confession.
"Because they're so fat. And my thighs are even worse." I said.
"You're not fat. You're shapely. It's a much more attractive quality." He said this with the type of inflection at the end of his sentence that I knew there was nothing else to discuss.
My eyes froze on the shapely shadow and without realizing it, my mindset shifted. My posture immediately improved and my shoulders relaxed. It felt as if my spine was being pulled straight as if it were attached to a string from the ceiling above me. I leveled my chin and all anxiety was relieved and my confidence soared.
He could have said:
What he did say:
Appreciate your body the way it was designed.
When we hear a sister, daughter, friend say "I'm fat." How can we respond? Be honest. Be healthful. Be supportive. Dad's honesty affirmed I was a healthy weight and his support was not only a comfort, but a paradigm shift.
It is of preeminent importance that we continue to support each other with positive affirmations. When we don't, it creates insecurities within the mindset that are difficult to regain. So how can we help a loved one gain the confidence needed to overcome private degradation and poor body image mindset?
Recognize Public Influence
One would think maturity would free me of the sophomoric insecurities. At over time, the influence of public figures surrounding me had a confidence wavering effect on my mindset, both good and ill. The ill challenged my confidence constantly but the good was stored away like data. Privately, I worked on a formula that would help an artistic introvert like myself more easily express herself. It was a long journey that tested my creativity. I struggled constantly to articulate my style within the restrictions of whichever season lived.
But when I recognized the effect these influences had good and ill, I was able to use that knowledge to better myself and my family. Society places a lot of pressure on women to "do it all" while "looking flawless." Don't let that wreck your confidence. Evaluate your health, examine your circumstances, and move forward with confidence that you are the best you can be or in the private stages of personal development.
Execute Private Development
Once we recognize the amount of pressure we receive from public influences, we can use that information to experiment and develop our own personal style. Don't be discouraged, this may take time.
Over the years, I admit to having my share of body insecurities and also witnessed my daughters struggle with similar insecurities. But with empowering memory of my Dad's statement, I utilized that mindset over and over to assure others that they're perfect the way they're designed. And the clothes they chose are just an outward expression of the inner beauty and creativity.
For myself, I had to shut out the overwhelming pressure from an upright social class with their pious list of standards was the only way to be recognized as acceptable within their company. Gaining control over that influential mindset became a literal wreck that nearly defeated me as a mother, wife and Christian.
Public and Private wReck
When your four-year-old daughter cries "I just want to be cool" while you try to convince her that wearing denim overalls and a long sleeve black turtleneck was not going to be seasonally appropriate in July. Or your teen daughter with tear filled eyes falls to the carpet at a local retail store from the pressure of a pious dress code assigned for a youth social activity.
With the correct mindset, my four year old changed her clothes after learning the necessity of dressing seasonally. She learned that being cool in front of the older neighborhood girls would depend on her being herself and being friendly. Those girls became life long friends that have more in common than their trends.
With the correct mindset, my teen boldly decided to construct her own dress code while still respecting the intent of the standards. She chose an appropriate, modest outfit that fit well and elevated her confidence enough to score that day (not only on the sports field) but in developing the kind of individuality needed to overcome obstacles and personal challenges.
But for some reason, the confidence had know in my youth could no longer suppress the shame I constantly bore for not meeting the public standards of my social community. It was a wreck! With my family confused, my career in limbo and my personal relationships in jeopardy, I finally gave myself the freedom to ask those closest to me to accept and support me to fully express myself.
With the fear of public judgement removed, my private individuality was able to naturally expressed itself and my public life became a successful wReck! All thanks to the simple, honest assessment from a significant support person.
Share the Confidence
When we hear a dear sister, daughter, friend say "I'm fat, ugly, worthless." How can we respond? Be honest. Be healthful. Be supportive. YOU can a positive influence on their mindset.
Confidence Elevating Denim!
Gwen Bielicki - vintage style addict, aging gracelessly
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