11 Things To Remember In The Dressing Room

As a person who strives for body positivity and an overall sensitive human, I tend to avoid dressing rooms. I mean, developing a healthy self-image has made shopping much less stressful for me. But on my more depressive days, seeing myself wearing an even slightly ill-fitting garment under the fluorescent lights of my fast fashion favorite can trigger my day (and mood) to fall by the wayside.

No matter how confident I might be feeling at any given moment, the negative connotations I associate with dressing rooms can be powerful enough to destroy the body positivism I've been building for years. Sure, it's usually just a small room in the back of a store where you can try on garments before deciding whether or not to purchase them. Bot notions of "flattering" versus "unflattering" apparel and "the right cut for your body type" that manifest when there can deter the experience from being a positive one nonetheless.

Being in a dressing room reminds me of the days when my friends would make fun of how my body looked in certain outfits. It reminds me of long periods of time spent in front of a mirror scrutinizing my illness-ridden figure, convincing myself that I didn't deserve certain pieces because of my physical deterioration.

With dressing room-induced panic attacks still fresh in many minds, shopping can be challenging. So here are some useful things we can say to ourselves when we get lost in our heads behind those closed doors.

1. "I deserve to feel beautiful, but these clothes just don't do it for me."

Your beauty is not defined by clothes that weren't made to fit you in the first place. Certain clothing, depending on the store, is seemingly made for particularly-shaped bodies. Most clothing, I'd argue, isn't made with fat people or disabled folks in mind at all.

Though these facts are incredibly exclusive and not often encouraging of our body positivity, it's important to remember that an ill-fitting garment doesn't make the individual any less worthy of acceptance. It just means the garment itself is less than desirable, and that whoever designed it is missing out on the opportunity to see people of a wonderful array of body types rocking it.

2. 'I'm not alone in feeling this way."

With so much focus placed on the body's aesthetic in our society, many people feel a certain measure of stress when shopping for clothes or looking in the mirror. Though it's generally sucky that our culture is so thin-obsessed, it helps me to consider that the person in the next fitting room might be feeling similarly, regardless of their body type.

3. "Clothing sizes do not define me."

Clothing sizes are just numbers meant to guide you in scoring a cute outfit that fits your body. We shouldn't be attaching morality onto the number on the shirts we're trying on, especially when the meaning of those numbers fluctuates based on the store and country of design.

4. "This 'ugly' reflection isn't reality."

Sometimes it's helpful to remind myself that whatever "hideous" reflection I think I see in the mirror is one that only seems to arise under the harsh lights of a dressing room. It isn't real.

Some of us might feel stressed out momentarily and, as a result, fall back into spiraling, body negative thoughts. But either by looking down at your body or scrolling through old selfies, you can hopefully remember that the real you is just as beautiful as it always has been. Body dysmorphia is tricky, so be patient with yourself regarding this affirmation.

5. "It's natural for my body to grow, shrink, and change in all sorts of ways."

Don't beat yourself up for fluctuations in your weight or size. These changes are natural for us to go through as human beings. Though you might normally be cognizant of this fact outside of the dressing room, try to remind yourself of it before you start putting things on.

6. "The manufacturing process is at fault, not me."

As most of us likely know, sizing in clothing stores is terribly limited, with measurements varying from store to store and sizes above a 12 infrequently catered to.

Don't beat yourself up because you can't find your size, no matter how many pieces you try on. Your body is unique and deserves to feel catered to. It's the system itself that is flawed, not you. The world is still a very fatphobic place, but if you feel uncomfortable in your body, it's not on you.

7. "It's OK that this doesn't fit."

Try to brush it off when something doesn't fit. I know this can sometimes feel like a huge failure on your part for not being "the right size." But if you really want that pair of jeans, don't despair. Instead, try out a bunch of sizes until you get the right fit. Not every garment will work on your body, and that doesn't make you any less incredible.

8. "Dressing rooms are really triggering for me."

Acknowledging that fitting rooms can be triggering places can be super empowering to me. It's not often that people talk about how toxic a dressing room can be, instead avoiding the topic out of embarrassment, perhaps. But lots of folks have bad experiences and memories associated with these spaces.

Being aware that the blame is on systemic fatphobia, sizeism, ableism, and confusing sizing systems rather than on me is hugely comforting, though.

9. "You are still a beautiful, body positive warrior. You just don't feel that way right now."

Even as a body positive person, I have found it impossible to love every part of myself all of the time. But knowing that this moment will pass, and that I will feel better, empowered, and sparkling soon again, can help me alleviate disappointment in the fitting room.

10. "It's just fabric."

At the end of the day, clothing is just fabric. Societal expectations aside, these objects do not have to hold power over you. You are in charge of your own narrative.

11. "It's time to check my privilege."

If you're straight size and experience stress in the dressing room, please remember to check your privilege. Sure, finding out that you're a size eight instead of a size six might be triggering (the world is a sexist, sizeist place, after all), but there are folks who often cannot find a single stylish garment to try on anywhere IRL, since so many retailers don't go above a size 12 or 14.

Though systemic fatphobia affects everyone in the long run, it directly impacts fat folks the most. So try to acknowledge the privileges that come with not being fat, and learn from the process.

Shopping can be discouraging, I know. But fitting rooms don't have to be the scary places they once were for our younger, less body positive selves. With just a little shift in thinking and some helpful affirmations to arm yourself with, shopping can, in fact, be genuinely fun.

Image: Courtesy hantisedeloubli/Instagram (1)