In the fashion world, body image plays an enormous role. Society and the media constantly create limits on what is and is not acceptable. You're too fat, you're not tall enough, your body is not proportional. I've heard it all countless times -- agencies telling models they aren't "up to par," "drop 15 pounds." I've heard of companies that switched models because the first was "too dark" for an African woman, they preferred a lighter shade of brown. Plus-size companies post pictures of a skinny model next to a plus-size model with the caption "real women have curves" -- as if skinnier women with less curves aren't actually "real women." The requirements on our physical appearance are at an all-time high, the discrimination is present and the separation is real.
Fashion and body image go hand in hand. How can we stop the media and society from playing such an enormous role in our lives? Start with your thoughts. Many of us want to be accepted but have yet to fully accept ourselves. Body image begins with self-esteem, self-worth and self-acceptance. To feel good in your clothes you have to feel good in your own skin. You create your own definition of beauty. Changing your body image doesn't necessarily mean you have to physically change your body, but simply change and control your thoughts on how you view yourself. It's really up to us as individuals to not let society warp how we view others and, most importantly, ourselves.
- Focus on what you like rather than what you don't.Positive thinking is essential to self-acceptance. Everyone in the world can tell you that you are beautiful, but if you don't believe it everything else is irrelevant. It's easier for us to dwell on negativity rather than focus on what we are grateful for. Make it a part of your daily routine to wake up every morning, look at yourself in the mirror and remind yourself of all the positive aspects you are fortunate for.
- Don't compare yourself to others.Comparing yourself to someone else is automatically setting yourself up for failure. Don't be afraid to accept yourself for who you are. Life isn't a competition. If you are going to compare yourself to anyone, let it be yourself. Comparing yourself to yourself can be an eye-opener and help you appreciate yourself more. Talking down about others won't make you feel any better about you. Instead, think positive thoughts about all your accomplishments and how you have become a better you.
- Don't give other people's opinions importance.Not everyone is going to like what you do, what you look like or what you stand for. Realize that everyone is entitled to their own opinions, and it's up to you whether or not their opinion holds any weight on how you feel about yourself. Surrounding yourself with the right kind of people who are positive and uplifting can really make a difference. One of the best quotes I've heard -- to this day -- is "what they think of me is none of my business."
- Disregard the media.As humans, we are all built differently. We all have different shapes, features, traits and characteristics. More times than not, the media brainwashes people into believing they should fit a particular mold. Don't doubt yourself because you believe perfection is unrealistic, photoshopped ads and tall, thin models that don't have the same body type as you.
Fashion doesn't mean you have to be skinny. Fashion, to me, is feeling comfortable and confident in clothes that display your personality. That has nothing to do with weight, height, hair color or skin color. I'm a firm believer that when you figure out who you are as a person and what you want out of life, the need for acceptance from others minimizes. Society and self-imposed limits are the only factors stopping us from feeling like our complete selves. Acceptance is the true key to happiness.