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These Are The Outfits I Wear When I Have Bad Body Image Days

Warning: This article contains discussion of weight, body image, and brief mention of eating disorders.

For the past three or so years, I have been in a battle with my body. Like what happens with many people who treat their body like something they can change or fix, this battle led me to a cycle of weight gain and weight loss that became so back and forth, I began to lose sight of what I really looked like. This inability to truly see myself peaked two summers ago, when I went through the worst period of anxiety that I had ever had. This resulted in me being an extremely unhealthy weight.

This low weight period was when I completely lost track of my body. I didn’t even notice my weight fluctuation because my body didn’t look like anything to me. I would see myself look one way in one mirror, but then look completely different in another. This was made even worse by the conflicting comments I heard. On one hand, I had my parents, family, and doctors telling me I looked unhealthy, but on the other hand, I had people who said that I looked great.

Since then, I have been on a journey to nourish and love my body. I have made it to the point where I feel comfortable in my skin, can eat intuitively, and consider myself to be in a healthy spot for what my body needs. However, this journey has meant that I have had to become accustomed to a new body, and a new size. 

I still battle daily with body dysmorphia. For me, and many others who struggle with body dysmorphia, some days feel impossible. Some days I feel like I have the strangest, weirdest, and most oddly shaped body. Some days I feel small, some days I feel large, somedays I feel neither. Because of this, putting on clothes every day can be an absolute nightmare. All it takes is one pair of jeans to fit a little looser than I thought they should, or a shirt a bit tighter, to send my body dysmorphia and brain spiraling.

So on days where my body dysmorphia is screaming to hide, I turn to one of my “safe” outfits. For me, a safe outfit used to be sweatpants and a sweatshirt. I wanted to hide as much as I could. I didn’t want to have to see my body in every mirror or window I walked past. However, when I did that, I learned I was just feeding my own insecurities and letting my brain fill in the gaps. The dysmorphia was still there, but now my brain was running with it. 

My safe outfits are outfits that maybe aren’t skin tight, but also remind me that my body is present, that it has a shape, and that it is defined. It’s OK to want to hide parts of your body, but also remember that there is so much there to love.

 

Long ankle skirt and a graphic tee

This was my first safe outfit. For me, my legs have always been my biggest source of dysmorphia, so long skirts are the perfect way to feel better without completely hiding. A lot of these skirts have elastic waists, which help remind me I have a bit of shape, but don’t trigger dysmorphia if it’s too tight! I like to tuck my shirt into the waistband when I can.

Modifications: Long sweaters tucked into the front of the skirt and cropped sweaters also work really well with this in the cold months!

High waisted straight leg jeans, cropped tank, and a jacket

For this, I totally recommend Levi’s Dad jeans ($69). They seem true to size, but if you want them a bit looser around the legs, you can totally size up. Also, thrifted mom jeans are always a great alternative. 

Just like the first outfit, I really like using the cropped, tighter tank to give my body some form when I look in the mirror, and I LOVE this tank from Amazon ($17 to $24) — I have five of them. The tank is great because you can order whatever size you normally get, but the elasticity of it means that you won’t be able to tell if it fits tighter or looser on certain days. I love elastic fabrics in general, because there is nothing worse for my dysmorphia than trying on clothes that I expect to fit one way, but they fit another. 

For the jacket, you can really wear whatever you want! I love the look of a men’s long sleeve flannel (or you can go with a short sleeve in the summer). ​

Modifications: Try a looser tank top, or ditch the jacket! Also, if you’re not feeling too confident about your abdomen area, you can totally go for a graphic tee instead. Also, this looks super cute with just some plain sweatpants, like these ones from Walmart ($11).

Crewneck, turtleneck, and baggy pants
Outfit big pants and crewneck
Original photo by Emily Jones

Another staple of mine! Baggy pants can mean anything. I think this outfit looks great with mom jeans, sweatpants, joggers, or anything your heart desires. Like all the outfits above, you can really mix and match pieces of this outfit to suit your body image needs. For me, I like tucking my sweatshirt in the waistband of my pants to help give some shape.

Modifications: A collared shirt underneath looks really good! Also, if it’s warmer, I like to pair it with a tennis skirt, like this one from Amazon ($17). Fair warning, this tennis skirt runs extremely small, so I definitely recommend sizing up one or two sizes.

Overall, when you’re struggling with your body image on certain days, I recommend wearing outfits that make you feel grounded in yourself. If you don’t feel comfortable in what you put on in the morning, it can make reflections, eating, or just walking a thing of nightmares. For me at least, I like using outfits that remind me my body has shape, but shields my insecurities or especially dysmorphic areas. All of the outfits above can be mixed and matched to however helps you celebrate your beautiful and unique body. 

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, please contact the National Eating Disorder Association at (800)-931-2237.

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Emily Jones is a senior neuroscience major on the pre-med track and a national staff writer for Her Campus as well as a writer for Her Campus at Furman University. Her goal is to one day be a physician, but in her spare time you can find her trying out new baking recipes or watching the Great British Bake-Off (over and over again). She also loves her two Boston Terriers, true crime podcasts, and cheesy horror movies.
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