Written by Adele Leung
Let's face it, life happens.
Every day we are dealing with a lot of challenges, and honestly, wouldn't it be awesome if dressing up confidently is not one of them?
For me, body confidence is a process of re-building a feeling of true settlement with my body, so that it feels the 3 S's--Safe, Surrendered and Still. I know I am full of joy and the most beautiful when I feel this.
From young, we are never really taught to appreciate ourselves. If we are lucky enough, we may get compliments from others in praise of our physical appearance, our taste in clothes or how well we do in life. But we are never used to being close to ourselves, finding space to discover who we truly are and what we truly love, just from feeling our own voice within. I know this is true for myself, as when I started exploring body confidence, I observed how much I shrink when I hear a genuine compliment. Accepting appreciation just feels embarrasing and oh so unfamiliar in my body, that I want to brush it aside or distract myself or talk about something else. And I'm sure I am not the only one here who has felt this way.
Adele in Calabash Dress.
The rhythm of our amazing city Hong Kong, as well as most of the world, runs in a constant rush and drive to succeed, no judgment on that, as it prompts us to achieve and excel. And yet, rushing even in the slightest threatens the relationship we have with our body. If we are to be honest, our body hates being rushed. But have we learned to cope with it and made it our normal?
We have also made it very normal to push ourselves in our roles in life. When we identify with the roles we carry, we are usually driven by the rhythm these roles operate in, I certainly can relate to being a 24/7 mom, a forever “good” daughter or an always understanding girlfriend! But in my experience, roles never really permit me to feel truly surrendered with my body, as I am constantly living up to an expectation I have of myself. Ouch.
I'm always watching behind my back to make sure nothing goes wrong, and guess what? That way I am never really confident. When I lose the connection with my body, I feel racy, I lose awareness like not remembering how I got somewhere or why I chose a particular outfit to wear, I also start focusing on things and areas I don't like about myself. In short, I feel separated from the lovely preciousness of myself, and the result is a constant low-grade anxiousness. No matter how beautiful the pieces I select are, I tend to pick fiercely at my flaws, as if to consolidate the fact that I cannot be loved, crazy, right?
So clearly, the way to dress well is to reverse the very ingrained, yet accepted as a normal process of self-loathing by starting with SELF-APPRECIATION.
Simple Process of Feeling More Beautiful to What We Wear:
No matter what has happened in our every day, know that finding fault with ourselves (and others) is very easy and has been our habitual pattern collectively. Just beware of this pattern and know we can make a different choice.
- Appreciate something about ourselves every day—how we look, what we do, our inner qualities etc.
- When we fall back into our pattern of self-critique know that it is only a habit (and we are not alone), if we berate ourselves this process continues to control us, so we can simply be gentle to ourselves and say oops!
- Accept there is no perfection—yes there are areas we may like less about ourselves and it's okay.
- Always find places we DO like about ourselves (from step 1) and appreciate that.
- Continue this practice until it starts to feel...pretty normal!
- Our physicality may not have changed much (yet), but how we start to FEEL about ourselves starts to change (because of the love we start giving back to ourselves), and that affects how we look at ourselves.
When our inner perception of who we are starts to change, the outer perception of ourselves changes. Guess what?
Others will start to see us differently too—but only when we START FIRST in seeing ourselves differently. Talk about leading the way, right?
And on occasions when we have slipped and feel knocked down by life, fragile and feeling confident is the last thing we can think of, and we have no energy to muster in rocking anything we put on, then always remember GENTLENESS is key.
So take a deep breath, and repeat step 1. Ultimately, consistency is madly powerful and beautiful.