Insights on How Body Positive Clothing Affects Confidence and Mental Health: 14 Health, Wellness, and Lifestyle Experts Share Their Wisdom
Summer often means the chance to relax with warm-weather activities like swimming. But for many women, wearing a bathing suit doesn’t feel comfortable; women may feel self-conscious and lack the confidence to truly enjoy themselves without worrying about the parts of their body they don’t like.
Can something as simple as body positivity have a beneficial effect on women’s confidence and mental health?
We asked 14 experts in health and wellness, beauty, fashion, lifestyle, and mental health to share their advice and insight, and here are their responses:
Table of Contents
- KaseyMonohan, ThreadCurve
- MariyamAbid, Beautyholic
- HelenTovey, SynergiseYourHealth
- Claire Stapleton, Stapo’s thrifty life hacks
- Nicole Miskelley, Marion Bridal
- Emily David, Voyagers.travel
- Emily Lauren Dick, Happy Daughter
- Girish Shukla, Girish Dutt Shukla
- Mike Veny, mikeveny.com
- Mia Grant, FindThisBest
- Esther June Bilbao, skillsuccess.com
- JillianWalsh, Change Creates Change
- Mitali Saxena, Fashom.com
Kasey Monohan, ThreadCurve
Body positive clothing can have a huge impact on mental health. When you walk out in public wearing something that you feel looks bad on your body, whether it is too tight, too loose or simply unflattering, it makes you feel conspicuous and ashamed.
Instead, when you walk out wearing well-fitted clothing that shows off your unique shape in a flattering way, you get to feel elegant and as though you could blend into any background, or stand out when you want to.
The difference is huge and it affects your stress levels and mental health daily. The important thing is making sure you love and feel comfortable in your own clothing.
Fashion blogger Kasey Monohan’s website is ThreadCurve.
Mariyam Abid, Beautyholic
Being body positive isn't all about flaunting your curves but more about what you genuinely feel about yourself—and your body. When it comes to swimwear, where you actually expose a bit of your body, it can be daunting at first. However, with so many clothing size options available, there's something for everyone.
Confidence comes naturally when you feel happy in your own skin, and that happens when you wear your size—nothing too large or small. With body positive clothing, women feel included, and there are many style options to choose from so that they can flaunt their personal style.
Another positive impact is that you don't have to worry about looking shapeless, which often happens with wrong-sized clothing. The added comfort that comes with body positive clothing is priceless, especially when you suffer from depression or anxiety and you seek something that offers warmth during difficult times. When you post your picture on social media wearing your favorite outfit with a perfect fitting and receive compliments, you feel much better and confident. Finding swimwear that caters to your curves isn't so challenging anymore. With many brands that consider all shapes and silhouettes, you're likely to find the best one for yourself.
Mariyam Abid’s website is The Beautyholic.
We occupy a world where we feel constantly judged for how we look, which can be a nightmare for anyone with body confidence issues. Learning to love and value yourself for who you are is essential, but sometimes we just need that extra bit of help that body positive clothing can provide. Speaking as someone with a physical disfigurement that has me sweltering under cover-ups in summer, I am all in favor of swimwear that doesn’t show every lump and bump, providing it's practical and fit for purpose. After all, I would like to enjoy my holiday just as much as the next person. So if a certain style of clothing can give someone a much-needed nudge towards feeling more comfortable in their own skin, then I see it as a useful tool in helping to rebuild confidence and self-esteem.
Body Confidence Coach HelenTovey, Synergise Your Health, helps women who are not comfortable in their own skin learn to accept, love and care for themselves so that they feel motivated to be their best, authentic, gorgeous selves, fully able to put themselves out in the world and achieve great things. Her approach incorporates mind, body and spirit work in one-to-one or group settings.
Claire Stapleton, Stapo’s thrifty life hacks
There is a lot of pressure on women to conform and to look and dress a certain way, but why waste time hating your body? I have always been plus sized and I felt embarrassed that I was unable to lose weight and conform. But after I had my son, I realized what amazing things my body could do; it grew a human! I didn't want to waste any more time hiding and being nasty to myself, so I decided to embrace my body and to wear the clothes I wanted. I don't hide away anymore, or buy black dresses so that I fade into the background. I wear bright summer dresses, bold prints, and I do so with pride. By wearing positive, unapologetic clothing, my mental health has been boosted. I don't think that anybody should be embarrassed about who they are. Hating on your body is a waste of energy, so wear what you want and stop trying to hide. There is nothing to be gained from doing that and it's damaging to your mental health.
Claire Stapleton lives in the UK with her partner and two-year-old son. Claire blogs at: www.staposthriftylifehacks.co.uk. She is a mental health advocate and she helps her readers to make and save money.
Nicole Firebaugh, Marion Bridal
I find, having started this store, that going someplace you know you belong—even being plus sized is a HUGE confidence boost. I started my store because in 2018, when I went wedding dress shopping, there really were not a lot of options for a plus size bride (I was a size 16 at the time) and I really felt looked down on and not very welcome in most places. Wherever I went I was limited to a select few styles I got to try on. The only place that was really a positive experience was in Indianapolis at a plus size bridal store. I now see so many brides come in feeling defeated and nervous because they haven't been able to find a place that carries more than a very few dresses for them to try on, only to feel amazing coming to my store because they can try on such a variety of cuts and styles. Girls who had been told they couldn't wear mermaids end up falling in love with the cut when they see what it can do for them, women who are self conscious about their arms are falling in love with strapless gowns, it is a great opportunity for so many of the brides to feel confident in themselves and feel like they are allowed to be a bride despite being bigger, not that it is reserved for the size 2 models.
Nicole Miskelley owns Marion Bridal, a bridal store that caters to plus sizes, with most of her samples being between sizes 12 and 32. She started Marion Bridal in 2019 after her wedding dress shopping experience the year before being a plus sized bride.
Emily David, Voyagers.travel
Intimate clothing sense and style is the best way to introduce yourself to the world without saying a word. The more you know about yourself, the easier you can find it to be kinder and more confident to yourself if it's come to your personality image in the sense of your clothing style. Because if you start comparing yourself to others and you find them more superior than you. This dilemma can cause you mental health issues and lack of confidence. Taking care of your mental health is just as important as taking care of your body and looks because depression and anxiety leads to feelings of worthlessness.
A certain outfit would look different on different body types. Feeling good and confident in an outfit you love is always better than feeling bad in an outfit that is trendy even if what you are wearing is miserable.
There are no rules to fashion. Wear what makes you feel confident. A plain white tee can suit a lot of styles, and they are very easy to customize. A simple embroidery gown, a go-to dress, a pair of well-tailored pants, a leather jacket over anything, a frivolous skirt and a structured blazer with denim design can completely change the look and make you feel more confident. It's also a great way to show individuality and self-expression which could make you feel great and confident. The better you feel in the clothes you wear, the better you feel about yourself.
Emily David owns a travel specialist business and has decades of experience in writing on various topics.
Emily Lauren Dick, Happy Daughter
Body Positivity is a movement that stems from the fat acceptance movement and it's important to note that it has two goals. 1) Challenge beauty ideals so that all bodies are considered good bodies. 2) To challenge systemic fatphobia inherent in society to create inclusion and equal access (to things like adequate medical care).
As a society, women are taught to be ashamed of their realness so that companies can profit off of their insecurity. Negative body image is literally manufactured by industries who want women to turn to their products with veiled promises of being able to fix their so-called imperfections.
Body Positivity is incredibly important because its goal is to challenge stereotypes around beauty and to improve the way women feel about their bodies. When you surround yourself with body positive social media accounts, products and resources, you have the power to improve your own body image. When women see images of real bodies, they can become resilient against overly edited images of ideal women. Body Positivity is not about comparison, it is about seeing similarities.
When women can let go of trying to live up to these impossible standards, and truly be themselves, they start to see that their bodies are not what makes them valuable. Women with a high level of self-esteem and good body image are less likely to engage in disordered eating and are more confident in their abilities. This might mean that they enjoy themselves at the beach instead of fretting about wearing a bathing suit or it might mean wearing bright colors instead of always turning to black. Body Positivity allows women to pursue their goals or dreams because they know that they are worthy despite what they look like.
Emily Lauren Dick is a body image expert who is committed to making girls feel comfortable in their own skin. Her book, Body Positive: A Guide to Loving Your Body, is the number one resource for young adult women who desire to redefine and understand true beauty. Emily believes that educating young people about body image, teaching resilience, and normalizing real bodies is critical in combating negative thinking and improving self-esteem.
GirishShukla, Girish Dutt Shukla
Seeing the Kardashians or other girls on their social media feed can have serious impacts and consequences on a young girl's mind. They may take these posts to be the epitome of human physique and may start to compare themselves with them. This may make them feel inadequate and ugly as they cannot seem to match the beauty standards that the society has thrown upon them. This affects them severely mentally and may increase their anxiety and affect their self esteem and worth. This is one of the main reasons why body positivity has become so significant in today’s day and age.
One of the major goals of body positivity is to address some of the ways that body image influences mental health and well-being. Having a healthy body image plays a role in how people feel about their appearance and even how they judge their self-worth.
Research suggests that having a negative body image is associated with an increased risk for some mental conditions including depression and eating disorders. Exposure to depictions of the thin ideal are associated with both behavioral and emotional symptoms related to disordered eating. It is not just exposure to these images that pose a danger; it is the development of beliefs that beauty, success, and esteem are determined by thinness which makes it a massive problem.
Girish Dutt Shukla is a digital marketer and self-taught psychologist and the author Of Maroon In A Sky Of Blue. Girish’s expertise is in mental health, anxiety, psychology, and depression.
Mike Veny, mikeveny.com
I want to answer this as a man. When people advocate, there is something about repetition of advocacy that leads to change. Women are posting more body positive images on Instagram, there are more fashion campaigns about being body positive. It had an effect on men and made it more normal for men to see that. We live in a world where the fashion industry has certain height and weight goals for models and marketing gets in our heads, but body positivity is having an effect on men with the repetition. I think it's a beautiful thing and all bodies are beautiful. This is a very good thing for everyone's mental health.
Certified Corporate Wellness Specialist Mike Veny has a mission to help communities heal emotional pain and discover meaning through simple ideas that empower wellness and healthy relationships.
Veny coined the term The Stigma Cycle™ to describe the destructiveness of untreated and undiagnosed mental health. A professional drummer, Veny is a mental health speaker and best-selling author who delivers educational, entertaining, and engaging presentations with a fresh perspective on diversity and inclusion. His mission is to support people in receiving the gift of emotional wellness. When you are emotionally well, you will be more PRODUCTIVE, your team will improve its PERFORMANCE and your company will be more PROFITABLE.
Veny has dedicated his life to changing attitudes towards mental health. He travels the United States presenting on various topics using his trademark personality and personal touch that only comes from someone with experience in the field. As a 2017 PM360 ELITE Award Winner, Veny is recognized as one of the 100 most influential people in the healthcare industry. Veny starred in several OC87 Recovery Diaries documentary films, two of which were featured at the 2017 Reel Minds Film series. Learn more at www.mikeveny.com.
Mia Grant, FindThisBest
When you've accepted yourself and don't want to conform to an industry-standard, decide on a style that suits you. Be confident in your skin and build from there. A good dressing style breeds respect and prestige.
The appearance of the human body can be changed by clothing. If you want to appear a certain way, there are ways of dressing that can achieve all that and more. You can dress according to your body shape, your attitude to fashion, the fashion style you like, and the trends of the moment. Remember that everyone has body image issues at times. When you talk to your friends, you may find that someone else wishes they had a trait that you find undesirable.
Mia Grant is the COO of https://www.findthisbest.com.
Esther June Bilbao, skillsuccess.com
It is a fact that most people will make assumptions on you based on what you dress. A change in wardrobe can instantly make you look smarter, powerful, and get the recognition you want. Wearing comfortable clothing (and sometimes fashionable clothes) that suit your body shape, personality, and skin color makes you more charismatic. As a result, positive clothing affects the wearer's psychology and mental health by becoming more confident about his/herself and influencing his/her cognitive abilities.
I’m Esther Bilbao! I’m a writer for www.skillsuccess.com, an online learning platform that aims to supercharge people’s careers by providing them the resources they need. I have been writing professional development pieces for the past two years, and I can share some insights on the impact of positive clothing on confidence and mental health.
Jillian Walsh, Change Creates Change
Moving towards body positivity, body neutrality, or embodiment is imperative for the mental health of both women and men, and especially for those who are recovering from previous disordered eating patterns or are trying to unlearn the harmful effects of diet culture. Weight stigma is unfortunately seen in many areas of Western society, and many of us are working to undo its harmful effects and help those who are affected. Our worth is not tied to our appearance, and neither is our health. It is common to move through many stages of body acceptance when attempting to embrace body positivity. In the beginning, it may not be easy to simply embrace what we have learned does not fit within society’s view of beauty. This is where we may begin to learn body neutrality, accepting our bodies as they are and recognizing all that they provide for us independent of appearance. Once we can accept our bodies as they are, we can then perhaps begin to embrace and love our bodies of all shapes and sizes, encompassing body positivity. It is possible, however, to not love every part of our bodies. That is ok. What’s important is accepting and honouring our bodies in whichever shape or form they are. Some also like to use the term, ‘embodiment’ as it takes away the dissociation from our bodies and focuses more on the lived experience in our bodies.
When we are not yet in love with our bodies, it can be difficult to enjoy things like shopping, and especially when it comes to things like swimwear or beachwear. What is refreshing is seeing that many brands are emerging that accommodate all bodies, as often we see that thin privilege impacts the availability of desirable clothes for larger bodies. When this is the case, it can be extremely disheartening to shop for clothes that we feel good in. When we begin to look away from the sizes (which are not consistent anyway!), or ways in which we feel we ‘should’ look in something, we can begin to choose things that make us feel comfortable and empowered. Having positive experiences will help in moving towards a more positive body image. The right piece (and apparent size) of clothing is the one you feel best in. And with the increase in online shopping, it may be a benefit to find new brands if the sizes at your local shop don’t accommodate you. Many have increased flexible return policies which can take some of the stress off of shopping in a store or ordering sizes online without trying them on.
Jillian Walsh, RD, RP(Q) is the founder, lead dietitian, and therapist at Change Creates Change Eating Disorder Care. She is experienced in delivering both individual nutrition counseling and group psychoeducation to children, adolescents, and adults and has worked in various eating disorder programs at hospitals in British Columbia and Ontario. Jillian is an advocate for body positivity and consistently works to break down diet culture and help people to repair their relationships with food and their bodies.
Mitali Saxena, Fashom.com
The very spark that inspired me to create Fashom was witnessing the effects that negative body images, pushed by unrelenting unhealthy and unrealistic projections from advertisements, had on people both directly in my life and that I would see in the world around me.
For years, so many different types of images, particularly in fashion, around us have silently been saying that you can only look good if you look like this specific person or people featured in a projection of an idea decided by people, who don’t even resemble this themselves, in a boardroom somewhere.
You should feel confident and secure in whatever you put on your body because you feel good in it; not because you are trying to look like whoever these same people in a boardroom said you should look like in whatever it is. The impacts of this kind of sneaky negative reinforcement by brands only worsen when the consumer tries on whatever they have been sold by these same brands and see that they do not, in fact, resemble the person modelling it.
Moving into this up-coming summer season is when this pressure is only even more intensified because wardrobes soon become filled with swimwear and resort-wear, both of which tend to show more skin and have more fitted silhouettes. Of course more of one’s body is showing during the times of the year when they wear these types of styles, so people become even more focused on their body’s appearance (using such terms are ‘summer body’ to describe the ideal) with the hopes that they look good enough to show off more in comparison to what they feel is pushed upon them as the ‘ideal’ from brands once again.
This is fundamentally unhealthy because it can make someone’s confidence depleted due to the near-obsession they can take on when it comes to looking ‘perfect’ for these warmer months based on how images of people in both swim and resort wear have so often been presented to them. Body positive messaging and representation in the fashion industry across the board in the last few years has started to make a larger and larger impact as time goes on but there is still not enough out there yet to combat the decades of damage brand-set ideal standards have had on people's mental, physical, and emotional health. We need to continue seeing people in all size ranges represented in all areas of fashion because this normalizes that, like in real life, we are all built uniquely and can be confident that there is no one 'right' or 'perfect' body type.
Mitali Saxena is the Founder and CEO of Fashom. She holds a B.S. degree in Computer Engineering and an M.S. degree in Electrical Engineering. Fed up with the disparity between fashion industry beauty standards and the needs of real women, she left her engineering career to found Fashom, a style-centered online community. Within a year, Fashom expanded into the body-positive focused personal styling service. Core to Fashom's mission is offering vegan fashion shipped in recyclable packaging. In line with Fashom's ethos, one dollar from every Fashom box goes directly to rescue stray animals in NYC. Growing a data-driven team, Mitali has created a shopping experience that allows the members of the Fashom community to feel good inside and out. In her previous role as North American sales manager for a telecom software company, Mitali led both large general and special project-focused teams on a regular basis. It is from this experience that she has grown into the leader that she is today as the CEO of Fashom where she has helmed a smaller but hyper-driven team to the success the company has achieved in such a short period of time.
Having options allows women to take charge of their appearance and in turn, their mental health. This kind of body positivity can inspire confidence and a new attitude focused on self-care, health and wellness, and full participation in all that life has to offer.
When you’re ready to embrace body positivity this summer, look no further than Swimspot for your ideal swimsuit. We have styles to flatter every body so browse by style, size, and more to discover the look you want for the mood you’re in.
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