Ever wonder what it would be like to have the body of a model? Only 2 percent of Americans know that feeling. But, no matter what size you are, looking in the mirror can be taxing, and with spring well on its way that means it's time to shed the winter layers and start a body image workout. “Today” contributors Dr. Gail Saltz and Bobbie Thomas offer advice on improving your self-image and tips for dressing your best.
Dr. Gail Saltz advice: Loving your body
With spring and warmer weather here, women want to dress in less. For some this is enjoyable, for others it's a nightmare because they dislike their bodies. A recent study showed that 83 percent of college women diet — regardless of whether they are overweight. Very few women have a naturally “model like” body, and all of the magazines and television shows often make women feel they should. They measure themselves against the pictures of women wearing the new spring fashions and feel disappointed or even embarrassed about their own bodies. This robs many women of the ability to enjoy dressing, being active and feeling good about themselves throughout the day.
Battling back those feelings requires a combination of acting in ways that are constructive, accepting the person you are with the body you have and appreciating the truly unique and wonderful parts of you.
Rather than starving and exercising like mad I advocate eating sensibly and in a healthy way (it's all about moderation), and learning new skills that are physical, yet suit your personality (like swing dancing, yoga, belly dancing and golf). Picking something that you enjoy and is a reflection of you will enhance your feelings about yourself and make it far more likely you will stick with it.
Spend a day adding up how many minutes you spend criticizing yourself and then ask yourself if there is some other way you would rather be spending that time?
Tell people in your life who criticize your body to pipe down. Often we let someone (a mother, a sister, a husband, a friend) go on about our thighs, our hips, our size and it is not constructive, but rather destructive. Let them know if they have a constructive suggestion you are open but to please refrain from just pure destruction.
Review the past. Sometimes we keep reacting to a criticism from the past (as a kid someone said you have chunky thighs) and you never update your image. Try to see if the areas that bother you may be steeped in old news.
Appreciate others. Find nice things to say to those around you. You'll see how it makes them feel and it will come back to you.
Sometimes we walk around with our negative self-image and it's inaccurate. Look in the mirror and list your three favorite things.
Bobbie Thomas tips: Show off your shape
It's spring — time to slowly peel back the layers and say bye-bye to black. Learn how to incorporate this season's fashion into your wardrobe while looking your best.
Don't hide under your clothes
Too many people focus on size when they should be focused on proportion. It's more about learning balance for your body type. (For instance, a size zero could be wearing the wrong thing and look like a frail teenage boy.) Understand your body shape and do your homework. Start by applying the rules to your own closet. And befriend your local tailor.
Trendiness is a trap
There is nothing wrong with only wearing the colors and cuts that most flatter you — all the time. Embrace only what highlights your best assets. Overdone is never chic and variety is overrated. No one will think you lack imagination if you always look good. The bonus to a unique sense of your own classic style is that your wardrobe will coordinate beautifully. What makes a style icon? They wear what works for them and then that becomes a hit. Look to someone — a chic friend — whose style you admire, but also someone with similar coloring and body type.
The key to color
Basic black and the dark shades of fall are not the only way to keep a slim line. Monochromatic hues help, while color blocking may cut you off. Make the eye move up and down. Fabric and structure are big keys to a great silhouette. Don't be afraid to wear white. Tip: Opt for white denim instead of stretch cotton and linen for extra support. If you're unsure of prints, incorporate patterns into your accessories.
Polished from head to toe: Don't forget the little extras
Shoes can make or break an outfit. Avoid a chunky distraction and shoes with ankle straps. And you wear your hair 365 days a year … invest in a great look! Spritz on a signature scent — something that is a personal reminder of your individuality. Always be comfortable and dress appropriately — teetering in stilettos at a beach party is a no-no. Great body language and good posture make the best impression and speak volumes. And last but not least, a gal needs the right support. Even a size zero doesn't step on the red carpet without Spanx!