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Dressing for Confidence: Embrace Your Body, Embrace Your Style

"The dress must follow the body of a woman, not the body following the shape of the dress." —Hubert de Givenchy

This reminds me of something I heard on social media one day. A woman was talking about the pressure we’ve grown up with to fit into a certain size, work your butt off (literally) to get down to a specific weight, or the overall message that thin is best. This creator said something that stuck with me: that our clothes should fit us and not the other way around.


Now some of you might be thinking “duh”. But hear me out… How many of us have a closet full of smaller size clothes that we are practically punishing our bodies on the daily to fit into? We starve ourselves, push our bodies with intense workouts, and overall treat our body like it’s the enemy just to fit into a certain item or size of clothing. I would venture to say that most of us have done this at one time or another.


I’m not talking about being healthy. I’m talking about the pressure we put on ourselves, usually coming from societal pressures, to look a certain way. I don’t know about you. But I’m exhausted.


If you’ve been following me for a while then you may know I lost a bunch of weight last year. After being thin most of my adult life I had gradually put weight on over the course of 5 years due to a lot of changes in my life. I stayed at that heavier weight for a few years and then back in late 2020 I decided that I wanted to focus on my health. I did a lot of mindset work when I was my heaviest and started to truly accept my body even though it wasn’t at an “ideal” size according to our cultural norms. Again my focus to start losing weight began because I wanted to prioritize my health, not to fit into a certain size. I didn’t even have a goal weight when I started. I began gradually adding exercise back in to my life and started eating healthier foods and lost about 25 lbs.


Then in January of 2022 I joined an online personal training program and went all in. A restrictive diet, HIIT workouts plus tons of cardio, and a hyper focused mindset. I saw immediate results and began selling or giving away my clothes as I dropped size after size. By summer I was the smallest I’d been in over 10 years and was feeling accomplished. But during this transformation I also lost sight of the progress I had previously made in the acceptance of my own body. I was once again being held captive by the obsessive thoughts created by diet culture. And the thing was in order to achieve and maintain that goal weight I had to stay 100% focused all the time. For me that level of intensity didn’t seem sustainable. I’m not saying it’s not for other people. But for me I was ready to live a little softer and stop being so hard on myself. To give myself grace and lean into compassion rather than hard core discipline every single day.

I spent this summer traveling with my friends and when I wasn’t traveling or at work I was relaxing by the pool or spending time resting from the busyness I have created in my own life. I also took a break from meal prep and high intensity workouts. As summer started to wind down I realized that some of my fall clothes were a bit tight. All of my pants were too small and I didn’t keep anything in a larger size when I lost the weight last year. Sigh.


Then I did what I’m guessing a lot of other women do - I started to mentally beat myself up. I was mad at myself for “letting myself go”. For not maintaining my size, for gaining some of the weight back, for not keeping my larger clothes. I would get dressed daily and be so upset each time when my clothes didn’t fit right. Or when I was having to choose outfits that I didn’t really feel good in. I complained to my best friends, sulked, and got back into a negative head space. And my confidence slowly started to fade away. I went and bought a larger pair of pants, but just one, because I figured I’d go back to hard core discipline so I could squeeze back into my clothes. It was time to punish my body back into submission. The same old cycle.


Then one day a few weeks ago I went shopping to see what fall trends I could spot in the stores. Over the course of two weekends I ended up buying quite a few pieces to complete my fall capsule wardrobe and most of it was in a larger size than I was last year. As I began to put outfits together I felt my confidence slowly starting to come back. Because I realized that I looked damn good in those outfits. All it took was buying clothes that fit me. Not trying to fit into my clothes that were too small. The quote about our clothes fitting us and not the other way around flashed into my mind. And I realized (again) the power of clothing.


Which has renewed my sense of purpose in why I do what I do. As an image consultant I am here to help empower women, to help build up and bring forth their inner confidence. To embolden them to walk forward each day in their God-given purpose and calling. And while the outside isn’t MORE important than the inside it IS important. How we feel on the inside can be reflected to the outside world through the choices we make with our clothing and accessories. And whether you want to acknowledge it or not people do judge us based on our appearance and first impressions matter. Do you feel like you are powerful and fearless? Why not let your clothes express that for you? Maybe you feel bold and confident. Choose pieces that tell the world that’s exactly how you see yourself! I’m on a mission to help women discover (or uncover) their inner strength and beauty and show it to the world through their outer appearance.


At the end of the day what matters is how we see ourselves. Not our clothing size or weight. And when we choose clothes that fit us rather than fighting against where we are in the present moment we can both have peace and power. I’m stepping into this fall ready to rock some killer outfits and I hope you are too!


If you're ready to start dressing for confidence I'd love to work with you. Your first step is defining your Signature Style Statement. Grab yours for free by sending an email to beautybydawnb@gmail.com

2 Comments


Excellent post, Dawn. And I’m happy that you have rejected the diet culture. I realized last year that I had been on this roller coaster for 20 years and had lost and gained the same 20 pounds over and over. i Decided that I would focus on maintaining my health through exercise and portion awareness, not control. And guess what, I am still the same size. I haven’t lost or gained. But I am more fit and happier. I think I am where God wants me to be and I am going with it.

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Dawn Bender
Dawn Bender
Sep 25, 2023
Replying to

Kris thank you so much! Your comment is so encouraging. I appreciate you taking the time to read and respond. You look great so it's obviously working :)

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