The Dread of Shopping for Clothes

by Victoria Webster – Clinical Psychologist

Let’s talk about the changerooms at your local clothing shop. What is that you say? Let’s not talk about it? I totally get you. 

The thought of a typical changeroom, despite just being an unusually small and underwhelming room, is likely to get your heart pumping and your anxiety levels rising – making shopping for new clothes all that much harder. Those glaring white lights that pick up on every wrinkle, every imperfection and every little bit of cellulite (just when you thought cellulite couldn’t exist on that body part) do not make things easier. Now, pair this with trying on clothes that don’t actually fit and mirrors that might be on more than one wall (the horror!); it is enough to make anyone want to run for the hills. 

The thing is, we can plan to set fire to all the changerooms and burn them to the ground but it is not going to make buying new clothes and feeling good in those clothes any easier. Unless you join a nudist colony (which is totally ok if you want to) you also need to wear clothes, pretty much all the time. The struggle of buying new clothes can actually be seen in a different way – as the struggle of how you think about yourself and your body. Here’s a quick 5-step survival guide on buying new clothes and thinking about shopping.

Step 1: Do not buy clothes that are too small 

You may have that favourite pair of jeans or that dress in your cupboard that represents the size you are aiming to get to. This has the potential to be motivating and inspiring and it’s nice to have tangible goals, however the problem comes in if you are always buying clothes that are too small for you. First, trying them on in the change room is neither inspiring nor motivating; it’s punishing and quite frankly cruel. Second, it means you are going to have nothing to wear right now. You still need to get up and get dressed in the morning (again, the option to join the nudist colony is available) and function in the world. If you buy clothes that are too small, you are saying that you are buying clothes for a future body – a future you. Living in the future means that you may not always pay attention to the present – you are in it right now. Living in the future with the thought process that everything will be ok once you weigh x amount or fit into a certain size is a setup for failure. Changing how you think about yourself and your body is a change you can start implementing right now and amazingly physical change usually follows.

Step 2: Do not buy clothes that are too big

Similar to buying clothes that are too small, buying clothes that are too big can be just as punishing. The message you are telling yourself is that your body is not ok, it is not to be noticed, not to be acknowledged and if you could leave it somewhere on the side of a road, you would. We are so often disconnected from our bodies and we have learnt not to trust them and not to listen to them. We treat our bodies like they are just mechanical parts that are attached to us but what we often forget is that our minds work so closely with our bodies that our emotional states can actually impact how we digest and absorb the food we eat. We need to try to understand our bodies better!

We need to put down that baggy shirt that is just far too big and step into ourselves. How can you possibly start to change your body if you don’t even live in it (and spend half your time trying to ignore it). Being present in our bodies and acknowledging them for what they are right now allows you to actually listen to, respect and then start to change it. The natural consequence of not abandoning your own body is weight loss (if that is what you are looking for). Imagine your body was a car. You can’t drive a car unless you are in the front seat behind the steering wheel with the keys in the ignition. You need to figure out the gears and how sensitive the clutch is when you’ve stopped on an uphill. It takes time to learn the car you are driving, but it eventually becomes automatic. The fact is this: you can’t drive a car if you are standing outside of it looking in.

 Step 3: Buy clothes that fit because you are in it for the long haul

Keto can be a game changer for a lot of people; there is an initial weight loss that helps get that person on track, feeling good and most definitely motivated. Depending on your body, your rate of weight loss can be consistent or up and down, but for most people weight loss slows down as you progress; the process of sustainable long-term weight loss takes time. If you are buying clothes that don’t fit you now, you might be looking for quick fixes and possibly setting yourself up for disappointment and unrealistic expectations. If there is nothing to actually wear in the closet, it’s difficult to find motivation to do exercise, or go out to see friends and family (to talk about what is going on for you). If you would rather have the ground swallow you up than attempt to find something to wear, it is going to impact your motivation – especially on those hard days.


Step 4: Buy clothes that fit because you no longer need to hate your body 

Self-hate, loathing, negative self-talk and self-criticism are the things that can stop us from getting to know our own bodies. Actually, you need to get to know that body of yours and embrace how you perceive yourself. Yes, you can work on changing it, but your experience of yourself can start changing now or it can start changing when you are 10 kgs down. What if you never lose all that weight? Will you be stuck hating yourself forever? Buying clothes that don’t fit can just perpetuate the delusion that in the future you will be good enough but the current you is not. It is such a demeaning cycle to be in. Here is a practical first step to changing this mindset: tell yourself one thing you like about your body. Do it now. Even if it is to acknowledge that your body carries you around or keeps your heart beating. 

Step 5: Do not go shopping alone – ask for help

Shopping centres often feel big and overwhelming. Here is a really simple tip: have someone come with you, someone you feel you can trust. Get the moral support you deserve and make the whole experience a little bit easier. They can maybe help you pick out the right sizes or at least help you navigate the stores. This person can steer you away from the kinds of shops that are not going to be helpful in making the experience bearable – stick to shops that have your sizes and the kind of clothes you are comfortable in. Do not surround yourself with toxic messages about weight and body. If a shop assistant is going to look you up and down and make you feel unwelcome, turn around and leave. This goes for online shopping, Facebook and Instagram too. Just as you want to change the way you eat, you want to change the messages you allow into your thoughts. Follow people on social media that inspire you and are real about their own struggles and their bodies and let people in your life help you with this. 

If you join the Hero Group Support Program or even the RMR Coaching Program, you will have access to people 24/7 that you can ask for help who will most certainly steer you away from the kind of messages that are not helpful. 

The one-size-fits-all conclusion

Buying clothes can be a real struggle, but I hope you can recognise  that the most important part is how these struggles represent your relationship with eating, yourself and your body. That the actions you take now, whether you lose weight or not, can help you improve your sense of self-worth, your body image and just bring you to be present within your own body – the world sadly teaches us that being present is not a priority. If this all feels overwhelming to you, contact support@realmealrevolution.com to get assistance with going about making these changes. The change starts internally (emotionally) and works its way out… it can start now, too. Burn down the change rooms if you want (and the shop with that horrible shop assistant), I am all for it, but treat yourself to clothes that fit the body you are in now, a body that is actually worth paying attention to. So get into the drivers set and take the wheel. 

And remember, the best way to get a bikini body is to take your body and put it in a bikini.