And why I’m choosing self-acceptance, New Year's intentions and clothes that make me feel fab instead
For many of us, the ringing in of the new year brings a sense of renewal and transformation. We might decide to make resolutions, be them to clear out the clutter in our wardrobes, to be more generous, or even to shop more sustainably for our clothes in the new year. After a season of indulgence over the Christmas period, it seems to have become a natural occurrence that many people will feel the need to embark on some sort of diet in the new year. There is a sense that we must atone for all the tasty food we ate over the Christmas period, and that to do so we must police what we eat to extreme measures. Through these practices, we start to think of indulgence as though it were a crime. Countless ads seem to pop up out of nowhere offering dubiously dubbed ‘magic pills’ containing a concoction of berries and vitamins that will apparently help us shed ‘excess’ pounds/weight/fat/whatever rubbish they decide to call it this time around. These types of schemes capitalise on our insecurities and that’s why self-acceptance may just be the resolution you end up sticking to. Read on for 5 reasons why this year I’m saying no to a New Year’s diet and yes to self-acceptance, I hope you’ll join me!
- It won’t last, at least not the way most of us go about it:
It's estimated that in January around 26 million people will decide to try to lose weight, with more than half of those people giving up on their often heavily restrictive (see also: dangerous) new eating habits. I’m no psychologist, but even a simple internet search turns out a host of reasons as to why this might be - the main problem seems to be that we set ourselves a hugely ambitious goal but fail to consider those baby steps that will get us there. We might stroll into the new year certain that this will be the year we finally learn French. We’ll probably get swept away by dreams of touring the country like a local, and then suddenly another new year comes around and we can still only ask for a croissant and tell people our name. I’m digressing from the world of vintage fashion a bit here, but what I’m trying to say is that often in our quest for big dreams we miss out the little steps that are required to get us there. The exact same is true of many New Year diets. We are so used to being fed the idea that it’s what we should do that we just go along with it, never fully sure about why we are doing it – this is another reason for our New Years resolutions being unsuccessful according to many professionals.
Now, I’m in no way saying that it’s wrong to want to change your habits for the better and add healthy and nourishing foods to your diet. But the simple fact is that fad diets, crash diets, and magic pills rarely have the desired effect and, in reality, can actually be quite harmful to our health in the long term. What’s more is that often we are prompted to go on these diets by wildly unrealistic and frankly unattainable beauty standards.
- We deprive our bodies of essential nutrients and reinforce the thin=pretty mentality
Even moderately restrictive diets can affect the balance of nutrients in our bodies, leading to fatigue, weakness, and a whole host of health complaints. What’s more, by changing our eating habits in an attempt to shrink ourselves, we’re reinforcing the idea that being smaller is equal to being more attractive. And we’re not just reinforcing that to ourselves, most of us have at least one little person who looks up to us and is taking in everything we do and how we talk about our bodies.
For some inspirational radical self-acceptance, check out Kenzie Brenna on Instagram. She is all about body positivity and I adore her unfiltered account of the highs and lows of learning to love yourself, and unlearning the idea that beauty exists only within a certain body type.
- Our weight fluctuates depending on the time of day, and even the season:
According to some very clever researchers, seasonal fluctuations in our weight are marked by a decrease in weight during the summer and an increase in the winter, owing largely to the festivities. What’s more is that throughout the day our weight will change due to water retention, eating, drinking, going to the loo… you know, all those things that we need to do as human beings. It’s also totally normal to bloat a little after a meal or when menstruating – and there’s even a whole movement dedicated to posting realistic pictures which include our (perfectly natural) bloated tummies. When you think about it like that, it seems kind of weird that we try to banish all these natural fluctuations as quickly as possible.
Side Note: at this point we should say that if you ever experience weight gain or loss or bloating that isn’t normal for you, you should speak to your doctor.
With these natural changes in mind, maybe we can start to be a little kinder to ourselves. As many influencers are starting to point out, it’s not about loving every part of ourselves, but simply accepting every part of our bodies (and minds) as they are in this moment. It’s called radical self-acceptance and honestly, it’s saved me from many a changing room meltdown whenever I’ve ventured away from my favourite boutique (that’s VV in case you didn’t know!)
- There are SO many other things we could be doing
Honestly, sometimes we can get so wrapped up in resolutions and what we think we ‘should’ be doing that we forget to just enjoy the moment (and dress) we’re in. I’d much rather be trying on dresses that make me look and feel fab than stressing about the ones that don’t accentuate all the bits I love about my body. It’s a difficult mindset to adopt and nobody’s perfect, but it’s well worth the effort trying it even just for a day. You’ll have much more time and energy to focus on the things that really matter.
- Reproduction vintage clothing comes in all shapes and sizes!
Why is it that when we try on the most gorgeous floofy vintage dress of our dreams and it doesn’t fit we always blame ourselves? This may sound a little radical but if you take a step back and think about it, isn’t it the dress’ fault? Couldn’t we just pick up another size? We get that these days numbered sizing systems are a minefield of vanity sizing, size shaming and a host of other issues, and that’s why we’ve done away with them altogether. We believe that fashion – especially of the vintage variety – should be about making your figure fabulous. The idea that we should (or even could) change the shape of our bodies is tiresomely antiquated and frankly, we’re rather bored of it. We are not at fault for simply existing in the bodies we have. That’s why we stock a range of sizes, whether you’re an Audrey or a Katherine – in high street lingo we stock roughly from UK sizes 6-32, although we hand measure everything that enters our boutique to place it in our sizing system.
Instead of stressing about the natural changes our bodies go through over time, it can help to plan your wardrobe with clothes in a couple of sizes to allow for fluctuations over the course of the year. However, we know that this isn’t an ideal option for everyone. Clothes swapping sites are becoming increasingly popular, and you could consider signing up to one of these in order to change up your wardrobe more sustainably (and even wear some top end brands that you might not want to commit to purchasing just yet - bonus). Consider buddying up with a few friends and set up a trendy swapshop – it doesn’t have to be anything particularly elaborate or complicated, just a WhatsApp or Facebook page where you can share with trusted friends from time to time. Alternatively, shop for preloved and genuine vintage items or sale items like our Whoopsy Section which may have a smaller price tag, but will make you feel just as sassy, if not more, we say!
For many cultures and civilisations, it was traditional to give a gift to mark the start of a new year. The Romans even gave gold coins or gilded nuts to start the year on the right foot… Most of us probably don’t have any gold coins to hand being that it’s the month directly after Christmas. Body positivity might be the proverbial golden coin that many of us don't have available to us just yet. It can be so easy to beat ourselves up for not sticking to the strict regime of a New Year's resolution that was doomed from the start. Mrs Darling recently shared with me that she sets New Year's intentions instead of resolutions. These look vastly different and don't encourage that all-or-nothing mindset. Some of our intentions this year include:
1. Try to be kind to myself - by saying try we take out the obligation, because we're all going to have bad days where we don't say or think nice things about ourselves
2. Go for at least one run a week - this is great as we can gradually build on ones like these until we get to the desired amount of runs (or whatever else) per week
3. Create routines for work and study
4. Take better care of myself and not just those around me
There’s always room to add nourishing foods and healthy habits to our daily routine, however that may look for you, but there’s no need to restrict ourselves after the Christmas period… or ever. January is famed for being a bit of a blue time and so I hope you’ll try to be kind to yourselves this month. Who knows? Maybe the best gift you can give yourself this New Year is a little love and self-acceptance. And of course, a fancy frock that’ll make you feel like the queen you are!