Psychologist Proposes a “Dressing Room Challenge” to Promote Body Positivity

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Bathing suit season is right around the corner, and that means preparing to face the dreaded dressing room mirror clad in nothing but a bikini or measly nylon one-piece.  One woman, though, thinks she might have found a solution.

Dr. Susan Albers, a psychologist at the Cleveland Clinic in Wooster, Ohio, is encouraging women to make shopping less about body bashing and more about self-love with her “Dressing Room Challenge.”  She took to Facebook to get other women onboard with her body-positivity movement and explain what set it in motion.

“In the dressing room, there were two young ladies looking in the full-length hall mirror,” Dr. Albers wrote on Facebook. “As I shut the door, I could hear one of them say, ‘In this, I look like a f** *** ***’ (I don’t care to repeat.)  Dressing rooms aren’t always a pleasant experience ­– wall-to-wall mirrors, unflattering lighting, and doors that barely shut. Trying on the wrong shape or color of clothing can cut deep into your self-esteem.  I get it ladies!”

Relating to the very real struggle of trying to remain confident while staring down the intimidating and harsh dressing room mirror, Dr. Albers had a proposition to all her fellow women.

“My plea to you.  Speak mindfully. ‘No thank you’ or ‘pass’ will do. Please remember that whether they are 6 or 60, everyone around you absorbs every word you say about your body. You are a role model about the words and phrases that are ‘okay’ to attach to women’s bodies.”

So, Dr. Albers came up with a healthy alternative to the routine dressing room body bashing: what she deems the “Dressing Room Challenge.”

“Don’t let your inner critic enter the dressing room with you,” she advised. “Leave her behind. Have fun in there. Say something affirming to yourself. Or, if that is too difficult, try directing positive vibes to someone else.”

Yahoo Style interviewed Dr. Albers, who described hearing other women in dressing rooms berate their bodies.

“I was trying on a dress while one of the women was describing herself as a ‘cow.’ I’m looking at my own reflection in the mirror and thinking about the other women in the dressing area who could also hear the conversation,” Dr. Albers told Yahoo Style.

Just hearing these types of negative comments floating around a dressing room can often trigger a negative body image for other women.  Thoughts like “Do I look like a ‘cow,’ too?” or “Are the other women in here thinner than me?” become almost contagious.

Dr. Albers proposes that instead of allowing yourself to place negative labels on your reflection or your body, try to embrace more positive or neutral thoughts.

“One you walk into the dressing room, tell yourself, ‘I will leave my inner critic at the door,” Dr. Albers said. “If you don’t like how you look, say, ‘This shirt isn’t as flattering as the other one,’ or ‘I liked the other pants better.’”

She also recommends spreading the positivity by complimenting other women, saying she’s never shy when it comes to doling out praise.

“I don’t hesitate to tell her when she looks absolutely amazing,” she explained. “So rarely do we give spontaneous compliments, which is unfortunate, because objective praise is often perceived as more genuine.”

With dressing rooms causing so many women to lose confidence, or blame their bodies for not fitting into a certain size and measurement, it seems like it’s certainly time for a change.  Some stores in the U.K. are even considering getting rid of dressing room mirrors entirely, so women can concentrate on how the clothes make them feel, and not waste time nitpicking so-called flaws on their bodies.

So maybe it’s time we all take the “Dressing Room Challenge”, or hey, maybe even shatter those mirrors altogether.

My favorite things in life include cozy coffee shops, window-shopping, wearing the perfect outfit, or writing the most satisfying words.

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