Editor’s Note: Happiness 103 – How To Embrace Your (Imperfect) Body

By Kristin Hull

Photo via LA Times.
Christina Hendricks (left) plays the sultry Joan on Mad Men and proves we don’t have to be a size 4 to be hot. Photo via LA Times.

Let’s face it, as women we are constantly assessing (criticizing?) our bodies. Even my sweet Nana at 92 years old used to say, “I just want to lose 10 pounds.” I would always respond with, “Nana, if I make it to your age I’m going to eat bread, pasta and cake all day every day.” But then I thought about it. Will I really do that? Or will I, like Nana, still take pride in myself and want to look my best? My guess is that we’ll all feel that way. And why shouldn’t we? Whether our obsession with how we look is societal or personal really doesn’t matter. It’s here. So, let’s make the best of it.

As I grow older I have come to face the fact that I will never have a washboard stomach. And that’s okay. At this point in my life I am not willing to do what it would take to get one, and I am also not willing to live life without crunchy bread dipped in olive oil. So, I must learn to work with what I’ve got – lumps, bumps and all. The key is figure out how to work WITH our flaws instead of feeling horrible that they even exist at all. They’re not going away and I am not willing to be miserable the rest of my life because of that. So here are a few ways I’ve found to kick them to the curb:

Be Grateful: Each morning when I wake up I lay in bed and list the things I’m grateful for, one of the most important being that I am healthy and feeling good enough to get out of bed that day with no pain or assistance. Do you know how many people DON’T wake up feeling that way? They’d give anything to have our “imperfect” bodies just to be able to feel as good as we do. Some naysayers have asked, “Well, what happens if you do lose your health? How will you be happy then?” And I respond that at least I’ll know I truly appreciated my health while I had it; I won’t have regrets that I took it for granted. Plus, every day I remember how fortunate I am to be healthy, it makes me have a better outlook on life. I’m happier because I am living in the moment and appreciating that TODAY all is well in that very important area. It has also made me much more sympathetic to those who don’t have their health and and, in turn, I do my best to help them out as much as I can. So, it has a happiness snowball effect; it makes me happier and helps me make others happier.

Move Your Body: Sure, we all want to exercise at least three times a week for an hour but who has the time, especially when you have kids? Instead, just try to move more often – walk to the store, take the stairs, etc. We’ve heard all the tips a thousand times before. Now, just do them. I love yoga and think it is one of the best things we can do for our body as we age. (If you need proof, watch this video.) Since I have very little time to devote to an hour class several times a week I am at least trying to do some sun salutations and stretch on the floor when I am watching TV and trying to de-stress from the day. It feels so good and makes me proud of myself because I know I am at least taking a step in the right direction. (See my previous posts Happiness 101 and Happiness 102: Confidence for more ways to feel good about yourself and your life.)

Dress Strategically: I am learning to hide my imperfections with strategic dressing.

  • No more low rise jeans! The ones that end just under my belly button are perfect because the waistband keeps my muffin top at bay.
  • I’ve begun to purge my closet of pieces that I have been hesitant to admit don’t fit anymore, no matter how much I love them. Wearing ill-fitting clothes does nothing good for you. If they’re cutting off the circulation around your waist, they’ll make you feel horrible (and fat) all day long (I speak from experience). And too-tight clothes are never, ever flattering. We think if we get a larger size that we’ll look bigger but the opposite is true. When you don’t have skin squishing out from your back or thighs or tummy you’ll appear thinner! And definitely more put-together.

Get New Bras: I can’t emphasize this enough. You will look thinner! See the proof in this post! If it’s been a year or more since you last went bra shopping it’s time to go again. What’s funny is that I am the one who has preached this to you over and over and I can’t even remember to do it myself. Recently, my bras had been feeling a bit stretched out so I figured it was time to get new ones. I hadn’t realized two years had gone by! As always, what a HUGE difference it made! I look so much better in my clothes now which makes me feel better about my body. Totally worth it. Oh, and Target bras won’t cut it. (I love Target for all kinds of other things but bras are too important and need to be high-quality.) My favorite place to go is Nordstrom as the sales people in the intimates department are well-educated on bra fit and they allow returns after a bra has been worn. So, if you try one for a while and find it’s itchy or just isn’t working for you Nordstrom will let you return it for a full refund.

Buy Cute Lounge Clothes: Some of my worst body image times are when I’m at home in old too-small sweatpants and a huge faded t-shirt my husband wore in college. I’ll get a glimpse of myself in the mirror and think, “Ugh.” Well, no wonder – I’m wearing the ugliest, most ill-fitting clothes ever. I’ve since decided to invest in comfortable lounge clothes that are flattering and, if I need to run out the door at a moment’s notice in them, I won’t be afraid to run into someone I know. And by comfortable clothes I mean things like my favorite pants from Lululemon (see photo below). My husband always says I look good in them, probably because they are made of thick material so they hold my tummy in and butt up and they go up to just below my belly button. Yes, they are about $100 but they last FOREVER, aren’t see-through, don’t fade, keep their shape and always make me feel like I look pretty darn good.

Tuck Tops To Hide The Tummy: I’ve written about this before too but a reminder never hurts. The partial tuck helps me look stylish when I’m really just trying to camouflage my gut. It’s a win-win! If you have a shirt that hugs your muffin top a little too much try this: tuck it into your pants in the front or on the side but only tuck in a few inches horizontally and then kind of blouse out the material above it. It’s easier to show in a picture:

Photo via babble.com.
Photo via babble.com.

Invest In Shapewear: Thank goodness for shapewear! Smooth back fat, push in that butt, tame those hips and strut your stuff. This is another worthy investment. For those times when you want to don something form-fitting or slip into a dress that’s just a little too tight, shapewear can come to your rescue. You’ll walk with confidence knowing your lumps and bumps are hidden. I guarantee Christina Hendricks is wearing shapewear under all her clothes on Mad Men, and probably in everyday life too. And she looks fabulous. You can too.

None of us is getting any younger, and even if we are in great shape (which I am not) aging is still going to get the best of us. But with the steps above we can learn to work with it, embrace it, and control it.  We CAN feel great about ourselves despite it. And we will.



Check out some of my favorite body confidence boosting pieces below. (Click on photos to purchase or for more info.)

jeans 1
Great with flats or heels, skinny jeans are my go to pant for looking sleek and chic.    Target, $29.99
This is the black one I got and I love it. The pattern doesn't show under tops. Nordstrom, $84
This is the black one I got and I love it. The pattern doesn’t show under tops. Nordstrom, $84
Lululemon, $98
My favorite pants for errands or lounging. Lululemon, $98
spanx 1
This shapewear smooths the midsection and thighs. Nordstrom, $39


Hide your tummy with these shaping briefs. Nordstrom, $39
Hide your tummy with these shaping briefs. Nordstrom, $39


Smooth from head to to with this style. Nordstrom, $74
Smooth from top to bottom with this full-body style. Nordstrom, $74

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