Your Turn — Be your own icon

Published 12:00 pm Thursday, December 1, 2022

The holiday season is truly “the most wonderful time of the year,” but for those struggling with self-image, it can be a time tainted by unsolicited comments from relatives about weight and feelings of food-related guilt. Rich, traditional meals are quickly followed by marketing from local gyms that tell us what our New Year’s resolutions should be.

Aunts and grandmothers speak about the newest weight loss trends nonstop. The narrative of diet culture, while ever-present in today’s society, screams to make itself known around the holidays. But how many of us have even considered whether the discussions around “holiday weight” are even valid? This year, we need to change the narrative and start practicing body positivity.

Almost every woman I’ve ever met has, at one point, struggled with the way she saw her body. And who can blame them? The media tells us to “be skinny, but not too skinny,” and puts celebrities under a magnifying glass, nitpicking any changes to their weight or appearance. American culture is obsessed with this Barbie-like figure, and it’s hard not to internalize it. New research from Ipsos indicates that women experience a strong connection between weight, personal appearance and self-worth. These feelings start early on in life, with 44% of women reporting that they first recall worrying about their body image between the ages of 10 and 17.

As a young woman, I’ve had my own struggles with diet culture and body dysmorphia. Before starting my business, I was reminded of a shopping experience I had at a different boutique. A few years ago, I found the most beautiful pair of pink flared pants while shopping, and I felt an undeniable urge to add them to my closet. Typically, I am a size small when it comes to jeans, but on this day, I found that I needed a size large – the largest size available. But if I was a size large, then anyone who was curvier than I was wouldn’t be able to fit into them at all. It was absolutely ridiculous, and the way I felt in that dressing room is not the way I want any woman to feel, ever.

As a result of that experience, along with others, I made the decision to be size-inclusive, and I’m proud to say that Lex on Main carries sizes XS – 3XL (compared to more standard sizes of S, M, L). However, body positivity goes beyond weight – it’s hair texture, skin color, embracing our curves (or lack thereof). Body positivity is embracing the beautiful patterns of vitiligo, constellations of freckles or spots, and all of the unique-to-only-us features that make us who we are. It’s the act of celebrating ourselves the way we’re created – inside and out. After all, what is individualism without body positivity? What is body positivity without a philosophy to be oneself? For me, the two things go hand-in-hand.

I often discuss this subject on my Instagram, where I create Reels and Posts to encourage other women to express their own individuality. All of this is best explained by my brand statement, “Be Your Own Icon,” which I utilize in both my marketing and as its own hashtag (#BeYourOwnIcon).

One of the best parts of my job is when my customers send me pictures of themselves, showing off the looks they’ve created for themselves with pieces from Lex on Main. More than that, however, I love the genuine confidence that comes along with feeling good about yourself. In a 2020 study on the body positivity movement, it was found that sharing diversity on social media, rather than a cookie-cutter mold of what someone “should” look like, encouraged others to feel better about themselves. So if you have an outfit that makes you feel beautiful, I encourage you to share it. You may give someone else the courage to follow in your footsteps and start a positive chain reaction.

So, this holiday season (and every season, really) I encourage you to be yourself. Let go of the expectations of how you should look. Focus on health, inside and out, and don’t stress about whether or not you should have some of your favorite holiday food. While considering your New Year’s resolution this year, focus on inner beauty, your worth as a human being, and creating art in your daily life with your wardrobe, environment, and daily habits. Above all, find the ways to be your own icon, regardless of society’s opinions.

SUNDARI MORGAN is the owner of Lex on Main Boutique, the winner of the Farmville Herald’s 2022 Reader’s Choice Award for “Best Women’s Clothing Store.” She can be reached via lexonmainboutique@gmail.com.