As we find ourselves emerging from over a year of COVID and all of the restrictions it entailed, it’s natural to wonder what this new post-COVID world will look like. Will we ever go back to shaking hands with someone? To hugging? To going anywhere without a mask? Given society’s ever-present value on appearance, a lot of questions are also surfacing about what our post-COVID bodies look like. Whether our weight increased, decreased, or stayed the same, returning to a world of work pants, swimsuits, and shorts is anxiety-inducing for many. As someone who has lived in the same three pairs of yoga pants for the past year, I can definitely say that “real pants,” as they’ve come to be known in my mind, feel a little off. Even shoes I used to love feel less comfortable, simply due to the fact that I haven’t pulled them out of my closet in over a year. So what are we to do? How can we make sure that the challenge of getting back to “normal” (whatever that means) isn’t further complicated by a worsening relationship with our bodies and how we perceive ourselves to look? The answer to this question will look different for everyone, but here are some things that my clients and I have found helpful:
- Buy clothes that fit! Real clothes feel weird enough as it is right now; honor your body by wearing something that you feel comfortable in.
- Remember that bodies are not static – they’re in a constant state of change and regeneration. Maybe you gained some wrinkles or gray hair in the last year. Perhaps you gained or lost weight. Maybe your hair is longer than it used to be. All of these things are a normal part of being alive.
- Consider and have gratitude for what your body does. The purpose of our bodies is not to have a thigh gap or look a certain way in a swimsuit. It’s to allow us to experience the world around us.
- Focus on your values. As I’m able to see loved ones in the coming months, my goal is to be as present as possible. Family is something that I value immensely, so I plan to try my best to focus on making memories with the people I love rather than on my appearance. I don’t want one moment of our reunion to be wasted feeling uncomfortable in my own skin.
- If you haven’t already, consider ditching the scale! How much we weigh says nothing about our worth.
- Enjoy the journey (as able). Last year was overwhelming. For many, it brought immeasurable loss and unwelcome change. No part of that is enjoyable, and it’s important to recognize that and give ourselves space to mourn. In the little moments in between, however, we can shift our focus to gratitude. This past year, I’ve learned to be thankful for my health, the health of those around me, and the little things. Including, however trivial, a trusty pair of yoga pants.
If you're interested in learning more about making peace with your body, here are a few resources to get started:
- Video introduction to Health At Every Size: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H89QQfXtc-k
- Podcast: Dietitians Unplugged
- Inclusive clothing brands: https://thewellful.com/editorial/12-inclusive-clothing-brands
- Article about weight gain during the pandemic: https://marcird.com/covid-weight-gain/
No information on this site should be used to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any disease or condition.