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Are you hiding behind your clothes?

2013-09-10 17:09:11

Published on 2013-09-10 17:09:11

While for many women clothing is an enjoyable form of self expression, for others it's a means of concealment, a way to hide perceived flaws and imperfections.

Sadly women hide their bodies because of pressures to conform to the arbitrary ‘ideals’ of beauty. When you compare your body to the ‘ideal’ and conclude that it doesn’t match up, you’re more likely to focus on ways to conceal it.

Hiding is a short term fix for the anxiety caused by body concerns. In the longer term, it reinforces the belief that your body is unacceptable. The need to hide comes from the assessment that the body is ugly, too fat, too -------- (insert your own words), and the mistaken belief that others will think this too.

Wearing items that help to boost your confidence such as magic knickers or a push up bra can be a great confidence boost. But if you place over reliance on these items e.g. being afraid to be seen in public without them, they will ultimately harm your body image. Such behaviour is a rejection of your body – stemming from a belief that certain parts aren’t good enough to be put on display without correction. This rejection ultimately creates poor body image and self esteem.

So how do you know if you are hiding behind your clothes, and if so, how do you kick the habit to give your body image a boost?  

Are you guilty of a cover up?

Answering the following questions will help you to establish if you’re guilty of using clothes to hide:

1. Do you typically buy oversized clothes?
2. Do you tend to buy clothing in darker colours?
3. Do you wear clothes to conceal parts or all of your body?
4. Do you buy supportive undergarments?
5. If so, do you always wear them?
6. Do you feel that people notice the body parts you don’t like?
7. Are you unable to let your partner see you undressed?
8. Do you refuse to wear a swimsuit in public without a cover up?

If you answered ‘yes’ to the majority of these questions it’s likely that you are using clothes to hide your body.

When did the cover up begin?

At what point did you decide your body was no longer acceptable to be seen? Was it the result of some trauma or an inappropriate or unkind comment? Perhaps it began after a change in your body such as weight gain/loss, pregnancy, illness or injury? Understanding the root cause of the cover up will help you to challenge it in an objective way.

What are you hiding?

Look through your wardrobe and pull out all of the items of clothing that you use to cover up, hide and conceal. Laying all the items on your bed, take each one in turn and ask what body part does each hide? Make a list of each of the body parts and then put them in order from least to most dreaded part of your body.

Are you hiding behind your clothes?

Challenge your fears

For each body part listed, write your worst fear if someone was to see it. For example you might select a pair of baggy trousers that hide your thighs. Your worst fear might be “If someone sees how big my thighs really are they will stare and laugh at me”. Examine the logic behind each of your fears. Do you really believe them? Would you think this about others? Has this ever actually happened to you? Challenging the fear allows you to see it in a more objective light.

Feel the fear, and uncover any way!

Starting with your least dreaded body part, wear a garment that doesn’t conceal it. For example, if you are conscious of your upper arms, wear a top that reveals them. Set yourself a task such as going out shopping or for a walk in the park. Repeat this for each of your body parts. Although this task may make you feel anxious at first, pushing through the anxiety will reap rewards.

Re-assess your fears

At the end of the task, ask yourself if it felt as bad as you thought it would? How did others react to you? Were your worst fears realised? Chances are you’ll find that the reality was far removed from what you’d imagined would happen. It’s unlikely for example that any one stared and laughed at your thighs. This exercise will help you to realise that your fears are largely groundless. In reality you project your beliefs onto others, assuming they will react to your body the way you do.

If you’re hiding behind your clothes unpick the reasons why and challenge them. Face your fears head on to uncover not only your body, but the distorted views you hold about it. 

Hiding behind clothing is just one of the indicators that your body image could use a much needed boost. To get more tips on improving your body confidence, why not download my FREE Body Confidence Guide – 25 ways to love the skin you’re in?

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