Feeling Beautiful: 8 Things I Learned While Shopping

Something you probably don’t know about me: I love cowboy boots. Like seriously love them. Not as much as I love God, my husband, and my children, but they’re right up there with beach days and cream gravy. And yeah, I’m a Southern gal.

I haven’t even worn cowboy boots my whole life; just the last few years. But they are so comfortable on my feet that I wear them with everything I can, including dresses. A few of those dresses I’ve worn so much, they were getting tattered. What’s a Southern gal to do? Go shopping, of course!

Feeling Beautiful: 8 Things I Learned While Shopping via Hot, Holy & Humorous

So I spent two days over the July Fourth weekend clothes shopping in my area. Rather than give you a play-by-play of my excursion, simply imagine a horror film with you shouting at the screen, “Don’t go in there, girlfriend! It’s dangerous!” Only instead of a dark basement with a serial killer inside, my threat was the dressing room with poor self-image lurking.

In the course of those two days, I looked through scads and scads of dresses and tried on over 50 items. Oh yeah, 50. How many did I buy? A whopping four, and one of those was a clearance T-shirt bought on a whim.

Why was it so difficult? Because my body sucks!

No, no, that’s not the reason. Yet I had several moments when self-doubt crept up and settled in my bones. “I hate my stomach.” “I look pudgy in this.” “My butt is flat.” “Have I always had all this arm fat?”

After Day One of 32 items tried on and zero purchased, I returned home and fell into a funk. I’m not proud, but there may have even been thoughts of buying a tube of Pillsbury chocolate chip cooking dough, grabbing a large spoon, and drowning my discouragement in sugar and chocolate.

However, I did not succumb!

In fact, I’m a few days out from that whole experience, and I want to share what I learned:

1. I continue to struggle with feeling beautiful at times. I still have my moments of frustrations with my body, struggling with getting older, and not appreciating the masterpiece God made me to be. I’m not perfected on this point.

2. Those times are fewer and shorter-lived than before. Since actively trying to feel beautiful, I’ve done better. I recently listened to a sermon by James MacDonald of Harvest Bible Chapel, and he noted we often think of changing as a steady decrease of our brokenness; however, the truth is we usually struggle with the same things as before, but as intentional Christians they become less frequent and shorter-lived. We recognize our moments of struggle more quickly and respond better with godly answers. I see that in my own life.

3. The scriptures I’ve memorized come to mind when I need them. When I slipped into my body-image blues, Psalm 139:14 came to mind: “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” And principles I’ve learned about God’s love, His provision, His care for me were all present in my heart, keeping me from staying too long in that bad place.

4. My husband helps me feel beautiful. Hubby was with me on Day One (that trooper!), and we made love that night. He doesn’t care that my tummy isn’t getting fitness awards or that my body isn’t as young as it once was. He simply sees the woman he loves, God bless that man.

5. Fashion designers don’t always “get” real women. Or maybe rarely get real women. We ladies commonly complain that we don’t know who they’re designing clothes for, because it isn’t for our bodies. So why did I expect it to be easy? That said, it is possible to find clothes that fit and flatter you.

6. Learn what looks good and stick with that. It took me many tries, but by the end of the weekend I had some things figured out. Certain styles would not look good on my body (as it is now) no matter what, and other styles held possibility. Let yourself experiment and figure out what works on the (beautiful) body you have. Then you can avoid grabbing something off the rack to try on that will not flatter and choose styles that likely will.

7. Keep up the positive self-talk. It really does matter what you say to yourself. After a while, you start believing it. At first, I didn’t do this well during my shopping trip and beat myself up for not looking goh-geous in everything I tried on. By Day Two, I had a different perspective and stayed far more positive. I was a beautiful woman, and my goal was simply to hunt down clothes that helped me show and feel that truth.

8. Rely on godly friends. Just a shout-out here to my friend “L” who stuck with me on the phone as I hunted down the right look. She even let me text her photos and ask for her thoughts. She helped with opinions, but also keeping my spirits up.* You might do better shopping with an encouraging friend, a family member, or your spouse. It certainly helped me.

Do I feel beautiful? Not all the time.

But it isn’t always about how I’m feeling. I know I’m beautiful, because I was crafted by an amazing Creator. I want to take care of the body He gave me, and that includes appreciating it, even when a shopping trip isn’t going my way.

I am still on the journey of feeling beautiful, but I’m getting better and better.

And since I’m sure some of you are wondering, here’s one of the outfits I came home with:

Julie in dress and boots

*Just a quick note that Spock (hubby) was with me on Day One. He really tried to encourage me, but he’s not a wordy guy and didn’t know what to say. His reassurance when we got home helped me more than we were out and about. And that’s okay. Your husband doesn’t have to be and do everything for you. I let Spock be who he is, and seek out friendships to support me as well.

21 thoughts on “Feeling Beautiful: 8 Things I Learned While Shopping

  1. libl

    I still don’t understand how my husband can find me sexually appealing when Scarlett Johansson exists. LOL! I mean I am no ogre and actually have quite a nice figure for having so many pregnancies, but seriously! I know he is exposed to scads of gorgeous women at work (girlfriend/porn pic sharing….working near colleges, strip clubs, malls). Even if he guards his eyes and heart he is assaulted by beautiful, young female forms. And then he comes home to his not getting any younger wife.

    There has to be some sort of phenomonon that I don’t understand as a woman. I mean, I am not even his “type” and yet he chose me.

    1. J Post author

      Because you’re not just smokin’ hot on the outside — you got the inside brewing with steamy you! LOL.

      Actually, think how you feel about your husband. Honestly, we’re up there in my marriage, and objectively speaking, Spock is less attractive than he was at age 25. Do I feel that way? Absolutely not! I still think my hubby is the sexiest guy in any room. After looking at that face for 23 years, I notice his focused-on-me eyes more than the crows’ feet around them; his reassuring smile more than the skin sagging a bit on either side; his soft hair I’ve run my hands through so many times more than the fact there’s less of it to run my hands through. And that’s just the face. See what I mean?

      I think hubbies feel the same way about their wives: Their understanding of that beauty just goes deeper with commitment, time, and fostered love. Blessings, libl!

  2. Keelie Reason

    I’m with you, I HATE shopping. Actually, I buy everything at the thrift store now. Honestly, it helps me out a lot to just shop the thrift store, because there are no models wearing the clothing. It really helps to have lower expectations of what the clothes are supposed to look like on a “real” person. Besides that, there are few options in my size, so it doesn’t overwhelm me. I don’t always walk away with something, and that is ok. I just go again in a few days and see if anything new has come in.

    I agree, you need to find the styles that flatter you and stick with it. Admittedly, 3 kids later, those styles have changed a bit for me. I’m sure you’re feelin it, too.

    I wholeheartedly believe that we need to focus our attention on feeling beautiful, more so than looking beautiful. We all posses beauty, we just need to recognize what it is.

    Love the dress and boots btw. I think you did a great job. 🙂

    1. J Post author

      Thanks, Keelie! I did have to buy a formal dress for an upcoming event, and my local consignment shop was the perfect place to go! I hadn’t thought about the lack of models, but that is a nice perk. 🙂

  3. Lynn

    Thanks for sharing this! The hardest thing for a woman to say is something nice about herself. Good for you for feeling you looked good, and saying so! I tell my husband all the time that the best compliment I could ever pay him is that he makes me feel really beautiful, and really feel beautiful. He is the first and only person in the world who tells me he loves me and I don’t think “How could you love me?” I bask and glory in his love. And in return? I make him feel like a huge stud 😉

  4. Abra

    Oh man. Yep, I went swimsuit shopping for the first time in 5 years (and 2 more kids later). I spent 8 hours at two different malls, tried on everything and came home with …. board shorts! lol! But I had figured out enough about my shape to hop online and order the rest of the suit in my size in a style I knew would flatter. It came in the mail the other day and my husband and I are delighted! Super cute, feminine and mom-at-the-beach ready! You look awesome in your dress and boots, too!! Nicely done.

    1. J Post author

      Swimsuit shopping? Now THAT’s a trip for the courageous. LOL.

      Actually, I’m glad to see there are more choices available if you look hard for the good stuff. I’ve also found great options with online shopping. Congrats on your success, Abra!

  5. debbi

    Thank you for your blog posts… I so appreciate your openness and honesty. 🙂 And your dress and boots are so cute – great find! You are truly beautiful! Thank you again!

  6. Lynn

    Just to give you a real-life example from this morning, if you don’t mind: I was just overcome with love for my husband this morning; I embraced him and told him I wished I didn’t have to go to work. I just felt loving, not ‘sexy’. Before I left to go to work, I went back to the bedroom, where he was dressing, to talk about some mundane household detail. As I stood there, chatting away, in a plain white t-shirt and slacks, he said, “You’d better go before I rip your clothes off,” and as you can imagine, I felt wonderful! Thank God for loving husbands. Their love helps us so much. Women, do not argue with your husbands when they tell you that you’re beautiful! (I am 57 years old, overweight, and definitely not objectively beautiful – but I am to him!)

  7. Anita grace

    Enjoyed this one! Gravity isn’t a friend to my 52 year old body these days.
    It’s good to be reminded that I don’t have to beat myself up for not looking like I did at 22!

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  9. B

    Wow, J! You are brave. I’m glad you were successful shopping, and your attitude is an inspiration. I hate shopping. I’d rather have a root canal. Not even kidding. My husband will drag me out to buy new clothes every once in a while, but I hate it. I don’t feel I deserve new clothes, at least not until I slim down. I go back and forth between and 8 and a 10 (where I am now) and I feel like if I can’t get my act together enough to slim back down, I shouldn’t really be rewarding myself with new clothes. Weird, I know. Plus I’m built really, really, really weird. My legs are slim and my butt is way too small, and I have no hips. But my top half is not slender. I’m like an 8 on the bottom and a 10 on the top. Freakish, I know, like I was put together upside down. So most clothes are not cut for me. Plus I’m tall, so in a world designed for shorter women, nothing really looks right. Ever. I love dresses, and so does my husband, but my shoulders are far too broad and I don’t look cute and dainty, but more like a linebacker. So I avoid most dresses. BUT, gotta love the GAP, as they have tall sizes that make me so very happy! And I love skinny jeans because they fit my hips well and disguise my lack of there derrière! Anywho, just wanted to chime in and say congrats on the new outfits. Good job!

    1. J Post author

      Um, this isn’t “freakish” at all. It’s pretty typical for women to be different sizes top and bottom. You probably need to find a style and/or brand that works for your body type and stick with it!

  10. alchemist

    My problem is usually financial constraints.

    You go girl! Only buy stuff that makes *you* look good. A fig for models and fashions. My mom taught me this when I was very young. Only buy good quality stuff that makes you look good. If that means I can’t buy that super cute dress, then so be it. There will be other dresses.

    I think seamstresses and tailors should be a thing again. That way you just have stuff made that makes you feel gorgeous. Yes you will buy fewer items cause it’s more expensive, but every piece will be just right for you.

    When I’m tempted to get down on my body parts (saddle bags, tummy, arms, back ect.) I just think to myself: I can change this. I can exercise 30-60 min a day 6 days per week and my legs will look awesome. Does it really bug me that much? If the answer is yes, then I do it. Almost always the answer is no and then I just maybe add some leg toning to my workout regimen. I try to focus on feeling strong and healthy.

    1. Diana

      What a good reminder! I should do that too. I’m not in terrible shape but I should improve, and if I took charge of the situation every time I thought about how much I wished I looked different, instead of just thinking about it, I probably *would* look the way I want to look!

      Food for thought…nope, not food…exercise? haha 🙂

  11. Lucie B

    Loved this and we have all been there. Those danged lights in those fitting rooms…I don’t know if you or your readers have tried Stitch Fix but it is the subject of my latest blog post if anyone wants to hop over and read about it. Basically it is a subscription service where they send a box of personally styled clothes picked just for you TO YOU to try on at home and to top it off they give you a pre- paid envelope to return the things you don’t want. No obligation to buy any of it it either. Anyway. I think your blog is amazing and you are a wonderful writer.

    1. J Post author

      I have heard GREAT things about Stitch Fix. I have a friend who swears by them. Hmmm…

  12. P

    From the view point of a mid 70s male married over 40 years let me just say this.
    I find my wife more attractive and sexy now than ever before. I just we ‘did it’ a bit more often.
    Our love making actually gets more exciting and fufilling as time goes by.
    I tell her every day that I am glad that she chose me and that the day she literally walked into my life was one of the most wonderful days of my life.

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