Recently, I was scrolling through Facebook and noticed a meme on one of the Mormon pages I follow. I don't remember the exact meme but it said something along the lines of "women preparing for their bikini body". It showed the "Mormon girl" eating and the other girl working out. Come on...really?
First off, every body can be a bikini body. Not everyone may want to see it but, guess what? You have every right to feel comfortable. If you aren't comfortable in a bikini due to your personal/ religious beliefs, that's fine. But, if it's because you're hung up on something with your body, just let it go. No one is perfect- most of us have flaws. In fact, the models, actresses, etc. you see on television don't even look like that in real life. If you don't believe me, go research the airbrushing that goes into all of that. On top of that, they have "glam squads" which include hair dressers, make up artists, personal trainers, aestheticians, and most likely plastic surgeons. Most of us don't have that.
Secondly, there are very few excuses to let yourself go- modesty is NOT one of them. Now, I will admit: I'm a convert and still have some more liberal beliefs about modesty. If I'm working out (usually in the privacy of my own home) or swimming/at the beach/etc., it's not something I'm going to obsess about. I have no problem wearing a bikini if I'm at the pool or beach. Heck, I've even sunbathed topless! Guess what? It's no big deal. However, some of the comments were pretty appalling on this meme. But, what shocked me is how many women openly admitted to gaining a bunch of weight, not shaving their legs, etc. when they started dressing modestly. Why? Well, no one was going to see it.
Now, there are a lot of flaws to this argument. First, you are going to see it. As someone who was once an athlete and dancer and really thin and someone who got sick and gained about forty pounds, I can tell you that gaining a bunch of weight doesn't make you look or feel good. Now, you don't necessarily want to be too thin or do anything unhealthy either.
Secondly, any prospective suitors will see it. Letting yourself go doesn't send a good message to anyone- especially a prospective suitor. While some guys won't care, most will. One pound turns into five which turns into way more. It may sound harsh but, it's true. Most guys won't admit it and some will even lie and say that looks don't matter. However, they do- much more than you think. Most men secretly fear that their future wife will stop putting forth any effort, cut off all of her hair, gain a ton of weight, and stop having sex with them. While you won't look the same throughout your life, we all expect our partners to look a bit similar to how they were when we were dating them.
Now, let's get something straight: there will be periods in your life where you will be thinner and other periods where you will be thicker. But, that should be fairly minimal (barring something like childbirth, illness, a serious crisis, etc). Don't worry too much during this time period but, try to keep hooking it up physically.
As a convert, I've seen it firsthand. Granted, I've been losing weight but, a lot of women seem to stop caring (or don't care to begin with). I can't tell you the ward functions I've been to where women start dressing really frumpy, stop taking care of their appearance, and really let themselves go. They start showing up in a hoodie and sweat pants, no make up, their hair looks like a rats nest, and they just look downright awful. They put on a ton of weight and some have even admitted that they stopped shaving their legs.
Now, sometimes, things happen. For example, I got really sick about a year ago, gained about forty pounds and had about 15-20 to lose prior. While it's taken forever, I've managed to lose about thirty and plan on losing about twenty to thirty more. People have kids, have traumatic experiences, etc. and life happens. Other times, people develop medical conditions or have to take medications where they gain a ton of weight. For example, I have friends with Thyroid problems and who have had to take psychiatric medication that made them gain a ton of weight, among other things. There are also some people who are naturally curvier/ thicker/ chubby/ etc. From experience, I'm naturally thick and curvy. If this is the case, don't worry about it. But, be honest with yourself, try to maintain a good personal care regimen, and do what you can. Most guys will date someone who is bigger but, actively does their best to stay healthy and hook it up physically.
Thirdly, there's no excuse to modesty shame. Want to know a secret? Most of the women who do this are really insecure. A lot tend to be significantly heavier or "skinny fat" (where they are really thin naturally but, don't work out and are really flabby. These women tend to be self conscious and have other problems. Secure, confident women don't feel threatened. Instead, they don't look at the woman in the offending swimsuit and mind their own business.
So, what should you be doing?
First, do your nails. I personally splurge and get an SNS manicure and gel pedicure. They last forever and I get compliments for a month straight. If you can't afford this, do them yourself but, don't let them chip. It may seem small, but guys notice.
Secondly, do your hair. Guys tend to prefer straight hair. But, as someone with naturally curly hair, it can look good. The best thing to do with your hair is to make sure you don't leave with it styled. If naturally curly, try to straighten it a few times a week. Learn a few basic styles that you can do quickly- ex. a chic bun or French twist.
Thirdly, make up. Some women look really good with out it (like Alicia Keys). However, you need to take impeccable care of your skin or be downright genetically blessed to pull this off. How much you need depends on you. But, at the very least, wear some lip gloss or tinted lip balm and mascara. For me, it depends on my mood. Sometimes, I put on my "full face". Other days, usually if I'm just going for a walk or am not feeling well, I just put on mascara and either tinted lip balm or lip gloss. In The Rules, they recommend that you check out a department store's cosmetics counter to learn how to apply it. Pinterest and my mom are where I actually learned how to apply make up though.
Diet is important as well. I recently adopted a vegan diet and was vegan for a fair amount of time prior. I also have to be gluten free due to medical reasons. To lose weight, I cook all of my meals at home, prep once a week, and only go out to eat on vacation. I don't eat a lot of sugar, fast food, junk food, or processed food. I also didn't grow up eating this stuff. I really recommend doing this and focusing on whole, healthy foods- especially fruits and vegetables. I also use MyFitnessPal to keep myself honest about portion sizes.
Exercise is also important. Even if just thirty minutes a day, that's okay. I personally like doing Yoga with Adriene and Blogilates. I also try to add some cardio by either swimming, walking my neighbor's dog, or messing around on my pole. Yes, I have a stripper pole that I use to mix up my work outs. It's actually a great toning and cardio work out! But, as long as it gets you active, you should be good. On top of that, I also clean my house and do a little bit each day. Surprisingly, cleaning burns a lot of calories- that's how fifties housewives stayed so thin! Even naturally thin women need to have a good work out routine. Have you ever heard the term "skinny fat"? You don't want to be that.
Fashion is another area to pay attention to. First off, throw out your granny panties. Instead of "period panties", get some basic black underwear that's a little sexier. Now, you don't have to do anything crazy but, every grown woman needs some nice, sexier bra and panty sets. You will see yourself and your future husband will thank you. Even if you've gone through your endowments, wear something sexier underneath. It may seem like strange advice but, it will give you that little something extra to boost your confidence.
Secondly, invest in some Spanx and a good push up bra. The average American woman (and man, for that matter) could stand to lose 15-20 pounds. If you aren't quite where you want to be physically, throw on some Spanx. Even if you are, Spanx are usually a good idea. They smooth everything out and our first lady wears them (even though I highly doubt she has to). On top of that, a good push up bra can help any figure- most of us could use a boost.
As far as modesty, you can still dress modestly and be feminine. Don't go for oversized outfits. I personally wear outfits that are more form fitting but, A-line dresses and skirts are also very feminine, flattering, and (usually) modest. If you have a dress that's a little lower than it should be but want to make it look good, put on a for fitting camisole underneath to cover the cleavage. One thing you should never do? Wear a t shirt or long sleeved shirt under a strapless/ spaghetti strap/ or tank top- style dress or outfit. It should also go without saying that a t-shirt with a tank top over it just looks weird. Please don't do this. It just looks weird and unattractive. Instead, wear a cardigan or shrug over the dress. This is much classier and more ladylike.
As far as sweatpants, I don't recommend owning a pair. I remember asking a male friend who he feels about sweatpants and his exact response was "eww...no guy wants to see that". Even if working out, don't wear frumpy stuff. If anything is worn or old, take it to H&M, recycle it, and pick up a coupon to get some new clothes.
A good rule is to always dress like you're meeting your ex or your future husband. Why? Well, this may just happen. When I flew back to Atlanta after the Presidential Inauguration last year, I actually ran into my ex- boyfriend at the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport! I had lost twenty pounds since he had seen me, had my hair and make up done, and had multiple TSA agents (amongst others) compliment my outfit. While I didn't speak to him, my appearance alone sent a message.
Mormon or not- looks matter. Even the most conservative Mormon man on the planet (or any other faith) will expect to be attracted to his wife. As a woman, I expect to be attracted to my future spouse. For most young singles, your prime dating period is about 20-30. In Utah or Idaho, you may not be totally out of luck if you don't find someone before then. But, after thirty, it gets significantly harder for us- especially if you live outside of Utah or Idaho. For non-Mormons, dating after about 30-35 is when things start to taper off and get tricky. Like it or not, how you look sends a message. You want that message to be positive, right?
Regardless of your situation, book a consult today if you need any dating help!