With summer coming up, it’s natural to be thinking ahead about what we’ll wear to the beach, grilling with friends and other places where it’s sunny and hot. But with those thoughts often comes a good dose of angst about what, exactly, warm-weather clothing means: showing more skin, more legs, more… everything. More of our flaws and imperfections.
To me, this angst is the dark side of summer. It makes me sad to see people struggle with negative self-talk about their bodies and looks. It saps two of life’s most precious gifts: energy and joy.
I remember all too well the days when I would look at my then-size 4 self and think it wasn’t good enough. That I wasn’t slim enough — especially when bikini season rolled around. That was before a surgeon’s mistake destroyed my health and left me with long-term medical issues that can never be fully resolved. Since then, I have needed to take medications that have changed my body. Today, a size 8 sounds small!
Through this experience, I have learned how vital it is to maintain a healthy perspective about our bodies, fashion and trends. The rule of thumb that grounds me now is that true beauty emanates from within.
That’s why my number one fashion rule for all seasons — which is all the more important in the summer when insecurities run high — is that your best accessory is your smile. Not a forced smile but a genuine, radiant smile emanating from within.
This kind of smile is contagious and makes you glow. It draws others to you, uplifts them and brings light into everyone’s day. What can be more beautiful than that? But unlike the latest handbag or earrings, a heartfelt smile can’t be purchased, nor can it be practiced or planned. It comes only from feeling good.
Most of us take steps every day to help ourselves feel good, from exercising and eating well to meditating and spending quality time with those we love. But oftentimes, we neglect the feel-good aspects of getting dressed for the day that will keep us smiling. These include:
These steps are all the more important because feeling good is key to health. Our bodies are not a set of separate parts but rather a single whole that’s one with the soul. Health is inclusive in that way and is very much about bringing the body and soul into harmony. Our feelings impact our body and vice-versa.
If we look perfectly glamorous on the outside but are struggling inside to feel physically and emotionally comfortable, there will inevitably be tension that our bodies will hold. It could come in the form of a clenched jaw, a tight neck or back, or even stomach cramps and indigestion. These are things that many of us experience. I know this all too well; it often happens to me. Our instinct tends to be to ignore it in the name of looking great, but is it worth it?
I don’t believe it is. Small tensions and discomforts can remain in the body, even after we no longer feel them. They build up over time. And they’re the ingredients of a forced, unnatural — and unhealthy — smile.
There are two wonderful bonuses of listening to your body and wearing clothes you feel good in with a smile rather than wearing clothes that make you physically or emotionally uncomfortable. First, smiling in and of itself is good for your health. According to a medically reviewed article, smiling can relieve stress, lower blood pressure and boost the immune system. Second, your natural beauty will be accentuated all the more.
About the Author
Art collector and philanthropist Lorena Junco Margain is the author of “On the Way to Casa Lotus,” a memoir about her journey of coming to terms with the permanent consequences of a surgeon’s devastating mistake. After studying visual arts at Universidad de Monterrey, she co-founded the Distrito14 gallery in Monterrey. She also co-founded and curated, with her husband, the Margain-Junco Collection to promote awareness of Mexican art internationally. She lives in Austin, Texas with her family.