In Episode 3 of the Maternity Sewing Podcast, Erin talks with Charlie, M.Sc., a sewing blogger and psychologist, about a few of the ways sewing is good for your mental health, why it’s important to be selfish, and how sewing is a practice in mindfulness.
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You can find Charlie on her blog This Blog is Not For You. She has written a series of blog posts about sewing and mental health. In this podcast episode we directly address content from her post The Impact of Sewing on Body Image.
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[0:10] Welcome to episode 3 of the Maternity Sewing podcast. Maternitysewing.com is your source for maternity nursing and postpartum friendly sewing patterns. The maternity sewing podcast is we we have frank conversations, share stories and offer help and inspiration on things like sewing and body positivity, especially during pregnancy and postpartum.
Hi. I’m Erin Weisbart also known as Tuesday Stitches. Today I’m going to be talking with Charlie a sewing blogger and a psychologist about the impact of sewing on body image. We’re going to talk about what body image is, how it differs from body positivity, and why it’s not such a bad thing to have a negative body image sometimes. And then we’re going to talk about how this all relates to sewing.
[0:58] Hey Charlie. Welcome to the maternity sewing podcast. Do you mind introducing yourself to our listeners?
Hi. Hi there I’m a sewing blogger from Germany and when I’m not sitting behind the sewing machine I actually work full-time as a psychologist and at the moment I live in the countryside near Munich. One of the reasons were talking to you is that we’ve noticed on your blog you not only talk about sewing but you also related that to mental health and using your expertise to talk about the connection between sewing and mental health. Will you explain you know what is body image? Body image is a kind of a mental representation you create of yourself and the way you look. It kind of consists of a mental image you have of your own physical body so to say your size and shape and appearance but also a personal attitude towards that image and that consists of your thoughts feelings and beliefs. Body image really have to present reality so that’s just your very own mental representation of the way you look. I hope that kind of makes it clear but it’s very abstract thing.
It sounds like it’s
[2:27] kind of difficult because it’s several things. It sounds like you know not only a picture your own picture but then it also includes feelings about that picture you have. Is that right? Yes that’s why it’s also prone to change because as you know your moods and feelings change all the time and so does your body image. So I feel like we’ve hear a lot about body positivity. I was wondering if you can explain how body positivity is similar to or different from body image. I think in general both terms are quite similar. They are often used interchangeably. I myself make a
distinction between the two. I don’t like to use them as synonyms some people would probably argue that they are pretty much the same. I think that body image is a much more complex than that consists of many more factors and variables than body positivity. My view on body positivity mainly focuses on just loving yourself unconditionally like everyone should have a positive body image and not feel your negative about themselves.
[3:55] Whereas I think body image will always contain negative aspects and perceptions. It also sounds as if like a healthy body image is a constant state that just doesn’t change once you’ve made it there but it’s not like that. It’s always subject to change and it’s normal to be self critical and it’s normal to feel uncomfortable about yourself and that changes on a daily basis. I think the extreme promotion of body positivity seem to me the converse trend of almost not allowing body negativity especially on social media I think. People being shamed about opening up about not liking themselves or being called attention seekers just because it’s not fashionable to struggle with self-acceptance I guess. They shouldn’t be used as synonyms but yeah just to be clear I’m not criticizing body positivity just trying to be clear about the definitions I guess.
[5:14] Yeah that makes sense. It seems like you know what I’m hearing you say is that while it’s important you know we all want to be able to love and accept our own bodies but but we don’t want to wipe away the fact that that’s a struggle sometimes and that you can feel differently some days from another and by being focusing too much on positivity you we can ignore the fact that some days are harder than others and you know things like that. Is that what you’re saying? Yeah basically yeah. And also would like people striving to be just body positive basically and finding it really hard actually and struggling when they don’t achieve that basically when they don’t achieve body positivity unconditionally. It’s just normal that we do feel uncomfortable in our own bodies sometimes even if we are generally happy we still have days where we really don’t feel comfortable with the way we look. That’s normal and I think body positivity just I feel like it excludes that negative part I think. So it’s too one sided?
[6:29] Yeah sort of the extreme end of the scale which is a good thing if you if you’re there I guess but if you’re not I think it it feels like a very unachievable thing. Yeah that makes sense. So you mentioned that body image can change over time and it can change day to day so why or how?
What causes those changes or what you know what can we do to affect those changes like either intentionally or unintentionally?
Why it changes? Well it’s not a fixed image and it’s not really based on reality so it’s a very subjective thing and as you know subjective things are susceptible to change.
[7:19] It’s basically very much related to our moods our perceptions our feelings and also a number of social factors I think. So
once these parts change your body image will too. So if you’re in a bad mood or if you’re wearing a dress that you’re not feeling comfortable in or if somebody said something pretty nasty about yourself that might have an impact on the way you feel about yourself that day so body image constantly changes. There might be times where it’s quite stable and then there are times where it fluctuates during the day. Obviously the more you like base yourself worth and your self-esteem on the way you look the most it’s prone to fluctuate. If you have other things you can base your self-worth on it might be
[8:16] much more holistic and less susceptible to quick fluctuations. Like if you have a lot of hobbies or other things that you are using to gain self-esteem and basing your self-worth on then it’s a lot more stable. So how does this connect back to sewing? Cause it seems like sewing can have a big impact on how you feel in your own body.
[8:49] Oh yeah. I kind of always say like sewing is my therapy. I haven’t had like I haven’t always had a positive body image and I do struggle and I feel like it helped a lot. I also noticed professionally that many of the skills we use when we are sewing a garment those skills are very similar to certain therapeutic techniques that we professionals use for building positive body image basically. I got really interested in that and that’s why I wrote about it on my blog.
[9:37] Yeah I think it’s a lot of techniques that we use that focus only on observation and non judgement. Being having like a more neutral stance and I think I’m more effective view on ourselves when we sew. That’s also sort of what we’re trying to achieve in therapy when we are looking at body image. Because often when we really hate something or feel uncomfortable we try to ignore it or try to disengage so in therapy you would want the person to reengage in a constructive way and that’s what we do when we sew. We sort of engage with our body. We work with it instead of against it. By doing that you sort of more acceptant of your flaws. You embrace your body that is given to you and care for it instead of just disengaging and hating it.
[10:42] I think just a lot of techniques that we use when we sew are really really helpful. The way we almost step back around to be outside and judge shapes and forms and fit instead of just
[11:02] judging whether it looks nice we judge whether one shape fits another shape and it’s so much more neutral objective perspective that’s really really healthy actually.
[11:17] Yeah yeah. There are a lot more factors. Like there’s a link between creativity and self-esteem body image.
[11:33] Linking back to what I’ve said before basically the higher number of things that you value about yourself leads to more stable perception of yourself if you’re not just basing your self-worth on your looks but also on your achievements and your hobbies and what you love doing.
[11:53] It’s a much healthier holistic view of yourself I think. That makes a lot of sense and it’s something that you go a lot more deeply into in your blog post the impact of sewing on body image and we’ll have a link for that on the show notes so thank you so much Charlie for
giving us kind of an introduction to body image and body positivity and connecting that back to sewing.
[12:19] We really appreciate having you on the podcast. Thank you. Thanks for having me. That’s it for today’s episode of the Maternity Sewing Podcast. You can find Maternity Sewing at MaternitySewing.com. You’ll find our curated pattern shop of maternity nursing and postpartum friendly sewing patterns, our blog where we have sewing tutorials and inspiration for pregnant nursing and postpartum sewists and the show notes from all of our podcasts. I’m Erin Weisbart you host today and co-owner of maternity sewing. You can find me at Tuesdaystitches.com and on Instagram as Tuesday stitches. Today I talked with Charlie of this blog is not for you. You can find her at this blog is not for you and on Instagram as this blog is not for you.
[13:02] You can look at in show notes and on our website and maternity sewing.com/podcast for links to everything we talked about as well as all the ways you can stay in touch with maternity sewing like our Facebook page and Facebook group you can also find us on Instagram as maternity sewing.