It’s Hard to Pack When You Hate Your Body

It’s Hard to Pack When You Hate Your Body
Trigger Warning: "It's Hard to Pack When You Hate Your Body" deals with body image issues and mentions eating disorders.


I’ve struggled with packing and with body image issues for as long as I can remember. It’s hard to pack when you hate your body.

As with many people – girls especially, I became overly conscious of my body when I was 10 or 11. I remember standing in front of the mirror with my friends in elementary school and watching them complain about how fat they were. I want to say they turned to me like in “Mean Girls” and pressured me to join in. But I didn’t need them to, the fact that they were all doing it was enough to make me feel like I had to.

That was the start of my unadulterated hatred for my body.

I’d never seen women do that before: stand in front of a mirror and point out their flaws, focus on the negatives of their body, grab their fat (well, baby fat for us) with contempt.

My mom had always been careful to avoid discussing her body. With three girls in the house and societally created body images issues herself, she tried to shield us from warped body images.

But society was stronger. The moment one of us fell, it dominoed through our family. My step-sister went to high school and came back full of insecurities. I watched my bright, happy sister learn to fear food and larger sizes.

Even four years younger, I was bigger than her. I was built to be. But to my young mind that was wrong. I was wrong. So if she was worried, then I should be doubly upset about the size of my jeans.

I literally have a scar from wearing the tiniest size I could. It’s two thin indents under my belly where the 2000’s low rise jeans dug into my skin so hard that the denim would cut into me.


The 90s Were Not Good For Me

it's hard to pack when you hate your body
I barely ate before or during my community service trip to Costa Rica. I worked so hard to be so tiny and I still felt fat.
Costa Rica 2012

Clothes and my body image issues have always gone hand in hand.

I watched Regina George balk at the idea of a dress size over 5, meanwhile I was nearing double digits. TV shows told me that medium underwear was for fat girls. I read about bikini body diets. I saw ads for Special K where adult women tried to fit into their high school jeans.

Growing up in the 90’s/2000’s didn’t help. TV was all about the size 2 woman, with no curves, who constantly talked about big butts as a bad thing. The clothes were built for women without curves. The tops hung low for flatter chested women, but were near pornographic for a larger breast size. The denim mini skirts could never contain my butt or hung bulkily around my hips when they did.

How could I not hate my budding curves when they prevented me from wearing what I thought I needed to?

That only got worse when I kept growing. My peers seemed to stop at smaller cup sizes, inches shorter than me, with tiny hips when we were in high school. But I kept growing. I even got a growth spurt after graduating from undergrad. It was like I was some mutant in a lab who would keep growing until I dwarfed the planet with my belly rolls.

Clothes felt like the enemy, betraying the secret of my changing body even later in life. The moment a dress wouldn’t fit or a pair of jeans rode too high on my ankles, I would burst into tears. Literally anywhere: at home, at the mall, while trying to get dressed to explore San Antonio.


Packing Sucks

it's hard to pack when you hate your body
I remember trying to stand so I would look as thin as possible next to my sister.
Australia 2012

Packing is an issue unto itself.

I’m hugely indecisive. Ask anyone I know and it’ll be one of the top 10 qualities they’ll tell you. My baba constantly reminds me of the time I held her hostage in the toy aisle at Toys ‘R’ Us long after my sister and cousins had chosen their loot. I couldn’t decide and for some reason I required her presence immediately beside me, not on the bench a few feet away where she could rest her legs. I’m not sure I was even in school yet, but my indecisiveness was already a dominant quality.

That makes the tedious process of packing even more gruelling.

I’m also an anxious person – clinically. So I overthink EVERYTHING. I once tried to pack a snow suit to go to Mexico in case of a freak blizzard. Thank god my mom talked me out of that spiral – but I’m pretty sure I still brought a few extra sweaters just in case.

I think most people struggle with packing even if they have different issues (because let’s be real, none of us have no issues). It’s difficult to lock yourself in to decisions for days or weeks to come. And most people have a lot of stuff that they like and want to bring with them.

If planes still let you travel with cargo trunks, I think a lot of us would be dragging them around the airport.


It’s Hard to Pack When You Hate Your Body

it's hard to pack when you hate your body
I was trying so hard to suck in my stomach and hide my body that you can see the pain on my face.
LA 2011

It doesn’t matter what kind of trip it is, who you’re with, how long you’re going for, or even where you’re going: choosing clothes to put on a body you hate is difficult.

I used to bring two wardrobes on trips: the aspirational and the fat-concealing. I’d bring a mix of crop tops I’d bought years before and never had the guts (or I guess had too much gut) too wear, coupled with clothing in larger sizes or that could conceal my stomach.

Then I’d hate myself when I could only fit in the larger items.

I lost so much time packing for trips, getting dressed on trips, and during adventures hating my body. I’d spend hours packing, trying on everything I could find to ensure it fit. And if it didn’t, I cried. But I still packed it. Then I cried again when, after eating my body weight in gelato, I hadn’t magically shrunk to my goal weight (God I hate that term so much). I would swear off eating (which never worked on trips with my foodie family or with my hypoglycaemia), or binge until I could focus on the pain in my stomach and not the size of it.

I used to focus on pulling my shirt away from my stomach rather than enjoying the views of the Amalfi Coast. I’d worry about my back rolls rather than revelling in riding horses in the ocean in Florida.

The moment that sticks with me most was one morning on a mother-daughter trip in San Antonio, when I collapsed in broken heap beside my suitcase. I had gained weight in university – a mix of growing, not eating well, and new medication – and couldn’t get over the new way that my body looked. Years later, I can still feel the sobs wracking my body as I actively hated every piece of clothing in that suitcase – aspirational or fitting, pretty or societal camouflage – for not making me look the way I wanted.

I kept picturing the photos and how my belly would protrude through my T-shirt for all to see. I imagined acquaintances gathering around their newsfeed to laugh at how fat Nina had gotten.

(Who would be messed up enough to even do that?? In my mind: everyone.)

But my mom brought me back. She told me, as she had been the entire trip, that she didn’t care what I looked like. [Admittedly, she’d tried to tell me I looked good but I refused that tactic immediately.] What she cared about was spending time with me on our bonding trip and enjoying our time in San Antonio. She kept telling me she loved me.

I don’t think it really sunk in on that trip. It worked enough to get me off the floor and out the door, but I think it took months or maybe years before I fully understood it.

Even then, I still relapsed into my old habits whenever I’d gain a few pounds or have to stand next to my sisters for a photo.

But I’m getting better. I still hate my body: because of the chronic pain and migraines that I now suffer from. I regret not loving it when it still functioned well. Especially because, looking back, I realize how much I missed. And honestly, even though this is shallow, I was actually really thin and I wish I’d noticed. Maybe then I wouldn’t have gone days without eating over summer breaks to look better in bikinis.


Tips for Packing When You Don’t Love Your Body

I know I’m not alone in this struggle. As a female traveller who spent two years living out of a suitcase, I’ve developed a few tricks to handle the nightmare of packing when you hate your body.

They’re not fool proof. In fact, they’re really just band aids for the real issue: learning to love yourself. I haven’t fully learned to do this yet, but I’m working on it. Try out these tips and hopefully your packing experience will be a bit easier:

1. Own clothes you like that fit you.

That seems like an obvious thing, but it genuinely isn’t. When you gain weight, you often deny it and refuse to buy clothes until you lose it. I used to shop after stomach flus just to be able to fit into lower sizes. This will not help you when you want to try those fancy French cheeses but your zipper is already too tight. Before a trip, invest in a few items that are comfortable and that you enjoy. They can be cheap and cheerful. Maybe get some comfortable dresses that will fit you if you gain or lose a bit of weight (they’ve been my main wardrobe since lockdown).


2. Don’t pack things that don’t fit.

It’s better to have the single meltdown at home than to have it in your hotel room. It’ll also prevent you from trying them on to see if you’ve gained or lost weight on your travels.


3. Pack for what you expect.

Don’t throw in a dozen sweaters if you’re going to Mexico in January (trust me!). If things change – you gain weight, something rips, the weather changes – you can get things abroad. And then you have a fun, if necessary souvenir!


4. Bring at least one item that makes you smile.

Maybe it’s a really comfy pair of jeans or a sweater that makes your boobs look great. Whatever it is, bring it along. If you’re having a bad day, throw it on and give yourself a confidence boost. If you don’t own this item yet: buy it!

I do this a lot with leggings because they’re comfortable and I love the way my butt looks. It gives me an extra bit of confidence to enjoy the way at least one part of my body looks. Bonus, leggings let me eat as many fried oysters as I’d like!


5. Make a list.

As someone who is indecisive and likely to fill a suitcase just for the hell of it, I HIGHLY recommend lists. I jot down the number of shirts, shoes, etc. that seems reasonable to bring for the trip before I even go towards my closet. It helps distance yourself from the clothes before all the options are laid out before you and you suddenly want to take five sun hats. But do give yourself some wiggle room. Taking carry on only and can’t decide between the final two dresses? If they both fit, take them!


6. Pack for the experiences.

This ties in to your list making. When you’re writing your list, think of what you’ll actually be doing. Will you be riding horses? Then you need the appropriate clothes and footwear. Hiking? Definitely pack a sports bra. Going into the Moroccan desert? You’ll need a winter coat (trust me, it’s COLD at night).

It helps take the choice out of it to some extent. If you know you have to bring a bathing suit, you’re less able to fret over the decision.


7. Always have a back up outfit.

This is always a good rule. Don’t be that person who brings enough underwear that they could shit themselves every day of the trip. But do bring an extra outfit in case you want something different. Maybe you’ll spill eggs down the front of that tank top you planned to wear (yes, this happened to me). Maybe your sock will get a hole in it. Or maybe you’ll just want to wear another dress. It’s always better to have an extra option.


8. Eat before you try on clothes.

This goes for packing, shopping, choosing clothes for a long day, whatever! You should always be able to fit in your clothes after you eat.

I used to shop after stomach flus, then buy clothes I would never be able to fit in again. It was a waste of time, money and fabric.

Now I eat a decent meal before choosing clothes. Having my blood sugar levels stable helps me make decisions, I can be realistic about how it will fit, and I can actually fit in it later.

If I’m planning clothes for a foodie trip, I sometimes even puff out my stomach or eat a giant meal to ensure I can still fit in a dress after three tajines or an extra pavlova.


9. If you’re crying over a suitcase, it’s probably not about the suitcase.

I can’t count the times that my mom would sit on the stairs of my basement bedroom while I cried amongst toppled piles of clothes. In the end, it was never about how airplane tyranny was preventing me from bringing all the shirts I loved (most of which didn’t fit). It was usually about my body image issues. We tended to glance over them as I was still so locked into my eating disorders and warped view of myself that her kind words didn’t always get through to me. But even that small talk about what I was really upset helped calm me down. Once I confronted the real reason I was upset, I could breathe again. Find someone to talk to: friend, family, therapist, whoever! (Well, maybe not whoever. Your grocer doesn’t get paid enough for that.)


10. If these issues are getting in the way of your daily life, see a therapist.

Notice that I don’t say go to the gym or eat better. Honestly, I eat really well and exercise 7 days a week, but I still have body image issues. It’s not about how you look; it’s about what you feel inside. If you’re not happy, talk to a therapist. They can help you come to the root of the problem, discuss societal issues that may be at play, and can recommend some paths to feeling better.


11. Remember: the people that matter love you regardless of what you look like.

I’m blatantly stealing this from my mother, but it’s genuinely great advice. Real friends and good family members won’t care what your body size is. And if they do, cut ’em loose. I don’t necessarily mean cut them off, but at least cut them off from discussing body image or weight with you. Surround yourself with people who make you feel good and make you happy. Those people will be there for you no matter what. In fact, they’re the best people to go to for step #7!


12. Think about all the amazing things your body does.

Like I said, my body has been failing me in recent years, but I still find this step super helpful. Sure it’s stopped digesting dairy, but it still does a lot of amazing things. My stomach isn’t flat? Yeah well it’s holding 7 metres of intestines in there! My thighs are thick? They give me the power to run 5km! My head is too big? Well that’s probably my dad’s fault cause he’s got a giant head, but hey at least its a giant skull that looks good in hats!

It’s easier to start to appreciate your body when you remember the positive things that it does.


Bonus Tip!

Spend 10 minutes a day on your trip stretching.

Don’t do some insane workout and lose half your day in the gym, or be too sore to enjoy a cool new city. Instead, devote a few minutes in the morning or evening to stretch out your muscles. You’d be surprised just how much it helps you learn to appreciate your body.

I use @ownitbabe‘s saved Instagram story stretches (she’s an amazing body-positive Instagrammer and she used to be a personal trainer).

It doesn’t take long to do and you’ll feel more connected with your body. It also really helps with aches and pains after a long day or tramping across Budapest. Easing the tension in your muscles helps ease the tension in your mind.

When you feel physically good, it’s easier to like your body.


Body Image Issues Are Serious

it's hard to pack when you hate your body
I didn’t take my hands off my belly this entire visit to the Sistine Chapel. Italy 2011

This post deals with some serious issues that I don’t want to trivialize. Body image issues and eating disorders are extremely serious and should be properly treated. My therapist has been a huge help in working through my issues and helping me learn to accept my body.

If you’re struggling with these issues, please reach out to a licensed professional for help. Talk to your family and friends for support. And know that you are perfect just the way you are.

Remember, body image ideals change from decade to decade. In the Palaeolithic era, the feminine ideal was the Venus figurines. In the 60s, it was Twiggy. Society changes its mind about what it likes as fast as my sister used to change husbands in kindergarten* (*daily). It’s more important that you love yourself than that society does.

92 thoughts on “It’s Hard to Pack When You Hate Your Body”

  • I have huge body issues, but for some reason I don’t seem to care about them so much when I travel. I just pack clothes that I’m going to be comfortable in and don’t really care too much how other people perceive me.

  • Great post! I think a lot of people can relate to this and its something on a lot of peoples’ mind. I have struggled with this myself at times, it can be very difficult to find something to wear. I tend to overpack because I don’t want to end up having nothing that I want to wear. I think its amazing that you are willing to share your struggles and I’m sure it has helped a lot of people to face their own struggles. Thanks for sharing!

  • Interesting outlook. I guess we all struggle with something about ourselves that we wish was better. Personally, I very much dislike the idea that someone could “hate” their body. Dont get me wrong, I 100% understand the idea of not being happy with how you look or feel but to me “hate” is such a strong word.
    Now with that said, I do love all of your tips on how to pack. I mean whether you have body issues or not, whether your a tall skinny guy or a short stocky girl, or whatever, PACKING SUCKS!! I mean I cant tell you how often I pack way too many tshirts or bring a pair of cool looking shorts that fits fine now but after 1 week of eating like a little piggy on my vacay, now barely clasps closed. So, make that list, think about what you plan on doing, and remember, like you said, you can always buy stuff there. It is not like your traveling to the moon! There will be stores with clothes everywhere you go in case you forgot something.

  • I think the only issue with us not loving our body the way it is is due to media and what type of “bodies” are promoted on all channels. Trust me, everyone says I am skinny but in my own thoughts I wish I was more (and it wouldn’t be healthy for me, because I am 170 cm tall and 57 kg). We have to embrace our bodies the way they are. I appreciate people like you that have the courage to write about these issues and open up to talk about them. Sending lots of positive thoughts!

  • Some men find it hard to associate with posts about body image but I really connected with the article

  • This is so inspiring Nina. I keep coming back to your article whenever I feel a bit down, and it really does put a bit more perspective in my thoughts. Thank you!

    • Aw, thank you Caroline! I’m glad it’s been able to help you through those less positive moments. <3

  • This must have been a very difficult post to write, and I really respect that you took the time and guts to write this. I can see that you’ve gotten loads of support from other comments, and I too would like to add that you’re beautiful! I suffer from general anxiety as well, although mine isn’t to do with my body image, but I do understand how difficult it can be so well done for learning to manage it!

  • I’m sending you piles of hugs Nina! You really are not along with this struggle.

    I have had similar issues (and an eating disorder for many years in my twenties.) It’s so funny when you look back at photos when you’re a bit older and you can finally appreciate how good you looked (back when you felt fat.) I promise, this does get easier, but it is a long slow road to recovery. Please feel free to give me a shout if you ever need to chat about it. (you can find me on twitter @josyishere.

    I am really glad it sounds like you’re improving with this.

    • Aw thanks Josy!! I really appreciate that it got better for you and that you shared your experience here. I’ll definitely be following you on twitter!

  • It’s really commendable that you were honest and open and shared this struggle with your readers. I think your tips are great and I really appreciate that you mention therapy as an option in case body image issues are making it hard for anyone to live a happy and healthy life.

    • Thanks Kevin! I think it’s really important to recognize when you need help with these things. There’s no shame in getting some extra help and I’m a huge proponent of therapy anyway.

  • I am so sorry to hear you have struggled so much with body image. Having dealt with some demons myself over this I understand how you feel and packing can be tough, especially when the image you have of your body isn’t actually accurate! These are great tips 🙂

  • I can so relate to this! I know I always want to look my best when I’m on vacation and it just creates a lot of pressure on yourself. It has definitely gotten better the older I get though. Hopefully it keeps getting better for you as well, and it sounds like it is:)

    • Thanks, I hope so too! I think age comes with the wisdom to know that insides matter more than outsides.

  • You look so lovely in all your pictures Nina – I’m so sorry you had such a hard time growing up with body image issues. I agree that the 90’s/2000’s were absolutely horrible in that regard – sometimes watching Friends re runs I can’t believe how ridiculously thin Jennifer & Courtney were! I’m glad you are getting better and I hope your story inspires other girls too. Love your packing tips! Comfortable dresses are the go to for me too – I prefer breezy clothes over tight/ structured ones while travelling.

    • Thanks so much, Smita! I didn’t realize for a long time until I kept getting mad that I couldn’t fit into my high school jeans while I was in high school like they said in those Special K commercials. And I kept buying those denim mini skirts from the OC and found they never went over my hips properly. Thank god for the Kardashians and their bottoms teaching the world women have curves!

  • Loved reading this candid post. It is nice to see you talk about body image issues, this is a serious issue about which not many people talk. Facing realoty and filling oneself with positive thoughts helps a lot here. Your tips are really sensible and practical too.

  • I don’t like my body neither. But as long as my wife loves me and my body, nothing else matters. I used to keep all my clothes just in case I lose weight or whatever… But I stopped doing that a few years ago, and just give away clothes that don’t fit anymore or that I don’t like anymore.

    • Yes it’s so important that you let go of things. And having someone who loves you and supports you no matter what is amazing!

  • Thank you so much for sharing this post and sharing experiences which are deeply personal as I know this will resonate with so many people in one way or another.

    I grew up with the notion that in the weeks and months leading up to a holiday you must get your body in to the best physical shape it’s ever been and watched my mum go on fad diets to slim down for holidays, and it’s a habit I have tried to break ever since as I think it detracts from what a trip should truly be about.

    But as we all work towards breaking those learned habits I think these are some really helpful tools!

    • Thanks so much! I’m really glad we’re moving away from fad diets and losing out on the fun of trips by prepping ahead of time. Who really needs a flat tummy in a bikini when there’s cake?!

  • So brave of you to share such a post with the world and so inspiring and applause-worthy too! Having been anorexic myself in my late teens/early twenties, I still find it difficult to look in the mirror or at travel photos twenty years later! I’m in a much better place and thankfully have a healthier relationship with food but I do recognise so much of what you’re saying here. Thanks so much for sharing this! Wishing you all the best xx

    • Thank you for sharing that Zarina. I think so many women have faced some sort of eating disorder but don’t even recognize it. It took me a decade to see it and by then my food relationship was so skewed. Recovery is a long but incredibly necessary process.

  • You raised some important point. There are such ridiculous standards that it brings down confidence of many women and men. It is really brave of you to share your story!

  • Making a list is pretty important and updating it after the trip to account for changing traveling styles. I have never had such insecurities, but I think it is always best to confront your fears as issues will likely only get worse than better if nothing is done.

  • Thanks for this post, it is very rarely spoken about but something I think a lot of people can relate to. In my teens I was never self-conscious and never had worries like this. Now in my 20s I find I have a lot more insecurities and realized how many people struggle with body image issues! This is never something we can let get in the way of our travelling and btw you look BEAUTIFUL 🙂

    • That must be very difficult. I hope you get more comfortable and start to gain back that confidence!

  • Great tip about stretching, although I prefer to stretch in the evening to release muscle tension after all the walking. Also, in the morning we usually leave quite early, so I don’t have time to exercise. And getting up even earlier is just impossible for me lol
    I feel you about hiding some body areas for the pictures. Are there really any people who are 100% ok with their bodies unless they are athletes?

    • That’s fair – exercise whenever it works for you! I usually do a short bit in the morning and more in the evening to help release tension like you said. But sometimes I just fall into bed at the end of the day. I’m 100% a morning person :p
      I think even athletes struggle with their bodies. A lot of female athletes I know struggle with looking too masculine or not feeling like they fit into society’s boxes. And others still don’t feel small enough. It’s so sad

  • Sending hugs! Glad you have found some positives in this struggle. I also struggle with packing for warm places because I can’t hide under my baggy hoodies! I generally feel okay with my hoodies- but warmer climate clothes make me feel worse. It’s something I fight all the time!

    • Aw thank you! It’s so hard when you have to bare some more skin, isn’t it? But hoodies really are a great comfort item.

  • I can relate to a lot of this. Thank you for being brave and honest. Your tips are good too and it’s true that you can buy clothes almost anywhere!

  • It’s sad, but real, that this is an issue that haunts so many young women…. particularly in the USA. I’m glad that it doesn’t curtail your travels. I think you look fabulous! Keep traveling!!

  • This is such an honest and important post, and so relatable. I think so many of us struggle with body image, and the more we talk about it the more normalized this struggle will be. Thanks for sharing!

  • I love this post – thank you for sharing. I too have struggled my entire life with body image. Media can be a fickle B. I admire your bravery in sharing your story. Love the idea of bringing an item that makes you smile – this 100% impacts my mood for the day when I have a piece of clothing that flatters me.

    • Thanks, Sarah! I think it’s so nice to have even just one item that’s really special to you at all times. Even in my brokest days I’ve been able to make it work financially

  • You are so right, society has made this such an issue for so many reasons, especially for women. I have struggled with this as well. I have tried lately to buy clothes that fit and that I feel comfortable in and to just love myself no matter what.

  • A. Your stunning 🙂 B. I can totally relate. I had an EPIC meltdown in the middle of Manhattan when I saw a picture of myself and I didnt like the way I looked. Thank you for the helpful tips and sharing your story.

  • You look beautiful to me, but I understand that it’s the way you see yourself that’s the issue. I’m glad to hear you have a therapist. I wish you all the best. And I hope you will be packing for many enjoyable trips in the future.

  • You shouldn’t worry, you look great! But it can be so hard to love the skin your in. I admire your honesty and bravery to tell your story!

  • What a great post ! I am sorry to hear you feel so vulnerable but we could not guess from your photos. You looks awesome. I think the most important is to always being positive, smiling and enjoying the moment you are living – the rest does not matter so much.

  • I really love this post. I hate packing, and hate it even more when i arrive and realise clothes i thought would look good, look awful. Thanks for making me realise im not alone

  • This is so, so, so, amazing and I am so happy to see someone finally talking about it in a post. I know EXACTLY what you mean and I feel it all the time – and your tips are so helpful because it keeps the mind in check. I’d always pack a whole pile of clothes that either aren’t comfortable or makes me feel like an outright wannabe; all just to take photos that sometimes only serve to make me feel worse. I used be a Size 14 and have worked my way down through the years, but the perception of how you look like to yourself never really leaves you. :/ (not to mention that no matter how skinny you get, it’ll never be the same as someone who’s never had their skin or body stretched out before.)

    On a side note, I’m looking at your photos in this picture and think YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL – and you have such a sweet smile! I’m sorry those years were so painful for you to go through ❤️❤️❤️

    • Aw thanks Shafinah!
      I find your actual size barely even registers in your brain with all this body image nonsense. You start to doubt yourself regardless of if you are larger or smaller than you have been before. I go up and down a lot and never know what I’ll see when I look in the mirror.
      It’s so important to learn to be happy regardless of your appearance – which oddly makes you feel better about how you look.

  • I hear you girl! I have such a hard time packing as is, but when it comes to summer adventures I always have a little bit of a melt down. For instance shorts are one of my worst enemies. I hate the way my legs look in them, and of course they seem to be the first thing that gets a little to snug and I never know when they’re going to fit. I like your advice on eating before you try clothes on, I’m honestly guilty of never doing this! Thanks for the tips!

    • I think most people don’t think to eat before trying clothes on. I discovered it by accident actually because I’m hypoglycaemic. It means I need to eat really often, especially if I’m stressed. Since shopping stresses me out, it sort of just happened but then I realized it was a really great way to ensure they always fit!

  • I’m so sorry to hear of the struggles you’ve been through with your body image issues. I know me telling you won’t change anything, but you’re beautiful just as you are. These tips are really helpful and some things I’d never considered. Like eating before trying on clothes! Although, realistically ALL my clothes are stretchy so I can gain or lose a few pounds and still have them fit 🙂 Plus I just like to be comfortable! I really love the idea of packing something that makes you happy too. This is something I often do, even when I know I won’t wear it much.

    • Comfort is key! I wish more fashion brands realized that and helped push that for women’s clothes. I don’t even buy dresses anymore if they don’t have pockets – just because I love pockets!

  • Thank you SO much for sharing this and being so vulnerable! I’ve felt a lot of these same pressures over the years. I’ve never connected it to the media of the 90s/2000s but you’re absolutely right – I remember a lot of the same commercials and expectations. My favorite tip you shared is packing something that makes you happy – even if it’s sweat pants! I need to practice this habit more often instead of bringing only “cool clothes” haha! Thanks again, this was an incredible read!

  • Hi Nina, I felt so sad for you reading this. But I want to thank you so much for sharing your story as I’m sure there are literally thousands of girls out there who experience similar anxiety. Society, media and now social media have a lot to do with unrealistic expectations of our bodies at the age when we are most vulnerable to criticism. I hope that you can be kinder to yourself and hold onto the thought that with age comes acceptance of who we are within and that is what matters most of all.

    • Thanks so much, Tracy. Social media is really a downer, but I’ve learned to harness it by following body-positive people and focussing on travel blogs that feature the location. Age has definitely helped my body acceptance grow. I think teen years are definitely the worst for it.

  • Thanks for being vulnerable and sharing your story! I found I used to pack closes that I wasn’t a fan because they were cute. But I found the more and more I packed closes that made me smile, they more I felt truly me. I’m so glad you included that part because that positive energy from smiling can make a difference. 🙂

  • Aw what an open an honest post. I found I used to be so self conscious about my body but then I grew out of it with age. Especially when you learn what your body can do and when you have friends and a partner who surround you with love and make you realise you were worried about nothing. At least that’s what happened in my case. I hope you get to that point too where you love your body regardless 🙂

    • Thank you Tam <3 I think the people around you have a huge impact. My family have made a pact not to give compliments based on weight or physical appearance, and my friends have played a huge part in helping me realize my personality matters more than my dress size.

  • Although I’m sure you hear this a lot and it doesn’t help, you are in great shape and should be proud of your body! In saying that, I totally understand not feeling happy in your body. I love that you included packing something that makes you smile. This is a great idea and I think we should all do it.

    • Thanks, Chelsea! It’s a tip that came from how wonderful I felt when I’d splurge on a skirt or dress in years when I swore off buying anything because “I’ll lose the weight and won’t wear them later”. Since then I’ve realized I shouldn’t punish myself for my shape and started treating myself to something that makes me twirl or feel a bit more confident every few months.

  • This is heartbreaking to hear, because I think you look beautiful in all of these photos! I think body image is something that all of us struggle with, but it’s just important to not compare to others.

    • Thanks, Monique. I agree – we need to learn to love ourselves for ourselves, not based on how we compare.

  • Such a good reminder to enjoy the trip more than what we look like (yes easier said than done)! I always use lists to not overpack or under pack (another anxious person here) thank you for being open about your struggle!

  • You look absolutely gorgeous! It is so sad that women are being taught that their worth should be measured by the weight displayed on the scales, or a dress size. I’ve struggled with this issue for a long time too. Don’t ask me why, because there was nothing wrong with me… society just creates such unrealistic expectations that are impossible to live up to. Fortunately, celebrities aren’t all super thin these days. X

    • I totally agree! Celebs nowadays have helped me appreciate my booty and acknowledge that it’s ok that I have larger curves. As much as I dislike the Kardashians, a fair amount of it is due to them. So at least they’ve done one positive thing for us!

  • I completely know what you mean! Sometimes when I pack, I feel like nothing looks good on me. I go through my closet for hours thinking “ok, this one makes my stomach look big” or “this one is too small”. I think the key is to learn to love yourself regardless and find things that look good on you that you feel comfortable in!

    • I totally agree! Packing is a stressor that amplifies all of our issues with our self image. The moment you’re forced to lock in to certain items and have the stress of baggage fees, etc., your brain starts whirring with negativity. It’s so important to take the time to work on that mentality so those moments don’t break you.

  • I’ve found it helpful to remind myself of how well I treat my body and acknowledge where my body is happiest when I am very healthy. Investing in a capsul wardrobe has also been helpful as I have only a few pieces that are good quality and very flattering so I dont feel self concious and it’s not overwhelming to pack.

    • Capsul wardrobes are a really great idea. I’ve never really given them a shot, but I’ll consider them!

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