Trying on clothes in a retail dressing room is an experience that many women dread — it’s a time they tend to be hyper-critical of themselves and their bodies.
But psychologist Dr. Susan Albers wants to turn the negative experience into a more positive one with her #DressingRoomChallenge. Albers got the idea for the challenge — which asks women to give a compliment to themselves or a stranger they encounter in a dressing room — when she was out shopping and overheard two women in the dressing room speaking about their bodies in very unkind terms.
“One woman was trying on a dress, and the words that came out of her mouth were shocking in terms of how she was describing her body,” Albers tells PEOPLE. “The friend was not encouraging at all. I remember thinking, ‘These doors are not soundproof, we can all hear you.’ I was looking in the mirror, and thinking about how other women next to me were looking at themselves, and hearing this kind of language.”
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As soon as she got home, Albers posted about her experience on Facebook, encouraging others to be more mindful of the words they use in dressing rooms — both toward themselves and others.
“It’s something that I’ve always done and continue to do,” says Albers of paying compliments to strangers in dress rooms. “It’s something really easy that you can do to spread joy. You can’t change the whole culture of the world, but you can change someone in the dressing room.”