I never thought I’d think clothes shopping was fun, just because staring at yourself in a mirror is basically asking your ED to scream at you even louder than usual. However, within the past few years, clothes shopping has gotten easier and easier the more I do it.
Fall always seems to be a good time for me to refresh my wardrobe, and this year was no exception. As someone who’s in grad school, I also find myself in this terrible black hole of “is Ann Taylor too old for me?” and “is Forever 21 too young for me?” So that makes it even trickier sometimes.
What I’ve found, over the last few years, is that clothes shopping is ten times easier when I focus on the feel. Not the size, not the store, not the look, but the feel. How do my clothes feel? Do they feel comfy? Do they feel tight? Loose? *Looking good* is an added bonus, but sometimes what other people think looks good on me, I think looks terrible.
Everybody has certain things they won’t wear, certain “fear clothes,” if you will– the certain types of clothes we avoid because it can trigger some disordered thoughts. Yesterday, I tried on a shirt that did exactly this, and my mom was adamant that it looked great. We compromised by finding the shirt in a different color for me to try on, and I liked it a lot more. I took the chance and got the shirt.
Accepting the changes that your body goes through during weight restoration or in recovery in general is extremely difficult. For some people, eating disorders develop around the time in their lives where their bodies would be changing anyway, so when you pair recovery with biology (a teen body changing into an adult body, etc.) it can be even more difficult to experience body changes.
To be clear, it’s impossible to expect your body to be the same post-ED as it was pre-ED. That’s like asking your body to be pregnant, give birth, and then go right back to how it looked before something drastic happened. That’s also like asking your body to go through puberty and then later return to that pre-pubescent body. It’s impossible.
A lot of people have this notion that they should maintain their pre-ED weight for the rest of their life, but the body of a 15-year-old is inherently different than that of a 22-year-old. Weight fluctuations throughout life are normal, healthy, and necessary.
That all being said, clothes shopping forces you to look at the changes your body has gone through throughout the whole process: when you were sick, in recovery, and post-ED, if you’re there.
The changes our bodies go through are necessary if we want to lead fulfilling lives. This doesn’t mean that the changes are easy, but we need to recognize that health is the only way we’ll live a fulfilling life, even if the size of our pants change.