I love to shop. I love fashion and finding new clothing, new pieces that will help me come closer to completing my perfect wardrobe. I’m a sucker for anything with a boho vibe that I can then put my own preppy or edgy spin on in order to make a piece of clothing totally mine. But, the thing that comes with shopping, especially when your weight fluctuates from disordered eating and recovery, is having to try things on in the change rooms. Sure you can always just buy the piece and try it on at home, but the premise is the same: how do you talk to your body when something you’re trying on doesn’t fit?
In the past few months, I’ve gained a bit of weight from dealing with a major depressive episode that came quickly after a manic episode in the summer (I have bipolar disorder). I’ve gone from being my smallest weight to close to my heaviest and this has taken its toll on my body image. I feel like a hypocrite, every time I post anything on Instagram about loving your body, because right now? That’s really hard for me to do. One of the first things that really made me notice how much I was hating my body was when I stopped to really listen to my self-talk in the store dressing rooms.
As I try on dresses or blouses or jeans, my inner voice becomes toxic the moment I feel the piece of clothing become a bit too tight or not fit properly, even though the tag says it’s technically my ‘size’. I am appalled and ashamed at the way I speak to myself in the mirror when I try clothes on. I wouldn’t say these things to my worst enemy, so why do I say them to myself? My shame and hatred of my body overtakes any respect I have for myself and that’s not okay.
I tried on two pairs of jeans a couple months ago and it was eye-opening. They were the exact same size and style, just different washes (one light denim, one dark denim). One pair fit perfectly, the other felt two sizes too small. This wasn’t a problem with my body... this was a problem with the garment itself. How can I blame my body for something so simple as bad manufacturing?
Here are some ways I try to change my self-talk in the dressing room:
“This piece of clothing was not made for my body.”
“That number on the tag does not reflect my worth. It doesn’t even properly reflect the size of the clothing, considering in the next store that same size will fit me perfectly.”
“Your curves and lumps and bumps do not need to be invisible in your clothing. Stop trying to hide the body that holds you.”
It’s hard to do, but it’s not impossible. I’m working hard on being kind to myself, inside and outside of the dressing room. My love of fashion should not be compromised because I have a difficult time loving my body right now. So baby steps, but important steps.