I wish I had taken a before photo of my closet to give you an image of what I mean when I say that all I owned was black clothing. I’m not a goth. I’m not in technical theatre anymore. My wardrobe had become a physical way to hide myself from the world. I own 17 black tshirts. This isn’t a game.
When I started treatment, my biggest obstacle was food. Once we got that to a place where it was controlled, my therapist and I quickly realized that a lot of my ED was body shame. As we dove deeper into the reality of what I think about my body and how I place myself in the world, we replaced my food exercises with clothing exercises. The hardest homework assignment was experimenting with color and wearing things that “scare” me.
Once I got over the initial fright of shopping and not buying all things dark, it has actually been really fun. I’ve been wearing things that I always said “I’ll wear that when I lose 10 pounds” or “my ass is too big for that”, or whatever. There was always an excuse. I don’t envy my thin-bodied friends as much in their ability to wear anything. My body doesn’t get to decide what I wear, people don’t get to decide what I wear, I GET TO (and my budget does…but that’s another post for another time). I’ve tried all different colors, jumpsuits, mixed patterns, I even wore a crop top….to the gym (another post for another time as well).
On top of therapy, I’m working with my nutrition coach, and I’m paying more attention to how my body FEELS. What’s happening in the gym? What have I accomplished? What am I noticing change in or about my body? I highly recommend finding a community of folks to work with when you’re going through treatment, and afterwards. It’s been helpful to have a corner person, when I’m not seeing my therapist, who cheers me along in reframing my approach to my diet. The biggest flip there is not being worried about the scale anymore. Numbers are numbers, they don’t describe the changes I see every day. And I finally get to allow myself to celebrate those changes, instead of how “far” I have to go.
There are still obstacles. The change in wardrobe has brought on a change in how people respond to me. There are comment about my looks, questions about why I’m making the change up, people are noticing my shape. My basic response is that I’m dressing like I give a shit about myself, because I FINALLY do. Sure, there are some other reasons. The general spirit behind all of this, is because I care about me. I don’t want to waste my life thinking about what I could be and focus on who I actually am. I am pretty wonderful and I’ve worked really hard to get here. I deserve to be seen and heard. It’s okay for me to take up space, both physically and emotionally. And I’m going to wear what I want.
And P.S.: A jumpsuit is my new power outfit….despite the trouble it causes when you need to pee.