I’m moving in a few weeks, and I’ve been going through my stuff, as is traditional, to toss anything I don’t need or use or wear or want, because moving giant boxes is bad enough when they’re filled with actual useful items. It is insulting to move books you hate and broken pans and stretched-out T-shirts. I am sure I have a ton of junk hiding in my office and my kitchen and scattered across my living room, but I realized, going through my closet and my dresser, that I don’t have any of those stretched-out, ratty T-shirts. I don’t appear to own anything I don’t wear–it is a miracle! But I also don’t have any of the kind of comfy, casual, flop around the house clothes that straddle the border between street clothes and pajamas.
At my heaviest, that was all I wore. I never put on jeans because they constricted. I wore big sweaters that came down to my knees, and long skirts and I even left the house a few times in an L.L. Bean nightgown that I told myself looked exactly like a T-shirt dress except that it really looked like was an ankle-length nightgown, and what I really looked like is someone who had given up and didn’t care and would shower in a down coat because she hated her body so much and couldn’t stand to have anyone look at it, including herself.
I had been fat all my life, and once I figured out it wasn’t a
death sentence, I had always tried so hard to dress well, and
fashionably, and sexily. I had so many cute things, sexy things,
low-cut shirts and tight jeans and clingy dresses. I looked good. I
honored my body, and showed the world, which so often told me I wasn’t
allowed to take pride in my body and I was foolish to think that I was
hot or awesome or sexy, that I was not listening, that I was everything
that was hot, that I looked good and I knew exactly how good I looked.
I looked good in those clothes, and I looked even better out of them.
gained more weight, though, a lot of weight in a short period of time,
and I gave up. I could not keep up, I could not accept the possibility
that I needed to buy new things, to dress the body I had, to love it
and celebrate it and feel that it was beautiful and valued. I gave up,
and became the cliché of the fat girl, in her giant swaths of fabric,
her indoor/outdoor, couch-to-work-to-couch clothing. I didn’t care
about what I looked like–or rather, I cared entirely too much about
what I looked like beneath the clothes, and the clothes reflected
exactly what I thought of myself and my body. I gave up, and I
despaired, and sometimes I wonder exactly how much the decision to get
weight-loss surgery was a rational, well-thought-out decision, and how
much was desperation and depression.
So many sizes down, in
rapid succession. I had to replace my entire wardrobe several times
over. And I realized the one thing I wasn’t buying–I never bought
anything with an elastic waist. I always bought my size, not something
oversized. And I never bought casual clothes–comfy pants, sweatpants, T-shirts, baggy jeans. Everything I have bought has been a celebration.
Even the ill-advised fashion choices have been clothes that are a
little bit dressy, snazzy, stuff I would wear to a nice restaurant or
to the office. My body now is far from perfect and gives me fits and I
struggle to accept its myriad flaws, but I work to love it. I work to
look good and to feel good. I never want to dress down again.
is a chicken and egg question–did I give up and despair and that’s why
I started to dress as if I had something to hide, or did I start
dressing as if I had something to hide, and that is when I began to
despair, to hate the body hiding under all the layers, to never want to
look at it again? I think it is a little bit of both. I wonder what
would have happened, if I had accepted my new contours, gone out and
bought myself a gorgeous new dress, a pair of hot new dark-wash jeans
in my new size, a top that was cut to show off my boobs. If I had taken care of myself.
If I had thought that what I deserved couldn’t be predicated by my
size. How much hurt would I have saved myself, and how much pain?