paying it forward

When you get weight-loss surgery, you lose weight very quickly, especially at first. At a certain point, you are losing something like a clothing size every month or month and a half, and it is dizzying and crazy and bizarre and it is hard for your head to catch up, but more practically speaking, it is really hard for your wardrobe to catch up. How the hell are you supposed to keep yourself covered up when everything is falling off you?

You wear things that are eight sizes too large, is what you do, you dig through your closet looking for the “skinny” clothes you kept around because you were hoping someday you’d fit into them again, and when you’re getting on the bus you step on the hem of the elastic waisted skirt that’s hanging around your hips and you yank it down, inadvertently pantsing yourself in front of a busload of commuters, which is among the not-brightest and shiniest moments of your entire life.

Sometimes, you have to go buy new pants, or a new skirt, or something, anything to cover your ass. Sometimes you’ll have to attend an event and need to spend a lot of money on an outfit and you know it won’t fit you within a couple of weeks, and it feels outrageous, wasteful, frustrating and that, there, is the hidden cost of weight-loss surgery. Forget the “possible nutritional deficiencies when you are 107 years old,” the clothing bill is the real place you get it stuck to you. Consider that carefully!



Seriously, though, it felt very important and like a big deal; it was
frustrating to find something to wear every day, and when I was still
in larger sizes, thrift stores weren’t much help (unless I wanted
Christmas sweaters and tapered mom jeans) and even on sale,
plus-size clothing is always fairly spendy, and I was pretty much
pennies-in-the-bank-account broke from not working while I was
recovering from surgery.

And then, someone wrote me an email. She said, I have recently lost a
lot of weight, and have a lot of nice clothes. I would so love to give
them to you. She sent them to me, with no charge and no obligation
whatsoever–a beautiful, beautiful pink fancy dress, a full-length red
coat, a strapless dress, a few wonderful blouses and tees–so many
clothes, and all of them lovely, and well-fitting through the course of
a few sizes, all of it got me through very specific occasions in which
I would have otherwise been screwed (i.e., the winter, a wedding, a job
interview) at a time when I was broke and would have otherwise been
wrapped in a sheet.

Her generosity was stunning and I have never forgotten her kindness and
how much she helped me with something that seems kind of silly to talk
about, but was actually a huge and worrisome issue.

And now I have a bin full of good clothes, sitting next to my closet.
Stuff that doesn’t fit me any more, but is good stuff, well-made, some
of it expensive, all of it things I am sad I can’t wear any more. I
still have that beautiful coat, which I clung to long after it stopped
fitting correctly. A semi-formal bronze dress. So many clothes. And
what I need to do, clearly, is pay it forward. I need to find someone
to send it to. I don’t want to just donate it to a thrift store where
it’ll get marked up and resold–I want to give it to someone who needs
it.

It’s a coat, a bunch of dresses, some formal, some jackets I loved
wearing to work, all from sizes about 18 through about 10. Do you need a pink dress for
a wedding, in a size 12? Are you cold and need a beautiful wool coat,
in a size 18? Do you know someone who would like a green corduroy
blazer, a cute cropped velvet blazer, a sparkly sequined cocktail gown?
Or do you know of a charity that will give the clothes directly to the
women who need them? Drop me a line or a note in the comments, please.

And thanks again, Beth, if you’re still reading. I hope you know it meant the world to me.

20 Replies to “paying it forward”

  1. I wore the pink raincoat you passed on to me to vote on Tuesday! It’s getting a little too big and will need to be passed on eventually but I still love it. Your coats got me through last winter.

    And that free for all in your closet last October inspired me to always let my friends have first pick of my closet before making sure to get the rest taken off to Goodwill to make the pickings there better for plus size girls.

  2. i haven’t had weight loss surgery, but i am desperately trying to lose weight (weight watchers, exercise) and would love a coat in size 18, if you still have it. i will happily send you shipping/cost of coat if you would like. my last coat is pretty much had it, and i hate to go out and buy a new one when i will hopefully be several sizes smaller next year.

    i know that there are several “cinderella” organizations across the country that do fancy dresses around prom time, for girls that don’t have the funds. and some of those specialize in plus size.

  3. if any of the clothes are business attire, there is an organization called Dress for Success that helps poor women prepare for job interviews and provides clothing for the interviews. they have chapters all over the place and you should be able to find them on the internet!

  4. I too have a bunch of nice clothes, many of them business clothes (nice suits and button downs and tons of business casual separates), in sizes about 16 to 12 that I would love to give to somebody who really needs them.

  5. The coat is yours, Kristy. Email me your address, and I’ll get it out to you first thing next week.

    And thank you, guys, for the donation leads!

  6. You know, I have been thinking about this for a while myself…
    My own losses haven’t been nearly as dramatic, but for years I have maintained three complete wardrobes in 3 concurrent sizes. I have HUGE moving boxes full of really nice clothes that just don’t fit me anymore. I have been meaning to have a big party at my house and invite my friends to go shopping for free, but I wonder if there couldn’t be something more that could be done…

  7. People have already mentioned the two charities I could think of that would use the clothing. What about a women’s shelter for any other clothing (not fancy dress or business suit)? Maybe there’s a woman who left her abusive husband and didn’t get to bring any clothes with her? I’d call around and ask.
    I’d love some work clothes/suits for interviewing. However, your sizes aren’t large enough for me.

  8. Giving my clothes to friends in need and to charities while I lost the weight was one of my most rewarding moments. I still purge periodically of those hard to let go items – why do we keep them, I just don’t know.

    I love your story how someone’s generosity helped you, and now what goes around comes around.

    I could a size 12 party dress for the holidays, and the velvet cropped blazer sounds good – heck, I could use any decent clothes in a 12!

  9. That’s also an awesome idea, Pattie, thank you.

    Inky, email me your address, and I’ll put together a package for you.

    And is there any interest in setting up a clothing swap? I think we are probably a pretty diverse range of sizes, with something for everyone. I’d love to set that up, if you guys would be interested.

  10. Hi,

    I was really touched by your post. I have had a very difficult time recently. Because of some events out of my control, I have been unemployed, although I will be employed with a VERY good job in the next few weeks… (thank goodness for my environmental chemistry degree). I was out of work because of an illness I contracted while I was overseas in Iraq and I have gained weight because of my household lounging while getting better. I am 100% healthy after two years (YAYAYAY), but am really stressed because my new job requires nice clothing. I wear a 16/18 now and have realized that plus size is so much more expensive to cloth than smaller sizes. If you are looking for someone still to take the clothing off of your hands, let me know. I will try to scrounge up shipping if needed…

  11. Hi,

    I was really touched by your post. I have had a very difficult time recently. Because of some events out of my control, I have been unemployed, although I will be employed with a VERY good job in the next few weeks… (thank goodness for my environmental chemistry degree). I was out of work because of an illness I contracted while I was overseas in Iraq and I have gained weight because of my household lounging while getting better. I am 100% healthy after two years (YAYAYAY), but am really stressed because my new job requires nice clothing. I wear a 16/18 now and have realized that plus size is so much more expensive to cloth than smaller sizes. If you are looking for someone still to take the clothing off of your hands, let me know. I will try to scrounge up shipping if needed…

    Brooke

  12. I feel ya! I’ve been trying to sell back my too-big clothes and getting some sort of store credit, it’s a little easier now since I’m in “normal” sizes, they don’t carry plus sized stuff at all. (I go to a place called Buffalo Exchange, not sure if it’s national).

    You mentioned something about a corduroy jacket…I have been dying to replace my super big one that I traded away months ago. I am a waist size 12, with DD chest (40 inches?) I wear anything from a medium to an extra large in tops, depending on the brand.

    If you have anything that sounds like it would work, let me know!

  13. Anything in a size 12/14 – would be a godsend.
    But if someone else needs stuff more, please pass it along to them. I’m on a tight budget, but I’m still employed so its not as dire for me.

  14. Oh wow… If you’ve got anything in 18s left, especially pants-type objects, I’d be interested for sure. I’m in rather a catch-22 right now – unemployed, so no money to spend on clothes, yet nothing nicer than old jeans to wear if I happened to get a job interview! Well, unless you count the hot pink pants… that would make an impression, certainly, but not necessarily the one I want. But the combination of just moved and recently having gained a fair bit of weight means my wardrobe is pretty small, especially for winter – all the clothes that were too big for me a little while ago got donated before we moved to make room in the car, and now I’m wishing I had them again. I’m beginning to think that the “give away anything that doesn’t fit” advice is really just a way for the clothing industry to make more money in a shorter time period…

  15. I echo the “anything in a size 18?” query above. My husband and I are kind of ridiculously poor (that’s changing, but slowly), and I’m finding it impossible to locate clothes in my size that aren’t… well, you know, Wal-Mart “woman” sizes, which are kind of ugly and depressing.

    I have a few things in sizes 14-16, if anyone else is interested in them — nothing fancy, but some pretty tank-tops and tees in (mostly) solid colors, a pair of cute dark flare-leg jeans (the tag says 18, but trust me, they are 16s), stuff like that. If anyone’s interested, pocketfulofsky at gmail dot com is where it’s at. :)

  16. I have also been losing weight — not weight loss surgery fast, but fast enough that I hesitate to buy a whole new wardrobe in each size. I’ve got some lovely clothes in sizes 18-22 that I’d be happy to pass on, including two beautiful fancy dresses and a long black wool coat. If anyone’s interested, message me and I can send photos.

    http://notshrinking.blogspot.com/

    If you’ve got winter appropriate stuff in a 14 or 16, I’d be thrilled with hand me downs!

  17. I’m a size 14/16 who’s stuck trying to piece together a work-appropriate wardrobe on a they-cut-me-down-to-part-time-and-student-loans-are-a-bitch budget. I’d happily take some clothes anyone has to spare, and, in turn, I’ll work on finding things to pass on to others.

  18. I have jeans in size 16 and a couple in size 14, also casual pants in size 16, that I can no longer wear. But I am in desperate need of size 12 jeans and work attire.

    Ashley, you don’t have an email link, but if you see this, drop me a line!

    The only issue with my stuff is that I am 5’1″ and the jeans are all petite or short (not altered, just purchased “short” or “petite”). The casual pants are mostly capri length. If anyone can use them, please email me and I’ll send them your way.

  19. I have had the weight loss surgery and I totally understand what you mean… I’m 7/8 months since my surgery and have lost 112 lbs… I’m currently should be wearing about a size 14 or Large/ex-large clothes, but I still wear the larger clothes… I pen my skirts as its so expensive to go out and buy new ones… I have found a few items but just can’t afford to buy new items… Anything would help… Also, I have some larger clothes… some dresses/skirts/shirts that I could pass them on…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *