Shopping. The dreaded activity for anyone going through eating disorder recovery. While in the depths of an eating disorder the number on the tag holds so much power. It can be the determiner of a good or bad day. Well, I am here to tell you that it is just a number that has no meaning. Sizes change from store to store and brand to brand. At one store you could be a small and then be a medium at another store. Guess what? There is nothing wrong with that. I believe, when shopping, what should matter most is the way the clothes make you feel, rather then honing in on the number on the tag.
What’s my Size?
Part of having an eating disorder is not having body awareness to the extent that you are unaware how your body actually looks. I know for me, I still struggle to see what everyone else sees. For the longest time, when I looked in the mirror, I would see someone much larger then I was. Now, I think, I am beginning to see my true self in the mirror. While I was unable to see myself for how I actually looked, shopping was very difficult. Not only was it difficult because it shone a spotlight on the one thing I wanted to hide and at the same time my body had changed, but I also couldn’t conceptualize what size I was. When looking through racks of clothing, I would pick up something and think it would look to small or too big, but then I tried it on and it fit fine. For the longest time, I would bring two sizes into the dressing room because I truly was clueless about my size. I have finally gotten to the point where I know. On that same note, if that size doesn’t fit, I don’t let it ruin my day. I say to myself “In this fit at this store, this size doesn’t fit, let me try another size and there is nothing wrong with that. It is no reflection of me as a person.”. I would have to say that this helps every time.
When I go shopping, I am also very picky about the clothes I try on and buy. I have to feel amazing in the clothes to buy them. If I don’t love it in the dressing room, I know I will never wear it. There’s this feeling you get, or at least I do, when trying something on and it just makes me love my body even more. I never used to get this feeling. Shopping used to be a dreaded chore. When I was young, I could never find anything that fit, or I thought fit. My sense of style was jeans, a t-shirt and a sweatshirt with my long hair pulled up into a pony tail. Over the years this has evolved. It is still simple, but now it’s mostly jeans with loose, solid color tops in white, black, pale pink, or deep red. It’s understated, but it’s what I am most comfortable in. Who cares what the latest fashion is if it’s not something that you feel comfortable in. The clothes you own should make you want to get dressed in the morning. Even though I might not have that much with me in Israel, I still get excited about finding new ways to mix and match what I have. It breathes new life into my clothes and makes me excited to wear them.
Shopping-dreaded or loved-is a way to connect with our bodies in a more meaningful way. It doesn’t need to be a negative experience. Go with your best friend that will help you through tough moments and reality check for you. Recently I bought a pair of high waisted jeans. I was having a hard time seeing how they truly looked on me. I have one friend that I always go shopping with because she is my reality check. She came back to the store with me, saw them on and immediately said “Buy them. They look amazing on you”. I felt good in them, so I trusted her and bought them. They have became one of my favorite pair of jeans. It’s ok to have someone be your voice of reason until you begin to trust your own voice.
Some people love it, some people hate it, but it is part of life. My advice to you is to find stores you love and create your own personal style. Don’t worry about the size. No one stays the same size their whole life. Our bodies fluctuate in weight and this is perfectly fine. Shopping can be a fun, positive experience. How has shopping changed for you in recovery? Leave a comment with your answer and advice below.