Today I’m going to type about positive things. I tend to focus a lot in this blog on what I’m focusing on a lot in my head, and right now, I’m thinking positive.
Today, I got my piercing. It’s really buff (IMO) and I’m glad I did it. Plus it was bare cheap which is always a bonus. I’ve been going to this shonky little place in Walthamstow for a while now called Studio 69. Even the name makes you think it can’t possibly be sterile. It actually is though and the piercer is really lovely and even though it’s cheap, it’s clean and nice and friendly. So I went in today and got my cartilage rim pierced again, just above my other one because I think it’s nice. Plus my piercer looked at my nape (seeing as I can’t exactly check it) and said it was one of the best healed surface piercings she’d seen. Apparently it looks like it’s been healing for 8 months/a year, but I’ve only had it three months. She took a picture of it to put on the website and everything. Makes me happy. I also got my tragus bar replaced as I felt it was way too long and often stuck out too much, and my nose piercing stretched in order to fit proper body jewellery so I can get a serious gold hoop in it eventually and to fix the dent bad studs have put in my nose. I shrunk it over time through buying studs and sleepers from Claire’s Accessories which are less than 1mm in diameter. It has to heal around a bar first, but stage one on the road to garish, tacky gold hoop.
The Ma also bought me clothes! Clothes that make me happy! Clothes because I’ve been two months smoke free! Clothes because its half-term therefore she’s on holiday and that is reason enough to buy me and the Brother pressies! I love my clothes so much I’m actually going to put pictures of them on here. I have space leggings! Leggings with planets and stars and a nebulous on the bum. They literally make my week I love them so much. And a matching space top! So I can fully dress as the cosmos (next fancy dress sorted)! So many exclamation marks but they are so good! And they make me laugh to wear, which makes them all the better! And she got me a t-shirt with an old map of London on which is really nice as well – I can go to the places on the t-shirt, wearing the t-shirt! Basically, all the good clothes. And also, some incredibly fab pants. They are good because they are very high which is actually reassuring as it’s another layer cover up for recovery bellies (and I’m one of those people that think actually, big pants are really nice). Honestly, I don’t care that I’m being weird, sometimes clothes can make me joyous. I am full of joy because I own space leggings and large pants.
(Apologies for dreadful image quality – phones init).
I think in recovery, clothes are really important. In life more generally, I like nice clothes and I like to feel like I look acceptable, but in recovery, clothes are crucial. They can be the difference between absolutely unbearable and passable moods. Something that doesn’t fit right, or even something that still fits fine, just not the way you’re used to, can completely wreck a day or two (maybe even a week) if your eating disorder is narrated with body dissatisfaction (like mine). I have therefore come to the conclusion that right now, clothes are a good way to spend the little money I have. In fact, anything that makes me feel marginally better about my skin (after food of course) is top priority. A big problem for me was that as I lost weight, I donated all the clothes that fit my healthy body to charity, resolving never to fit them again. Now I do, and I have nothing. That’s a lie, I kept a lot of t-shirts and dresses. T-shirts are kinda fine whatever your size I think. They are either more tight or more loose, but they always kinda fit whatever size you are. Genuinely, my t-shirt collection ranges from size 4 to size 20 and the all fit fine I think. Maybe I’m just not that fussy when it comes to t-shirts. Plus most of my dresses are second-hand which essentially means they are all size 12. A lot of things had to be re-bought though. And I bought some new stuff I didn’t desperately need because I was too uncomfortable in what I owned.
Like most people in recovery I think, clothes have hugely effected me, but eventually, I have learnt a few things. It’s a stupid list, but these are things that have made clothes (and by implication, living in more fat tissue) easier (though not easy) to bear.
1) Stay away from second-hand.
In my life in general, I firmly believe that there are lots of perfectly good and actually really nice second-hand clothes to be had, so buying newly made stuff is kinda wasteful. And also, you end up buying some pretty nifty items this way. Obviously some things have to be newly made (like underwear and really smart suity stuff) and sometimes it’s nice to buy something new, but I like to get most of my clothes from friends, vintage or charity. At my lowest weights, I couldn’t get second-hand clothes anymore because there is a point when you just get too small for most people’s hand me downs, but with recovery, I was really looking forward to having a good rummage in my local charity shops.
However, I was wrong. This is an awful idea. Absolutely, categorically stupid. Why? Because there is no standard sizing. If I like a pair of jeans in a charity shop and they seem like my size, I get excited and really want them. I try them on, only to realise I’ve grown, but I’d already set my heart on them, there’s no getting another pair. And even if you I on a different pair in a bigger size, they might be too big or too small as sizes between brands aren’t standard. It’s traumatic. Seriously. It’s ok for jumpers and cardis and dresses because most of these things look fine in sizes that are a bit big, but jeans, skirts, shorts, trousers, shirts etc. are a no. Anything that actually has to kinda fit isn’t worth it. It’s confusing and hard and really, there’s plenty of time for second-hand once I’m comfortable and at a stable weight. The rest of my life in fact.
2) Primark and H&M are your best friend.
Ok so there are problems with H&M sizing because a lot of things run up small which can cause drama, but they are cheap. I’m sure there are other dirt cheap clothes shops, but these are the ones I have easy access to. When my body was changing a whole load, it was kinda important to be wearing clothes that fit at different stages, but that can be really difficult money-wise, so cheap shops are crucial. The worst thing I could do is continue to wear clothes that make me constantly conscious of the fact I’m bigger and I actually think it’s pretty impractical to buy clothes that will fit “once I’m weight restored” because really, I didn’t know what size I’d be once I was weight restored. This is the one instance when I actually believe disposable fashion is the way forward. Especially with things like jeans. I borrowed other people clothes as well for interim periods. They didn’t have to be all that nice, but a plain enough pair of jeans or skirt or something for as cheap as possible is a good idea. They didn’t have to be well made or last forever because I would probably grow out of them. I just made sure they were things I was happy to leave behind when the day came.
Might sound stupid, but anything that stretches is good, even if its tight-fitting. Leggings and cycling shorts are super comfortable and stretch to your shape. If I don’t want to wear them out because I’m not comfy enough with my body, thas fine, I’ve got my crappy Primark jeans, but in the house, they reign supreme on the comfort level. They are actually pretty forgiving clothes and you can buy them in a size smaller than you, or a size bigger, and they’ll still fit kinda the same. It works with bodycon skirts and dresses too for if I’m feeling a little more confident and want something a bit less casual for outside appearances. I own a lot of stretchy lycra things and actually, a lot of it looks better now I’m bigger. Wearing lycra clothes which fit baggy on you isn’t attractive, but most of it fits now. I have ridiculously small-sized skirts but really, they fit a bit better now and give me a fabz batty. Lycra is a winner in recovery because it grows with you. And also, it can be bought bare cheap (New Look even do multipack leggings) or if you fancy something a bit more interesting, it’s easily avaliable. And to be honest, cycling shorts and leggings triple up as perfect yoga clothes and pjs. Yuss.
4) If it makes you smile, it’s worth it
I get immense guilt when shopping, but I’ve found that in recovery, clothes that are a bit stupid but make me happy are worth spending a little bit more than I’m comfy on. For me, this involves princess skirts and t-shirts with dinosaurs on and anything with a lot of glitter or sequins or rhinestones on it. I like to dress up, so my taste is a little bit odd, but I think that everyone has clothes that make the a little bit more happy and anything that increases your sum of happiness is worth it. Especially if it can make something as difficult as clothes a bit more cheery. Now is the time for stupid items that make each day a little bit more silly.
5) Baggy vests and t-shirts.
And lots of them. They are cheap and can be worn with anything and basically cover up a lot of the standard uncomfortable body zones. You can get really long ones to cover bums and hips, but also tummies and upper arms if need be. And they actually look alright with almost anything. Especially the lycra leggings. They are nice and airy for when it’s hot, but can easily be teamed with vests underneath and hoodies/jumpers/cardis of any description. They look good tucked in to high-waisted things or pulled in with a waist belt. They look good with low or natural waisted things too. And jeans. And you can get them a little sheer if you want something a tinsy bit see through so you feel a bit less like you’re hiding. I like the tiny bit see through ones because I feel like I’m hiding, but I don’t think I look like I am. No one knows I’m hiding but me.
Are the most difficult thing to buy and are a little bit important to own. If they stop fitting, get rid of them and get some which fit better. Or not. I can always wear a skirt and to be honest, it’d be a lot less traumatic to buy.
7) Remove anything that doesn’t fit.
I’d be a hypocrite to say throw it away, because I can’t… Just in case. Which is stupid because what does that mean? Just in case I engage in eating disordered behaviours again for long enough to drop a noticeable amount of clothes sizes? I don’t want that to happen. In fact, I want to remove anything that makes that tempting. But I can’t yet. Argh. Still, removing it all from my room was one of my better moves. Getting it out of line of sight whilst getting dressed saves a lot of “oh I’ll just see” moments. They make me feel like shit. Replace with all the things that fit.
8) If on any day you’ve got the balls, wear it.
So I wake up one day and you think “I can actually look at my legs”, that is the day I parade them about. The more I do it, the easier it gets. Exposure therapy init. I don’t even think it’s important that it’s my style or anything. I think just being about to wear whatever I like, regardless of what parts of my body it does or doesn’t show, is a nice thing to aim for. Once I know I can have my legs out as much as I want, I can keep them covered in trousers if I’d like, but just knowing that it is really my choice, not because I’m too scared or ashamed, would be a nice thing I think. So on that rare day I’m comfy enough with my whole body, crop tops and hot pants. Why not?
9) It’s not the end of the world.
In the end, clothes aren’t that important, but learning to accept changes in weight is. If all I can bare is sweats, then so be it. Having a healthy body is more important than anything else. Clothes are pretty expensive and kinda boring to shop for and sometimes you just end up crying and wanting to go home. If that’s the case, go home. There are other days and other clothes. Sometimes pjs are the only thing I can stand. There’s no rush. Whatever makes me the most comfortable as my body stabilizes is what’s best. It’s not static, it’s not the same every day and it doesn’t just get progressively easier. Joggers may as well have been designed for recovery. And big hoodies. And whatever other clothes I wear when I’ve got flu. Who cares how I dress really? If it’s acceptable to me, it should be acceptable to whoever else. Whatever makes it easier to reach and sustain a healthy body.
So there you go, my clumsy understanding of what works, and what doesn’t work, for me as far as clothes are concerned. Body image is a major part of my eating disorder, so clothing is traumatic, but I think if I stick to these rules, I’m ok. I’m kinda hoping this explains a little bit why it’s got really important, but also really hard, for me to shop the way I do. Hopefully. Mostly because I’m embarrassed that I buy things. I feel like I shouldn’t, so want others to understand why and how I’m justifying it to myself in the hope it justifies it to them too. I duno. I probably care too much what others might think of me.
(Is it bad I’m really self-conscious on my legs in that image? It’s probably bad. But still, I’d feel too ashamed to publish this if I didn’t mention the fact that yes I know my legs are chunky. I’m not too stupid to not realise. I don’t care all that much though. It’s worth it to show off my fabz leg wear).