Here’s a strange phenomenon: when I’m feeling low, I have a tendency to treat myself with less kindness instead of more. I actually take steps to increase my discomfort rather than alleviate it. What’s the deal with that?
For example, back in the day when my weight was constantly going up and down due to the persistent restricting/bingeing cycles, I had a tendency to break one of Stacy and Clinton’s most important rules: wear clothes that fit and flatter your body as it is right now.
Indeed, when I would gain weight I would purposefully stuff myself into clothes that were too small for me – it was part self-punishment for gaining weight, and part “motivation” to lose it. My theory was that I would be unable to overeat with the constant reminder of how “fat” I was (so cruel, right? ). But in the end, nothing positive ever came out of it: I felt miserable all day long, and would often still overeat as a way of distracting from the discomfort I had brought on myself. Not to mention I looked like a sausage.
But there was also the other extreme. Sometimes I felt so ashamed of myself that I would only wear clothing that was way too big. This allowed me to hide my body – and my shame – underneath layers of loose cotton. Who could call me “fat” when I was drowning in baggy sweats? I didn’t want to admit that walking around in nothing but oversized workout attire made me appear bigger than I was.
Fortunately these days I don’t waffle between the extremes. I don’t purposefully punish myself with clothing that’s too right, or purposefully hide my body under clothing that’s too loose. Instead, I make it a point to wear outfits that fit my body as it is right now…outfits that flatter the body I live in today.
Reaching this place has required me to embrace two ideas:
1. I deserve to feel comfortable and confident.
Looking back, it seems utterly ridiculous that when I felt bad about my weight, I thought the best solution was to make myself feel worse by wearing ill-fitting clothing. Why, oh why, are we so cruel to ourselves??? Gaining ten pounds was not a moral failure – I hadn’t done anything wrong that necessitated punishment. It dosen’t matter what someone weighs; that person deserves to look and feel her best.
2. The present means more than the past or the future.
When I wore clothes that didn’t fit properly, it was a way of mourning the way my body used to be or dreaming about what it could become down the road. It was an outright denial of my present size and shape. But now I realize that even though it’s great to work toward positive changes, it’s also important to embrace my body as is – because it’s not changing overnight. Reaching those goals will come much more easily if I’m treating myself and my body with kindness here in the present.
So while I may not be a fashionista who dons all of the latest trends, I have learned one important lesson about what not to wear: anything that doesn’t fit and flatter my body TODAY.
Can you relate to my clothing struggles? Have you ever purposefully worn clothes that didn’t fit as a way of punishing yourself, “motivating” yourself, or hiding yourself? Did that experience make you feel better…or worse? Please tell me I’m not alone here!