Magic numbers!

by Christine on May 27th, 2010

filed under Christine's Life Updates, Diet, Food, Nutrition, General Information

Pencil Skirt from Ann TaylorYesterday after work I went to Ann Taylor loft (a clothing store) to do some quick shopping. I haven’t been to Ann Taylor in years….many years! I was too fat to fit into the clothes. Most clothing stores only carry clothes from size 0-14, and at my highest I was in a size 22/24!  Ann Taylor clothes are good quality and are work-appropriate (and high-priced). I thought, “What the hell, I haven’t been there in a while! Let me give it a shot.”

I found an adorable pencil skirt on the sale rack, so I brought it and a pretty blouse into the dressing room. Now, a pencil skirt is not a style I would normally wear. After all, skinny girls wear pencil skirts. Big girls with thunder thighs like me wear A-shaped skirts. This choice was definitely out of my element. I was tempting the Fates and playing with Fire. I held my breath trepidatiously and grabbed a Size 8 skirt and a Petite Medium shirt.

First I tried on the shirt. I giggled like a drunken schoolgirl! It was SO BIG — it was like a tent on me!  A medium!  The poor girl in the fitting room next to mine must have thought I was a nutcase.  Then I tried on the size 8 skirt.  It fit, but it was a little too big!  I couldn’t believe it! I rushed out of the dressing room, tags flying out, my skirt half-unzipped, all bug-eyed and drooling on myself. A size 8 too big? Surely that cannot be true! I ran to the rack and…YES! There was a size 6!! I rushed back to the fitting room to try it on.

IT FIT!! THE SIZE SIX FIT ME!!!  I shrieked out loud and even started to cry! The girl in the stall next door said, “Yikes, are you okay?” and I stammered out something unintelligible in reply and spun around-and-around in front of the mirror, looking at my body. I felt like I was looking at a stranger.

I’ve never been a size six in my whole life. Not since…5th grade? I’m not even sure when. I should have taken a photo of the label or something, just for the fun of it.

I ended up putting both skirts back. The six didn’t fit perfectly well, and the eight would have been okay if my body was to stay this size, except I would have quickly grown out of it in a few weeks.  At $70 (on sale) it would have been a waste of money. I did end up buying the blouse, but in a Petite Small! ($35 on sale! Yikes!)

This experience brings up two issues to me: First, I absolutely hate that my brain allows the number on a piece of clothing define who I am, what I look like, and how I feel about myself. I realize this is incredibly superficial, and my elation goes against everything I believe inside. I feel like a freaking hypocrite, allowing a piece of clothing to determine if I have a good day or bad day.  I suppose it’s okay this time, because I was having a good day, but what would happen if I tried on a size 10 and it fit snugly? Would I let that ruin my day? (probably!) It’s absolutely ridiculous. However, at the same time, the numbers on a piece of clothing are one of numerous methods to evaluate your progress losing weight.  Sure, there’s the number on the scale (and we all know how ridiculous it is to allow a silly number on a scale to have such control over our mental health), body measurements, body fat % numbers, BMI numbers, metabolic numbers, and a thousand other ways.   But let’s face it, we girls are taught at a young age that clothing sizes are the ultimate determiner of whether we are fat, skinny, have a good day, have a bad day, or need to be shot and buried altogether.

Yesterday was a victory for me, in a sense, but it was also a bittersweet reminder that I still need to do some mental work as I continue to lose weight. When I set out to lose weight, my goal was NOT, “I want to be a size six or a size four” or anything like that. My goal was, “I want to be happy. I want to be confident. I want to feel beautiful. I want to prove to myself that I can achieve anything I set my mind to.”  If I’m happy, confident, and successful at a size 10 or a size 12, then shouldn’t that be good enough?  Clothing numbers have nothing to do with it.

Hurry up and evolve, Miss Brain.  You’ve got some catching up to do.

The second thing this experience brought up to me was the idea of spending money on myself, on clothing.  I have spent hundreds, no thousands of dollars on clothing in the past. It happens when you go up 14 clothing sizes and need to buy a whole new wardrobe in each size (a work-appropriate wardrobe, a “casual” wardrobe, a “working out” wardrobe, a “nice-occasion” wardrobe.) Consequently, I shop the sale racks ONLY, and I can’t remember the time that I spent more than $20 or $30 on a single item of clothing for myself.  Part of that is frugality: Constantly buying new clothes is expensive.  But part of that is a self-worth issue too: I am fat and ugly, so I don’t deserve nice clothes.  I would rather have a small number of nice, quality, expensive clothes in my closet than 100 items of $4 crappy clothes.  To me, when I put on something that’s quality-made, it makes me feel important, like “I deserve to wear this nice item of clothing.”  I have few items that I could qualify like that, and perhaps I need to change that. (Eventually…when I reach a “final clothing size.”)

So what’s your opinion of clothing sizes and using them as a way to evaluate yourself, your progress, your happy-level? What is your opinion of spending money on expensive clothes?

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