I’m a clothes person. Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve been attracted to clothes. In the summer when I was eight or nine, I taught myself to hand sew little tops using lacy handkerchiefs, which I proudly wore. Making my own clothes became a necessity when my arms and legs were too long for conventional clothes. I was forever perusing fashion magazines, keeping myself up-to-date on all the latest fashion trends. I took fashion seriously and working to stay thin was paramount. Any weight gain would ruin everything.
Restrictive dieting, meaning constantly being hungry and denying myself the pleasure of food, was a pattern I established. It never occurred to me that dieting for over 40 years was unnatural, it’s just what I did.
I had no idea what my natural body rhythms were or what my body really wanted me to eat.
When I finally pulled myself off the dieting bandwagon and started to get in touch with my body, I also started to gain weight. Of course I would. My body wanted food, real food, and it wanted to feel nourished. I have to admit, it took a bit to find the right balance – my body and I had to communicate, something that was new for me.
But really, the hardest thing for me to come to terms with was changing my perception of how I looked in my clothes. No more svelte size fours for me. But seriously? Was that even responsible of me in the first place? Was it fair of me to ask my 5’9” body to be that small? What was the point?
Sometimes, out of habit more than anything, I’ll say to myself, “Oh if only I could lose some weight, maybe I could fit into my old clothes.” But… Because of all the restrictive dieting, this body has been through some tough times and yet it’s always stood by me. It didn’t jump ship when I asked it to be hungry for the sake of fashion. So, I let the thought go and remember that this body and I are a team.
When I think about diet culture and how it has led us down a path of illusion, I used to get angry. Now I hold a vision of each of us making the decision to honor ourselves and do what is best to nourish self and body.
For me, it’s important to remember that our bodies have given us life so we can experience being human. We’re all unique and our bodies come in all shapes and sizes. Being able to honor our bodies for their uniqueness is acknowledging that we don’t have to try to be someone we’re not.
Fashion for my larger size is a whole lot different than when I was a size four - it's teaching me to accept who I am in this moment. And I am still the same person inside with the same wants, needs and goals in life. Except now I get to add in the pleasure of nourishing myself with food, real food.
Have you had the experience of dieting for fashion? Have you stepped away from restrictive dieting? What was it like for you? Were you surprised at how easy or difficult it was? I'd love to hear from you.