Aside from the weight gain itself, one of the hardest parts of recovery for me has been growing out of my clothes. Seeing the number on the scales go up is one thing, but then having your clothes become tight and no longer fit adds in a whole other level of emotions. So following on from my post talking about the process of gaining weight in recovery, I wanted to talk more specifically about changing clothes size.
Growing up I was fixated on my clothes size and I always thought that fitting in to a smaller size would make me happier. However when that became my reality, I was the unhappiest that I’ve ever been.
Body Neutral, Life Positive
Losing and Gaining Weight
When I lost weight, I went from a size 12 to a 2 and donated all of my clothes to charity. For 5 years, my life was completely dictated by Anorexia. I restricted my food intake and compulsively exercised in order to suppress my weight. As a result all of my clothes ranged from a size 2 to 8* – a stark contrast from the size 12 that I was beforehand.
I started gaining weight in August 2019, and have since gained over 30kg, which meant that very few items in my wardrobe fit me. As a result, I went from wearing size 2 trousers to size 12 jeans.
Reading that, you might think that I gained weight fast or the idea of weight gain might be scary, but who is it really scaring – you? Or you eating disorder? Whereas 3 years ago I didn’t want to gain over my ‘target weight’, this time round I’ve completely let go of all control. I’m learning to honour my hunger, listen to my body and let it do exactly what it needs to do to be healthy again. And for me, that’s meant weight gain.
Changing My Mindset and Self Acceptance
The first shopping trip to buy new clothes definitely wasn’t an easy one. It had been months since I’d stepped foot in a changing room and the change in my reflection was a dramatic one. I definitely had to do some reasoning with myself; this is me, this is the way that my body is meant to be. Despite the change in size, I had the funnest shopping trip that day and finally felt like myself again, something which I wouldn’t have been able to do if I was any smaller.
I used to hate being in a bigger clothes size than my peers – I placed so much of my self worth on a number and for years I vowed that I would never be a size 12 again, but here I am years later fitting that exact jeans size. And the best part? I actually don’t mind.
Happiness doesn’t come from a certain weight or clothes size
The past few months, or even years, have taught me that to live the life that I ultimately want to live, I have to be in a bigger clothes size – and that’s ok.
I’ve realised that this is me – it’s the size that I’m meant to be. I look back at pictures of myself when I was smaller and I don’t recognise that person. There’s no sparkle in my eyes and I don’t look happy. In contrast when I look back at pictures of myself when I was in high school and at a bigger size, I am filled with nostalgia and happy memories. I know who that person is and I know that weight gain is what has enabled me to slowly get her back.
I don’t know who I was when I was in the depths of Anorexia – it wasn’t my own body and it wasn’t my mindset either. I don’t want to go back. I don’t ever want to be the size that I was again, but it’s definitely hard to come to terms with seeing your body undergo such a dramatic change.
I still very much feel as If I’m stuck in limbo – my smaller clothes don’t fit me but I’m reluctant to buy more incase I change sizes again. Obviously money is a factor which makes it more difficult. But I’ve realised that I have to let go of all of that – what’s really important in recovery is that you wear clothes that you feel comfortable and confident in because trying to squeeze yourself in to clothes that are too small is definitely triggering.
Recovery has provided me with a new found appreciation for my body
And to add to the point that your clothes size really doesn’t matter, it can vary depending on the shop or style of the item. I’m switching my focus to the clothes that make me look and feel my best, rather than the number on the label. If that means that I have to buy the size up because it looks best, then that’s what I’m going to do. I no longer place my self worth on a clothes size or weight and in reality it has no effect on the other areas of your life. As I’ve gained weight, I’ve actually become less obsessive over my body.
Recovery has provided me with a new-found appreciation for my body. Instead of being filled with hatred and focusing purely on aesthetics, I’m grateful that it’s survived everything that I put it through over the past few years. Our bodies are just bodies at the end of the day – vehicles to transport us through life, but everything else, all of our achievements, experiences and memories come from the person that we are within.
Happiness doesn’t come from a certain weight or clothes size – something which I learnt the hard way. I’ve said it multiple times the past few months but I want my body to be where it’s healthiest and happiest. To live and eat freely – to be a Yasmin size Yasmin.
Trust me, there are so many other things in life that are worth spending your energy on than shrinking yourself to be a certain size. I’m so much happier now, my personality is back and my life has improved in every aspect. Whilst there are definitely times or days when I struggle, I don’t act on the intrusive thoughts and have absolutely no desire to ever go make.
But what will other people think of me?
Your friends and family really don’t care what size you are, no one in the street knows (or even actually cares) what your clothes label says. Sometimes it’s just the little things that make it worth it – being able to go out with your friends and order a milky drink instead of just having water and saying yes to dessert when you’re out for a meal.
I’m also learning to dress for a completely different body type, which again is challenging but something which I’m trying to turn in to a positive and make as exciting as possible. But it is actually easier to find clothes now and interestingly I actually feel way more confident and comfortable with my body – I look like a woman, not like a child.
And what about my smaller clothes?
I ended up with over 70 items to sell on my Depop. It was a little frustrating, as there were lots of pieces that I absolutely loved and had only worn once and some items I hadn’t even worn at all. But I don’t associate those clothes with happy memories so I had no doubt in my mind that it was best to let go of them completely – that way there would never be any temptation to go back.
It’s also more motivation not to lose weight or relapse again, as I definitely don’t want to have to go through the process or expense of buying more clothes again.
Being in a bigger body and gaining weight has allowed me to do things and live a life that my smaller body never would have allowed. I’ve gone from a size 2-8 to a 10-14 and it’s the best thing that I’ve ever done.
If you take one thing away from this post then let it be this: don’t let gaining weight or changing clothes size stop you from recovering, there’s so much more to life than that.
If you are suffering from, in recovery, or think that you have a disordered relationship with food then please visit your GP. You can also find advice and resources on the following websites: Beat, Mind and the NHS.
*I’m not shaming anyone that fits in to these clothes sizes, but for my body it wasn’t healthy.