I reached a breakthrough today.
I bought jeans.
And if this looks trivial to you, consider the fact that, over the past three years, I have steadily gained weight, subjecting me to the ever-reliable jersey + dress combination and rendering all my favorite clothes useless. I’ve been extremely grateful for the fact that my legs and calves are still great for showing off—and I’ve put it to good use by using mostly short A-line or tent dresses—but aside from that, everything else has gone downhill, especially my body image and whatever self-esteem I had that was directly connected to my weight.
It took an interview and a forthcoming photo shoot for a women’s magazine to wake me up a little bit. There were questions about turning 30, dealing with the body’s slowing metabolism, and how one’s self image may have changed from the 20s to the 30s. I answered them as honestly as I could, but at the back of my head I was reminding myself to listen to my words again and see what they meant to me now. Then when the photo shoot and the dress code were announced, I froze in a moment of panic, realizing that I had all the requisite clothes—but not the shape to wear them well—and especially not for a photo shoot for a women’s magazine.
What was a girl to do?
I did what any other girl would do in my case: I set out to go shopping. In the process, however, I realized that I was consciously weeding out any tops-and-bottoms combinations simply because I wanted to stick to the dresses that I had gotten accustomed to these past three years. There were great flowy tops in bright and bold colors that I had passed on the aisles without even trying on, simply because I had prejudged them as “not for me.” I saw a beautiful pair of bright blue square pants that would have looked great with a cream top, but I just put it back on the rack after a tentative thought. And when a good friend suggested that I wear jeans under my favorite trenchies, I declared, “But I don’t wear jeans.”
But the fact is that I used to—and I used to wear them quite well. I remember feeling good when wearing skinny jeans and stilettos, and I’ve often looked at magazines and models with great regret, berating myself over and over for allowing myself to let go a wee bit too much these past couple of years. And as I walked along once-favored shops, resigned to the fact that I won’t be able to bring anything home today, to wear to the forthcoming shoot, I passed by a Marks & Spencer with a big sign: “Jeans on Sale.”
Without a second thought, I turned toward the store and started browsing through the bootleg section. Bootlegs have been my favorite since college days, and I relived the confidence of walking through hallways in my favorite jeans and heels/boots/what-have-you. The ones that I liked were on super sale, and when I went in to try them on, they fit perfectly.
Never mind that I had gone up, um, more sizes than I care to admit, but they fit perfectly.
And so I made them mine.
You cannot imagine how blissful it felt—like slowly chewing on a morsel of absolutely heavenly Belgian chocolate cake with hazelnut bits. Yes, THAT blissful.
And when I walked out of that store, brand-new dark-blue bootleg jeans in an M&S paper bag in tow, I felt like I was a brand-new woman. Yes, I still have all this weight on. Yes, I still have weight issues—I never really lost them, to begin with. But I simply refused to allow myself to be trapped in a particular clothing style simply because I was experiencing an abundance of girth. I love my dresses, I love my legs, but I love my jeans, too—and can’t a now-pleasantly plump girl enjoy them?
Now, what I did after getting the jeans was FUN. I practically ran back to the store that I had just passed—laptop, shopping bag, stilettos, and all—and I started buying the blouses that I simply passed on the aisle because “they weren’t for me.” You know what? They fit perfectly, too! And for the first time in a long, LONG time, I felt great about my body in spite of all the weight. I felt confident, I felt empowered, I felt… loved. By myself. It was SUCH a great feeling, better than any dark chocolate gelato I have tried between here and Italy.
* * *
Talking to a dear girlfriend about it later on, I admitted to her that I didn’t want to buy new clothes in my new size because I didn’t “want to own this figure.” She reminded me that buying something for myself in my new size didn’t mean that I was “owning my figure” but that I was simply treating myself well. I needed to stop punishing myself for letting go because, hey, this is partly due to my abundance-in-kind, too. I should live in the moment, be grateful for what I have, but still remember to take care of myself.
And you know what? I will. I’ve signed up for monthly unlimited yoga classes, and I am going on detox mode, but I will no longer punish myself and my body like I used to. I’m going to stop over a decade of crash dieting, negative self-talk, binging then starving, vacillating between near-Anorexia and near-Bulimia, and all that. I’m going to work out, I’m going to watch what I eat, I’m going to treat my body like the temple of the soul that it truly is, and I’m going to lose weight—eventually.
In the meantime, I’m going to wear jeans, and I will enjoy every minute of it.