Sunday, May 13, 2012

Saying Goodbye to Size 14

Have you ever saved clothes that no longer fit?

Maybe it's your favorite pair of jeans from high school, a stunning dress prior to having kids, or a business suit you once rocked.  I would bet good money that most women (and maybe some men) have a stack of clothes they're hoping will fit again one day.

My pile has been added to since 2008 and while I remain hopeful about slimming down, I know it's going to take a while because I'm doing it the right way.  I'm going for a lifestyle makeover with steady exercise, tracking calories, and eating nutritionally dense foods.  Weight loss will be a pleasant side effect of my efforts to be healthy.

My stash of cute and professional but too small clothes has been wasting space in our closet for far too long.  It was once a smart idea to save money by having clothes on hand I could fit into at a smaller size instead of having to buy new ones.  But four years later, it seems a little silly and wasteful to have perfectly wearable clothes just sitting there unworn.

I spent a solid afternoon trying on clothes and really questioned if I would still like them if they ever fit again.  I found that my professional clothing tastes have shifted and what's considered dressy in academia is a touch different than in business.  I'm also guessing that no matter how much weight I hopefully lose, my boobs are here to stay so button-up shirts are a lost cause :) 

I emptied out that entire top bin as I wistfully ran through memories associated with my outfits.  The under-the-bed container still holds clothes I'm saving, but they are one size directly below what I wear now or are literally an inch or so from buttoning.  I admit, I kept one or two "reference" pants from smaller sizes so hopefully one day I can pump my fist in the air and say yes!

I had to smile when I weighed the bags out of curiosity - 40 pounds of clothes, about the amount of weight I should lose to be more fit.  The symbolism/irony wasn't lost.   

Instead of going the Goodwill route, I have a good friend on our editorial staff who became the recipient of my castoffs.  It's a super awesome solution because I get to see the fruits of coming to term with my size as she makes my former clothes look good around the office.
With my high school reunion coming up in a few months and aware that I am about 60 pounds heavier than in 2002, I've been thinking a lot about how women destructively define themselves by size.  

Have you ever noticed that women say they are a certain size, not wear?  That little shift in verbs associated size with identity.  I am a teacher, I am an editor, I am a size 18

I have sat around with too many of my girlfriends complaining about our size, how the fashion industry sizes clothing, and how much "happier" we were at a small size.

Ladies and gentlemen, put a sticky note on your bathroom mirror:


I've decided that when people complain about their size, even if it's all negative, they are being vain and immature to focus on a random number designated by the fashion world.  For health reasons, sure, it's not a number you want to completely blow off, but when it comes to your self esteem, tell your size to go to hell.

We need to jettison this idea that S-XL has anything to do with who we are.

This attitude change about my size didn't happen over night.  It's the accumulation of years of being mean to myself.  I am exhausted by the negativity that I, not anyone else, associate with my body.  Yes girls, the fashion industry or media isn't to blame for your poor self-confidence (though they're not completely off the hook ... that's a post for another day).  

Who is it that makes you cry when you go clothes shopping?  Who is it that frowns when you look in the mirror?  Who is it that makes snide jokes about how you look?

I won't spell out the answer.  Self-confidence is a complex animal that's influenced by a million things.  Women should be empowering themselves about their bodies.  They need to say "fuck patriarchy, I am a sexy bitch" and let the other stuff go.  Because when we are so wrapped up in the reflection in the mirror, we're not any better than the wicked Queen from Snow White.

I was uploading my sister's graduating photos to Facebook last night and feeling hesitation.  You've probably noticed that I rarely ever post pictures of myself online.  That's a direct result of how I have felt embarrassed by how my body has morphed over the years.  

No longer.  I refuse to say and think mean and immature things about myself.  It takes a little effort still, but when I look at this picture I tell myself that I'm wearing a cute dress, that's a good color for me, I have an adorable hair cut, and the shape of the dress is flattering for my waist and hips.  I push these positive thoughts to the forefront of my mind so they eclipse anything negative I may say.  
It's totally obvious that I take after my dad's side of the family - German and Scottish heritage.  Unless you're Heidi Klum, these aren't countries noted for turning out good lookers.  I am round.  Even when I was at my thinnest, I had a round face.  This is how I look.  This is a reality that I must shape positively for myself. 
You wouldn't say a car's performance is shit just because it isn't painted the right color.  Your body is the vehicle you roll around in and yes, people do look at it.  But the performance is underneath the hood.   
Be a little easier on yourself.  Ok, a lot easier. 
Pep talk over.     


  1. I can say, with some accuracy, that German women look pretty nice until they hit 35 at which point they mysteriously morph into old ladies. Its really weird! Though I suppose it has a whole lot to do with a diet mostly comprised of potatoes and fried pork combined with chain smoking. :)

    Congrats to your sister too! (Even if my memories are mostly of her playing the roll of horrible little sister.) *grin*

    1. Lol, love it!

      Thanks, will pass on the salutations. I starting liking her much better once she got to college. Something about finally having something in common ... :P

  2. Aw, thanks for the flattery (and the four bags of clothes). Suddenly doubling my stock of work pants is pretty awesome, plus all the button-downs I just inherited - I won't outgrow those unless there's some kind of surgical intervention involved.