Friday, February 4, 2011

What I Wear

This month, during the Joy of Love Project, I'm going to places in my conscience to which I hadn't anticipated visiting. Today's assignment is to photograph "What They Wear".

Hmm.... what I wear. This is a really interesting subject and really a funny coincidence that I just happened to be watching Intervention on Netflix last night while folding clothes. Of course, nearly every episode is about someone addicted to meth or crack or alcohol or Oxycontin. I like to watch the episodes that show a person addicted to something unusual. Last night I watched the episode about Emily, a 5-foot-8-inch woman who weighed 94 pounds. Here's a YouTube clip about her story. She was (is?) addicted to exercising and also starving herself. Her story kept me interested but when she said, "This is the thing I can control. I have control over so little else in my life, but I can control food," I about cried. I saw myself in her and I remembered that feeling of looking for something... just one thing.... that I had complete control over.

It started as just a simple attempt to lose weight. It was the summer after my freshman year of college, and my high school sweetheart had just kicked me to the curb. I thought that if I could lose some weight, just get rid of that little gut I had, that he'd come running back to me. When I started to lose the weight, other people noticed and the attention became addictive. I started cutting calories more and more. I never ate anything that contained more than 1 gram of fat. But the catalyst that turned my diet into a real problem was that my ex-boyfriend didn't come running back. I thought by losing weight, I'd gain control of this situation. But I didn't. I saw that losing weight was within my boundaries of control, even when I couldn't control the questions professors would ask on tests, or whether or not I'd get asked out by a new guy, or whether or not I'd get elected to an office in my sorority. I could control my calories. I could control my pants size. I felt like I needed to hold onto this control because, it seemed, I was swimming in a sea of things that were out of my control. The disease gave me stability.

Finally, I got to the point where I was only eating a cup of yogurt every other day. I was so happy to get down to 136 pounds. Eventually, though, I plateaued and I lost the will to keep starving myself when I couldn't lose any more weight, so I eventually turned to bingeing and purging. That was pretty disgusting to me, but at least I wasn't gaining. Finally, I quit that when I cracked a molar in half while eating some tortilla chips. It might have just been a weak tooth but in my mind, my teeth were breaking because of the damage I was inflicting on my body. That was the wake-up call I needed to force myself to get help. People around me never knew I had any problems; they just thought I was dieting and getting into great shape. Of course I would never tell them that my hair was falling out and that I could gag myself just by squeezing my stomach muscles.

The road to liking myself and my body was (is!) slow and bumpy. I did get some counseling from my University's Department of Psychology (psych students ran the sessions. I mean, I know they need to practice on someone but I probably would have gotten more help talking to a gopher.) I have days where I like how I look, and then I have other days when I'm folding my underwear or my jeans and I'm shocked at their size. I read what other women weigh and breathe a sigh of relief that I've never gotten that big. Then I read about a woman who's about to go on a diet and embarrassed to admit her starting weight, and it's less than mine right now.

I've come to the point that I'd like to lose about 15 pounds but honestly I'm just not motivated yet. I do worry, though, about when that point comes because I do remember how wonderful it felt to have people notice my figure. I remember how hard it was to deny myself of the very thing that keeps my body healthy, and yet my soul was (briefly) happy! It is a very slippery slope, once you've gone down it, to revisit. Even the simple idea of losing weight is a struggle in itself, because I know how easy it is to just say, "Well, maybe I'll have a half-portion. Or maybe just a quarter-portion. Or maybe I'll just skip this meal and have a big glass of water."

So anyway, the point of this post: What I wear. I wear clothes that are really comfortable and require no ironing. I. HATE. TO. IRON. I have discovered that patterned, flowy shirts are my best friend. I recently found some jeans at Cato that I completely love and I wear until they're filthy and then pull them out of the laundry basket before they can get folded to put them on again. They are stretchy-jeans (NOT JEGGINGS!) and they fit just right.

They're size 14. I'd like to tell you I'm back to a size 12, but that's not true. YES, I have 2 pairs of Old Navy pants that are size 12 but we all know about Old Navy sizing, don't we?

I have also figured out that layering is good. A "control" cami + shirt + cardigan = no one can see the back fat. Speaking of "control" garments, I am not afraid to admit that I own quite a few and I wear them liberally. I don't like the sausage feeling so I try not to get the extra-suck-it-in shaping firmness. However, I do like a soft stretch panty or camisole that helps hold everything in place where it should be. Or, at least, where it was before I had kids.

And, my signature: my Doc Martens. They are old and comfortable and they help me "stand on my own two feet."

I don't wear makeup, usually. When I do, Texan Papa always asks me where I'm going. 9 times out of 10, it's because I'm going out with the girls. He looks at me with that confused look men get when they don't quite understand women, and asks, "But they're women. Why would you be trying to look good for other women?"

I think there are some concepts that men will never completely grasp.

Texan Mama


nicole said...

I love Old Navy's vanity sizing! ;) I think being comfortable in our own skin is more beautiful than a certain size any day. I hope more women can spend most of their time in that place.

Anna See said...

Thank you for sharing this story!


Gigi said...

Men will NEVER understand that women dress for other women...that is a concept that they just can't grasp.

I'm glad you shared your story. I know that I am aware of Every. Single. Bite. that goes into my mouth and that I have issues - not as serious as those - but issues nonetheless. And I think you are right - it's a control thing.

mama hall said...

i love finding things out about my *normal* friends that make us more alike than i knew. thanks for sharing your story. i'm happy you're happy.

anymommy said...

A powerful story, so well told. It's a hard thing to earn, this being happy with who we are and what we look like.

Crystal said...

Losing weight sucks. Gaining weight sucks. Trying to learn to be comfortable in your own skin and love yourself sucks. It all sucks! I have had 4 amazing little dudes so my body isn't perfect. But gosh darn it, that illusion that we should make it perfect is everywhere. I struggle with that...a lot! So much so, that sometimes I don't even let my hubby touch me...for fear he'll think I'm fat. Sick huh?! I know.

Jennifer said...

Well why would you want to look good for a man? You're married. I don't care about what men think. I want my friends to think I'm pretty.

Rachael said...

Thank you for sharing this.