My journey to self-love has been full of ups and downs. And whilst I’ve come a long way, I know I have a long way to go to reach a place of genuine love and appreciation for myself.
Over the past few years, my body image is something I have had to compete with tirelessly in an attempt to recover from Anorexia Nervosa, and allow myself to heal mentally as well as physically.
One roadblock I have had to notice and overcome is the emotional turmoil which I allow clothing sizes to put me through.
The concept of sizing is something I am slowly beginning to become comfortable with, but I know there are many others that also struggle.
This caught my attention this morning. I was in a perfectly peaceful state of mind when I went to put my khaki cargo trousers on, and suddenly remembered the number of times I had gone to try them on in store.
I had been in at least four times, broken down in tears because my “usual” size didn’t fit comfortably, and left without the trousers. All because I couldn’t bear to go up by one size. I couldn’t bear for the number on the label to be any higher.
At this point in my recovery, my weight had stabilised, so really, nothing had changed. This particular pair of trousers just didn’t fit quite right, yet I still let it break me.
Reflecting upon this now, I find it saddening that one number could ruin everything that day, and for the days to come. These moments would kick me back into a cycle of restriction and exercise.
And remembering that this morning left me feeling rubbish in myself again; remembering the size that didn’t fit me. As the day has progressed, I have begun to feel angry that something so insignificant can have such a negative impact.
Where has this come from?
Why do we allow ourselves to feel this way?
Is it because we feel the size we are wearing defines us and our worth?
What significance does this number hold?
Why does a number on a label make us feel the way it does?
Why do we feel less adequate if the number is larger?
And why does this number changing have such an effect on our feelings towards ourselves?
We can see how this is reinforced; in the celebration of “dropping” a dress size, and the higher availability of certain sizes more than others. An article in the journal of family and consumer sciences found that smaller sizes were found to have a positive effect on body image, particularly for younger women.
But I am slowly learning that the number inside your clothing really holds no significance at all. It quite literally means nothing.
Firstly, because sizes differ from store to store. If a size isn’t consistent, how can we expect ourselves to consistently fit into the same size? Sizes also differ from item of clothing to item of clothing, so, again, how can we feel upset when our size varies? Sizes in the same store aren’t even the same.
I ought three pairs of jeans in the high street on the same day, in the same size. There is no consistency in them; they all look completely different. Yet, so many of us allow this number to define us, ruin our days, and impact our inner peace.
Even without your weight or shape changing, your clothing size can vary greatly, just because that’s the way clothes are. They are material.
My size fluctuates so much depending on where I am shopping or what I am buying, yet I have always grown up feeling like I should identify with one size; which I felt defined how slim I was. This is completely untrue.
Even if clothing sizes were consistent, the size of your clothing does not measure:
How loveable you are, how kind you are, or how beautiful you are.
How worthy you are, how bright your future is, or how happy you can be.
I recently decided that I would only buy clothing in the size that FEELS the most comfortable on my body; no matter what the number says.
I do not have to identify with one size, and neither do you.
How many times have you bought an item of clothing in your “usual” size—the one you identify with—because yes, it fits your body, but it could probably feel more comfortable in a size larger?
I will no longer feel uncomfortable in an item of clothing that could feel more comfortable in a larger size, for the sake of a number.
Now, when I order an item of clothing in my “usual” size, and I don’t think it feels quite right and could feel better slightly looser; I do not suck in and squeeze into it, I get the size up. This is something I still find extremely challenging, and still reduces me to tears and massive emotional discomfort, but I am determined to stop letting numbers define me.
We do not value others in our lives because of their shape, size or weight. We do not judge others for the size of their clothing; in fact, most of the time, we don’t even know the size they are wearing.
It is insignificant.
Get clothes that fit YOU. Do not change to fit clothes.
Clothes are clothes. Pieces of material do not define you.
Don’t let your size define you. We’ve done enough of that and it’s time to start living life without this trivial limit.