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The Recovery Body: Changing the Way You Shop For Clothes

Posted May 04 2012 8:36pm

If you didn’t catch Part 1 of the Recovery Body series , I’d love for you to read that before beginning part 2 today, in which I will talk about the way I changed the way I shop for clothes to feel better about my body and continue in my recovery journey.  I also want to say that this is not just for those with eating disorders, but for ANY woman (or man!) who has suffered from negative body image.

A big internal debate I’ve been having is whether or not I should post pictures of myself along with clothing and other things in this post.  One thing that I’ve noticed that can make recovery blogs popular is “before” and “after” shots.  This is something that I cringe when I see because even though the intention might be to show people how far the individual has come in recovery or what they looked like after they lost weight, the shots of people in their eating disorders can be INCREDIBLY triggering for many of us.  Often times, those with a propensity towards eating disorders will veer towards blogs that talk about weight loss, exercise, and nutrition, even if they are coated with the title “healthy living.”  At times these blogs can (in my opinion) and do show “normal” (whatever the hell that is) behavior, but at other times the “healthy” talk can border on obsessive.  Of course, this is a matter of interpretation, so I’m not making any objective value statements, these are simply my observations derived from my own experience.

With that being said, I try to do my part as a blogger to be responsible and not engage in number talk (no weights, calories, sizes, etc) but I think it’s important for readers to also be responsible about what they read.  Ultimately, if any blog triggers you, then it may not be a good match for you period or just at this time  This includes my blog and even though I try as best as I can to not engage in overtly triggering conversations, it is impossible for me to never trigger anyone ever.  I am sincerely sorry if anything on Raw Recovery has upset you dear reader, but I hope that my efforts to avoid those things shows as well.

Moving on to shopping! Ahh, shopping.  Sometimes I love it and sometimes I hate it and that sentiment is not related to body image problems at all.  I just have little patience when I shop with others who don’t like the same stores I do :) However, I’ve found that in recovery, bringing along a trusted friend who will be kind but honest has helped me.  If you prefer to fly solo, then by all means fly baby!

When shopping for clothes now, these are the things I keep in mind:

1. Don’t get hung up on sizes

Obviously, this is probably the hardest thing to do for any woman and maybe even men too.  As women, I know we are constantly hounded with images of what we “should” look like or what “hot” or “beautiful” or “sexy” is.  I honestly DO NOT believe the beautiful is a size.  What beautiful is to me is kindness and confidence.  I know it is the cheesiest thing to say, but I really believe it.  If this sounds like crap to you, then that’s OK, you can disagree :) .  Keep this in mind though: every clothing store will have clothes that fit differently, different styles, and what is size x in one store might fit you differently than the same size x in another store, or even in a different clothing item within the same store.

Sizes are honestly kind of f-ed up if you ask me and while I can’t say that I don’t 100% not care at all whatsoever about my size, I don’t care enough to make myself sick over it.    My body seems to have fallen into where it is comfortable weight wise and I’m not using symptoms and my body is functioning the way a woman’s body should.

2. How do you feel? 

The age old therapy question but this time I mean it in a context of literally, “How do you feel in this outfit?” Do you feel physically uncomfortable? Self-conscious? Depressed? Sexy? Powerful? Confident? Whether it is good or bad, notice what you are feeling because if you buy clothes that you don’t feel good in both physically and emotionally, then you are just setting yourself up for more body hatred/dislike and will probably blame your body for not “fitting the clothes right.”

3. Experiment with style!

One of the things I’m really loving about recovery is getting to experiment with style.  Fashion is really not my priority nor can I say it’s a passion of mine.  I like to buy clothes that I think look good and that I’m comfortable in.  Right now, I’m wearing yellow jeans, a white tank top, leopard print shirt thingy over it and a magenta headband.  Yes, I look like I just came from the 80′s but I really don’t give a flying hoot because I’M COMFORTABLE IN IT.  Sure you can spot me a mile away with this outfit and wouldn’t be everyone’s first choice but trying to please everyone got me nowhere I wanted to be.  I have to ask myself, “Whose opinion ultimately matters?” If I can live with my outfit, then the world will deal with it.

(image source) -Check out this website! It’s AMAZING!!

4. Variety is the spice of life! 

Having a variety of clothing options (keep in mind, they don’t need to be expensive, and I’m not advocating buying a whole new wardrobe, but if you are so inclined then that’s cool too) on hand helps me with those days when I’m really struggling with body stuff.  I like having cute, looser fitting clothes (and leggings, lots of leggings and long shirts/dresses) for the days when I don’t want something that is so figure showing.  Other days I’m more confident wearing something that shows some skin (by that I mean parts of my legs or bare shoulders) and those days are important too.  Variety allows you the option to feel good in your clothes no matter how you feel about your body on any given day.

(image source)

5. Don’t force your body to fit clothes! 

This is probably one of the harder things for me personally.  If your body doesn’t fit into whatever it is, get a different size and try to not feel ashamed! Like I said, clothing sizes differ greatly and it’s more important that you get clothes that fit you well.  At some stores I have to wear a different size in the clothing but I know that clothing that fits my body will make me feel more comfortable physically (and eventually emotionally), less likely to mull over urges, or potentially engage in behaviors.  I’m 23 and I know my body will change as I age, have kids, whatever.  As women, our bodies go through a lot of changes and I am going to devote the energy I used to spend on ED behaviors on trying to love my body and keep it happy.  If this is how my body needs to look in order for me to not be depressed then you can bet I will keep doing everything I’m doing to take care of myself because being happy, or least OK and being a healthy size is way more important to me than being sick, miserable, and hating my body.

Well friends, I hope that this was helpful.  These are the things I remind myself of every time I go shopping and they have helped me greatly.  If you have your own tips, please share! I would love to hear from others what has helped them because knowledge is power and the more knowledge we have about how to love ourselves, the better off we will all be.  Have a wonderful evening!

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