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I have a drawer full of jeans. It’s the bottom drawer in my dresser, and it’s completely full. I have at least nine pairs of jeans. Light washes, a few dark, camo green, purple, teal, whatever. Nine pairs.
And none of them fit.
I’ve gained weight over the last year, and although the eating disordered part of me screams about it sometimes, I’m really okay with my body. I just hate wearing my jeans because none of them fit.
Related: Coping with Weight Gain in Recovery
I was in Target, shopping for groceries because I couldn’t stand the idea of going to the overcrowded supermarket (thank you, anxiety) and because I wanted to buy a coloring book (hello, adulting).
I was wearing leggings with an oversized shirt from my boyfriend’s closet. Without jeans that fit, there aren’t many options when you want to look like you’ve made an effort. It’s completely okay to wear sweats and hoodies, but I’ve noticed I feel better emotionally and mentally when I match my outfit, wear the jewelry, and go all out.
Target itself also makes me feel good, so I was pretty content when I walked through the doors.
I didn’t intend on buying jeans. Yet there I was, in the clothes section, staring at a pair—a typical pair of jeans like any other.
In my size (or what I assumed was my size, at least). They were a unique shade of blue, super high-rise, and, best of all, relatively cheap.
My fingers buzzed when I picked them up, and sparks lit up the aisle around me. Okay, not really, but I felt good about this pair. I couldn’t try them on (ugh, COVID), but I brought them home feeling confident.
This all took place yesterday, and I’m pleased to inform you that I’m sitting here happily wearing a comfortable, and, in my opinion, flattering pair of jeans.
I could end this piece of writing there, having already told you way too much about merely purchasing pants. But more interesting than that (I promise) is what I learned from this random experience of buying jeans for the first time in a few years.
What did my fear of buying new jeans say about my mindset?
In my excitement to write about my rockin’ new denim, I may have glossed over what was going on in my mind.
Most prominently was my fear of form-fitting clothes. Or, put differently, my fear of coming to terms with the fact that my body has changed paired with my fear of being able to see and feel this change.
Being unable to accept what my body looks like here and now (and being afraid that even if I do, my body still won’t be “worthy”) exemplifies living with a mindset controlled by my eating disorder.
Next, of course, was my fear of buying something and then changing sizes again, thus adding to my collection of jeans that don’t fit. Again, not a healthy mindset.
To be fair, as someone who’s changed sizes quite a few times since my eating disorder took over when I hit puberty, it’s a total mind-game. I can’t quite put into words the yucky feeling that accompanies being at the store, seeing a cute item, and thinking, “I have no idea if that’s going to fit me”–even after looking at the size, even after I’ve held it up to myself. It’s confusing and uncomfortable.
Finally, as I’m sitting here now, I’m still hesitant to try on the jeans in my drawer over there.
The fear is still there, even though I know trying them on would help me figure out what size I actually am and which styles fit me best. It’s like when I’m walking in New York City, and I avoid walking on the grates over the subway out of habit. It’s just something I refuse to do.
The overall theme of my brain’s attitude about jeans? Fear. But I’m in luck because I’ve learned some lessons.
Lessons Learned from a Pair of Jeans
1. Leaning into fear is necessary.
I don’t know what made me stroll into the clothing section, but I did. And I’m glad I bought this pair because I just needed a little reminder that I deserve awesome jeans!
I probably shouldn’t have been so anxious about it for so long, but I’ll be keeping this in mind next time there’s something I’m anxious about. I will keep on walking instead of jumping over the grate as though I’m going to fall into the NYC Subway.
2. All bodies are worthy.
Again, I just needed a reminder to knock the annoying ED voice out of my head.
Why should I feel bad about being a different size? It hasn’t changed who I am or how much love I give or any of that important stuff.
3. Life is ever-changing, and that’s okay.
Our bodies are a part of our lives because we live in them. By extension, and this is a fact, our bodies will change, and that’s okay.
Related: Getting Rid of Jeans that don’t Fit
4. I don’t have to hold onto something if I’ve outgrown it.
I can throw some of those jeans out. And I think I will. It will involve me trying some of them on, but that’s okay. If they don’t fit, I’ll take them off and throw them away. It’s simpler than I’ve been making it.
So maybe I’m stretching a bit, writing an entire article about a pair of jeans. I just can’t help feeling really good wearing them, and I’d love it if others (including you!) could experience these good feelings, too!
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My name is Laura! When I was a teenager, I fought what I call a crazy battle with anorexia. After three years of intense struggling, I was lucky enough to be shown that there was another option: recovery. It took years of hard work, mental grit, and introspection, but I learned to live a life of freedom. Now I’m learning (once again) that you don’t just choose recovery; you have to keep choosing it.
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