How my clothing size changed my relationship with clothing

“Once I hit puberty, my body changed almost overnight and my brain struggled to catch up.”

For years, I endured sweaty dressing room scenarios, staring at myself in bright lights trying to squeeze into another pair of size eight jeans. In my mind, it was my size – it was who I was.

It was almost always the number I associated with my body, and even considering jumping a size or two scared me. This denial that I may have naturally developed because of “my” size is something that has caused me to wear painfully tight dresses, skirts, shirts, and pants for a long time.

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As a caveat to this discussion, I am aware that I enjoy the immense privilege that comes with being “right-sized”. This means that I can usually walk into a store and buy an item of clothing that fits right away.

Many people with larger bodies don’t have the luxury of trimming because, unfortunately, wider size ranges aren’t available from a surprising number of retailers and brands. Modern beauty ideals are still fatphobic and sizeist, which has a direct impact on clothing size.

Currently, I still live in the “right size” realm when it comes to buying clothes, so I can’t speak from the experience of so many people who can’t find clothes that fit them. at most retailers. However, that doesn’t stop short people from feeling bad about their bodies and fixating on their clothing size.

Ever since I started consciously selecting and styling clothes for myself, I’ve always wanted to fit in the smallest size possible. In elementary school, it was suitable for children’s clothes, and in high school, it never exceeded a size six or eight.

Growing up, I was short – I was a gymnast for the first 15 years of my life – so I always saw myself as a little human. Once I hit puberty (at a later stage than most), my body changed almost overnight and my brain struggled to catch up.

Throughout my senior years of high school and throughout college, fitting into a size eight had a direct impact on how I viewed myself. I would force my body to go that size even if it meant smothering myself in tight jeans, wearing Spanx, or avoiding eating while wearing something tight or tight.

I was constantly obsessed with the bits of skin sticking out of those ill-fitting clothes, anxious that someone would call me and expose me because I’m not as small as I thought I was.

But when industry sizing is so imprecise and constantly on the move, why do we still care so much about being a specific number? While I can’t pinpoint the exact moment when my size mindset started to change, the pandemic certainly had something to do with it.

For two years, I had the opportunity to dress for me, and me alone. No one outside of my family would see what I was wearing or know about my shopping for new clothes. This feeling of being “off guard” slowly started to fade as I got more and more used to wearing comfortable clothes.

This change has been felt collectively by many of us and has even influenced the way we dress for work, even when not working from home. Forgoing flat heels and opting for slacks instead of pencil skirts are just a few of the slight corporate wardrobe changes I’ve noticed.

For me though, comfort doesn’t just mean sweatpants and slippers, it means prioritizing clothes that actually fit (and sometimes clothes that are a little too big to allow more room to breathe).

Over the past year, I’ve made a conscious decision to go a few sizes up when shopping for pants in particular, not just because the low-rise look is back, but because I feel so much more at home. comfortable in it.

This experience started the process that allowed me to detach my self-esteem from the number on a label. What I’ve found, which may seem obvious, is that it’s much easier to feel confident in your own skin when you’re not being smothered or sucked into your clothes.

The numbers we see on clothing labels should not have negative or positive connotations; I think they should be neutral. Clothes should be enjoyed – they should be a source of pleasure and self-expression, or at the very least they should be functional and comfortable items to cover our bodies with. Nothing more and nothing less.

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