I’m a 31 year old woman, 5’4″, 128 pounds. I exercise five times a week, and in general feel very healthy and most days try to be content with my body. But every time I go shopping for clothes, I end up leaving with nothing and feeling fat. My hips are slightly larger than they “should be” in proportion to my waist and I struggle with finding clothes that fit me right. I’ve tried losing another 5 pounds, but my body just doesn’t seem to want to stay there. How can I be content with my healthy, normal weight body when I can’t seem to find clothes out there to fit my body type? It’s so discouraging! – Melanie
The issue of shopping for larger sizes is a tough one, because we have given so much power to the number of the size. Of course, we all know that a size 6 in one brand can be a 10 in another brand. So, why give so much merit to something that can change from one store to another? We have to “reframe” sizes or see them in a new light. They used to be how we measured our worth, but they can now be simply a code on a tag. You were not a “better” person when you were a smaller size, just like a size 4 child is not “better” than a size 6 child.
For you, Melanie, it’s really inconvenient when you haven’t found styles and brands that are the right fit yet. Losing another 5 pounds wouldn’t mean you would fit easily into a different size if proportionality is your issue. Don’t give up on finding what you like. Take friends with you who are fun and supportive of you. Experiment with styles and stores you haven’t tried before. When you find styles that are comfortable, remember where and what you bought. Even if you have to have something altered, you’re worth it.
All of us can improve our attitude toward shopping for clothes by concentrating more on our preferences in colors, textures, styles and comfort. Focus on what you want your clothes to express; how do certain colors make you feel; and what might be adventurous – or new – for you. Shopping can be a visual treat, if we let ourselves enjoy all of the artistry.
I encourage my clients to accept a new size as a measure of their progress. If your goal has been to gain weight and you have, celebrate the unbelievable strength and courage you’ve shown. No one can know how difficult it is to face those kinds of fears, unless they’ve walked in your shoes. A healthier size means you can concentrate more on the things in life that really matter, rather than on disordered eating.
If we simply judge ourselves – and each other – by size, we lose sight of the thousands of other aspects of who we are. Make a list of at least twenty things you are – other than a number. I am a friend, sister, gardener, artist, hip hop fan, owner of a Chihuahua, etc. We aren’t one dimensional… unless we let ourselves be. I challenge all of us to think in new ways about sizes and shopping.