I have a pile of clothes sitting on a chest in my room. They’ve been there for a couple of weeks now. A few pairs of jeans, a pair of shorts and a couple of tops. They’re clean and folded and set to go to Goodwill, but each time I go to pack them up, something stops me so they’re still there.
These clothes are too big for me now. They fall off and hang awkwardly. They are neither comfortable nor attractive on my body right now. I also know from experience that finding attractive plus size clothes in good condition at thrifts stores is really fucking hard. Someone could use these clothes, I’m sure. But still, I’m having trouble actually doing it.
One thing that drives me crazy about weight loss is the distancing from one’s ‘fat self’ that is supposed to happen. I hate pictures of people in their fat pants pulling the waist out as if to say “can you believe I was ever THIS BIG???” that are so often part of dieting ad campaigns. The ‘before’ pictures, always of someone looking miserable or eating (OH NO! FOOD!!!) make me want to throw things. Having lived all of my adult life in a ‘before’ body, I hate this script that I feel I’ve been given. I’m supposed to gladly throw out all my too big clothes, maybe while making a vow that I will NEVER be that size again. I’m supposed to look at old pictures with disgust and pity while celebrating my new size. And then, hilariously, I’ll be expected to do it again. To someday regard my current weight as unbelievably awful, to throw out those jeans I just bought last week and vow “NEVER AGAIN!”
I don’t want to do this. But sometimes it’s difficult to so totally reject the cultural script. I was putting together a photo album for a friend’s x-mas present the other day and came across a picture of me at my very highest weight. My first reaction was shock and a little bit of alarm. I had the urge to rip up the picture or to toss it in the garbage. Instead, I forced myself to really look at it. My hair was quite pretty back then. One of the best cuts I’ve ever had. I was wearing the spoils from my first foray into Torrid and was looking particularly sassy. More importantly, this was during a time when life was particularly good. I was happy and it showed. Why in the world would I want to throw away a nice reminder of that time of my life? Because I was fatter than I am now? How silly.
Which brings me back to the clothes. My first pair of fit right jeans are there. The ones that made me unable to pass a reflective surface without admiring my ass. I hope they can do the same for someone else, but I’m afraid that getting rid of them will create mental distance between me then and me now. I’m afraid that I’m setting myself up to fall in line with the script that says each smaller size is a victory, each pile of too-big clothes a reason to celebrate.
Now that I’ve written that it sounds unreasonable. I don’t want to think of my life as a collection of ‘before’ pictures which can, and should, be tossed out as soon as the numbers on the scale move down so I won’t. My life wasn’t horrible at 289lbs, it wasn’t unbearable at 255lbs and it’s not magical at 240lbs. Erasing all the happiness I had at higher weights, or painting myself as some kind of pitiable creature back then – and doing it as some kind of talisman against gaining weight as so many people do – is playing into that anti-fat mindset I hate so much.
So the clothes will go to someone who can use them, but that sassy picture of me will go into a frame. A reminder that my happiness is not the result of a new jeans’ size.